Gun control is an idea that has been mulled over several times in the past. Every time the idea has been put forth, it has been met with endorsement and criticism. There are millions of people who are in favor of gun control, there are millions who are against gun control and there are many people who don’t have a firm opinion. Those without an opinion are either agile & thus welcoming of both or are fence sitters waiting to be convinced. No matter what your personal opinion is, the truth is that gun control cannot be looked at through a simple prism. There are difficult questions and answering them would only expose further complications. While unanimity would not be possible ever, the hope of a consensus on gun control is also elusive and it is likely to be that way in the foreseeable future.
Here are the most talked about gun control pros and cons.
1. There have been hundreds of fatal incidents in the recent past which have apparently made gun control a necessity. Excluding the standalone incidents which did not affect many people, there have been several mass shootings as well. In thirty years, there have been more than seventy horrifying mass shooting incidents in the country. The shooters of more than fifty of those incidents had obtained their guns legally. If guns were not sold legally or not so easily obtainable, then such shooting incidents could have been averted. Proponents of gun control are of the firm belief that the easy availability of guns make such incidents more likely to happen.
2. There are some statistics available today that tell a rather disturbing state of the nation. Every day, about eight kids are fatally shot or wounded by guns. The lack of access to guns or the unavailability of guns can surely address this problem. The easy access to guns for kids, either their parents’ or someone’s, is not only causing deaths but the access itself is causing a menace in the upbringing of kids.
3. Gun control measures can be designed in many ways. Instead of a blanket ban requiring all citizens to shun weapons, there can be a selective ban. The ban can prevent people with a criminal background or a history of violence, abuse and psychological conditions from buying guns. Background checks can easily make this possible. Gun shops can decide whom to sell a gun and whom not to. Although there would be a loophole of some gun sellers not adhering to the procedure strictly but that can always be managed with hefty fines and even penal action. A selective ban makes more sense and also gets a larger endorsement since people who want to own a weapon for their own safety would rather have criminals with no access to guns than the other way around.
2. There are incidents of mass shootings and even terrifying homicides but the total number of violent crimes and murders has gone down over the last five decades. More than a hundred million people have bought guns in the last twenty odd years and the crime rates have fallen since. Critics of gun control point out to the fact that ordinary citizens owning guns discourage criminals. It was once said that God made man but Samuel Colt made them equal. The possibility that an ordinary citizen may carry a gun instills a degree of fear in any criminal. That is one thing that wouldn’t exist if gun control becomes a reality. There is no way one can say for certain that crime rates would not jump up.
3. Gun control would always be effective if everyone in the country was to be treated equally and had there been no possibility of black markets and bootleggers. Gun control laws would tie the hands of law abiding citizens but those with vicious intents will always find guns. If they are not available legally, the criminals would obtain them illegally. That would be an even bigger threat because the law abiding citizens will not have their guns for self defense.
In a way, the debate on gun control is akin to the arguments on prohibition. Possibly, there wouldn’t be a consensus, ever.