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A major public policy issue in today’s society is gun control. Some people feel as if their second amendment rights are being infringed upon and others feel as if the laws are not strict enough. Why is gun control so relevant in today’s society? Are the people’s second amendment rights in danger by new proposed laws and actions or do the laws need to buckle down tighter? In the District of Columbia vs Heller case, the Supreme Court ruled that a ban on ownership of firearms by private citizens in their homes was unconstitutional (Wilkes, 2013). There are millions of people in America that own and/or carry guns in America today. There are also several different organizations that lobby and rally for the rights and support of these people, the most popular of which is the National Rifle Association (NRA). These people feel as if the laws get any tighter or stricter, the government will be infringing on their second amendment right to keep and bear arms. These groups and people argue new laws are not needed but stricter enforcement of current laws needs to be in place. They also argue that it is unfair to punish honest, law-abiding people for the actions of the criminal and dishonest.
The effects on public and private groups is that vulnerable populations will not be able to protect themselves without having to jump through several hoops, causing most of them to feel as if it is not worth it to even try. On the opposite side of the gun groups, there are the gun control groups with the parents of the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, leading the charge. This group is pushing for several bills and laws to put more of a lock down on guns in America. Their argument is that there needs to be tougher, stricter laws to better control who purchases firearms and to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable. A current and popular example of this is the Trayvon Martin case, had George Zimmerman’s history been taken into account when he purchased his weapons, Trayvon would still probably be alive today. In his history, Zimmerman had an altercation with the police and a restraining order, both indicating that he had violent tendencies (Henigan, 2012).
Some of the solutions the Obama Administration is imposing in the Now is the Time initiative, which is its proposal of several new laws. The first of which is requiring background checks for all gun sales. This means that the “gun show loophole” will be closed; requiring not only licensed gun dealers but also private sellers to conduct background checks. The second is to strengthen the background check system, making mental health records available to the background check system. Shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting, New York State passed a law stating that all mental health professionals must report all patients who seriously threaten to harm themselves or others to local authorities. Their name can then be checked in a gun database and their firearms can be removed from their possession (Swanson, 2013). Third is to pass new, stronger bans on assault weapons; owners and sellers of assault weapons made cosmetic modifications to circumvent the last ban that was passed, although the purchases and sales of assault weapons since the last ban have not shown any substantial differences (Levy, 2013).
Fourth is to limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, this would be a deterrence against other mass casualty incidents. Fifth, finish removing the rest of armor-piercing bullets off the street and pass a law banning these rounds from public possession and use. Sixth, support law-enforcement by keeping officers on the streets and eliminating restrictions that limit officer’s abilities to do his or her jobs. Seventh, lift the ban on gun violence research. In 1996, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention lost $2.6 million in research funds to prevent any further research on firearm- related violence (Kellerman, 2013). Eighth, make schools safer by adding safety and counseling personnel as well as emergency action plans. Finally, make a provision to the Affordable Care Act to make mental health more readily available to more people by making it an essential health benefit. As far as a solution that may be more successful is concerned, making private sector gun sellers more accountable for crimes committed by guns they sell would more than likely limit the sales of guns to people without conducting background checks or knowing the person he or she were selling to is not criminal. Strengthening the knowledge base of gun safety and storage for gun owners would be beneficial because knowledge makes a person make better choices.
If one knows their children will be in your home they know there is a real possibility they may, at some point, get their hands on the firearm. Buckling down on illegal gun trafficking would serve well because most homicides and other crimes committed are done using guns that are illegal or were bought illegally. Making background checks more extensive, to include mental health and domestic charges because the current system allows some people to slip through the cracks and purchase a firearm even though they have either been in trouble before or have mental health problems.
Last, remove firearms and privileges from people who have had domestic charges and restraining orders against them. These people obviously have showed they have an angry, aggressive side and should not partake in the privilege of owning a firearm. In summary, there are many issues surrounding the issue of gun control. Are the rights of the people safe or is the government trying to take too much away from the people? The initiative that has been enacted has some positive and some negative; it is all based on which side of the issue you are on. It is clear that the issue of gun control needs to be addressed and there needs to be a solution. There have been too many incidents of gun violence over the last few years to let it go unnoticed.
Henigan, D. A. (2012). THE WOOLLARD DECISION AND THE LESSONS OF THE TRAYVON MARTIN TRAGEDY. Maryland Law Review, 71(4), 1188-1204. Retrieved from EBCSOhost
Kellermann, A. L., & Rivara, F. P. (2013). Silencing the Science on Gun Research. JAMA, 309(6), 549-550. Retrieved from http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1487470&buffer_share=77837&utm_source=buffer
Levy, R. A. (2013). Reflections on Gun Control by a Second Amendment Advocate. Retrieved from http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/reflections-gun-control-second-amendment-advocate?mc_cid=6e14df92fb&mc_eid=639b1e4ac8
Now is the Time| The White House. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/preventing-gun-violence Swanson, J. (2013, February). Mental Illness and New Gun Law Reforms The Promise and Peril of Crisis-Driven Policy. The Journal of the American Medical Association,