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Gun Control:
An Impact On Today’s Society
Laci Dalton
Academic affiliation: Oklahoma State University
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The impact guns have on society in America is quite devastating. There are murders that take place with guns everywhere, there are suicides that take the lives of loved ones, and there are mistakes that end up in death. However some people do not realize that firearms are an important asset in the home when it comes down to saving the life of a loved one in need. By the time a properly armed police officer arrives on the scene, it may be too late for the victims. In this essay there will be a closer look on the scholarship of gun control and its effects on suicide, as well as views made by authors on whether or not there should be more strict laws pertaining to the second amendment.

In one of the small towns that lay in the Bible Belt, there lived a boy that was the All American boy. He was a model individual who was never questioned by another individual. He was an all star football player as well as one of the popular guys in school. All of the girls wanted to date him, and all the boys wanted to be him. He was an image of the American Tradition. This next event in his life took place his senior year of high school when everything should be going great in the life of a senior in high school. He was also an experienced drinker known to be rowdy and obnoxious, but all in all he was no harm to anyone. On a night that seemed to be like any other, he was at a party with his friends, and he changed the way that he thought during the process of drinking. In the end, he ended up raping one of his longtime friends, and in doing this he felt horrible. He was responsible for hurting one of his friends. He was a criminal in this aspect, but in others he was in the same way a victim. When he went home, he decided he had done enough to take his own life for the girl’s life that he could have taken earlier in the evening. He had a gun in his hand ready to commit the unforgivable sin, when he decided that it was not worth taking his own life. He started to go up stairs to his bedroom when he tripped and the gun went off. He killed himself without even meaning to do it. This story is just one of the many that have occurred in the small communities throughout the nation. It has affected many including the good people that were involved. This event is just an example of the hundreds of accidental suicides around the world committed by the use of a gun.

In many cases seen by doctors, there have been an alarming number of suicides committed within the past years. In an article entitled, “Guns and Suicide: Possible Effects of Some Specific Legislation,” there is a belief that a more strict gun law will in no way affect the amount of suicides committed each year. If someone wants to take their life bad enough, then they will find some way to do it. As the doctors have noted, “The question remains, however, as to whether significantly curbing the availability of guns across the United States would have a major effect on overall suicide rates. We believe the data from both Toronto and San Diego support the hypothesis that substitution of method would occur (1, 17)” (344). This statement suggests that having a stricter law on gun control will have no effect on the rate of suicides that are present in today’s society.

Gary Kleck, who is the author of the novel that targets guns from many views, has an inspiring view on the subject of suicides using the firearm method. He agrees with other scientific professionals such as Dr. Charles Rich, Dr. James Young, Dr. Richard Fowler, and Junior associates John Wagner and Nancy Black, who are the authors of the article “Guns and Suicide: Possible Effects of Some Specific Legislation,” in the idea that stricter gun laws will only inhibit suicide attempts not stop them. They believe that if someone is bound and determined to take their own life, they will not have to wait on a gun to do it. If they are that serious, they will find another way to do it such as leaping off a cliff or hanging themselves in a barn.

The authors that are mentioned below share beliefs that gun control will have no effect on a serious suicide factor. These authors just see it from a different point of view. Ned Andrews author of the article, “Why Guns Matter” believes that gun control has severely separated the states in the great nation of America. There are towns in this nation that out of reach of safety and those followers fall into the Red America section. Followers of the Gun Control Laws are those such as people in the Blue America sections of the nation. Blue America believes that the government is only out there to help citizens, and that government officials should be the only ones to carry guns. They believe that citizens will be safe under the control of the government. However Andrews points out that Red America is not under that long arm of the law and what will happen to those who cannot be protected. “This is why Red America values the Second Amendment so highly” (9). If there is so much controversy over such an easy issue then the country should be separated.

There are some individuals that work in the Red American society, but they still value gun control, such as Sarah Brady. Her husband was injured protecting a Republican president, and now they are both fighting for harsher gun laws. She disagrees with Andrews in her story, “Well Known Victims Fight Back” by stating, “It shouldn’t be a Republican versus Democratic. We’ve worked hard to make it as nonpartisan as we can. An awful lot of wonderful Republicans, like Ronald Reagan and Jim, helped ensure the passage of the Brady Law” (46). She worked to get laws passed so that Saturday Night Specials would be banned from production. In her mind, there was not any difference between Red and Blue America, and the people of the nation should come together on this issue of gun control.

There is another author that shares the same views as Sarah Brady, but for a different reason. This issue is known for its effect on children that have to grow up in the near future. In Tom Smith’s article, “Public Perspectives: Public Opinion About Gun Policies” he shows concern not only for some women that may be defenseless, but also for the children that indeed could be helpless. He helps with the idea of gun control by initiating that it should be the same as any other consumer product. It should come with warnings and child protection so that children have no way to get themselves into trouble. He states, “Substantial majorities consistently support most safety-related policies, especially federal safety standards for handguns and requirements that guns be childproof” (157). He believes that for the safety of women and children there should be extended measures taken to ensure their lives. However, he believes that guns should not be banned in households with children, which is a step in the reverse from Sarah Brady’s plan. Her idea holds some plans to ban certain guns that can be picked without a waiting period that could save lives.

Smith’s plan could be closer to the plan of Suzanna Gratia Hupp, who is a Texas State Representative, which believes that certain gun control measures took the life of her parents. They were enjoying their lunch one day when a pickup truck came in barreling in, and a man got out and started shooting. Her story, “Witnessing Parents’ Shooting Prompted Support For Carry Law” is a story of how she made the largest mistake of her life. “She obeyed the Texas law that prohibited her from carrying a concealed handgun with her, leaving her .38 revolver in her car” (135). When this happened, she had to witness both of her parents being shot as a part of a suicide mission that resulted in many injured and even more killed. Her plan of helping getting gun legislation passed in order to protect people like herself has been taken into review by Texas legislators that have plans to help those people that are hurt by the loss of loved ones.

There are other authors that object to Hupp’s views such as Hugh LaFollette. He claims that handguns are the main responsibility for homicides that occur each year. He would be an author that would take Sarah Brady’s fight for gun control to the next level. In his article, “Controlling Guns” he points out the flaws in the articles that have been written by the authors such as Lance Stell. He says, “Stell objects to my claim that the empirical evidence shows that the widespread availability of guns increases homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths” (34). His view of the impact that guns have on suicides would vary greatly from the views of Kleck and Rich. He claims that the data that was used in Stell’s study comes from the research of Kleck showing that Kleck and Stell share the same views on guns in the home. He believes that, “it would be compatible with the complete abolition of all handguns since handguns would be the least successful defense against governmental aggression” (34).

LaFollette disagrees with the author by the name of Lance Stell, who is the author of the article, “Gun Control and the Regulation of Fundamental Rights.” Stell who gained much of his research from Kleck believes that handguns should be kept away from some individuals that are incapable of determining their own sense in the world. Stell does agree with LaFollette on the general ideas that policies that pertain to guns are more of a nuance than people think. Stell also agrees with the fact that, “defenders of a serious right to bear arms must ground their argument in an account of fundamental human interests” (29). This meaning that a person must be able to have the rights to stand on their own in order to be viewed as a right to some individuals. Stell does give LaFollette credit for his views, but he also thinks that there are some areas of LaFollette’s argument that is flawed. He believes that with a certain amount of gun control there could be safe neighborhoods. He would be placed in the same intellectual camp as Kleck, Smith, and Hupp. He agrees that there are certain people that should not allowed to carry guns, but for those that are mentally competent there should be legislation permitting those good folks to be able to protect themselves in a case of urgent need. Stell argues that examples of heroic gun rescues will not be able to settle the effects of the macro-level that has impacted the legislation on the idea of gun control. He points that aw well as there are many good points in LaFollete’s arguments that there are as many flaws that discredit his research. LaFollette also shares the same idea about Stell. LaFollette would be placed in the same fighting group as Brady. Also Brady could be tied in the same plan as Ned Andrews who was just an author stating his opinion about America, and the way that it has been divided.

The ways that gun control have effected the lives of Americans have been a part of the history as well as a part of the future; whether it is hunting, taking one’s life, or just having some good wholesome fun at target practice. Guns have played major roles, but they are in no way to be ignored. They are an essential part of some people’s lives just as they are not in another’s view. These intellectual camps have shown their diversified ideas as well as the ideas that they share in the articles that they have written. The may share some of the same views, but there are some distinct things that set them apart from each other. These factors have given them the role as authors so that the people of American can see with their own eyes that there are some serious problems with gun control as well as some great benefits from the a gift that could take someone’s life or save it.

Works Cited

Andrews, Ned. “Why Guns Matter” The American Enterprise 13.6 (2002): 9-10.

Brady, James, and Sarah Brady. “Well-Known Victims Fight Back.” People For and Against Gun Control: a biographical reference. Ed. Marjolijn Bijlefeld. Westport: Greenwood P., 1999. 42-47.

Hupp, Suzanna Gratia. “Witnessing Parents’ Shooting Prompted Support For Carry Law.” People For and Against Gun Control: a biographical reference. Ed. Marjolijn Bijlefeld. Westport: Greenwood P., 1999. 135-38.

Kleck, Gary. Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control. New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1997.

LaFollette, Hugh. “Controlling Guns.” Criminal Justice Ethics 20.1 (2001): 34-39.

Rich, Charles L., M.D., James G. Young, M.D., Richard C. Fowler, M.D., John Wagner, and Nancy A. Black, J.D. “Guns and Suicide: Possible Effects of Some Specific Legislation.” The American Journal of Psychiatry 147.3 (1990): 342.

Smith, Tom W. “Public Perspectives: Public Opinion About Gun Policies.” The Future of Children 12.2 (2002): 155-63.

Stell, Lance K. “Gun Control and the Regulation of Fundamental Rights.” Criminal Justice Ethics 20.1 (2001): 28-33.

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