Firearm deaths’ have occurred since their invention in the early seventeenth century. This is, after all, their intended use, for they are a tool of war and survival. As such, they have been used by both criminals and noblemen alike. While they are, indeed, an implement of death, they are still just a tool. A tool which can be used for both good and evil purposes. As is usually the case, individuals on the good side viewed the firearm as a defensive weapon and individuals on the bad side viewed it as offensive in nature. It didn’t take long for criminally minded individuals to discover the power that they could achieve simply by using such a weapon. As the years have progressed, criminals have become more violent and less concerned with human life. They are therefore more apt to pull the trigger without even a second thought. With the murder rates climbing, the Government and the general public have attempted to find a way to curtail the violence. It is in this regard that gun control became a matter of public policy.
In order to address the growing problem, a school of thought developed which asserted that to reduce gun related crimes, one must simply restrict access to the guns. This school of thought was easily embraced by liberal-minded groups and individuals, many of whom believe that individuals should not be allowed to possess guns of any kind. At first glance, the concept of gun control may seem logical. If a criminal is unable to obtain access to a firearm, they will be unable to use it to commit a crime. The problem with this type of simplistic thinking, is that it doesn’t address the real issue, which is the criminal itself. By pure nature and definition, criminals commit crimes. This is what they do for a living. Gun control attempts to make it a crime for such individuals to obtain firearms. So essentially, a law is created with the intent to keep individuals that break laws, from breaking laws. If an individual is capable of harming another human or taking a human life, they are certainly capable of breaking a relatively minor law such as a gun control law. Therein lies the absurdity of such a simplistic answer to a more complex problem.
Republicans, conservatives and groups such as the National Rifle Association, or NRA, are strongly fighting to protect American citizens rights to bear arms. This right was given to us by the United States Constitution and has been part of the basic value system in which our Country is based. Obviously, gun rights advocates are not for gun related crimes. They just understand that criminals are not going to stop using guns just because a law exists which says that are not allowed to buy or own guns. For the most part, criminals do not normally purchase guns legally in the first place. They buy the guns off of the street or steal them. After all, they are criminals. This will not change no matter how many laws are written. As the saying goes, you can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube. Guns exist and will always exist and as long as they do, criminals will find a way to obtain them. This lesson has been clearly illustrated in history with such instances as prohibition. Just because alcohol was illegal didn’t mean that it no longer existed or that people no longer consumed it. It just went underground where it was more difficult to control. The same thing will happen with guns.
That’s not to say that all gun laws are bad. Laws that focus on safety can be very positive. Requiring safe storage of guns and trigger locks is a good use of gun laws as it encourages personal responsibility with regard to safety issues. Having a five-day waiting period in order to purchase a gun makes sense as well. Someone needing a gun immediately is probably not purchasing it for a law-abiding reason. Such haste usually indicates that a high level of emotions are involved and therefore guns are best kept out of such situations. The same thing goes to background checks just on the oft chance that a convicted criminal decides to purchase a gun from a legitimate dealer.
If gun control is not the answer to gun related crimes, one must ask what is the solution. Although not an easy question to answer, a good place to start would be to address the criminal itself. Focusing on taking the criminal off of the street instead of just taking a specific weapon out of the hands of that criminal will have a much greater impact on crime reduction than gun control ever will. Stronger punishment standards need to be enacted which will ensure that violent offenders, once captured, are not allowed to commit other crimes again. Giving more power to law enforcement and less to defense attorneys will be another step forward. Criminals need to fear law enforcement and the criminal system. As it stands today, they know that they can commit crimes and even if caught, will still be back on the street. In order for our country to progress and move past the violence issues that we are facing today, we need to take the focus off of gun control and put it onto criminal control. Until that happens, nothing is going to change.