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As of 2010, there were over 200 million guns owned by Americans in the United States. These include legally owned and illegal weapons. Different states have different laws that govern the use of guns as has been the case throughout the United States. These gun legislations were not included in the constitution of the United States when it was first signed by the founding fathers. This was because there were no gun crimes then and the gun ownership issue had not yet reached a point that needed intervention. By that time, only the slaves were not allowed to own guns. The founding fathers thus did not find it necessary to include the issue of gun control in the constitution.
One of the most important people in the history of the United States is Thomas Jefferson. He was the third president of the United States and authored the Declaration of Independence in 1776 (Allison, 1982). He was a respected diplomat having represented his country in Paris. Thomas Jefferson wrote some papers for which contained quotes that touched though lightly on issues of gun ownership. There might not have been a problem in those early days with gun ownership and gun related crimes. He wrote quoting the Cesare Beccaria to the effect that laws that seek to disarm those who have no intention of using their weapons to commit crimes only made things worse. To him, disarming a well intentioned gun owner meant putting the person at risk and favoring any assailant who may attack him. According to him, gun disarmament encouraged rather than served to prevent homicides. He argued that an unarmed man had a higher chance of being attacked than an armed man. These quotes can be used today to attest to the rate of gun related crimes that are being witnessed in the United States.
Just like many of his contemporaries in those days, Jefferson owned farms and slaves who worked on the farms (Barton, 2004). These slaves were assets to their owners and they had no rights. Even after he became president of the United States, Jefferson continued keeping his farms and slaves alike to work for him. These were blacks who at that time were termed inferior to the white people. Slaves worked on the farms that were owned by the high ranking Americans and other white farmers. He like all other white people then, believed in slavery but he changed his views later in his life. As president he was at the fore front in leading the abolition of slavery in 1807 (Barton, 2004). People at that time viewed slaves who were blacks as being short of intelligence and in need of supervision. People even said that if they freed and allowed to own guns like the whites, they would kill many people even on a simple ride in a train. This is a mentality that Jefferson sought to abolish and is the reason he fought to have the released. This shows that Jefferson was not against the slaves being freed and being allowed to own guns. His intention was to show the white people that even the black slaves once freed deserved the right to own guns like them. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was passed which included giving blacks equal rights as any other persons on the issue of gun ownership (Barton, 2004).
Different states have different laws on the rights of gun ownership within their boundaries. Different schools of thought can be applied as to the reason for the recent and continuous increase in the number of gun related violence throughout the country. There was once a time when guns were primarily used for hunting and security purposes. These were the times when people like Thomas Jefferson were living. Those were the days when only a small percentage of the population owned guns. Guns were used then for security purposes only. There were many slaves and slave farms for which even Jefferson owned. The slaves might have been guarded at some point by gun wielding people but these were not used to kill them. As much as Jefferson quoted the mentioned passage, it cannot be clearly verified as to whether he was pro or against gun control. There is no written evidence as to what the stand of the founding fathers was rather we can only speculate. Following the discovery of the many writings that Jefferson and other founding fathers left behind, one can gauge their ideals concerning gun ownership.
Gun related crime has continued to soar over the years due to many factors. Most of this increase is based on the relaxed atmosphere surrounding gun ownership. It had been fairly easy for just about anyone to purchase a weapon from the street and other illegal channels. More and more people sought to own weapons through this route since they did not want to be traced to the weapon. There have been legitimate gun shops in most states that were licensed to sell guns and other weapons like knives and daggers (Barton, 2004). This only required that the person purchasing the weapon paid for it and filled a basic form with others issuing buyers with licenses. When violent theft cases started to escalate, people became wearier of the robbers and attackers. The robbers would steal not only money and property but they would also take the guns they found on their victims. If for any reason the gun stolen was later recovered after shooting someone, then it was traced back to the owner. People became afraid of being traced back as the gun owners and facing prosecution for crimes they had not committed. It is for this reason that more and more people started buying weapons from the street since these were untraceable.
The onset of the pop music and the violence it depicted in the music videos has been a contributor to the increase in gun violence. People especially the youth wanted to relate to this sort of music and since it depicted gun trotting in the videos, they thought it looked good to walk around with a gun. These young people also formed gangs either for the sake of common goals like love for a certain genre of music. In the end rival gangs resulted into full fledged gun wars that saw the death of many youth. These became the primary reason why the young people wanted to own guns. The same guns were used to commit robberies and other violent crimes to get the money to maintain the lifestyles that the gangs wanted. This was when many states started looking for ways to tame gun ownership to make it difficult for people to own personal guns. The number of unemployed people has also led to the increase in the number of people getting involved in gun violence. These people have no money and seek ways to get money through violence during robberies. The use of drugs and other illegal substances has also contributed to the increase in gun violence. The people who take drugs are at a higher risk of using guns to commit crime since they are under the influence of the illegal substances. Drug and substance is another major crime that has affected many people in the United States.
Martin Luther King said that the ease at which people have been allowed to purchase firearms made it easy for people to engage in violence and hatred. However, it has been noted that he had many firearms to his name that he kept in his house. He was also said to carry a gun on him to some places for protection purposes. Another distinguished and respected person to be pro-guns is the Dalai Lama. He is quoted as having told a young girl that the best way to deal with someone who wanted to shoot you is to shoot back at him (Feiler, 2009). This was a way to imply that a gun can only face another gun. Mahatma Gandhi is also known to have said that it was an injustice fort the British to deny the Indians the right to own arms. It is thus obvious that gun ownership is not a privilege rather it should be the right for every citizen (The Seattle Times, 2001). Studies have also shown that the areas controlled by strict gun regulations had an increase in the rate of crime. This is because more criminals will seek to attack areas where there will be minimal if any resistance. Guns in the hands of people with good intentions can be an asset since they are only used for protection. Gun violence can occur anyplace and it is up to the respective citizens to take responsibility of the right to gun ownership. Any legislation that is passed on gun related issues should be that of upholding this right. Any person found to have an intention of using a gun for crime related violence should face the full wrath of the law. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution has a provision for the guarantee that all American citizens have a right to own guns. This Amendment should not be used for ulterior motives; guns should be used only in self defense while in the hands of individual owners.