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March 1, 2005

Against Gun Control

By Jesse Atchison, a Middletown High School Student with an interest in Political Science

With harsher gun regulations, many families will be helpless to defend themselves from attackers. And others will be deprived from the enjoyable sports of hunting or just shooting in general.   Gun control, by nature and argument, is an unconstitutional and dangerous institution.   Through an analysis of gun ownership in America, study of current crime prevention programs, and referencing the Second Amendment to the Constitution, one can find that gun control is both harmful to America and unconstitutional.

Half of all households in America own a gun, with over 250 million guns among these people.   Ninety-Nine percent of these people take their gun ownership seriously and take care of their guns in a responsible manner.   It’s the remaining one percent, however, that gives the overwhelming majority the bad name.  We are told that an overwhelming number of young people are  killed by  guns  everyday.   In reality, the average  daily death rate for children 14 and under is 2.6, for those 10 and under,  .4 per day, far lower than the national daily  average for children killed in car accidents. 

Overall, the number of  gun accidents is far lower than of that in 1903, when records were first kept.   Some people argue that the abundance of guns in America has led to an increase in homicides and suicides.   They say the simplicity of killing a person with a gun has created much more violent crime than there would have without guns.   In 1995, the death by firearm rate was 13.7 per 100,000 in the United States.   From 1990 to  1997, 147,000 suicides were committed with a gun along with 100,000 homicides.   As of today,  75 percent of murderers have an adult criminal record before they kill.   They have that evil state of mind, they will use any means necessary to commit their crimes.  

One out of every four killers have no previous criminal record before they kill.   Keeping this in mind, the availability of guns does not encourage crime.   Just because you have a gun doesn’t mean you will be driven to kill somebody.   When you think about it, if a person has that much motivation to kill himself or to kill another person, won’t he/she find a way to do it? Taking away guns through a program of restrictive gun control will not get rid of murder and suicide in America, it will only force people to create or find different means to carry out their devious deeds.

Another myth about guns is the “gun show loophole”. Some believe that gun shows should be banned because they are exempt from some gun laws, making it easier for criminals to escape a background check and illegally obtain a firearm.   They have been called “Tupperware parties for criminals”.   In reality, buying a gun from a show is no different from buying one from a sporting goods store or a gun shop.   Gun dealers must get FBI approval for every sale and must fill out a government registration form on every buyer.   These same procedures would be followed if a buyer purchased a gun from a store.

Instead of drafting more gun control laws, why don’t we just effectively enforce the laws we have now?  Take Project Exile, for example.   This program, run in Richmond, Virginia, cut down  the number of gun homicides in the city by one- half in just one year.  

The secret to the programs success is punishing those who illegally obtain firearms and those who commit violent crimes with guns.  

In  1997 in Washington, D.C, the capital of the nation only two violent crimes out of 2,400 were prosecuted from federal referrals.  

Richmond in 1998 had more prosecutions than California, New Jersey, New York, and D.C combined!   

Under Project Exile, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms , in conjunction with the Richmond Police Department and the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia chose to “adopt” criminal cases that meet the criteria to be prosecuted in the federal court system.  

These criteria include gun possession by a convicted felon, gun possession by a fugitive from another state, gun possession by a person under a federal indictment, gun possession by a person under a restraining under, gun possession by a gun user, and gun possession by people known to be involved in a prior domestic dispute.  

When a criminal case is found to have any criteria to be “adopted”, the case is supported by a Project Exile officer, and they make sure that the severest punishment is dealt to the offender.  

The results of Project Exile are very comforting.   In just two years, 544 people were indicted in Richmond due to Project Exile, which resulted in the removal of  650 guns from the city streets.   The “carry rate” sharply lessened as a result of fewer  drug dealers being found with guns on their person.  When existing  gun control laws are executed to their utmost potential, gun crime can be discouraged and will dramatically decrease.

Before we jump the gun and push for more and more regulations, let’s look at what we already have.

    “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Thus reads the Second Amendment to the Constitution, at the very center of the gun control debate.

According to gun control advocates, the second amendment is outdated and is from a time of illogical paranoia.  

The Second Amendment was born of the oppression suffered by the colonists at the hand of the British.  The right to keep a gun was banned, therefore the colonists had no effective way to defend themselves from the injustices done to them.  In fact, the opening skirmishes of the Revolutionary War, at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, were a result of the colonists taking a stand against British troops who were going to seize a stockpile of firearms at Concord.

The ground work for tyranny is laid when the police forces and military in a country are allowed to carry guns, while the citizens are not.  Before every genocide in the 20th century, there was a deprivation of the right to own a gun. 

Without a means to defend themselves with, the people are powerless from the ravishing of an unjust government.  In the words of the great Roman orator Cicero, “There exists a law, not written down anywhere but inborn in our hearts; a law that comes to use from nature itself, that if our lives are endangered, any and every method of protecting ourselves is morally right.”

Guns, when used safely and in the right situations, can be an effective tool.   Most Americans  respect their right to a gun, it’s the slim minority that gives the rest a bad name.   Gun control laws will not magically get rid of crime in America, it will only infringe on sacred  rights guaranteed in the Constitution.  

There are already scores of gun control laws on the books, but without proper enforcement, these decrees are nothing but hollow words.  Programs such as Project Exile that attack the people who are most prone to committing gun violence, people with prior criminal weapons, take illegal guns off the streets.  Without firearms, any society is prone to the injustice of government and tyranny.