Since completing university, Paul has worked as a librarian, teacher, and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he currently lives in Florida.
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
Pros of Gun Control
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
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
Cons of Gun Control
- Gun ownership is a fundamental civil right, irrespective of the US Constitution. All other arguments regarding gun ownership are therefore irrelevant.
- 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.
- Gun possession by individuals is vital for legitimate purposes such as self-defense and hunting and should not be interfered with by the authorities.
- Guns can deter criminals and reduce crime without ever being used.
- Gun ownership acts as an “equalizer” for women, who are then able to deter or defend against attacks by stronger, more aggressive men.
- 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.
- If gun use is restricted, then criminals and murderers will just use different weapons, such as knives.
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
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
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
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
firstname.lastname@example.org from upstate, NY on March 08, 2020:
John Welford- I'll have to give your analysis some thought. Although the crime rate in the UK has always been lower than The US for reasons other than guns and In my view, we should always beware of an accumulation of power in government.
John Welford from Barlestone, Leicestershire on March 06, 2020:
"An armed populus is a prerequisite for a free people". That seems to imply that a population without arms is not free. In that case, am I not a free person in that I live in a country (the United Kingdom) where personal gun ownership is illegal except under strictly controlled circumstances?
The UK and US have very different philosophies. Unlike in the US, we do not see our government as a potential enemy against which we need to arm ourselves. We believe that our government is "of the people, by the people, for the people" - but oddly enough it was an American who came up with that concept!
email@example.com from upstate, NY on March 06, 2020:
1) The founders saw the right to bear arms as a last line of defense against a rouge government, this is more true today than ever.
2) what is often not reported in gun control debates, is the number of incidents that were avoided due to presence on an armed individual. The number is often unknowable. Most mass shootings are in gun free zones
3) what allows tyranny in governments is an unarmed and docile populas. Most tyrants anact gun control to consolidate thier power and go after their enemies. Hitler, Stalin, pol pot, Castro were all fervent advocates for gun control. The mass murders of the Jews and other undesirables were only possible through disarming them.
4) an armed populas is a prerequisite for a free peoples. Rights are meaningless without a means to enforce them. Psychologically an armed people take a primary responsibility for thier own security and see the protection offered by the government as secondary. This is a necessary for a government by we the people and not a paternalistic government that usurps the rights of the people.
Tomura Shigaraki on March 05, 2020:
thank you taylor ferrier
John Welford from Barlestone, Leicestershire on September 14, 2019:
But is a well-regulated militia necessary to the security of a free state 200 years after that line was written? If the answer is No, doesn't the whole argument fall down?
Jocelyn on April 22, 2019:
I fell that we the people should be allowed to have guns because any criminal would be more influenced to use them while the people do not. I do not want anyone to get hurt especially my family.WE THE PEOPLE NEED TO BE DEFENDED
Anonymous on April 01, 2019:
Gun control makes no sense. There are 4,000 shootings in the state with the strictest gun control laws, Chicago. Obviously the gun control laws don't work if there are that many shootings in Chicago.
Anonymous on March 29, 2019:
If our government takes our guns they are taking our rights. We have the rights to bear arms but if they take that right away they take what we legally are able have. And I agree with ????... that it will only create another black market, people will find a way to break the law. I personally don’t like guns only because I don’t understand them if we tough how to use them in schools we would have less problems. I do think we need to be more careful with our guns and children, if the kids have a mental illness and get the guns and die that would be very sad. We should take care of our guns and protect our rights to own them. With this thought I leave you with, what would happen if the government took our guns away?
Important on March 29, 2019:
If someone is already determined to break the law more laws aren’t going to stop them they will just keep on breaking the law. If they are determined to kill somebody they will go and get on with it no matter how many laws forbid them.
?????????????? on March 27, 2019:
Gun control wont help it will only create a new way for people to break the law and if someone had the mentality to start shooting people the police wont be able to stop it is they are so far away. the police try to do their job but they cant stop it unless they know before the shooting starts. if people would stand up and stop those people maby just maby we can stop gun violence. if you read this just try to stop people like that
Taylor Farrier on January 28, 2019:
I agree most public shootings are obtained illegally anyways so by taking away our guns you are only putting the public more at risk. knowing we would not be able to defend ourselves, no one seems to look at attacks made by other weapons such as a knife but when a gun gets pulled into a conversation the public goes crazy. by agreeing with gun control you are disagreeing with the second amendment which is against our constitution therefore if you honestly think the act is for the better your going against AMERICA
anonymous on June 06, 2018:
i think my biggest issue with stricter gun laws is the fact that it wont stop all of the murder that causes people to want more laws anyway. sure maybe gun related deaths will go down but the truth is if someone is willing to kill another and wants to they will do it. Whether it be with a gun, a knife, or any other weapon. People focus so much on the fact that it is too easy to obtain guns when a lot of the shooting cases guns are obtained illegally anyway. stricter gun laws will not change the outcome that people fear only the path to get there.
sum potato on February 19, 2018:
Is it too much to ask if we start by, eliminating purchasable military grade weapons. I know its not much, but its a start. I've yet to seen a justifiable reason to own a weapon designed, purely and solely for military guerilla use. Or on a lesser note at least switch with the criteria for handguns...seems kind of backwards.
Henosis Brands on December 13, 2017:
"There are ethical arguments as to why the Second Amendment is not absolute. Basically, no right is absolute if it clashes with other rights." Needless to say our lawmakers should come up with a firm decision once and for all about gun control, taking consideration the Second Amendment. As the debate continues, having a firm and clear set of rules will help everyone come up with a solid ground on gun control.
Siri Smartphone on September 29, 2017:
maybe we need gun control and maybe we don't...is it possible to create a special type of gun or bullet that is only used for hunting? i agree with both of the affirmative and negative....yeah...
TRUTH on December 12, 2016:
If we have a smart president we will never have gun control in the U.S. And for the good of america we should know the real facts about it and why it will never happen!
firstname.lastname@example.org from upstate, NY on January 09, 2015:
Part of the reason for owning a firearm is psychological. In America we choose to be a government of the people, meaning that we have a government by consent. Having a firearm says that you're willing to be primarily responsible for your own security, with the police and military being an additional and necessary protection but because we agreed to it.
Nations that institute strict gun control tend to create a dependant mindset among the people and a people less directly involved in the daily decisions making regarding their own laws. This can set the groundwork for tyranny because people feel a helplessness as to the correcting the actions of a rogue government.
d on May 07, 2013:
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz what's that
ram on May 07, 2013:
There is the main argument about gun control laws in the U.S.A. I think gun control is so dangerous. The more people who have guns, the more likely it is that there will be a shoot out. So I support anti-gun policy. It increases gun-related crimes. It gives kids easier access to guns which can cause accidents. The number of fatal gun accidents has been increasing every year. It is not the absence of a gun control law that causes accidental deaths. Some people can be in possession of a gun. That’s why the government should restrict the sale and use of guns by establishing a gun control law. In short, I think we should have gun laws similar to U.S.A’s.
Brittni on April 30, 2013:
My eye hurts
Big daddy on April 30, 2013:
Guns are good
Aussiejas on January 20, 2013:
I personally believe it should be a privilege and not a right to bear arms. Something that is to be earned. A licence should be required for gun ownership, with categories for different types of firearms making sure that people know how to operate, control and store these weapons in a safe and secure manner, preventing them from landing into the wrong hands. And yes i know that it will not be 100% effective, but without gun control in place, how do you expect the authorities to be able to disarm those who are likely to cause harm to others.
Yehoash on December 22, 2012:
I am not an US citizen but I believe that it would be a gross stupidity for you American to give this cherised liberty away. My heart goes out to the teachers and children that have been massacred. It is horrible and inacceptable but who are responsible. The authorities are? Why have no rules and restrictions be put inplace. If you will not allow any passenger to board planes with liquid milk in case this could be a bomb then why couldn`t you ensure that security at that school spot that hypnothised gun totting lunatic , miles off and prevent him from entering the school premises? This is not the first time that this has happened. United States you could do better than that? Can`t you just put simple gun rules and restrictions in place? In super markets, trains station etc... how many kilometres should a person be allowed to carry a gun from those allocated premises? But alast I know that there are some people that won`t to enslave the American people. How long should innocent people be sacrificed until the gun laws are passed in the congress? That day will come and America will be slaves to the power elite. Just see how they are taking jobs from you and making you financilly powerless. Just as the Bible prophesied in Revelation, things are startint to unrol. Why women and children are being raped and murdered in some parts of Asia and some African countries? Simply because they can`t fight these armed rebel and armed millitia. Don`t live to regret your foolish. How can you guaranty that one hypnotized lunatic won`t get into the oval office and declare himself god on Earth? For more of my views find me on fanbox as Gerald Solin.
abcxya on August 07, 2012:
less arms, not just guns
Aussie on July 23, 2012:
Disagree with the right to bear arms... Everyday people do not need to own or be in the possession of gun... Using a gun to kill or not to kill is violence... And will not solve anything only do harm!
phion on February 15, 2012:
You will never take our guns:) Good luck! Read history, and why you are able to even have this argument in the first place.
N1GHTMAN from Underground on February 07, 2012:
"Some amateur militia groups within the USA, who are answerable to no one, are actually more potentially dangerous than foreign powers."
What are you saying? That US militias are no where near as "strong" as the US military but even more dangerous than a foreign military? That's a rediculous statement.
"“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."
If every citizen has the legal right to join a militia than your argument is flawed. Unless your saying I HAVE to be in a militia in order to own a firearm, in that case what constitutes a militia? Is there a set number of members needed? Your going to have to be more specific.
"Gun ownership acts as an “equalizer” for women, who are then able to deter or defend against attacks by stronger, more aggressive men."
Not trying to analyze every word in your Hub for it was somewhat informative and Im sure you had good intentions while trying to stay unbiased but this comment could have been left out only because;
A) Why do you assume only a woman would find a weapon handy when overpowed? Men cant be overpowered easily by a much larger person(s)?
B) Why would you just assume that it would have to be a man attacking the woman? There are plenty of cases in which women are assaulting other women. I think in this world everyone would feel a little better with an "Equilizer" to level the playing field.
I think there is so many different types of weapons and owners that it is close minded to put all of them into one category. To assume that the our country is going to be less violent if you take away firearms, in my opinion, is also rediculous.
Don't worry people will still be beating, drowning, and abusing their spouses and children. I beleive in survival of the fittest and the weak get preyed upon. I once heard a quote and cannot for the life of me remember who said it but it goes something like this:
"those who cannot kill will always be subject to those who can"
WD Curry 111 from Space Coast on January 08, 2012:
It is a smart constitutional right. It isn't conducted smartly. When I wanted a gun, my dad signed me up for NRA. I took the NRA safe hunter courses, participated in the marksmanship program, and learned to shoot the eye off of a bullfrog from 100 yards away. By then, I had learned responsibility and respect. This should be a requirement for every gun owner.
We have the right to bear arms for defense purpose. Mainly national. There are those who say the need is obsolete. Not me. Look at the state of affairs. If they get past the military somehow, they will have to deal with the militia and me. God rest their souls.
Roy Patterson from Phoenix, Arizona USA on January 08, 2012:
When criminals find out that most citizens don't have guns, they will have a field day. Criminals can always gets guns.I live here in Arizona and if anyone brakes into my house and tries to hurt my family, I going to shoot them. Not going to wait for the police.
tom shimt on December 14, 2011:
we need to tell congress to give our gun rights back
AmericansForGuns on October 21, 2011:
"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."
Sorry but this is absolute nonsense.
This 'research' is often done by anti gun groups who go in trying to prove a case against guns.
Of course there are more accidents with guns when a gun is present...that's a no brainer. Just like there are more car accidents when more cars are present...precisely why my car insurance is higher in the city than when I lived in smalltown USA.
The issue isn't that accidents happen or don't happen..its whether *I* get to remove YOUR right to defend your wife and daughter from being raped and murdered because of some biased 'research' that results in distorted data.
What's hilarious about the irony of the anti gun agenda is that they seem to prefer arguing numbers and clearly don't really give a rats rear end about individual human rights.
As long as 1000 drug dealing gangbangers don't shoot each other tonite, its apparently been a good day to them if only 100 women are raped and stabbed to death with a screwdriver.
As long as GUN murders are down they clearly don't give a #$%#$ about anything or anyone else.
WD Curry 111 from Space Coast on October 18, 2011:
As usual, you presented the issue concisely. I hate to give myself away, but My Dad made me take the NRA safe hunting course and go all the way to expert in the NRA marksmanship program before I was trusted with a gun. I think similar requirements should be met before anyone can purchase a weapon.
If you think guns are not proper sport, or would never use fire arms to protect yourself or your family, then I applaud your conviction. I want to keep guns away from the irresposible and insane. Please don't take away my right.
American Romance from America on October 15, 2011:
Thanks bunco, I will take that as a compliment!......maybe you do have some marine in you! LOL
the bunco squad from Savannah GA on October 15, 2011:
I enjoyed the fair treatment of this hub, very well done.
A.R. this is the first time I have ever read a post from you that actually made a well thought out, verifiable, and valid point.
American Romance from America on October 14, 2011:
Guns are restricted and carry prison sentences in Old Mexico............but people die from them daily! Only the innocent do not own guns in Mexico! I would bet all I own that if legal citizens of Mexico would be allowed to carry, the drug cartels would disapear within months.......or at least stop the violence!