Gun control refers to a set of policies or laws regulating the sale, modification, manufacture, or transfer of firearms by a civilian. Most developed countries such as Japan and the United Kingdom have restrictive firearm policies, whereas some legislators like American Republicans are permissive. National jurisdictions that control access to firearms limit the acquisition of particular types of guns and determine the citizens to receive firearms licenses.
At times, people politicize the use of the term ‘gun control’, especially in America. Politicians that approve the legislation view gun control as gun safety, firearms regulation, or gun violence prevention. Statistics indicate that there are more than 870 million firearms in the hands of armed forces, law enforcement agencies, and civilians. Civilians alone hold up to 70% of these guns. In the United States, the number is more than 270 million. The American military forces control another 200 million of guns. On the other hand, the US law enforcement agents have approximately 25 million small firearms, whereas non-state armed militias have a total of 1.5 million firearms. Gang members in major cities have between 2 to 11 million guns, accounting for nearly 2% of the global total (Kleck 402).
Regulating Civilian Firearms
In most countries, civilians have to undergo a thorough background check before the government can grant them a gun license. It is periodically renewable and can be revoked when a gun holder does not meet the set standards. A survey conducted in 21 countries revealed that the difference between the national gun control agencies depends on the view of gun ownership as a privilege or right.
The researchers observed a clear distinction in both Yemen and the United States when compared to other countries. For instance, America views gun ownership as a fundamental civilian right enshrined in the country’s constitution. Therefore, any attempt to modify this law is seen as a threat to the national security. In other European and Asian states, civilians consider firearm ownership as a privilege thus the importance of implementing restrictive measures against possession of guns.
Regional and International Civilian Gun Control
At the regional and international level, diplomats are shifting their focus on cross-border illegal firearms trade instead of regulation the number of firearms that the civilians hold both in the United States and abroad. However, in the year 1995, ECOSOC (UN Economic and Social Council) ratified numerous resolutions on civilians’ ownership of firearms. Two years later, ECOSOC resolved that all UN member states have a responsibility to regulate the civilian ownership of firearms by forming regulatory frameworks (Wolpert and Gimpel 2012). Some of the proposals included stringent penalties for unlawful acquisition of guns, firearm storage, and the introduction of a licensing system for monitoring guns in civilians’ hands.
The primary drivers for gun control policies in America are injuries and high gun mortality rates especially among the black and Latin American communities. What researchers speculate is the impact of increased or decreased gun control policies on gun violence rates in these neighborhoods. Over the years, investigators have collected credible data on firearm-related deaths or injuries, the relationship between violence and gun ownership, and firearm markets. However, the scholars are yet to prove the effectiveness of gun control policies across the country. In the year 2014, NRC (the National Research Council) conceded that the state of public knowledge on firearm ownership legality is poor, even though the researchers need a strong evidence to back this up. While a potential for an improved research design exists, NRC claims that weak research methods and inadequate data are to blame for insufficient knowledge of gun control policies and execution procedures.
According to a 2008 law enforcement review, the enactment of gun control regulation resulted in a sharp decline in suicide rates (Lester 180). Therefore, the findings supported gun control measures as one of the most effective strategies to minimize suicide rates. In the year 2015, a similar report revealed that intimate partner homicide rates are significantly reduced when courts invoked gun restraining orders for former domestic violence convicts. In addition, the investigators concluded that a simultaneous implementation of multiple restrictive gun laws is linkable to decreased firearm-related fatalities.
According to the NRA (the National Rifle Association), six US states with strict gun control policies had relatively lower suicide rates in comparison with Texas and other states with loose gun laws. Besides, the children living in states with strict gun laws are safer when compared to those in other states. Of keen to note is that the American war veterans that served in Vietnam are highly likely to commit suicide with guns than the other members of the society. The state of California has strict rifle sales regulations, which explains the oldest guns’ recovery than any other state. Considering this success, the researcher recommends that the government should implement harsh gun sales regulations and gun dealer laws to minimize the chances of a rifle falling into criminals’ hands.
In summary, it is the federal government’s role to introduce and implement gun control laws. The politicization of gun ownership in the United States is to blame for the rising cases of gun violence and slow pace in criminal crackdown. Unless both right-wing and left-wing politicians can compromise on their stance for a productive common ground, gun violence is likely to rise in black neighborhoods and even spread to other communities. Most importantly, the federal government has to invest in awareness creation programs as a long-term solution.
- Kleck, Gary. “Crime, Culture Conflict and the Sources of Support for Gun Control a Multilevel Application of the General Social Surveys.” American Behavioural Scientist 39.4 (2014): 387-404.
- Lester, David. “Research Note Gun Control, Gun Ownership, and Suicide Prevention.” Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviour 18.2 (2013): 176-180.
- Wolpert, Robin M., and James G. Gimpel. “Self-Interest, Symbolic Politics, and Public Attitudes Toward Gun Control.” Political Behaviour 20.3 (2012): 241-262.