Throughout history guns have been used for a number of different reasons. The inception of the gun is believed to be dated back to the 12th century by the Chinese according to the Silkroad Foundation. The first guns were developed based off the use of the primitive catapult. The Chinese are also known for the invention of gun powder. These two inventions that have been around now for over 700 years have been used for hunting, killing, and fighting for beliefs. The initial invention has changed since 1290 A. D. and now in America is a big issue. In their book Crime: Public Policies or Crime Control James Q.Wilson and Joan Petersilia have collected facts and views on a number of topics pertaining to crime by selecting authors who have experience on the various topics. In Chapter 11 Philip J. Cook, Mark H. Moore, and Anthony A. Braga discuss the topic of gun control and this paper will review some of their findings and discussions that take place within this chapter as it pertains to murder.
The first paragraph of the chapter starts out with a startling fact. The fact that 12,000 homicides occurred in America in 1998 and hundreds of thousands of individuals are threatened or injured in robberies or assaults with firearms. (11. 219)
This startling fact shows why the American government feels so strongly about controlling guns. The need to protect not only individuals from gun crimes, but also those individuals owning or purchasing guns from themselves. The issue is how to place policies to control guns and where to start with those policies. To analyze the problem properly the chapter opens with a brief discussion on gun ownership in America. The authors state that the National Opinion Research Center conducted their annual General Social Survey in 1999 and found that 30 percent of adults owned at least one firearm which has stayed the same since 1980. (11. 293)
The authors continue to mention that the number of guns in private hands has increased since 1970 to a circulation of more than 200 million. (11. 293) This fact is topped by the authors mentioning that the average gun-owning household had 4. 1 guns in 1994 and that the biggest trend in guns currently is the handgun which has had the highest increase in sales since the 1970s. (11. 293) At this point the authors have established the knowledge that there are a high number of guns in America. The next issue discussed is how those guns get used incorrectly. The authors make an interesting comment that “most gun crimes are not fatal.
”(11. 295) They back this comment up by mentioning the ratio that with every one homicide victim an average of six non fatal victims can be found. (11. 295) Even with this knowledge though there is still a high number of cases that guns are involved in. The 1998 National Crime Victimization Survey reported 150,000 gun robberies, 394,000 aggravated assaults and 13,000 rapes putting gun crimes for that year at 557,000. (11. 295) There is a good side to guns mentioned by the authors though. The NCVS reports that an average of 100,000 cases of self-defense with a gun occurs each year. (11. 295)
These numbers, however, are questioned by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz who conducted a telephone survey in 1995 and reported that there is an average of 2. 5 million uses of a gun in self-defense each year. Comparing these numbers the authors conclude that there is a higher usage of guns in self-defense than in crimes, but with the numbers from just the NCVS survey the crime usage of guns is much higher. The authors do point out that this might not be just for a good guy protecting themselves from a criminal, but it could also be related to the criminals protecting themselves from each other.
To help back this thought of surveys the article Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz discuss the findings of number of surveys and how they pertain to usually only one or two questions. They conclude in their article that most surveys do not cover a complete answer and so should only be used as potential data, not as hard proof (Kleck, 1995). Cook and Moore continue their chapter by showing that there is a negative and positive side to the use of guns, but if the availability of those guns was to change, would there be an impact on either side?
The authors move on next to tackle this issue of the instrumentality of guns with the availability of guns. The instrumentality is the actual choice to use a gun rather than another weapon. The authors comment that over 90 percent of fatal injuries to law enforcement are with guns and that all murdered presidents were shot. (11. 297) Along these same lines the authors point out that the fatality rate for gun robbery is three times that of robberies with knives and ten times that of robberies with other weapons. (11. 297)
The authors mention that a study by Franklin Zimring brings up a good point to the instrumentality idea of gun usage. Zimring argues that the current law system shows that various crimes are a very closely related and that the only difference between one and another is whether the victim lives or dies. (11. 298) Zimring also brings up the point that the intent of the criminal can not always be examined clearly by the initial attack whether from a gun or knife because it could be based on luck of whether it killed the person or not.
This brings the authors to the next point of availability. The authors mention that if the type of weapon used promotes a higher change in the crime, then the availability of that weapon should have an impact as well. (11. 299) The authors define the availability as “terms of time, expense, and other costs,” in obtaining a gun. (11. 299) The big issue to consider deals with the immediate availability of a gun to the criminal. A study conducted by Arthur L Kellerman and his associates showed that the likelihood of both homicide and suicide are increased with a gun within the home.
(11. 300) To help justify this the article National Case-Control Study of Homicide Offending and Gun Ownership by Kleck and Hogan mention that guns help those who may be to timid or weak to be more persuaded to commit a crime (Kleck, 1999). Cook and Moore use the study by Kellerman to come to two conclusions. The first is that if a household has a gun in then “at-home suicide attempts and armed assaults are more likely to involve a gun than otherwise,” and the second is that “a gun is more deadly than other weapons would have been in these circumstances. ”(11. 300)
A study by Killias supports this conclusion by doing a cross-national comparison for eleven countries of gun ownership. (11. 300) Cook backs this up with another study that showed “The overall prevalence of gun ownership is highly correlated with the percentage of homicides, suicides, and robberies that involve guns. ”(11. 301) Since it is obvious that having guns, the use of guns, and the availability of guns seems to create not only crime, but high levels of murder is there much to loose by placing more policies against gun ownership? There are two sides to the answer of this question.
The first group are those individuals who use guns correctly as a means of food, sport, and self defense and they feel that they should have the right to have a gun and not be bothered with extra troubles in maintaining their current guns or when going to purchase new ones. The other side of the argument is those individuals who feel that guns are causing more loss of life than saving them. (11. 307) There are a number of gun-control policies the authors discuss. The control over policies pertaining to guns is in the hands of the federal, state, and local governments.
(11. 311) To break these down even further the authors discuss the federal laws as “law…to insulate the states from one another. ”(11. 311) An example of this mentioned is The Gun Control Act of 1968 which set up laws against the transferring of guns across state borders. (11. 311) The act also sets up restriction on who can obtain and gun and who can not based of outside factors. The state government sets up laws that deal with the selling, possession, and use of various guns. The most common law enacted by states is the need for a permit. (11. 312)
The permit states that the individual has be authorized by the state to have in their possession a firearm and to be used under certain circumstances. The failure to abide by the law of either having a permit or following the guidelines set within the permit are considered breaking the law and are punishable as such. (11. 312) The big difference between state and local government pertaining to guns is that some local governments do not allow the concealment of a gun or the ability to carry a gun in public unless that individual belongs to a particular group of individuals like law enforcement or security guards.
(11. 312) There is also a distinction made as to what time of gun is allowed and not allowed within the home, or on the individual. This laws or policies are put in place to help deter criminal use of guns and or the concealment of a gun in public places. (11. 312) The authors mention a list of twelve different efforts that have been “suggested, proposed, or adopted to extend additional control over firearms commerce and use. ”(11. 313) The authors break the twelve listed items into three main categories.
These categories are “those designed to raise the price of guns and reduce general availability, those designed to influence who has these weapons, and those designed to affect how the guns are used and with what effect. ”(11. 314) The first idea is that of raising the price of guns in which hopefully will reduce availability in the thought to hinder the use of guns. Many people feel that this will not work because of the amount of guns currently in the American population. A study by Wilson and others show that there is enough guns in circulation currently, in America, to allow every teenager and adult to have one.
(11. 314) The problem to consider here is that like the study by Cook and Leitzel states that an increase in cost of guns or ammunition will lead to a small decrease in some individuals obtaining guns for the very reason of a higher cost. (11. 314) To help support this idea of availability the article Firearm Availability and Unintentional Firearm Deaths, Suicide and Homicide Among 5-14 Year Olds by Mathew Miller, Azrael, Deborah Azrael and David Hemenway discuss how the availability of guns towards younger people can often lead to accidents and or deaths that could have easily been avoided(Miller, 2002).
Another strategy suggested is restricting access. The ATF as mentioned by the authors is “charged with the regulation of federally licensed gun dealers. ” This group is addressed with ensuring that only legitimate dealers are allowed to sell guns and that those selling guns are following federal laws in ensuring the safety of the individuals buying the guns. The group also helps to protect those individuals that the buyers may come in contact with the gun. The failure to follow the laws and regulations set forth by the ATF could result in the loss of the dealer’s license and very heavy fines.
(11. 317) The goal here is to help prevent the purchase of guns by individuals that would use the in criminal acts and in short help prevent homicides. The third breakdown is that of controlling the use of guns. The authors here discuss this as “limiting unsafe and criminal uses of guns. ”(11. 322) The authors mention that there have been some promising developments in this area to help reduce illicit gun use. (11. 323) The authors discuss a study here that conducted research into the use of the “pulling levers” approach.
This idea is that as crime occurred groups would ensure that everything legally possible was done to get the law enforcement involved. (11. 324) To conclude the chapter the authors comment that the goal of policies over the next decade should focus on gun-control policies that can reduce gun crimes, suicides, and accidents. (11. 325) The authors break up this goal so that it will represent each of local, state, and federal governments as well as help to fit with the current laws and practices now in place.
Federal government is encouraged to raise the tax on guns and ammunition, require all gun transfers to pass through federally licensed dealers, step up criminal enforcement efforts against any operation dealing with guns, provide extra funding to state governments to help assist in prevention of gun crimes, enhance efforts to assist local law enforcement with investigating and prosecuting gun crimes, and mandate that new guns meet all minimum safety requirements. (11. 326)
The authors feel that agencies at the state level should be familiar with all manufactures or dealers that operate within the state and to keep a close eye on these operations. The case of Kelly v R G Industries is mentioned to help show just how important know the possibilities of improperly following laws and policies can have on the life of an individual. (11. 327) By keeping a close eye on all facilities and ensuring they are following the proper laws and policies a decrease in gun crimes can be expected. Finally the chapter concludes with a discussion on the local government.
The authors state that the local government should concentrate on changing the opinions and fears of local individuals. The authors mention that creating other means of security for individuals on the local setting with help ease the perceived need of a gun and may reduce the appearance of guns and gun crimes. (11. 328) Some specific things they recommend for local government is “reduce gun carrying by offenders on city streets, reducing youth access to and use of all kinds of weapons, keeping guns out of places that have records of violent conflicts such as rowdy bars, homes where domestic violence often occurs, or other community hot spots.
”(11. 328) There are many things to consider when examining the gun control policies and how they are both positive and negative. When trying to figure out the best approach to handling gun crimes, there is a large amount of things to consider. Gun control policies are should not only help keep individuals safe from gun crimes, but also help protect and ensure safety for those individuals purchasing and planning to use guns. By protection both society and individuals owning guns society as a whole can have a better feeling about guns and their existence within it.
The process to decreasing gun crimes will and is a long process that has many paths and many options open to it. Trying to make everyone happy will only cause more of a delay. The policies should consider the benefits to all and how best to protect all individuals affected. Works Cited Kleck and Hogan (1999). National Case-Control Study of Homicide Offending and Gun Ownership. Social Problems. May 1999 v46 i2 p275 (1). http://www. guncite. com/Kleck-Hogan. html Kleck, Gary and Gertz, Marc (1995). Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun.
Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, vol. 86, issue 1, 1995. http://www. guncite. com/gcdgklec. html Miller, Mathew; Azrael, Deborah; and Hemenway, David (2002). Firearm Availability and Unintentional Firearm Deaths, Suicide and Homicide Among 5-14 Year Olds. The Journal of TRAUMA Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, 2002; 52:267–275. http://www. hsph. harvard. edu/press/releases/march. pdf Wilson, James Q. and Joan Petersilia. Crime: Public Policies for Crime Control. San Franscisco:ICS Press, 2002.