Teen Gun Control
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In the recent years in America there has been the emergence of the debate regarding the question of the gun possession by the school students. This debate emerged mainly due to the Columbine school event which showed that the students have a tendency to participate in the criminal activities. This event resulted in the discussion among the political groups resulting in the introduction of gun control legislations in the different states of the USA. This shows that the American society has responded to the incident of killing of students by the use of gun. Many scholars have assessed the question whether political measures such as gun control legislations lead to the decrease in the student criminal activities in the schools.
In 1999 the newspapers reported that there was the tragic killing of the students by using the guns. This showed the dark side of the American society wherein the people could not identify the reasons for the criminal activities of the school children who attended schools with the objective of obtaining knowledge that would make them future responsible citizens. The government responded to this event by introducing the legislations which banned the gun possession by the people within the school premises. This created controversy among the scholars as they wanted to find answer to this problem of increase in the criminal activities within the school jurisdiction.(Franken and King)
April 20, 1999 can be considered as a black day in the history of Columbine high school when there was the killing of the twelve students and injury to twenty-three other students. The shooters, in the end, killed themselves. This incident has attracted the attention of the national media towards the Columbine high school. This event had a devastating effect on the students who lost their friends in the dastardly act and the parents also lost their children. This resulted in the outburst of the students’ emotions who felt that they were being watched by the whole nation. The school authorities were also shocked by this incident as proved by their attempt to convince the students not to involve themselves in such incidents in the future. Nevertheless, this incident can be considered as the wake up call for the students, teachers, and the parents because the involvement of the students in the fighting was earlier ignored by the community members. This incident showed that there is a need to give greater attention to protect the students who come to the schools to obtain knowledge pertaining to different disciplines. The political groups began to express their feelings pertaining to this incident which resulted in the legislative proposals to curb violent incidents in the schools. (Columbine)
Although government introduced anti-gun legislations, the scholars expressed their doubt regarding the effectiveness of the government intervention in controlling the fighting habits of the students. Some people believed that violent culture emerged from the kind of films and shows that can be seen in the theaters and the TV channels. Some people believe that the government measures cannot permanently cure the problem of killing in the schools.(Franken and King) The parents need to sit with the children and discuss their problems. The parents need to understand the feelings of the children. (Franken and King)
Nevertheless, the federal and state legislatures have responded to this incident by introducing gun control legislations which are aimed to reduce the use of violence in the schools. President Clinton also declared the government policy towards such unwarranted events. (Columbine) President Clinton believed that the students should not be allowed to carry guns to the schools.(Franken and King)
The Colorado legislature decided to introduce the measures to prevent the access of the students to the guns. However, in this context one may note that when the people are not allowed to carry the guns, it may make the people feel insecure as they do not possess the guns to the attack the criminals who tend to break the laws by carrying guns. The Colorado legislature decided to introduce a bill which would give greater authority to the state government over the local government. This bill was criticized by the local governments as they lost their power to determine the law and order issues in their territory. It is apparent that the citizens have been supporting the anti-gun legislations as they believe that they would reduce the violent incidents. The Colorado legislators decided to scrap the two bills which would have increased the criminal activities. This shows that the violent incidents in the schools have pressured the political groups to respond in the form of supporting the anti-gun legislations. (Franken and King) These details indicate that the political groups have initiated legislative process in order to curb the tendency of the students in involve in violent incidents in the schools.
Responding to this event, Hillary Clinton stated that attempts should be made to protect the children by preventing their access to handguns. Obviously, she was very much displeased with this event and she exhibited her emotions by asking for strict legislations to reduce the recurrence of such incidents in the future. This shows that she supported the views of those people who lobbied to restrict hand gun possession by the students. President Clinton also supported this view when he stated that hand gun use has become an important part of the American culture it has its own negative implications. This shows that Clinton was also very much upset with this event and he hinted at attempts to change the hand gun culture of the people.(Jasper) Even before this incident, there were laws that had banned the use of fire arms within the school premise. However, after this event, it was decided to further increase the legislative process in order to completely put a full stop to such events. However, some people expressed suspicion that legislations would not be able to save children’s lives as there were reports of the killing of teenagers with the use different materials like shoelace.
This indicates that it is important to change the culture of the students who are influenced by the films and television serials which show the violent incidents. Nevertheless, the Clinton government continued with the attempt to curb violent incidents by proposing legislations. According to one such proposed legislation it was decided that: parents and other authorities should be punished for the possession of the guns by the minors; guns should consist of safety locks; legal age of hand gun possession should be increased from 18 to 21 years; those people below the age of 21 years should not be allowed to possess semi automatic rifles; the explosive buyers should be subjected to background checks in order to find their motive in buying weapons; and that there should be waiting period of three days for the hand gun purchases.(Jasper)
These details show that the government had accepted the argument of the anti-gun lobby that the best method of curbing violent incidents in the schools was to prevent the access of the students to weapons. However, as it has been already stated, many other social groups have opposed these legislations as they argue that hand gun possession is not the main source of these dastardly acts. They assert that the so called MTV culture and such other modern perverted behavior pattern among the younger generation are responsible for the emergence of these events. The government, however, did not take any action to restrict the TV shows and other such mediums which encouraged the students to participate in these violent actions. (Jasper)
The Colorado legislators’ response to Columbine killing can be considered as the result of giving importance to emotion rather than reason. The politicians were pressured by the citizen groups as well as the media to ban the possession of guns in the schools. It is true that the main intention of this rule was to disarm the potentially harmful criminals. However, this has affected the security of the innocent children in the schools. Based on this reason, many scholars argue that the post Columbine legislative process has threatened the life of the people in the Colorado and they have called for the introduction of amendment to such laws in order to protect the interest of the innocent people in the society.(Gorman)
The pro handgun scholars argued that in the countries such as Britain and other European countries the laws did not reduce the violent incidents. In the countries where the people were allowed to carry handguns, one can notice the decrease in the crime rate. After the Columbine massacre, many scholars also suggested that there is a need for counseling sessions in order to understand the feelings of the potentially harmful students. It is also suggested that there is a need to impart anger management techniques so that the students would not indulge in such violent activities. However, there is a group of people who are skeptical of such methods of convincing the students not to indulge in such activities. Therefore, some scholars suggested that the gun control legislations led to the failure on the part of the school administration to use handguns as they were banned in the schools. This indicates that the criminals were protected by the anti-handgun legislations. (Gorman)
In spite of the criticisms of the gun laws, some social survey based studies indicated that majority of population welcomed the stricter enforcement of gun laws as the people believed that gun laws would ensure the safety of the people. This study showed that majority of women supported the anti-gun legislations. Some people suggested that after the Columbine incident, guns with internal locks should be made compulsory. They believed that the introduction of guns with trigger locks would reduce the incidence of the gun use by the criminal elements. The government of Maryland has introduced legislation which makes it compulsory for the gun producers to manufacture guns with trigger locks. After 2003, stricter attempts were made by the legislators to produce guns with built in trigger locks. (Lester)
The president Clinton has showed interest in introducing fire arm safety measures so that weapons would not be misused by the criminal elements. The Clinton administration, after the Columbine incident, ordered the gun manufacturers to produce guns with trigger locks. Another important leader George W. Bush also supported the production of guns with safety elements. These details show that the political figures gave greater importance to produce safe firearms. The gun manufacturers have agreed to produce guns with the specifications suggested by the legislations. (Lester) These details have contradicted the argument of some other scholars that gun control legislations would not lead to control of the criminal activities. This study shows that the politicians believed in stricter enforcement of the legislations. Much new legislations were introduced after the Columbine incident in order to avoid the future recurrence of such incidents.
The Columbine incident has resulted in the emergence of political and social lobbying groups and associations such as Handgun Control Inc., the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and Million Mom March.(LaRosa) All these associations aim to influence the legislators to introduce stricter measures to control the use of guns by the younger generation. However, the political groups such as the National Rifle Association, Jews for Preservation of Firearms Ownership, and Gun Owners of America have argued that legislations are not effective in controlling the violent incidents. These two groups have constantly pressured the Congress members to introduce the measures suggested by their members. These details show that there has been polarization of the American society with the emergence of various political groups which presented their own argument for and against gun control legislations. However, the most important point that emerges from this debate and legislations is that the politicians have not taken the Columbine incident lightly and they have decided to introduce measures to curb the tendency among the school goers to participate in violent activities.(LaRosa)
The Columbine massacre has resulted in the emotional response by the legislators who decided the scrap the bills which would have relaxed gun control rules. They have also given greater importance to control the gun license granting pattern. The US political groups have suggested that stricter laws should be implemented. Earlier there was no strict enforcement of the gun laws. After the Columbine incident the legislators urged the authorities that there should be stricter implementation of gun laws. The different political groups have participated in the debate regarding whether the gun laws should be relaxed or they should be made more stringent considering the expected increase in the violent activities of the students.
“Columbine seniors graduate under the shadow of shooting”. CNN.com. May 22, 1999.
Available at < “http://www.cnn.com/US/9905/22/col.school.shooting/” > Accessed on April 20, 2006.
Franken, Bob., and King, John. “School shooting sparks gun control debate”. CNN.com.
April 22, 1999. Available at
< http://www5.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/stories/1999/04/21/school.shooting/ > Accessed on April 20, 2006.
Gorman, Linda. “Making Schools Safe for Criminals”. Second Amendment Project. April
23, 1999. Available at
<http://www.davekopel.org/2A/OpEds/MakingSchoolsSafeForCriminals.htm> Accessed on April 20, 2006.
LaRosa, Benedict D. “Can Gun Control Reduce Crime? Part 1”. Freedom Daily. October
- Available at <http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0210e.asp> Accessed on April
Lester, Will. “Gun Poll: Poll finds most Americans want trigger locks, stricter
enforcement”. ICR. Available at < “http://www.icrsurvey.com/” > Accessed on April 20, 2006.
Jasper, William F. “Lessons from Columbine High”. The New American. 15:12 June 7,
- Available at < “http://www.thenewamerican.com/tna/1999/06-07-99/vo15no12_lessons.htm” > Accessed 20 April 2006.