Guns are extremely powerful weapons. They can cause destruction, harm or even death. At the same time, they can also be used to defend and protect or to threaten and kill. All guns were originally cannon, a large weapon that fires heavy projectiles with the help of gunpowder. With regard to its history, “gunpowder was first invented unconsciously by Chinese alchemists while attempting to make an elixir of immorality. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the use of gunpowder spread to the Arab countries, then Greece, other European countries, and finally all over the world” (“Four Great,” n.d.) The initial purpose of gunpowder weapon may not have been recorded; but to be sure, it was not used for robbery, kidnapping, killing the innocent and committing violent crime.
Along with the technological changes, different kinds of guns had been invented. These include roscoe, handgun, rifle, bolt pistols and many others. The constant modification in firearms had fortified military strength for the army to protect the country from terrorist attacks as well as for the police to regulate and uphold the law and order of a community.
Nonetheless, guns and pistols are now proliferating virtually in every society. Separated by cultural policy and geographic differences, different countries have different regulations and policies toward the gun ownership control. In some countries, civilian gun ownership is easily obtained while some countries are extremely strict about it. For instance, in United States where American can buy guns and pistols from U.S firearms makers through website (e.g. www.usfirearms.com) On the contrary, for example, the gun law in Japan is so strict that even the Japanese shooting team needs to train out of Japan.
Furthermore, countries like United States, Switzerland and Norway have a large number of civilian owning guns; whereas countries such as Australia, Canada and Mexico have a tight regulation on firearms in which citizens need to undergo tests to acquire firearm license. On the other hand, some countries like China, United Kingdom and South Korea are strict on possession of gun ownership license. (“Worldwide politics,” n.d.). As stated in a document entitled Laws of Malaysia, it is quoted that ” In Malaysia, any person who is without a lawful excuse, the onus of proving which shall be on that person, in any security area carries or has in his possession for (a) any firearm without lawful authority therefore; or (b) any ammunition or explosive without lawful authority therefore, shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be punished with death” (Laws of Malaysia, Internal Security Act 1960).
Issues involving the ownership and possession of guns have led to heated debates in various countries and states. Since the last decade, questions like “Why do civilians need guns? What if guns fall into the wrong hands?” and “Does the government have the authority to regulate the usage of guns?” have created rhetorical questions to persuade others to accept their position.
Today, there are still many different views on whether gun ownership should be legalized or banned in a society. A typical argument is that owning a gun is a must for the reason of protection. However, the opponents of gun ownership claim that the banning of gun ownership is necessary in order to lower the level of gun related crimes. But why is gun ownership control such a hot debate? Perhaps to answer this question, it would be important to look at the pros and cons concerning guns in our society.
The most fundamental reason to legalize gun ownership in the society is for protection purpose. This may includes self-protection, protecting family or protecting individual property. According to Dalai Lama, “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun. Not at the head, where a fatal might result. But at some other body part such as a leg” (Bernton, H. 2010). In other words, it is conceivable that having a gun allow a person to protect himself such as shoot at the leg and escape from danger when threatened by an attacker.
Individuals who are against the legalization of gun ownerships argue that private citizens do not need a gun for self-defense because the police are there to protect them. However, supporters claim that police cannot protect everyone and every piece of property all of the time. For example, dialing 999 will only inform the police. They are still at least several minutes late and the robbers or criminals are not going to wait that long. In addition, the police have no obligations to provide timely protection to every member of society. For this reason, it is foremost the responsibility of individuals to protect their own interests.
Moreover, owning a gun can give us a sense of safety in the event of a street attack or home invasion. For example, a woman with a handgun may feel safer when walking alone in a street at midnight as she has a weapon to fight back if she is confronted with a robbery or an assault.
Despite the opponent’s firm belief that banning gun ownership can reduce violence and crime, nevertheless, studies do not show whether gun ownership results in certain outcomes. Instead, studies suggest that children’s curiosity and teenager’s attraction to risk make them resistant to the anti-gun programs in school actually increase the appeal of guns. (“Gun control,” 2004)
Additionally, guns play a vital role in the society as the supporters of gun ownership perceive it as the great equalizer. For this reason guns allow the physically weaker members of our society such as the elderly citizens who are less physically strong than the men to defend themselves from stronger attackers. Conversely, taking away guns from the physically weaker members of society will only put them at a disadvantaged position. (“5 reasons,” 2008)
Criminals cannot permanently be eliminated
Criminals are not going to be prevented or reduced by laws. Having said this, regardless of so many types of laws that constituted virtually in every country, yet violent criminal cases still happen where it can be seen in the newspaper. Likewise, most criminals are able to buy guns of their choice and use them to commit crimes irrespective of any laws. When a potential victim is unarmed it would be an encouragement to armed criminals. Thus, only legalize gun ownership can allow citizens to protect their and others life.
While there are a number of laws restricting the possession and usage of guns, many outspoken advocates of gun ownership argue that the people’s right to keep and bear arms shall not be violated. Gun rights are similar to self-defense rights; a firearm prohibition would be a significant violation of the self-defense rights. Therefore, when someone is deprived his or her fundamental right to own guns, he or she has no way to do self-defense. Even a black belt karate master cannot block bullets, cant he?
Besides, one of the main purposes of the gun laws is to ensure that guns do not fall into the hands of criminals. In order to ensure safety, the government decided to take away guns from citizens. Nevertheless, there is still a way that criminals can acquire guns (e.g. buy guns from the black market) despite the numerous laws preventing their ownership. In such circumstance, regulating guns will not keep guns out of the hands of criminals; on the contrary, it will keep guns out of the hands of those trying to defend themselves from criminals.
Furthermore, supporters of gun ownership defend their stand by saying “He had a gun, she had a knife, but I don’t own one!” As a result, it is unfair and unfavorable when one does not own a weapon but is threatened by an enemy. (Logiudice, S. 1998)
Not all guns are used in a crime
Still, owning gun does not necessary means have to use it for crime purpose, in fact it does have law-abiding gun owners and they owning are mainly for protection or to enjoy the hobby of hunting. Hence, it is unwisely for the government to ban guns just because the mobster chooses to abuse guns.
Cons of Gun Ownership
On the other hand, there are a number of opponents who argue that the cons of gun ownership further outweigh the pros. At the opponents’ viewpoints, they believe guns in the wrong possession may prove lethal to the public community and relaxed policy on guns ownership may allow any Tom, Dick, and Harry to own a bullet spitting metal and turn into a trigger happy psychopath.
Guns can be relatively useful in dangerous times, but what if they were to be in the wrong hands at the wrong time? We should reconsider scenarios that may possibly take place if the guns were misused.
The crime and mortality statistics is popularly brought upon and quoted whenever the cons of gun ownership come under discussion. Some reports state that crime is rampant in countries where the citizens are given the chance to protect themselves with guns or firearms. Some research concludes that crime rates between comparison of countries with gun control and countries without gun control are nearly equivalent to one another.
Self protection still remains a concern for the people who want to own guns, but how far do we need it? If people choose to take matters into their own hands to shoot a criminal, but end up hurting some other innocent passerby, who would be responsible? Several factors are often brought up when it comes to arguing the cons of gun ownership.
The main concern would be homicide, as homicide makes up a high percentage of gun related crimes in America, where most families keep a rifle or two for personal protection. Studies have shown that a gun kept at home is more likely to be utilized on family members rather than on a dangerous criminal. A very famous case study done by Kellerman , et al. (1993) claim that having a gun at home creates 2.7 times more chance that a family victim will become a homicide victim. If owning a gun is just a pretense to safety and is used to harm and threaten life unnecessarily, why even bother thinking of keeping a gun at home?
The dangers of having guns at home are further multiplied when there are children at home. There is no limiting to thoughts of what children may do when they discover a gun at home, thinking that it may be a toy. Some kids are too young to know what a gun may be and some might know what a gun is but is not competent enough to understand the dangers and hazards of the gun. What if they end up wounding a sibling or a friend? They would not realize the full danger of a gun as a child. A gun may be perceived as a tool to play with.
Some people may argue that having a gun would act as a self defense. But studies show that pulling out a gun with no intention to kill the assailant may end up inducing rage or an uncontrolled situation instead. Sometimes, waving the gun in attempt to scare off the assailant may end up with the assailant grabbing the gun from you. This would result in reverse scenario, where you are at the mercy of the gun instead. One may hold a gun, but would still not be prepared to shoot to kill or wound the assailant.
Not a very new thing, as this has happened before in the past, with the case of President Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. They were both outstanding politicians and influential people who were assassinated using guns by people with different views than theirs.
A very recent incident in Thailand sees that an influential political figure was assassinated too, by a sniper. If guns were to be so easily obtained, wouldn’t this put many lives in jeopardy? If even important officials are easy targets, wouldn’t civilians’ be even more free targets? One can shoot but can the other one evade? Guns would make it easier for crime to be done swiftly.
Guns are very often used in criminal activities, whether robbery, burglary, rape or sexual assault, aggravated assault and simple assaults. Easy access to a firearms license makes it easier for criminals to do their skullduggery. In 6.3 million of violent crimes, firearms are used in estimated 533,000 of these incidents, making up around 8% of the total number. (Krouse, 2002)
The arguments of the pros and cons of gun ownership seem equal. Nonetheless, some historical facts show that more guns are the causes to most publicized crimes. Look at the few incidents around the globe which are the results of guns. Take for instance, the Virginia Tech Massacre, a school shooting that took place on Monday, April 16 2007 on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. On that fateful day, the perpetrator Seng-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded 30 others, before taking his own life. The massacre was the deadliest massacre in U.S history. (Shapira and Jackman, 2007)
Another equally shocking example is the recent, a shooting massacre occurred in Cumbria, across the north-west side of England, which resulted in the death of 12 people, including the gunman himself who took his own life after taking down 11 others. The gunman was an ordinary taxi driver, who lived a normal life, as according to the people around him. Yet, he took the rifle and the shotgun he possessed and decided to go on a rampage across Cumbria. (Meikle, 2010)
America is a country with high number of civilians owning firearms, due to the lacking of unenforced gun rules. In comparison, England is a country with strict firearm laws that make possession of guns indefinitely hard for civilians.
However, these similarly tragic events occurred in two countries with separate inception towards gun laws. Therefore, we can conclude that the blame lies not on the guns entirely, but the people who decide to use it immorally.
We can fairly say that banning guns would not definitely prevent these events from happening anymore. There are more people killed every year in Britain by cars, does that mean we should ban cars on the grounds that it will save lives?
As stated, guns do not kill people and banning them will not make them go away. Taking away guns from law abiding citizens is very much the same as taking off their sword and shields again the hostility of life nowadays.
It would be better to have an umbrella before the rain; this can be said too to having a gun before an occurrence of tragedy.
The problem does not lie with the laws; it lies with the people themselves.