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Gun control refers to the different measures that have been set up to ensure that the use of guns is restricted. In most developed nations, the issue of gun control is uncontroversial and strict. However, in the United States, the issue is an intensely political matter where those that support gun control view it as necessary to protect public safety while those against it see gun control as a severe curtail of personal liberty.
The first-ever legislation on gun control in the United States was established on June 26, 1934. This legislation brought up through the creation of the National Firearms Act as an element of the “New Deal for Crime” whom of which President Franklin Roosevelt hoped to use in the curtailing of gang crimes that took place in the current era of that time period, including the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Through the NFA, a tax was imposed on the manufacture, sale, and transportation of firearms that were listed in the law, such as silencers, mufflers, machine guns, rifles, and short barrel short guns. There were several flaws with the NFA, and this led to multiple modifications. The $200 tax was a high tax for that time, and it was meant to limit the distribution of these weapons. Over the years, several issues have changed in relation to the use of guns in the United States instigated by different issues such as ruthless school shootings in the nation, making the matter controversial to the people and the political class.
The Second Amendment of the United States’ constitution illustrates that “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” (Blocher & Miller, 2016). The use of this language in the amendment has led to an increasing debate on the practicality of the amendment. Some people have believed that with the statement “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,” it automatically allows the American people to own guns in the United States. Through the individual rights theory, the constitution disallows the different legislative bodies from restricting firearms possession. The amendment also, at the least, illustrates that the regulation and the restriction of guns is unconstitutional (Blocher & Miller, 2016). Some scholars have brought out the “a well-regulated Militia,” a language used in the amendment as an argument that the framers intended to limit Congress from taking away the rights of the State to defend itself. According to scholars, this is known as the collective rights theory (Blocher & Miller, 2016).
A collective rights theory of the Second Amendment illustrates that citizens are not allowed to own guns and that the legislative bodies of the nation, State, or local government, therefore, have the authority to limit firearms ownership without limiting constitutional freedom (Blocher & Miller, 2016). There are several different ways that the second amendment limits gun control. Several court considerations of the Second Amendment have been made as an effort to curtail the ownership and the purchase of guns by individual citizens. For instance, the consideration of the Supreme Court on the Second Amendment is illustrated by the decision that was made in the Parker v. District of Columbia (Blocher & Miller, 2016).
In this, a 2-1 decision was made, and this is where the laws of gun control were set up to ensure that the ban on the registration of the new handguns and there was a ban on carrying guns without a license. It was required that the firearms were kept locked and unloaded, and this was seen to violate the Second Amendment (Blocher & Miller, 2016). The court, however, illustrated that according to the Second Amendment, people have the right to own handguns, to protect themselves and keep them in their homes without using trigger locks. This was a decision made after the court decision on Miller, where a federal court ruled out a law that regulated the use of firearms based in the Second Amendment (Blocher & Miller, 2016).
Different risk factors arise from the ownership of guns. Firearms are distributed using different ways, comprising of the secondary and primary markets. Primary markets include transactions made by gun dealers with licenses (Collins et al., 2017). Secondary markets, on the other hand, include gun transactions occurring between unlicensed individuals. Sellers in secondary markets are instructed not to transfer guns to ineligible buyers (Collins et al., 2017).
However, enforcing this instruction is complicated since said markets do not conform to the background check requirements. Due to the secondary markets being highly unregulated, the consequence of this market being natural source of guns for criminal users becomes inevitably apparent (Collins et al., 2017). There are different ways through which undeserving buyers can acquire weapons, such as through illegitimate and legitimate gun owners. Furthermore, there are several characteristics of buyers that link them with gun trafficking and illegal gun use, including previous purchasing history, residential area, demographic, criminal associates, and criminal history (Collins et al., 2017). Moreover, buyers that come from high-risk groups are more likely to have social ties with other prohibited and high-risk gun possessors. This provided guns to people through unauthorized sales, including straw purchases.
Among the licensed gun sellers, some can help ineligible people and go against the laid down procedures on the sale of guns (Collins et al., 2017). Most of these licensed gun owners that are more likely to sell to ineligible persons are pawnbrokers. Beyond this, there is minimal information present on the dealers that may be able to sell gun crimes. The characteristics of firearms also affect how attractive they are to traffickers and criminals, including the size, model, make, caliber, and either non-semi-automatic or semi-automatic (Collins et al., 2017). Criminals often prefer easily concealable, low quality, and inexpensive gun models. These types of guns are mostly known as the “Saturday Night Specials” (SNS) (Collins et al., 2017). The affordability and easiness to conceal SNS guns make them attractive to the buyers and the juvenile users, making it more profitable for the traffickers. These types of weapons play a significant role in gun violence and gun markets, and they are the type of guns that are mostly used in crime since they have minimal time from purchase to crime.
There are different ways that law enforcement agencies are using to respond to and prevent gun crime. They include a range of proactive and reactive methods that prevent gun crime (Peterson, 2020). State and local law enforcement have majored in different methods that aim to reduce crimes related to gun use. They do this through response to crimes that involve firearms, investigation of crimes that involve firearms, and the enforcement of laws that relate to the transferring and handling of firearms. On the other hand, federal law enforcement focuses on the trade, inspection and licensing of guns, following up in the firearms used in crime, prosecution of crimes related to firearms, investigation of mass violence, terrorism, and trafficking (Peterson, 2020). They also run the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. These are mostly regulatory activities that limit the use of guns by criminals (Peterson, 2020). The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives are involved in different activities that are related to gun crime and guns, mostly in the firms of investigating and enforcing the various regulations.
Law enforcement also focuses on the laws that guide the possession of illegal firearms, and the laws regarding trafficking, the prohibited locations, possessors, and firearm transfers. It also ensures that the handling and selling of firearms are appropriate, and it conforms to the law (Peterson, 2020). Guns can be obtained illegally through different mechanisms, and a gun can go through separate transactions before they end up in the hands of a criminal. The local and federal law enforcement respond to the different types of crimes committed with guns in different ways. The ATF and the FBI take part in various investigations of gun violence cases and theft (Peterson, 2020). The FBI and ATF do this by tracing the gun ownership linking the offenders to different crimes committed by them. Tracing of guns allows the enforcement of laws on the sources of the guns and in the identification of risks that are involved in the time-to-crime gun life cycle. Through the action of the law enforcement there has been a significant reduction in the number of violent crimes committed with guns over the previous 30 years. More research needed on the approaches that are highly effective in reducing gun crime.
Over the years, several issues have changed regarding gun control. The use of guns in the United States brought about issues such as school shootings, suicides, and illegal gun violence. The use of language in the Second Amendment has led to an increasing debate on what the amendment means. Some people have continually believed that with the statement “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,” it automatically allows the American people to own and use guns in the United States. Through the individual rights theory, the constitution disallows the different legislative bodies from restricting the possession of firearms. Various risk factors arise from the ownership of guns, most of which happen depending on the distribution method. Firearms are distributed using different ways comprising of the secondary and primary markets. Primary markets include transactions that are made by gun dealers with licenses. Secondary markets, on the other hand, are gun transactions that happen between unlicensed individuals. Several transactions occur in this market, which includes the supply of firearms to criminals.
However, sellers in these markets are instructed not to transfer guns to ineligible buyers by law enforcement. There are different ways that law enforcement agencies are using to respond to and prevent gun crime. They include a range of proactive and reactive methods to ensure the prevention of gun crime. State and local law enforcement have majored in different methods that aim to reduce crimes related to gun use. The law enforcement and the justice system do this through response to crimes that involve firearms, investigation of crimes that involve firearms, and the enforcement of laws that relate to the transferring and handling of firearms. Through this, there has been a significant reduction in the amount of violent crimes that are committed with guns over the previous 30 years, and there is a need for more research on the approaches that are highly effective in the reduction of gun crime
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