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Since the discovery of firearms, the world’s societies have been engaged in heated debates over the social, economic and political aspects of guns’ impact. Although guns have significantly enhanced the state of the world security, they have been part of most of the modern human tragedies and atrocities. Whether the occurrence of such incidences was instigated by the presence of guns or not is the subject to debate. The fact that human beings have developed the gun into a lethal weapon cannot be refuted. In this regard, the compelling argument regards whether the restriction of ownership of guns by banning them is an effective measure.
The gun is definitely a lethal weapon. However, the manner, in which it is used, makes the difference on whether its use will be beneficial or will cause a tragedy. A majority of the citizens neither owns a gun nor knows how to use one. However, some people own licensed guns, which they keep for either recreational activities or personal protection. Most of the guns, present in the civilian population, are illegal, and the majority of them are used in violent activities. In a society, where criminals use sophisticated weaponry to kill, maim and intimidate, people may find it necessary to own a gun for personal protection. The sight of a gun by an armed criminal obviously discourages him or her from attacking the wielder of the gun (Lott, 2003). In this way, the gun helps to protect the life of an innocent person. Considering such a situation and the status of some individuals in the society, banning of guns would amount to security sabotage for people who own guns for personal protection. These individuals become vulnerable to armed attackers (Kopel, 1992). However, on the other hand, guns that are legally owned often become misplaced and fall into the hands of habitual criminals who use them to facilitate their illegal activities. In addition, the access to a legally owned gun is significantly easy for a second party, closely related to the owner of the weapon. Such access presents danger if the second party develops a plan to commit an act, in which a gun is the most appropriate weapon (Henigan, 2009).
The manner, in which a civilian may use a gun, is a factor of concern, supporting the banning of the use or owning of guns by civilians. Civilians are not remarkably adept in weapons engagement nor are they professional gun handlers. Civilians, owning guns, have a limited capacity of taking decisions in situations that require the use of a gun. This may increase the chances of guns’ misuse and unnecessary violence. It is argued that the use of guns should be restricted to professional security officers in order to curb gun violence (Henigan, 2009).
By banning of guns, their ownership and circulation will significantly decline. However, this action may not prevent the hardcore criminal gun users from possessing or using guns. Although the supply of guns by licensed manufacturers may cease with the banning of guns, it may introduce another illegal vice of gun manufacture. The technology necessary to develop a basic gun with lethal capabilities is not sophisticated. Any average metalworker can easily learn how to assemble a functional gun, using a few tools in a short time. Consequently, the supply of illegal guns will not cease. Someone is bound to take advantage of the ban on guns and make profits out of the supply of illegal guns (Lott, 2003).
An alternative solution to the gun problem is combating the motive for gun use among citizens. Some people argue that guns are harmless without the initiative action of the user aiming and firing it. They claim that the user of the gun is the one that commits the violent act and not the gun. In their opinion, the gun has no conscious responsibility. In addition, guns are not capable of any violence, unless used by an individual with violent inclinations. Furthermore, people with ill intentions will always perpetrate violence even without a gun. The proponents of this argument claim that many other objects that cannot be practically outlawed are potential weapons in acts of violence (Cukier, 2008). Moreover, if the underlying problems that cause people to result to violence are tackled, then, there is the likelihood that gun violence and other forms of gun misuse may subside. This approach in dealing with the issue of gun misuse is perceived to be more effective than a radical measure such as the complete ban of gun ownership. However, critics of this approach articulate that although controlling the motives for gun use has a positive effect, the strategy is a part of a necessary broader scheme to significantly minimize gun misuse. The critics articulate that the concerned authorities should take additional measures to ensure that ill-intended people have no access to a gun. Outlawing the ownership of guns by civilians can significantly contribute in the realization of this purpose. In addition, even if people with the intent to commit harmful act have access to other types of crude weapons that could be used to perpetrate grave acts of violence, the weapons do not have the lethal capabilities of a firearm. The use of an alternative weapon will often result to less a tragic outcome, compared to the use of a gun in violent acts (Henigan, 2009).
According to some people, a gun will always pose a threat to the owner more than to anyone else. Those who own guns are exposed to enormous danger, when the gun is within the reach of other people, especially those, closely related to the owner. In times of an argument or tension, a relative or a friend may result to using the gun against the owner. The proponents of this claim seek to support the ban of guns, particularly the privately owned legal handguns. Furthermore, it has been observed that the majority of guns owners do not know how to keep them safely out of the reach of other people. Some other reports indicate that most gun owners, although fully aware of the implications of careless gun handling, do not take enough precaution, when storing their guns. In addition, it is not possible to regulate precisely the manner, in which licensed gun owners keep their guns, and enforce any compulsory precautionary measures for the owner without infringing on his or her basic rights (Lott, 1998). This advocates that ban on guns would be the ultimate solution in countering gun related violence.
According to some experts, the proliferation of firearms by civilians is directly linked to poor security situations. Because of fear and feelings of insecurity, people are compelled to seek for protection through the ownership of guns. The experts argue that if the authorities provide a secure environment free of criminal activities, the civilian population will become less inclined towards the opinion of owning a gun for personal security. Critics of this idea argue that the authorities cannot effectively control the misuse of guns without banning their ownership (Henigan, 2009). To create a society that is free of gun related violence and incidences of gun misuse, an appropriate strategy that includes but is not restricted to banning of gun ownership should be adopted. The numerous security problems will not cease until the ownership of guns is regulated or if significantly necessary banned.
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