Simultaneously, none of the previously enacted gun control laws has substantially decreased the rates of criminal violence; on the contrary, citizens report better security and the feeling of safety whenever they recognize the fact of carrying a concealed gun (Smith, 2002). At this point, individual safety and the right for self-protection is no longer an argument in favor or against gun ownership, but is a tool of political speculation. The current state of research lacks clear evidence as for the ways in which carrying guns improves or disrupts one’s security.
As a result, politicians and advocates of gun ownership use the individual safety argument only for achieving their political purposes. Researchers agree that carrying a gun inevitably increases one’s self-confidence; but the lack of appropriate skills and the lack of safety knowledge can become the reason of gun misuse (Jenson, 2007; Smith, 2002). For example, Jenson (2007) writes that the United States lacks effective mechanisms that could potentially distance mentally ill citizens from the right to carry a gun.
Although the line between mental illness and violence is vague and fuzzy, and the majority of mentally ill patients never engage in violence, but as long as the state is unable to address these challenges, carrying a gun will constitute a major risk to the individual safety of innocent people. Whenever the topic of gun ownership is discussed, researchers tend to review the impact of one’s legal right to carry a concealed gun on one’s freedom and individuality.
In other words, scholars suggest that the right to own a gun is the distinctive feature of the American individualism and independence. Moreover, authorities should promote the need for legal gun ownership as the essential component of the country’s political freedom. Kohn (2004) writes that “individualism can be broadly conceived as the view that the individual human subject is a maker of the world we inhabit… [and] whose experiences and history, whose will and values, whose expressions and preferences are essential constituents of reality”.
Thus, carrying a gun should become the necessary prerequisite of one’s individual freedom. The impact of gun ownership on one’s individualistic perceptions is twofold. On the one hand, carrying a gun is expected to confirm individual primacy and individual ability to be independent; on the other hand, carrying a gun is the means of protection from the threats, which hinder one’s striving to self-actualization (Kohn, 2004).
In a broader sense, carrying a gun and one’s right for individual self-realization turn into the need for the state to pursue the principles of legal and moral freedom. Kopel, Moody and Nemerov (2008) report that countries that favor legal gun ownership are more likely to have a gun culture of benign type. Moreover, carrying a gun is the direct pathway to better rights-consciousness as the essential component of a stronger gun culture. Does that mean that carrying a gun is a positive sign of strong democracy and consistent support of one’s individual rights?
Here, researchers lack unanimous agreement; some of them assume that “the choice is not merely to support or oppose gun control but to decide who can own which guns under which circumstances” (Stell, 2001). In the context of the growing research complexities, whether to carry or not to carry a gun will only depend on our ability to confirm or refute the relevant link between gun ownership and criminal violence. The current state of literature reveals serious inconsistencies in the way researchers and scholars approach the topic of gun control.
Despite the numerous attempts to examine the impact of gun ownership on the rates of violence, professionals cannot achieve unanimous agreement on whether gun control mechanisms should be enacted. Primarily, there is no sufficient statistical evidence that could confirm or deny the direct link between gun ownership and violence. Furthermore, trying to defend their political position, researchers tend to distort the results of previous studies; DIANE (1991) suggests that “the gun-control debate has been conducted at a level of propaganda more appropriate to social warfare than to democratic discourse”.
Finally, researchers lack effective methodology, which could work to produce relevant research results; some of them recognize their practical failures due to the lack of appropriate research methodology (Jenson, 2007; Moorhouse & Wanner, 2006; Smith, 2002). Thus, in the current state of empirical research, and given the controversial nature of research results, it is difficult to decide whether citizens should be granted the right to carry a gun.
The current review of literature was expected to shed the light onto the major controversies within the gun control field; but it has, on the contrary, created a picture of unresolved research complicatedness. Whether gun ownership should be favored by democracies is yet to be decided, but I am confident that unless we are able to free ourselves from the impact of political propaganda and to produce an objective picture of gun ownership issues, we will not be able to decide for or against carrying a gun. Conclusion The United States has always been increasingly concerned about the need to grant citizens the right to carry guns.
However, proponents and opponents of gun ownership operate irrelevant and inconsistent data; moreover, researchers and scholars lack effective methodology that would help establish the link between gun ownership and violence. Finally, the results of empirical research tend to be distorted by political moods, and unless research professionals are able to promote political neutrality and avoid bias, we will not come to unanimous agreement on whether gun ownership is a positive or a negative feature of a democratic state. References Bruce, J. M. & Wilcox, C. (1998).
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Comparative results from fifty-nine nations. Texas Review of Law & Politics, 13 (1): 1-41. Lunger, N. L. (2002). Big bang: The loud debate over gun control. Twenty-First Century Books. Moorhouse, J. C. & Wanner, B. (2006). Does gun control reduce crime or does crime increase gun control? Cato Journal, 26 (1): 103-125. Smith, T. W. (2002). Public perspectives: Public opinion about gun policies. The Future of Children, 12 (2): 154-163. Stell, L. K. (2001). Gun control and the regulation of fundamental rights. Criminal Justice Ethics, 20 (1): 28-33.