In one instant a sudden accidental finger movement, joke, impulse can change a life forever. Stricter dun control laws could help decrease the number of gun shot wounds and deaths.
Approximately one year ago some young teenage boys broke into my Grandma's house. They went to her house to steal the car she had in the garage, because they wanted to go for a joyride. When they realized my grandma was there one on the young boys pulled a gun on her, although they didn't shoot her it so easily could have happened. These boys were only 16 years old, barely old enough to drive a car, yet somehow they had access to a gun. These boys shouldn't have had a handgun in their possession because a person must be 18 years old to acquire a rifle or shotgun or its ammunition and 21 years old to acquire a handgun and its ammunition.
Any person between 18 and 20 years old and in the military may carry a handgun while on military duty or while serving as a peace officer. In Iowa when you are between the ages of 18 and 20 you can get a permit to carry, but not to acquire a gun. Is this really gun control? Are we really keeping guns off of the streets and out of bad homes with such loose gun control laws? It is not always safe to keep a gun in the house. It is extremely dangerous to keep a gun in the house for protection. In support of a petition cefore the Federal Trade Commission, Seventy-five nationally recognized researchers and other health professionals said, "bringing a gun, especially a handgun, into the home for self-protection will, on average, increase the risk of homicide, suicide, and unintentional injury occurring in the home. They continued to say, "The increased risk of fatal injury is borne almost entirely by the gun owner and his or her family and friends." They also stated, "The use of a gun for protection is an incredibly rare event- a fact that simply won't change if more people are 'armed and dangerous.'" Of 626 shootings in or around a residence in three U.S. cities revealed that, for every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shooting, seven criminal assaults or homicides and 11 attempted or completed suicides. Over 50% of all households in the U.S. admit to having firearms. It would appear that, rather than being used for defense, most of these weapons inflict injuries on the owners and their families.
Some families have guns in their homes that are used for hunting rather than self-defense. These guns are usually locked in fashionable locked cabinets and displayed. Guns that are locked in a fashionable cabinet with a glass front can't really be completely safe if the glass can so easily be broken into. Bringing guns into homes where there is a lot of fighting, people contemplating suicide, or curious young children can also create a risk of gun mishaps. Suicidal teens could make an impulsive move and instantly change everything. Children could be "playing" around, "showing off", or just be curious and accidentally slip and hit the trigger and in an instant they are seriously injured or maybe dead. A robber could break into your home and see your gun and decide that he wants to use it to remain in control of the situation. So if we think about it are these guns in our house really keeping us safe or could they be hurting us in the long run? In the U.S. for 1998, there were 30, 708 deaths from firearms, distributed as follows by mode of death: suicide 17,424; homicide 12,102; accident 866; 316 were undetermined. Thus firearm injuries are one of the top ten cause of death in the United States. The number of firearms-related injuries in the U.S both fatal and non-fatal, increased through 1993, but has since declined steadily. However, firearms injuries remain the second leading cause of injury-related death in the U.S., particularly among youths.
Firearms injury is the second leading cause of non-natural death in childhood and adolescence. Accidental shooting deaths are most commonly associated with one or more children paying with a fun they found in their home. The person pulling the trigger is usually a friend, family member or the victim.
Not only is this problem hurting and killing our friends and family it is costing our country money. Over 200,000 gun shot wounds require hospitalization and trauma care. A 1994 study revealed the cost per injury requiring admission to a trauma center was over $14,000. The cumulative lifetime cost in 1985 for gunshot wounds was estimated to be $911 million, with $13.4 billion in lost productivity.
Deaths from firearms vary significantly by race and sex. The national average is 11.3 deaths per 100,000. 41.6/100,000 are African-American males, 16.2/100,000 are white males. The rate for females is a lot less with 3.3/100,000. In contrast, death rates from firearms for western European nations range from 0.1-0.5/ 100,000. What does that say about the United States? Are our gun control laws really controlling anything because if they were we wouldn't have such high and scary statistics.
Two of my friends have died in gun related deaths, although it was suicide it could possibly have been stopped. Both of them were killed using a fun, one a handgun and the other a shotgun. Imagine if these homes had no guns, imagine if we were required to keep guns somewhere other than the home. Maybe if we had stricter gun control laws or if we weren't allowed to keep guns lying around the house for anyone to get a hold of these 2 young men wouldn't have been able to make such and instantly life altering decision.
Several steps have been taken to break the link between a gun and the individual who uses it. First and individual must have a license to buy a gun: this is especially required for purchasing handguns. A license will only be issued after the applicant provides proof of residency, and submits to a fingerprint based background check. Secondly all handgun transfers must be registered. Third handgun purchases should be limited to one gun every thirty days. These steps will hopefully make it harder for gun traffickers to supply the illegal market with firearms.
The gun industry needs to take responsibility for its actions. The gun industry, through its own actions in the development of products brings to the market, contributes to the problems society faces. The gun industry manufactures and markets these guns as killing devices. Most of these funs are easy enough for anyone to use. Most are easy enough to be fired by a three year old, a stressed out and depressed individual, or a rage filled person on the verge of a killing spree willing to do anything to get what they want. The industry has failed to incorporate new technology, such as "personalized" firearms that can only be used by authorized users; instead they seem to be producing an endless stream of products better suited for criminal use rather than to keep ourselves safe.
New technologies seem to be suited for criminals rather than occupational use. Many pistols accept silencers and a high capacity of ammunition, and several easily concealable handguns. The gun industry seems to be creating new and more efficient designs of its lethal products; these are created for death and injury rather than safety. Like the tobacco industry, the gun industry, must accept the burden of responsibility for preventing the criminal and violent outcomes associated with the use of the products they design and sell. The gun lobby believes, "An armed society is a polite society" America is an armed society ( a firearm can be found in over 50% of all households in the United States) it is difficult to say that our tremendous firepower has made us safe. Many other countries have found better ways to control fun shot deaths. In 1992 , there were 13,220 handgun murders in the United States; Great Britain had 33. Obviously there is a better way to control gun violence. New laws are being creates to control illegal gun purchases. In 1993, 1.1 million violent crimes were committed with handguns- many of which were acquired in the illegal market. Requiring individuals to obtain a license prior to purchasing a firearm will make it more difficult to purchase a gun using false identification. Well-tailored fun laws can have a beneficial impact on gun violence.
It is time to make a serious effort to keep guns our of the hands of criminals. It is time for the gun industry to partner up with us and reduce the level of gun violence caused be the products it brings to the market. We need to create a new set of laws to help control accidental, homicidal and suicidal deaths that are being created by such loose gun laws.
Bibliography 1. Iowa State Sheriffs' and deputies' association, Iowa Department of Public Safety, Brochure February 1999, 4/24/02, 7 pgs, Iowa Weapons Laws, online source 2. The Reference Shelf, Gun Control, The H.W. Wilson Company, edited by Robert Emmet Long, Volume 60 Number 6,copyright 1989.
3.Working Together Against Gun Violence, Maryann Miller, The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. New York, Copyright 1994, 1997.
4. http:// www.medstat.med.utah.edu/WebPath/TUTORIAL/GUNS/GUNSTAT.html, Statistics, gun control issues, and safety, 4/15/2002.
5. http://www.medstat.med.utah.edu/WebPath/TUTORIAL/GUNS/GUNHIST.html, history of firearms, April 15, 2002.
6. http://www.opensecrets.org/news/guns/index.htm, Gun Control vs. Gun Rights, April 15, 2002.