Guns: a Source of Protection or a Killing Mechanism? Essay

Submitted By YemisiN1
Words: 2356
Pages: 10

Guns: A Source of Protection or a Killing Mechanism? The rate of death for an American at the hands of a firearm, intentional or accidental, has drastically decreased since the early 1990’s during the heightened crack epidemic. In Baltimore city alone, there were only 198 murders committed in the year 2011 compared to a staggering 325 in 1995 (Battle A1). Looking at the average American evening news highlights would suggest the exact opposite as heartless homicides and gun toting robbers tend to get the top spot during most ten o’clock broadcasts. It should come as no surprise as the common motto explains ‘if it bleeds, it leads’. The extreme news coverage on events such as the Virginia Tech shooting of 2007 or the more recent Trayvon Martin Case depict a nation in which guns are the leading cause of death and injury; this is simply not the case. In 2009, homicides—executed with any weapon, not just a firearm—were only the fifteenth leading cause of death trailing behind Parkinson’s disease, pneumonia, and cardiovascular diseases (Kochanek 4). Gun violence has the potential to be a controllable problem, but with no concrete solution the problem will continue to plague Americans. Some believe that stricter gun control legislation will help reduce crime while others believe increasing the amount of civilian owned guns will have the same result. Both have valid points and arguments behind them but are simplified answers to a complex problem. Handguns made up 51% of the homicidal weapons used from 2000-2008, firearms as a whole made up 66% of those weapons (Murder Victims). According to the Murder Victims—Circumstances and Weapons Used or Cause of Death: 2000 to 2008 report and many like it, firearms are shown to be the leading weapon of choice in homicides, assaults and violent crimes such as rape, robbery and grand larceny. This is partially due the ease of access to a firearm at any given time to the perpetrators. In the film, Bowling for Columbine, filmmaker Michael Moore shows the simplicity of obtaining a gun by responding to a bank ad whose selling point was offering guns to those who open a bank account. With a simple background check, Moore walked out of the bank with his brand new bank account and of course: his gun. The lack of effort with which Moore needed to get his gun is a single cause of one of the most devastating school massacres in United States history.
Two high school seniors of Columbine High School orchestrated the shooting of 1999 that killed thirteen people, injured twenty-one others then ultimately turned the guns on themselves committing suicide. The ammunition used in the attack was purchased at a local K-Mart by a twenty-two year old friend of the gunmen since minors under the age of twenty-one cannot legally purchase handgun ammunition. Putting an age limit on those able to buy handgun ammunition makes sense and is a proper step toward effective gun control legislation. A proper step indeed but not the lone step necessary to eliminate gun related crimes. What is to stop minors and felons from getting an of age ‘law-abiding citizen’ to do their purchase for them as the Columbine gunmen did? It would make sense to make it illegal to buy firearms and/or ammunition for those who cannot legally buy it for themselves. Something similar to one of the alcohol laws of New Jersey, that implement that it is illegal to buy alcohol for individuals under the legal age limit, should have been instated and strictly enforced. In addition there should be lengthy background checks conducted when purchasing ammunition as well as purchasing a gun being that “none of the ten states with the highest crime gun export rates require background checks for all handgun sales at gun shows” (Movement of Illegal Guns 10). If precautions such as these were to be taken they must be done so at a federal and not a state level. If they are done at a state level as most firearm legislation is done now, criminals will simply