Gun Control: Overview


The issue of gun control has been debated for a long time, probably ever
since they were invented. The gun is a small, rather easy to obtain, weapon that
is lethal if used in the right (or wrong) way. This makes the gun an extremely
dangerous factor in our lives. If used improperly, a gun could be lethal to not
only the target, but the user as well. The availability of guns has sky rocketed
in the past decade or so, and the immense population of guns in our society make
it a dangerous place to live. Gun violence claims approximately 38,000 lives in
the U.S. each year, including 5,000 children and teenagers.(1) In the past few
years, many steps have been taken to help reduce the risk of fatal accidents or
intentions. One of these steps was the ban of assault weapons.
Two years ago, congress passed a landmark bill, banning the sale,
manufacture and, importation of semi-automatic assault weapons and large
capacity ammunition clips. Due to this ban, the number of crimes traced to
assault weapons has decreased almost 20% from 1994.(2) This ban was repealed by
the House of Representatives. On march 22, 1996 another big legislation in the
fight against guns was the Brady bill, which demands a 5 day waiting period for
all handgun purchases. These legislation\'s are some what effective and in
different ways. The only real way to eliminate most gun violence is to eliminate
the availability of guns. Surely making guns illegal would do this but this
raises a very important issue.
If you outlaw guns, only the outlaws will have guns. Simply put, no
matter how many bans you put out, there will always be the black market to
support the criminals in the U.S. Needless to say the law abiding citizens of
our country would be defenseless. The NRA has made sure that this will never
happen. What the United States needs is some one to pass a bill that will
protect all our citizens. Some men and women in Washington think they are that
some one. Some think that there should be more availability of guns. Let\'s see
what they both think.
Two years ago, as I mentioned, Congress passed a ban on the sale,
manufacture, and importation of all semi-automatic assault weapons. Soon after
the 104th Congress resumed power, The House of Representatives repealed the ban
as a pay back to the National Rifle Association (NRA) who had funded thousands
of dollars to Congressional candidates through their Political Action Committee
(PAC). According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NRA has spent over
$3 million in 1993 and 1994 alone on campaign commercials. The NRA is one of the
major organizations and the biggest in the fight for pro-gun ownership.
According to polls, 65% of Americans say they would be more likely to vote for a
Congressman who would not vote to repeal this. 18% said they would vote for some
one who would repeal this ban and 15% said it would not effect their vote. It is
important for Americans to know how their Congressmen stand on the issue.(3)
In 1981, the current president Ronald Reagan and his assistant, James
Brady, were both shot in an assignation attempt on Reagan. Brady was paralyzed
and has been ever since. The man who shot them had bought his gun no longer than
a day or two before the shooting.
On March of 94\' a bill, quite appropriately named The Brady Bill was
passed demanding a mandatory waiting period on all hand gun purchases. The
period is used to do background checks on the customer. Each state has the right
to regulate restrictions as to what on this background check would prevent a
customer from purchasing a gun. In Massachusetts, the restrictions are as
follows:

The person must be over the age of 18.
The person must be a United States Citizen
The person must never have been convicted of felony
The person must never have been convicted of a drug charge, even a
misdemeanor.
The person must not have any reported mental illnesses.

In other states these laws are different but, they are very similar.
This bill was signed by President Bill Clinton. Although this is a federal bill
a problem arises with states not willing to accept this bill for some reason are
using the 10th amendment to ignore the Brady Bill. The 10th amendment gives the
powers, not given or prohibited by the constitution, to the states. It is a slim
chance, if any, but some lawyers