Gun Control Is Needed Regulation of guns is a necessary action that needs to be taken in order to save lives. A good definition of gun control is needed to understand the sides and issues. Gun control is an effort to stop the rise in violent crime by strengthening laws on the ownership of firearms. Persons in the group against gun control believe that gun control is wrong, and that it is a violation of constitutional rights. Those in favor of gun control believe that gun control is good, that the Second Amendment does not apply to regular citizens, and that guns should be taken out of the hands of criminals. There are several major anti-gun control groups. These groups include the National Rifle Association (NRA), and the Gun Owners of America (GOA) . The NRA is a national group dedicated to the upholding of the Second amendment of the Constitution (See Appendix). In their magazines, American Hunter and American Rifleman, they say "The NRA, . . . believes that every law-abiding citizen is entitled to the ownership and legal use of firearms, . . . " The NRA does many things to help display their beliefs and persuade others to their beliefs. This association also has a strong pull on legislation, because it has many lobbyists and supporters in government. This group has many members in Congress, and former presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan are NRA members. The NRA lobbies for several types of legislation. For example, the NRA is currently trying to repeal the ban on assault weapons. A lot of money is spent each year on legislation (See Appendix for figures). The Gun Owners of America is another group that is against gun control. The GOA preserves and defends the rights of gun owners through legislation. They publish books, articles, and videos on gun issues and how those issues affect people. They also conduct seminars for the press and Congress about issues on the Second Amendment, and gun issues. The GOA opposes bans on semiautomatic weapons, armor piercing ammunition, and handguns. There are also many groups that are pro gun control in the United States. The major group for gun control is Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI), which is headed by Sarah Brady. Mrs. Brady is the wife of James Brady, who was shot during an attempt on president Reagan's life in 1981. Another major group is the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), which was formerly known as the National Coalition to Ban Handguns. The CSGV believes that handguns should be outlawed completely, with a few exceptions, such as the military, police and sportsmen who keep their guns locked up together in a gun club. Some accomplishments of HCI are laws prohibiting the interstate sale of handguns, and laws prohibiting the sale of "assault weapons." The main goal of this organization was to pass the Brady Bill. Some of its other goals are to ban multiple sales of handguns, to create gun-free zones around all of the schools, and to establish control over who can manufacture and sell weapons. HCI is working very hard to achieve these goals. The CSGV is dedicated to the total removal of guns from the hands of citizens, with a few exceptions. The CSGV is trying very hard to put gun banning legislation in the law. They believe that if there are fewer guns out on the streets, then there will be fewer gun crimes committed. The anti-gun control people believe in several major ideas. They believe that the second amendment rights apply only to militia, which they define as a group such as the National Guard and not regular citizens. These people also believe that by controlling numbers of guns on the streets gun violence can be reduced. The national government doing working with the issue of gun control. There have been several bills passed in the last ten years that have to do with gun control. First, there was the Gun Control Act of 1986, which banned all fully-automatic weapons from the hands of citizens. Then in 1988 there was the Brady Bill, which made a seven-day waiting period mandatory for all handgun purposes, this law passed the House of Representatives in 1991, but part of it was ruled unconstitutional in 1994. Most recently there was the ban on assault weapons, which bans the sale and manufacture of what the government considers assault weapons. Both the NRA and HCI have fought very hard against one another to pass some bills, and to keep some bills from becoming law. Both sides of this argument present very strong cases. They have many facts and statistics to use as weapons (see Appendix for data of both sides). The stronger case being presented by the pro-gun control groups. The NRA has several good points, but HCI has points that are more relevant to the society we live in. Pro-gun control groups can prove that crime can be reduced with more gun control laws by showing death statistics in countries with stricter gun control laws (Figure 1.1). The NRA argues differently, but does not have the extremely convincing evidence to back their ideas up. To save more lives from death by firearms, some compromise must be made between these groups. Losing some time or money to buy a gun could save many lives. The NRA argues that people are guaranteed the right to own guns in the Second Amendment (See Appendix for the text of this amendment), but anti-gun control groups say that the law applies only to militia, not individuals. The pro-gun control groups have the stronger case because they can prove that lives will be saved. Take away the guns, and there will be no gun violence, it makes sense. Appendix Figure 1.1 Handgun Control, Inc. "In 1988, handguns killed 7 people in Great Britain, 19 in Sweden, 53 in Switzerland, 25 in Israel, 13 in Australia, 8 in Canada, and 8,915 in the United States." Figure 1.2 1989 Federal Lobbying Reports This figure shows the amount of money spent by both pro and anti gun control groups in 1989 lobbying for legislation (1st Half Gross Receipts) Handgun Control, Inc. $3,287,020 National Coalition to Ban Handguns 265,719 ANTI-GUN TOTAL $4,092,739 Citizens for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms $1,158,572 NRA/Institute for Legislative Action 915,603 Gun Owners of America 361,715 PRO-GUN TOTAL $2,435,890 ANTI-GUN ADVANTAGE $1,656,849 Figure 2.1 The Second Amendment to the Constitution "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Definitions Ammunition. The shells or cartridges fired from a gun. Anti-gun control. Favoring no restrictions on the access of law-abiding citizens to firearm ownership. Armor-piercing bullets. A type of bullet that can penetrate protective vests or other gear sometimes worn by law-enforcement officers. Background check. A type of gun control requiring review of the background of a potential gun owner to check for a criminal record or history of drug or alcohol abuse. Ban. A law or act that prohibits the acquisition or sale of a particular item, such as a gun. Firearm. A device for storing, and firing of ammunition. Fully-automatic weapon. A gun that can fire many rounds with one pull of the trigger, such as a machine gun. Gun-control law. Any law that restricts the ownership or sale of firearms. Handgun. A short, thick-barreled firearm that can be handheld. Lobby. An organization that uses its political power to promote causes supported by its membership. Militia. 1. As defined by the Constitution it includes all able-bodied men between 18 and 45 2. Defined by the pro-gun control groups, it means the members of groups such as the National Guard and the armed forces Pro-gun control. Favoring restrictions on the access of citizens to firearm ownership. Rifle. A long, thick-barreled firearm with a handle that fits to the shoulder. Semiautomatic. A firearm with a removable magazine and a trigger that must be pulled once to fire each shot.