Gun Control in America
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The history of gun control in the United States of America has a discriminatory aspect. From the 18th century, the gun control measure put in place was aimed at preventing the minority group from accessing the firearms. As the first gun control measures were introduced after the South pre-revolution, the chief goal was to prevent the black minority from owning guns and maintain the white priority. As immigrants had settled in America, anti-immigrant legislation was brought into use to prevent them from owning guns. By the end of 19th century, there was a change in gun control measures from anti-black and anti-immigrant legislation (Gun Control Timeline, n.d.). There were plots headed by anti-immigration groups with the primary aim of associating immigrants with crime. This move was aimed at enacting state laws that would limit the number of people who would own guns.
As the gun control legislation had spread to the North, there were efforts to come up with laws governing who could own guns. Although laws were less discriminatory in the North, authorities were given power to deny licenses to those who they thought posed risk to the society. In 1968, the enactment of gun control act brought about changes in gun ownership. The main aim of the act was supposedly to reduce crime but, as Duggan (2001) and Vernick (2003) noted, the main purpose was to keep black militia from accessing guns. The law was put forth to remove cheap weapons from the market. It in turn reduced the possibility of poor people owning weapons. Criminologists have argued that the move was never meant to reduce crime but to keep weapons out of black people’s reach (Chemerinsky, 2004). Additionally, those who favored the act argued that most areas that were inhabited by poor people recorded high crime rates and reducing access to the gun would lead to a reduction in crime rates.
Over time, the issue of gun control and legislation passed to control the use weapons has continued to bring forth mixed reactions. Although the legislation has been improved to remove the racial discriminatory in them, Franklin (2014) argued that the laws are still class based, and poor people find it hard to own guns. The removal of inexpensive guns from the market was also aimed at reducing the number of people who could have access to weapons. All these moves have led to recording of increased illegal weapons across the United States. A notable move that was brought forward to control gun use included the formatio of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) in the year 1972. The BATF was formed with control of illegal firearms as one of its missions (Krouse, 2013). Additionally, the BATF was mandated to license gun ownership and to inspect gun licensees.
In the year 1986, there was an act aimed at increasing the penalties for people who own guns, but have no license. It was reduced by the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act which also reduced restrictions of sales of firearms. In the year 1989, California banned the ownership of semiautomatic weapons. It was after the incident that happened in CA school playing ground in Stockton where a shooter killed five children and left others critically injured (Ferris & Boehm, 2014). In the year 1990, there was a ban in the manufacturing and importation of semiautomatic weapons in the United States following the enactment of the Crime Control Act. The same act of 1990 established the enactment of Gun Free Schools and recommended stiff and specific penalties for those who would violate the law.
As the rate of murders of the US citizens had increased, there was a move to enact stricter laws, such as the 1944 Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act. It established a five-day waiting list and gave law enforcement agencies authority to perform background checks. In the year 1998, the Brady Act provision was effective and required gun dealers to initiate national instant criminal background check that enabled them to check the suitability of those who wanted to buy weapons.
Historical development in enactments and legislation that were aimed at limiting the number of people with access to guns was triggered by criminal acts that happened throughout the noted times. The assassinations of J.F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were some of the causes that led to legislation of more stringent laws for gun control. Additionally, the killing of innocent children in the United States’ schools like that which happened in CA school also triggered the need to have stricter laws for gun control. Although the historical development and enactment have been found to be effective, there are those who still believe that the laws are discriminatory and class based. They argue that some of the gun control measures like those which give law enforcement officers authority to deny permits to people based on their decisions on threat to security are still discriminatory as they have been exploited to deny people of certaiin races from owning guns.
Based on the recent statistics, there were over 300 million owned firearms in the United States in the year 2010 (Krouse, 2012). The statistics also indicates that out of the 300 million guns, 100 were handguns. Accordingly, the number of households that own gun has increased compared to the last decade. The need of a safer community and the aim of protecting children and society at large will enhance enactment of effective gun control measures currently and in the future. In the last few years, the Obama administration, in its effort to tighten the security gaps that have been brought about by illegal gun acquisition, developed legislation stricter than a decade ago.
In response to continuing murder and killing of innocent civilians including children, in the year 2013, Obama administration proposed inclusion of universal background check for gun sales among other security issues. The recent data on gun control indicate that the majority of the Americans believe that the laws covering the sales and acquisition of weapons are not strict enough (Chemerinsky, 2004). 69 percent of the people interviewed believe that the recent mass killings have been made easier due to the ease at which people are able to get guns and other weapons (International Firearm Injury Prevention and Policy, n.d.). Comparing the data on murder and killings in the United States, statistics indicates that the rate of murder has decreased after strict laws aimed at controlling the ownership of guns were put in place. As the two political parties continue to exercise their strengths on gun control, the future may mean even more stringent laws that will force individuals to go through strict processes before they get a permit to own guns.
Obama administration has also shown interest in coming up with stricter laws aimed at making it hard for citizens to own guns. In future, it will become hard for a certain class of people to have weapons. The current rate of mass murder has also ignited debates on gun ownership with people indicating that there is need for the government and related agencies to come up with stricter laws aimed at keeping guns away from those who are not stable. Additional statistics has indicated that there is a high probability of family people to be hurt than an intruder. Due to that fact, there is a need to extend the background check not only on the person who is acquiring the weapon, but also to those who can get access to such weapons.
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