Although the senate had extended the assault weapon ban in March 2004, the Democratic and Republican platforms seemed to endorse the Second Amendment Right, which gives Americans the right to own weapons. However, parties emphasize background checks and appropriate destruction of gun purchase records. The right to possess or even conceal arms, which some Americans consider as basic rights, are withheld in most other nations. In such countries, the presence of weapons in public domain is ruled out with gun manufactures selling only to the government.
In America, with an extremely large number of arms in public use, access and illegal use cannot be monitored effectively and shootouts become common. The “Brady Bill” was introduced by the Congress in 1994, which required handgun buyers to compulsorily wait for five days, to allow enforcement agencies to do background verification of the buyers. The Supreme Court termed this background verification as unconstitutional and the law was subsequently revised to allow the gun dealers themselves to do verification immediately, through a national online system.
Gun use is regulated by the state and local legislation, with differing emphasis on associated issues. States have varying levels of controls over guns, from weak control to strong control. Some states prohibit concealed weapons, while many states issue licenses for carrying concealed weapons. Some states require individuals to establish their need to carry concealed weapon. But many states have a lot in common with crucial issues like use by minors, illegal drug users, mentally unstable etc.
For instance, leaving a loaded weapon within minor’s reach is a crime in most states. Gun control activists consider that it is too easy for criminals to have access to guns. Recent school shootings have become a concern among all who work with children and child issues. This state of affairs is mainly attributed to aggressive video games, movies, televisions and poor parenting. Movies motivate youth everywhere, and it is either unfortunate or hard luck that only negative aspirations like crime and violence are portrayed more, which are quickly grasped too.
These violent crime scenes drives even adults to imitate them, driving them to be more prepared psychologically. The love to watch violence and crime is gradually enhanced in the children, who are drawn to the gun culture. In fact even the type of guns used in movies are looked with awe and admiration. Statistics show a direct correlation of crime and poverty, which obviously associate to guns. People from poverty take to crime for sustaining themselves and their family. Failed efforts and with no help from government policies, crime is either completely or part of their livelihood.
Guns become an integral part of their lifeline, protecting them too. Although about 60% to 70% of public opinion advocate stricter gun control laws, no important and notable gun control law has been passed, despite about 20,000 existing separate state, city and community laws on firearm regulation. Many efforts for enacting stricter laws have failed, which have been attributed to the influence of the National Rifle Association of America (NRA). It is believed that NRA defines and dominates gun politics in America since 1960 (Beauchamp).
It is startling to know; to what extent the gun manufacturers would go to develop markets for their guns. Firearms manufacturers had been free till 1994 to circulating pamphlets focusing on attracting children to firearms. Emphasizing on “Start them Young”, these manufacturer gives more product details of the gun. Gun manufacturers need to act ethically and realize that their product play a crucial role in defining the society they live in, although they cannot be held responsible for any act of misuse.
Schools can take up counter education by bringing gun awareness in children. Such awareness can inculcate in them the knowledge, values and benefits as those achieved or provided by driver training, sex education, safety etc. It is highly appropriate for children of today to be familiar with firearm awareness. The trigger lock law requiring all manufacturers and dealers to incorporate a lock of the trigger can help prevent unauthorized use, including that by children.
However some gun owners complain that locks prevent impulsive use against sudden threats.
Ik-Whan G. Kwon et al, The Effectiveness of Gun Control Laws: Multivariate Statistical Analysis American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 56, No. 1 (Jan. , 1997), pp. 41-50 Clive Beauchamp In the wake of Columbine: Who is winning the great American gun war? School of Social Sciences and Liberal Studies Charles Sturt University – Mitchell