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Pros and Cons of Gun Control Laws in the US

Since completing university, Paul has worked as a librarian, teacher, and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he currently lives in Florida.

This article looks at the positives and negatives of gun control.

This article looks at the positives and negatives of gun control.

This article contains a list of the main arguments for and against gun control laws in the USA. The issue of gun control has been intensely debated in the USA over the years.

The discussion never fully goes away and is often reignited by outbursts of gun violence by crazed individuals, such as the Virginia Tech shootings, the attack on U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, or the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

Some of the arguments over gun control reflect practical concerns, such as issues of self-defense and violent crime, some reflect values and traditions, and others are more legalistic in nature and revolve around different interpretations of the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.

Here are the essential pros and cons of gun control laws.

This battle for 'common-sense' gun control laws pits emotion and passion against logic and reason. All too often in such a contest, logic loses. So, expect more meaningless, if not harmful, 'gun control' legislation. Good news - if you're a crook.

— Larry Elder

6 Pros of Gun Control

  1. The main argument for gun control is that it would reduce violent crime and shootings, especially in urban areas. Guns make it much easier to kill people. As well as killing others, guns also make it easier for people to commit suicide and kill themselves.
  2. The ‘Self-defense’ argument in favor of guns is often used against gun control laws, but research suggests that guns in the home are far more likely to kill a friend or a household member, than an intruder.
  3. The collective self-defense argument that the USA needs militia groups to protect the country from the threat of invasion are spurious, to say the least, given the power of the US military. Some amateur militia groups within the USA, who are answerable to no one, are actually more potentially dangerous than foreign powers.
  4. There are ethical arguments as to why the Second Amendment is not absolute. Basically, no right is absolute if it clashes with other rights. For example, even the right to free speech is restricted if you accuse a public figure of disreputable behavior, when you know this to be false. Neither are you allowed to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater when you know there is no danger.
  5. There are also legal arguments regarding the Second Amendment’s statement on the right to bear arms. For example, “The people” who are referred to in the Second Amendment are a group who form part of a “well-regulated” militia. It essentially asserts a state’s right to have a militia and does not mean that every individual citizen has the right to bear arms.
  6. There are also questions regarding where to draw the line with regard to private armaments. Guns were the predominant weapon at the time of the American Revolution, but nowadays we have bazookas, plastic explosives, bomber aircraft, and tanks—should any private citizen be allowed to own those items too?
Police arriving at the Sandy Hook Elementary School after 20 children and 6 adult staff members were shot by 20-year-old Adam Lanza.  Proponents of gun control believe that there needs to be more regulation of gun sales and ownership.

Police arriving at the Sandy Hook Elementary School after 20 children and 6 adult staff members were shot by 20-year-old Adam Lanza. Proponents of gun control believe that there needs to be more regulation of gun sales and ownership.

As for gun control advocates, I have no hope whatever that any facts whatever will make the slightest dent in their thinking - or lack of thinking.

— Thomas Sowell

7 Cons of Gun Control

  1. Gun ownership is a fundamental civil right, irrespective of the US Constitution. All other arguments regarding gun ownership are therefore irrelevant.
  2. The Second Amendment to the US Constitution clearly guarantees the right to possess firearms by individual citizens, the people who dispute this are misinterpreting the US Constitution. This right has been upheld by the courts on many occasions.
  3. Gun possession by individuals is vital for legitimate purposes such as self-defense and hunting and should not be interfered with by the authorities.
  4. Guns can deter criminals and reduce crime without ever being used.
  5. Gun ownership acts as an “equalizer” for women, who are then able to deter or defend against attacks by stronger, more aggressive men.
  6. Gun ownership by both individuals and militias provide security for the American people against foreign invasion and also government tyranny—if the American people were disarmed and some kind of dictatorship emerged, the people would be at its mercy.
  7. If gun use is restricted, then criminals and murderers will just use different weapons, such as knives.
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Guns are used by many people for hunting and self-defense purposes.  Many people, especially in rural areas where there is little protection from the police, regard them as vital.

Guns are used by many people for hunting and self-defense purposes. Many people, especially in rural areas where there is little protection from the police, regard them as vital.

Unfortunately, most gun control advocates are not really interested in rational debate, and their political games simply send Alice chasing white rabbits down holes.

— Bob Barr

The headquarters of The National Rifle Association in Fairfax, Virginia. As well as being a strong lobby group, the NRA offers programs that teach firearm competency and safety to youth and adults, as well as civilians and law enforcement.

The headquarters of The National Rifle Association in Fairfax, Virginia. As well as being a strong lobby group, the NRA offers programs that teach firearm competency and safety to youth and adults, as well as civilians and law enforcement.

Yes, people pull the trigger - but guns are the instrument of death. Gun control is necessary, and delay means more death and horror.

— Eliot Spitzer

People against gun control argue that the authorities have no right to interfere with legitimate gun use, such as for hunting or self-defense.  Advocates for gun control believe that too often guns fall into the hands of the wrong people.

People against gun control argue that the authorities have no right to interfere with legitimate gun use, such as for hunting or self-defense. Advocates for gun control believe that too often guns fall into the hands of the wrong people.

You can have all the gun control laws in the country, but if you don't enforce them, people are going to find a way to protect themselves. We need to recognize that bad people are doing bad things with these weapons. It's not the law-abiding citizens, it's not the person who uses it as a hobby.

— Michael Steele

Your opinion

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: I'm doing a debate for my history class, and I was a little confused about the Second Amendment and what it says about militias. Can you explain this?

Answer: The exact wording of the Second Amendment is "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."

Constitutional lawyers, politicians, and ordinary people have all argued about the relationship of militias to the right to bear arms in the statement. Militias were a common way of organizing a fighting force during the time of the revolution.

© 2011 Paul Goodman

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