The last federal gun control law passed in the United States was in 1994. The last federal gun control law passed is called the Brady law, named after James Brady, “the White House press secretary gravely wounded in the attempt on President Reagan’s life in 1981” (Rosen 2). This law institutes mandatory background checks and waiting periods for handgun purchases (Lott 2). Before this law, prospective buyers only had to sign a form declaring that they did not fall into any of the prohibited groups (Rosen 2). Thankfully, the Brady law has put some restrictions on gun purchasing. However, the Brady law is not enough to significantly reduce gun violence. The Brady law does not require secondary or private gun sales to run background checks on the prospective buyer (Torr 1). This makes it easier for felons, juveniles, and everyone else to purchase a handgun. Because it is not required for secondary transfers to be recorded, police who are investigating homicides quickly come to a dead end because there is no paper trail (Brady 3). This is unacceptable. Dylan Klebold and Erik Harris, two students who shot and killed twelve classmates and a teacher, obtained a rifle, two shotguns, and a TEC-DC9 by secondary transfers (6). Thirteen lives could have been saved if background checks were required for private transactions because these two boys were too young to purchase guns. The Brady law also denies the right of those who are mentally ill to purchase handguns. However, this can be easily avoided through the purchasing of guns by secondary transactions. An example of this is Cho Seung-Hui, a young man who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech, the worst school shooting recorded to date (CNN). He was obviously mentally ill, but since no background tests were required and no psychological test was even recommended, Cho Seung-Hui was able to purchase guns for his massacre. It is evident that there needs to be greater restrictions for prospective buyers. These two shootings, along with other killings, could have been avoided if there were more restrictions on the prospective buyers. We should make it harder for the general public to purchase guns.
This is a proposal of how the United States can limit the purchase of guns to the appropiate customers. It is not perfect, but it is one way to help prevent guns from ending up in the wrong hands. Guns “should be treated like cars in that owners would be licensed and handguns would be registered” (Brady 1). Licenses could be as simple as a permit or card that would contan a picture ID and other identifying data (2). Licenses could be issued for a limited period, and require a background check upon renewal of that license (2). This could very effective because it would require the secondary and private transactions to require background checks, a very important, needed requirement to purchasing guns. With a required renewal for the license, guns that might be sold illegaly could be discovered much faster than how the system is set up now. Another idea for improving gun control is a more thorough background check when the prospective buyer is trying to purchase a gun. This includes fingerprint identification. This would “stop felong from acquiring guns through use of a false identrification” (2). A psychological test should be required for the prospective buyers. Psychological tests are usually given when someone is applying for a new job. The same precaution should be taken for those who are looking to purchase a gun. If the prospective buyer does not pass, then the he should not be allowed to purchase a firearm. Raising the age of purchasing guns to 21, like the legal drinking age, could possibly help reduce gun violence in our country. If the age is raised to 21, then the prospective buyers would be a little more mature and more cautious when dealing with guns. Another idea for improving gun control is requiring a successful completion of a firearms safety test or course (4). This proposal seems more commen sense than a proposal, but only six states require “any type of training or safety test before the purchase of a handgun” (4). Requiring a training course before the purchase of a handgun could bring down the killing rate of handguns that are accidents. A way to prevent the killing rate of handguns that are accidents to increase is to store guns unloaded and locked, with the ammunition kept separately (Hemenway 4). This simple precaution could prevent children from accidently hurting themselves and those around them.
For those who believe that the Second Amendment guarantees a “right to keep and bear arms,” there is a small phrase right before “right to keep and bear arms” that does not gurantee an individual the right to own firearms. “The Second Amendment guarantees the people the right to be armed only in connection with service in a ‘well regulated Militia’” (Violence 2). Our Founding Fathers original intent for the Second Amendment was that “each of the states had its own ‘militia’—a military force comprised of ordinary citizens serving as part-time soldiers. Most of the adult male population was required by state law to enlist in the militia” (2). The purpose of this militia was to “assure the ‘security of a free State’” (3). In our time and age, however, there is no need for state militias. So, it is not unconstitutional for the American governement to make laws about gun control. The amendment must be looked at as a whole, not just small pieces at a time.
If more precautions and more restrictions are placed on the purchasing of guns, then we can almost assure that guns will fall into the right hands, not the wrong. Of course, criminals will find other ways to obtain a gun, but the rate at which they would normally obtain the gun is much slower. If we just fix the small things that are wrong with the system right now, then the outcome will be very benefical. Some lives will be spared in the long run. Having tighter restrictions and precautions when dealing with the transactions of guns is worth the while when at least one life can be saved.
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Gun Licensing and Registration Would Reduce Crime.” Guns and Crime. Ed. James D. Torr. At Issue Series. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2004. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Thomson Gale. University of Alabama Birmingham (AVL). 21 Apr. 2007
CNN: Headline News. Time Warner Company. 2006. 21 April 2007 www.cnn.com.
Hemenway, David. “America Needs Stronger Gun Control Laws.” Gun Control. Ed. Margaret Haerens. Opposing Viewpoints. Detroit: greenhaven Press, 2006. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Thomson Gale. University of Alabama Birmingham (AVL). 21 Apr. 2007
Lott, John R., Jr. “Gun Licensing and Registration Leads to Increased Crime, Lost Lives.” Gun Violence. Ed. James D. Torr. Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2002. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Thomson Gale. University of Alabama Birmingham (AVL). 21 Apr. 2007