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SUPPORT FOR 2ND AMENDMENT & TOUGHER GUN LAWS

The United States has 88.8 guns per 100 people, or about 270,000,000 guns, which is the highest total and per capita number in the world. 22% of Americans own one or more guns (35% of men and 12% of women). America’s pervasive gun culture stems in part from its colonial history, revolutionary roots, frontier expansion, and the Second Amendment, which states: “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.”
Proponents of more gun control laws state that the Second Amendment was intended for militias; that gun violence would be reduced; that gun restrictions have always existed; and that a majority of Americans, including gun owners, support new gun restrictions. 
Opponents say that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own guns; that guns are needed for self-defense from threats ranging from local criminals to foreign invaders; and that gun ownership deters crime rather than causes more crime.
 
Guns in Colonial and Revolutionary America
 
 
  Guns were common in the American Colonies, first for hunting and general self-protection and later as weapons in the American Revolutionary War. Several colonies’ gun laws required that heads of households (including women) own guns and that all able-bodied men enroll in the militia and carry personal firearms.
Some laws, including in Connecticut (1643) and at least five other colonies, required “at least one adult man in every house to carry a gun to church or other public meetings” in order to protect against attacks by Native Americans; prevent theft of firearms from unattended homes; and, as a 1743 South Carolina law stated, safeguard against “insurrections and other wicked attempts of Negroes and other Slaves.” Other laws required immigrants to own guns in order to immigrate or own land.]
The Second Amendment of the US Constitution was ratified on Dec. 15, 1791. The notes from the Constitutional Convention do not mention an individual right to a gun for self-defense. Some historians suggest that the idea of an individual versus a collective right would not have occurred to the Founding Fathers because the two were intertwined and inseparable: there was an individual right in order to fulfill the collective right of serving in the militia.
Although guns were common in colonial and revolutionary America, so were gun restrictions. Laws included banning the sale of guns to Native Americans (though colonists frequently traded guns with Native Americans for goods such as corn and fur); banning indentured servants (mainly the Irish) and slaves from owning guns; and exempting a variety of professions from owning guns (including doctors, school masters, lawyers, and millers).
A 1792 federal law required that every man eligible for militia service own a gun and ammunition suitable for military service, report for frequent inspection of their guns, and register his gun ownership on public records. Many Americans owned hunting rifles or pistols instead of proper military guns, and even though the penalty fines were high (over $9,000 in 2014 dollars), they were levied inconsistently and the public largely ignored the law.
 
 
  State Gun Laws: Slave Codes and the “Wild West”
 
 
  From the 1700s through the 1800s, so-called “slave codes” and, after slavery was abolished in 1865, “black codes” (and, still later, “Jim Crow” laws) prohibited black people from owning guns and laws allowing the ownership of guns frequently specified “free white men.” [98] For example, an 1833 Georgia law stated, “it shall not be lawful for any free person of colour in this state, to own, use, or carry fire arms of any description whatever… that the free person of colour, so detected in owning, using, or carrying fire arms, shall receive upon his bare back, thirty-nine lashes, and that the fire arm so found in the possession of said free person of colour, shall be exposed for public sale.” 
Despite images of the “Wild West” from movies, cities in the frontier often required visitors to check their guns with the sheriff before entering the town In Oct. 1876, Deadwood, Dakota Territory passed a law stating that no one could fire a gun without the mayor’s consent. A sign in Dodge City, Kansas in 1879 read, “The Carrying of Fire Arms Strictly Prohibited.” The first law passed in Dodge City was a gun control law that read “any person or persons found carrying concealed weapons in the city of Dodge or violating the laws of the State shall be dealt with according to law.”
 
 
  Federal Gun Laws in the 1900s
 
 
  The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre on Feb. 14, 1929 in Chicago resulted in the deaths of seven gangsters associated with “Bugs” Moran (an enemy of Al Capone) and set off a series of debates and laws to ban machine guns. Originally enacted in 1934 in response to mafia crimes, the National Firearms Act (NFA) imposes a $200 tax and a registration requirement on the making and transfer of certain guns, including shotguns and rifles with barrels shorter than 18 inches (“short-barreled”), machine guns, firearm mufflers and silencers, and specific firearms labeled as “any other weapons” by the NFA. Most guns are excluded from the Act.
The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 made it illegal to sell guns to certain people (including convicted felons) and required federal firearms licensees (FFLs; people who are licensed by the federal government to sell firearms) to maintain customer records. This Act was overturned by the 1968 Gun Control Act.
In 1968 the National Firearms Act was revised to address constitutionality concerns brought up by Haynes v. US (1968), namely that unregistered firearms already in possession of the owner do not have to be registered, and information obtained from NFA applications and registrations cannot be used as evidence in a criminal trial when the crime occurred before or during the filing of the paperwork.
On Oct. 22, 1968, prompted by the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy (1963), Malcolm X (1965), Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968), and Robert F. Kennedy (1968), as well as the 1966 University of Texas mass shooting, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) into law. The GCA regulates interstate gun commerce, prohibiting interstate transfer unless completed among licensed manufacturers, importers, and dealers, and restricts gun ownership. 
The Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA) revised prior legislation once again. The Act, among other revisions to prior laws, allowed gun dealers to sell guns away from the address listed on their license; limited the number of inspections the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (now the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) could perform without a warrant; prevented the federal government from maintaining a database of gun dealer records; and removed the requirement that gun dealers keep track of ammunition sales. 
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 (also called the Brady Act) was signed into law on Nov. 30, 1993 and required a five-day waiting period for a licensed seller to hand over a gun to an unlicensed person in states without an alternate background check system. The five-day waiting period has since been replaced by an instant background check system that can take up to three days if there is an inconsistency or more information is needed to complete the sale. Gun owners who have a federal firearms license or a state-issued permit are exempt from the waiting period.
The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act), part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on Sep. 13, 1994. The ban outlawed 19 models of semi-automatic assault weapons by name and others by “military features,” as well as large-capacity magazines manufactured after the law’s enactment. The ban expired on Sep. 13, 2004 and was not renewed due in part to NRA lobbying efforts.
 
 
  Federal and State Gun Laws in the 2000s
 
 
  Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and Child Safety Lock Act of 2005 was enacted on Oct. 26 by President George W. Bush and gives broad civil liability immunity to firearms manufacturers so they cannot be sued by a gun death victim’s family. The Child Safety Lock Act requires that all handguns be sold with a “secure gun storage or safety device.”
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 was enacted as a condition of the Brady Act and provides incentives to states (including grants from the Attorney General) for them to provide information to NICS including information on people who are prohibited from purchasing firearms. The NICS was implemented on Nov. 30, 1998 and later amended on Jan. 8, 2008 in response to the Apr. 16, 2007 Virginia Technical University shooting so that the Attorney General could more easily acquire information pertinent to background checks such as disqualifying mental conditions.
On Jan. 5, 2016, President Obama announced new executive actions on gun control. His measures take effect immediately and include: an update and expansion of background checks (closing the “gun show loophole”); the addition of 200 ATF agents; increased mental health care funding; $4 million and personnel to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (used to link crimes in one jurisdiction to ballistics evidence in another); creating an Internet Investigations Center to track illegal online gun trafficking; a new Department of Health and Human Services rule saying that it is not a HIPAA violation to report mental health information to the background check system; a new requirement to report gun thefts; new research funding for gun safety technologies; and more funding to train law enforcement officers on preventing gun casualties in domestic violence cases.
In addition to federal gun laws, each state has its own set of gun laws ranging from California with the most restrictive gun laws in the country to Arizona with the most lenient, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign’s “2013 State Scorecard.” 43 of 50 states have a “right to bear arms” clause in their state constitutions.
The most common state gun control laws include background checks, waiting periods, and registration requirements to purchase or sell guns. Most states prevent carrying guns, including people with a concealed carry permit, on K-12 school grounds and many states prevent carrying on college campuses. Some states ban assault weapons.
Gun rights laws include concealed and open carry permits, as well as allowing gun carry in usually restricted areas (such as bars, K-12 schools, state parks, and parking areas). Many states have “shoot first” (also called “stand your ground”) laws. Open carry of handguns is generally allowed in most states (though a permit may be required).
 
 
  Collective v. Individual Right: Guns and the Supreme Court
 
 
  Until 2008, the Supreme Court repeatedly upheld a collective right (that the right to own guns is for the purpose of maintaining a militia) view of the Second Amendment, concluding that the states may form militias and regulate guns.
The first time the Court upheld an individual rights interpretation (that individuals have a Constitutional right to own a gun regardless of militia service) of the Second Amendment was the June 26, 2008 US Supreme Court ruling in DC v. Heller. The Court stated that the right could be limited: “There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms. Of course the right was not unlimited… Thus we do not read the Second Amendment to protect the right of citizens to carry arms for any sort of confrontation, just as we do not read the First Amendment to protect the right of citizens to speak for any purpose.”
The US Supreme Court ruled on June 28, 2010 in McDonald v. Chicago that the Fourteenth Amendment, specifically the Due Process Clause, includes the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms and, thus, the Second Amendment applies to the states as well as the federal government, effectively extending the individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment to the states.
On June 27, 2016, in Voisine v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled (6-2) that someone convicted of “recklessly” committing a violent domestic assault can be disqualified from owning a gun under the 1996 Lautenberg Amendment to the 1968 Gun Control Act. Associate Justice Elena Kagan, JD, writing the majority opinion, stated: “Congress enacted §922(g)(9) [the Lautenberg Amendment] in 1996 to bar those domestic abusers convicted of garden-variety assault or battery misdemeanors--just like those convicted of felonies--from owning guns.” 
 
 
  The National Rifle Association (NRA)
 
 
  The National Rifle Association calls itself “America’s longest-standing civil rights organization.” Granted charter on Nov. 17, 1871 in New York, Civil War Union veterans Colonel William C. Church and General George Wingate founded the NRA to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis” to improve the marksmanship of Union troops. General Ambrose Burnside, governor of Rhode Island (1866 to 1869) and US Senator (Mar. 4, 1875 to Sep. 13, 1881), was the first president. 
Over 100 years later, in 1977, in what is known as the “Revolt at Cincinnati,” new leadership changed the bylaws to make the protection of the Second Amendment right to bear arms the primary focus (ousting the focus on sportsmanship). The group lobbied to disassemble the Gun Control Act of 1968 (the NRA alleged the Act gave power to the ATF that was abused), which they accomplished in 1986 with the Firearms Owners Protection Act.
In 1993 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) funded a study completed by Arthur Kellerman and colleagues, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, titled “Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor in the Home,” which found that keeping a gun at home increased the risk of homicide. The NRA accused the CDC of “promoting the idea that gun ownership was a disease that needed to be eradicated,” and argued that government funding should not be available to politically motivated studies. The NRA notched a victory when Congress passed the Dickey Amendment, which deducted $2.6 billion from the CDC’s budget, the exact amount of its gun research program, and restricted CDC (and, later, NIH) gun research. The amendment stated that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” The admonition effectively stopped all federal gun research because, as Kellerman stated, “[p]recisely what was or was not permitted under the clause was unclear. But no federal employee was willing to risk his or her career or the agency’s funding to find out.” Jay Dickey (R-AR), now retired from Congress, was the author of the Dickey Amendment and has since stated that he no longer supports the amendment: “I wish we had started the proper research and kept it going all this time... I have regrets.” 
As of Jan. 2013, the NRA had approximately 3 million members, though estimates have varied from 2.6 million to 5 million members. [132] In 2013 the NRA spending budget was $290.6 million. The NRA-ILA actively lobbies against universal checks and registration, “large” magazine and “assault weapons” bans, requiring smart gun features, ballistic fingerprinting, firearm traces, and prohibiting people on the terrorist watchlist from owning guns; and in favor of self-defense (stand your ground) laws. In 2014 the NRA and NRA-ILA spent $3.36 million on lobbying activity aimed primarily at Congress but also the US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Forest Service.
 
 
  The Gun Control Lobby
 
 
  The start of the modern gun control movement is largely attributed to Mark Borinsky, PhD, who founded the National Center to Control Handguns (NCCH) in 1974.  After being the victim of an armed robbery, Borinsky looked for a gun control group to join but found none, founded NCCH, and worked to grow the organization with Edward O. Welles, a retired CIA officer, and N.T. “Pete” Shields, a Du Pont executive whose son was shot and killed in 1975.
In 2001, after a few name changes, the National Center to Control Handguns (NCCH) was renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and its sister organization, the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, was renamed the Brady Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, though they are often referred to collectively as the Brady Campaign. The groups were named for Jim Brady, a press secretary to President Ronald Reagan who was shot and permanently disabled on Mar. 30, 1981 during an assassination attempt on the President.
The 2014 gun control lobby was composed of Everytown for Gun Safety, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Sandy Hook Promise, Americans for Responsible Solutions, and Violence Policy Center. Collectively, these groups spent $1.94 million in 2014, primarily aimed at Congress but also the Executive Office of the President, the Vice President, the White House, Department of Justice, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
The most-recently available total annual spending budgets for gun control groups were $13.7 million collectively (4.7% of the NRA’s 2013 budget): including Everytown for Gun Safety ($4.7 million in 2012); the Brady Campaign ($2.7 million in 2012); the Brady Center ($3.1 million in 2010); Coalition to Stop Gun Violence ($308,761 in 2011); Sandy Hook Promise ($2.2 million in 2013); and the Violence Policy Center ($750,311 in 2012).
Despite the terrible death toll due to gun violence in our country and the recent mass-shootings, there is still a wide contingent within our country who oppose any form of gun control. These people use a multitude of arguments in order to attempt to fight any gun regulations.

 

  ARGUMENTS

 
“The 2nd Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, thus gun control measures are unconstitutional.”
 
 
  Those who make this argument are misinformed as to the original intent of the 2nd Amendment and have either been tricked by the modern gun lobby’s marketing or are actively perverting its meaning.
First, here is the text of the 2nd Amendment:
 
 
  “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.”
 
 
  Gun enthusiasts and gun lobbyists love to cite the 2nd amendment to the constitution as the catch-all defense to their right to carry any weapon that they can get their hands on (ex. assault rifles). In order to do this, these gun owners/sellers have hopelessly perverted the original intent of the 2nd Amendment and have expanded its guarantee of the right to “keep and bear arms” far beyond its original bounds.
From its passage and until the late 20th century, the 2nd Amendment to the constitution was interpreted to protect the rights of states to maintain militias and for militiamen to sustain arsenals. In the early years of our country, there was no standing federal army (the founders were afraid of a national standing army consolidating power) and the states were expected to sustain a state militia in order to contribute to the national defense; this expectation necessitated protections for militias that would facilitate militiamen keeping weapons for their service.
The 2nd amendment was predicated upon the maintenance of state militias—something that has become irrelevant in the face of our federal armed services—and is not something that should have allowed individuals to claim the right to own weapons. State militias had the right to bear arms, but individual, unattached Americans had no such right—this distinction in the difference between the 2ndAmendment being a collective right or an individual right.
Chief Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger—a Republican—said the following about the proposal that the 2nd Amendment is aimed at protecting every American’s right to own guns:
 
“…one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special interest groups that I’ve ever seen in my life time. The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies—the militias—would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires.”
 
As Justice Burger said in no uncertain terms, before gun lobbyists and activists began campaigning to change the understanding of the 2nd Amendment in the late 20th century, nobody considered it to be an individual right. Unfortunately, a decades-long concerted effort by gun lobbyists and big money conservatives has successfully shifted the meaning of the 2nd Amendment so that it can be used to justify letting anybody own any weapon that they choose.
In 2008, the right wing contingent on the most recent Supreme Court (the same people who said that corporations are people) decided to throw away centuries of juris prudence and extend the 2ndAmendment as an individual protection for gun owners’ right to bear arms. During the case, United States v. Emerson, the Supreme Court decided that the 2nd Amendment is not a collective protection for gun ownership in militias, but rather a protection for individuals to own and operate weapons. This decision flies in the face of centuries of settled law and, like Citizens United v. FEC is just another case where right wing extremist wearing robes have perverted our country’s longstanding understanding of our laws.
Despite the changed definition of the 2nd Amendment, reasonable gun control regulations are not unconstitutional on their face; the 2nd Amendment may now be interpreted as an individual right, but this does not mean that it is unlimited.
Many restriction on who can own firearms (ex. state laws barring felons from owning guns), where guns can be carried (ex. no-gun zones) and which guns are legal (ex. the assault weapons ban) have been held as constitutional. What gun control proponents (people who care more about children being killed then their ability to buy 4 assault rifles in one day) suggest is not a blanket ban on guns, but an expansion of the already constitutional limits that exist. It may not be constitutional for the government to put a blanket ban on weapons, but it is certainly proper for it to enact strong restrictions which keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of people who cannot responsibly operate them.
 
 
  “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” or “ Limiting guns will only lead to violent people simply using other methods of killing large numbers of people”
 
 
  While it is true that guns are simply tools and have no ability to harm anybody on their own, the assertion that they have no part in the perpetration of violence is absurd.
If properly motivated, somebody can kill their enemy with a pair of nail-clippers, but this is irrelevant to the greater regulatory scheme. Just because there are other ways for people to kill one another, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t in the public interest to restrict the most common way people currently kill each other.
Guns give people a quick, easy, cheap, and relatively detached (compared to stabbings/beatings) method of killing people—even large numbers of people. By making killing easy, guns directly contribute to the thought process that must go into a killing and facilitate even higher body counts. Without guns, people would still kill others, but it would be far more difficult to accrue high body counts.
There is a good reason why guns have become the mass murderer’s weapon of choice; they are simply the most efficient way of getting the job done. Weapons other than guns can be used to kill large numbers of people, but none are as easy to obtain or use as guns:
 
 
  Bombs may be lethal to large numbers of people, but they take expertise to build and are very risky for an amateur to handle (just look at the number of people who manage to mangle themselves playing with fireworks).
 
Knives are lethal in the right hands, but they can only kill one person at a time and have no ability to kill at a distance.
 
Cars can been used to kill people but they are far too large and unwieldy to replace guns (you can’t exactly put one in your backpack to sneak into a school).
 
 
  A tool may simply be a shortcut to a desired result, but it isn’t fair to say that the tool has no part in achieving a result. A man with a hammer and a man with a gun could kill an identical number of people, but the gun certainly makes it more likely that the person will succeed, faster in their killing spree, and more likely to kill their specific targets.
 
  Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. However, people with guns can easily and quickly kill a lot of people, while those who don’t have guns, cannot. In a country flooded with guns, the mass murderer (or simply the person who wishes to kill one person) is able to obtain their weapon easily and without much risk. Gun control laws may not be perfect, but they are a start on a long road towards a safer America
 
 
  “Violence isn’t due to guns; it is due to culture and violence in the media/entertainment industry.”
 
 
  While it sounds like a logical argument to assert that increased violence in games and culture could lead to increased violence in real life, this relationship has simply not been borne out in reality. Numerous studies, over many years, refute the idea that video games and movies are the cause of violence in society and the assertion that this correlation exists is simply incorrect.
The idea that gun violence is caused by media/video game brainwashing is a convenient solution for society and, most of all, for the gun enthusiast crowd. Society would much rather believe that violence is caused by external factors and that, if only we can remove violent video games, movies, and song lyrics, we can solve our society’s violence problems. If violent media can be blamed for gun violence, then we don’t have to deal with the complex web of psychological and societal issues that lead us to be violent. Those who love guns are particularly willing to fall into this solution, as it absolves them of having to deal with the gun problems within society and lets them blame gun violence on things which they don’t care about.
Put plainly, our country consumes the very same video games which are distributed across much of the developed world—there isn’t a subset of violent “American” video games and sterilized “foreign” video games—yet it has far higher levels of gun violence than any other country. When we look at the evidence, the assertion that video games correlate with gun violence, simply is not supported by the evidence and is not a valid argument.
If you want further information about the lack of a statistical correlation between gun violence and video games, you can refer to the book “Grand Theft Childhood” by Cheryl Olsen and Lawrence Kutler—two Harvard Medical school professors.
Violent video games are a fact of life across the developed world and the idea that we will change the levels of violence within our society by altering our media consumption will only lead us to focusing on the wrong thing. If we are side-tracked in pursuing videogame and movie violence, we will likely miss the very simple solution to our real-life violence problem: our country is flooded with guns and it is very easy for violent people to gain access to weaponry.
Whenever somebody attempts to utilize this argument, the supporters of gun control should simply reject their argument on its face; direct these people to the studies that have debunked this correlation and refuse to engage in non-factual speculation. An argument not based upon the evidence will inevitably be flawed and it is not worth wasting time arguing over specious correlations.
 
 
 
  “If everybody were armed, we would all be safer”
 
 
  This argument promotes the micro-equivalent of mutually assured destruction (two armed and rational actors not engaging in conflict because it would destroy both) to justify higher levels of gun ownership, but it fails to work out when applied to reality.
Statistics show that guns do not make people safer, thus this pro-gun argument is demonstrably untrue on its face. Higher levels of gun ownership do not produce a safer society and often lead to a higher numbers of deaths due to gun violence.
According to the Violence Policy Center’s analysis, states with higher per capita gun ownerships have far higher levels of gun homicide—there are 3 to 5 gun deaths per 100,000 in the bottom five gun ownership states, while there are 17 to 20 gun deaths per 100,000 in the top five gun ownership states. These statistics provide a great deal of evidence that gun ownership levels in a state correlate with gun deaths, and prove that the gun lobby’s argument of universal gun ownership is simply a fantasy.
To further drive the statistics that guns don’t make us safer home, we can simply look at the research surrounding household safety and gun ownership. In houses with firearms present, the average homicide rate is 3 times higher than in houses without guns and the suicide rate is between 3 and 5 times higher. Gun accidents due to improper storage or use of firearms claim the lives of hundreds of children a year. In households with firearms, domestic violence is both more prevalent than in houses without weapons, and has a much higher likelihood of resulting in violent deaths. In all possible rubrics—self-defense, accidents and suicide—gun ownership is detrimental to the safety of those who live in a gun-owner’s household; this is not to say that there are not cases of people defending their homes with their guns, but it is undeniable that gun ownership opens people up to numerous other risks.
In addition to the statistical evidence supporting the fact that more guns don’t make us safer, we can simply look at the mechanics of a shooting. Shootings are chaotic and, if everybody has a gun, there is a very real potential for a crossfire—nobody would know who the original shooter was, thus everybody would shoot at everybody else. In this crossfire, bullets would likely hit civilians (imagine a room filled with a crowd and three people shooting at each other) and the casualty count would increase. Once the police arrive, it would be difficult to determine who the original shooter was, and it is also likely that the police may end up shooting the people who didn’t start the gunfight.
In response to the “everybody should be armed” argument, people should simply ask the gun activist whether or not they support Iran getting a nuclear weapon. By the logic that the gun activist applies, everybody is safer when everybody is armed, and this would translate to support for Iranian weapons; in reality, these people almost always say that Iran isn’t a rational actor and that giving them a nuke endangers everybody around them. When they say this, you should simply tell them that not every gun owner is rational and that unrestricted gun ownership is the micro-equivalent to letting every country have nukes.
 
 
  “Gun laws don’t work because they make it so only criminals have guns.”
 
 
  This argument is probably the best one in the arsenal of the gun enthusiast, but it too, is not really a good reason to obstruct gun control. If laws are irrelevant because criminals will simply ignore them, then there is no purpose for any laws and no potential for a safe society.
Ultimately, simple gun laws will not prevent all gun deaths, but they will gradually reduce gun violence. Gun laws will reduce the amount of guns to be sold and will help prevent them from being sold to criminals and the mentally ill. As guns are harder to obtain legally and illegal guns become harder to come by (when more guns are confiscated by the police or are used in murders and disposed of then are put onto the street), it will become harder for criminals to find access to clean guns.
Restricting guns may not immediately stop hardened criminals from obtaining weapons, but it would help stop insane and violent people from getting them easily. Mentally ill shooters that kill large numbers of random people are often disturbed loners who would have a difficult time obtaining a gun if not for legal channels—this isn’t to say that they wouldn’t eventually find a way, but it would make it more difficult.
We see that gun restrictions do work in the rest of the world, despite the catch 22 surrounding criminals and gun ownership (only law-abiding citizens follow gun laws). In Europe and much of Asia, the per capita murder rates are far lower than the United States and this is, in part, due to the fact that they have fewer guns. Crime still occurs, and murders still happen, but it is harder to do massive harm to large numbers of people when guns are less common.
By restricting guns, forcing gun registration, and punishing illegal guns harshly, the total number of guns on our streets will eventually decrease. As it gets more risky to buy or sell guns, people will have a harder time getting their hands on them and overall gun-homicide deaths will decrease.
It is completely unrealistic to hope that there will one day be no gun crime, but this does not mean that we should sit idle as an average of 25 fellow Americans are gunned down each day. Stronger gun laws may not prevent all shootings, but it is virtually inarguable that such laws would not reduce the number of gun crimes in the long term.
Put plainly, our current gun laws don’t just let law-abiding citizens defend themselves, but also facilitate criminals getting the weapons which are being used to justify weapon ownership—in this, the gun industry is essentially dealing to both sides of the criminal conflict. Until sane gun laws are enacted, this small-scale domestic arms race will simply continue and will fuel and ever expanding body count.
 
 
 
  “Mass shootings only happen in places where there are no guns allowed.”
 
 
  Put plainly, this argument is just not supported by the evidence; there are numerous examples of shootings happening in locations with other armed individuals.
In Columbine High School, there was an armed guard. A full tactical team was dispatched and on site during the Virginia Tech Massacre. Adam Lanza’s (the Sandy Hook shooter) mother had numerous guns in her house when she became the first victim of the Sandy Hook shooting spree. In addition to these few examples of situations where mass-shootings happened in areas with guns, we have the perfect refutation of this ideal: the Fort Hood shooting.
During the Fort Hood shooting, a disturbed army psychiatrist, Major Hasan, entered the base and opened fire on other soldiers. There were 43 people injured in this shooting, 13 of whom died, making it one of the most deadly shooting in modern years. As Fort Hood is a military base, nobody can argue that there were no guns present (eventually, the DOD police on site took the shooter down and he was captured), but the fact remains that numerous people were still shot. As he worked on the military base, Hasan clearly knew that there were armed personnel on site, yet he decided to stage his shooting anyway—his desire to kill outweighed his desire to live.
An armed guard in a potential shooting location may cause the shooter to change their plan, but it will likely not deter them from committing the crime. Most mass-shooters either “go down in a blaze of glory” or die of self-inflicted wounds, thus it is evident that they will not be deterred by the thought of somebody shooting back. If they know that they may face armed resistance, they may take out the armed guard first (via surprise attack), or may simply avoid being stopped by the guard before they start shooting (as happened in Columbine).
Logically speaking, if somebody goes to a shooting with overwhelming force and an expectation that they will die, then the potential that they will meet a guard with a pistol simply lacks a significant deterrent effect. Somebody with this level of focus on their lethal goal and lack of concern for their own future will conduct their shooting regardless of the potential risk to themselves and will simply try to kill as many people as possible before they are killed.
In the past, even the most extreme gun-enthusiasts have acknowledged this point and have supported the very gun-free zones which they now deride. The following quote was from Wayne LaPierre—the very same man who made the wildly controversial statement for the NRA after Sandy Hook—during his speech after the Columbine shooting:
 
 
  “First, we believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America’s schools, period … with the rare exception of law enforcement officers or trained security personnel.”
 
 
  In the quote above, you hear the NRA proclaim its support for gun-free zones while, in modern quotes, you hear them deride the policy as the cause of massacres. Put plainly, those who support the new gun-enthusiast line that shootings only happen in places without guns are not even as attached to reality as previous gun extremists. Massacres happen where the targets of mass-shooters congregate (schools, government buildings, workplaces, etc.) and the potential for people in those locations to be armed is simply not a deterrent to these shooters.
 
 
 
  “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.”
 
 
  Those who utilize this argument fail to recognize that reality is not like the choreographed action sequences in movies and that a good guy with a gun is simply not the best solution. In all likelihood, a public shootout between multiple armed parties will result in their deaths, along with the potential for massive collateral.
In contradiction to the idea the only way to stop a shooter is a random citizen taking the law into their own hands, there are two critical alternatives to this paradigm:
First of all, gun control can help stop the bad guy from ever getting a gun, thus rendering the discussion about stopping the shooter moot. If gun laws prevent shooters from gaining access to weapons, there will never be any risk to the public of a shooting and there will be no need to contemplate public shootouts. Ultimately, this solution is the most efficient and reliable method of stopping gun violence.
Secondly, we already have those “good guys with guns” to protect us—these people are called police officers. Unlike random people with guns, police officers have received training and institutional support that allows them to be more efficient and safe in their handling of dangerous situations. In the worst case scenario, a tactical response team (ex. SWAT) can come in and help resolve even the most dangerous situations. Even if a “good guy with a gun” is the solution to a violent situation, then there is no reason why this person should be an untrained vigilante rather than a law enforcement professional.
To drive this point home, I will give you a real life example: Imagine a situation where a psychopath enters a school and starts shooting kids with an assault rifle. In response to this threat, a teacher pulls out his assault rifle (legally bought and licensed) and begins shooting at the school shooter. It is certainly possible that this teacher gets a lucky shot (assuming that the shooter isn’t wearing body armor) and kills the shooter quickly, but a likely result of this situation would be a mass-shootout in the school. Two shooters unloading assault weapons on each other could result in a crossfire of hundreds of bullets and would potentially result in many more deaths than the original shooter would be able to do alone.
To further compound the problems with the suggestion that a shootout is the answer, imagine the potential for harm if there are more than two shooters. In a situation where multiple shooters are attacking each other, there is a high likelihood that people will not know who the original shooter is and who the “good Samaritan” is; such a situation would result in everybody shooting at everybody else and the innocents being caught in between multiple armed parties.
In the very same school shooting situation described above, imagine that multiple teachers have guns and start using them to “defend themselves”. Three or four people shooting at each other (there is no way for them to know whether or not the other teachers were the original shooter or not; perhaps the teacher is a workplace shooter) could unleash massive damage on the school and could kill dozens of people with stray bullets alone.
Unlike in gun-enthusiasts’’ fantasies of vigilantism, the bullets that come out of a good guy’s gun cause the exact same harm as the bullets that come out of the bad guy’s gun. This fact leads the argument that “a good guy with a gun to be the best solution to a bad guy with a gun” to be simply not a viable alternative to other, less dangerous, policies.
 
 
  “There are already over 20,000 gun regulations on the books and they don’t work.”
 
 
  What the proponents of this argument fail to grasp is that 20,000 gun regulations are absolutely useless if those laws are either too weak, easy to circumvent, or just not enforced.
In reality, there aren’t actually 20,000 gun laws on the books in the United States federal and state codes; the true number is debatable (is a gun law a regulatory law, tax law, insurance law, etc.), but it is less than 1,000. The inflation of the gun law numbers in this talking point is due to its proponents estimating the number of local gun laws and adding that number onto the major state and federal codes. Despite the over-inflation in the number of gun laws estimated by gun-enthusiasts, the fact remains that there are numerous gun laws on the books in the United States—for the purposes of arguing this talking point on its ideals, I will stipulate to the fact that hundreds of gun laws are currently in existence.
Unfortunately, the gun laws on the books in the United States are often inadequate and are rife with enough loopholes to make them ineffective. A law with significant loopholes or work-arounds is functionally ineffective and the simple fact that it is on the books is irrelevant. When talking about laws, it is not the sheer number of laws that matter, but their strength comprehensive nature, and lack of loopholes.
For example: There are gun laws on the books in some states that pertain to mandatory background checks and that ban felons from owning firearms. Despite these laws, the “gun show loophole” allows people in these states to circumvent the gun laws by buying from unregistered sellers. It doesn’t matter if there are a million laws banning firearms sales to felons in states with the gun show loophole, as these felons can circumvent all of them by simply buying their weapons from gun shows.
When confronted by people who promote this argument, my basic response is to propose eliminating all of these gun laws in favor of one gun law that actually works. If a single strong and comprehensive gun law could be passed through the federal legislature, we could massively reduce the number of laws on the books while making gun laws stronger. The supremacy of federal laws over state and local laws would extend the extremely powerful federal gun law over all of the others and render them moot. As of yet, no gun enthusiast that I have talked to has accepted this suggestion, as they understand just how ridiculous their argument is.
Ultimately, those who promote this argument are just illustrating the need for federal action on the gun problem in the United States. A solution based in passing hundreds of state laws is ineffective, as many state political organizations will never pass any sane gun laws. The federal government needs to pass one or two piece of legislation regulating guns, thus consolidating sane gun laws into a federal regulatory regime; these new regulations can be extended across every state uniformly and would be able to close many of the legislative loopholes that currently facilitate the circumvention of gun regulations.
 
 
  “Since car accidents kill more people every year then guns, why don’t we ban cars?”
 
 
  Put plainly, guns are tools that have only one real use: to kill things. They exist for the simple purpose of propelling a small projectile at high rates of speeds towards a target, with the direct goal of causing it physical trauma. Unlike many other things which may become lethal as they were not intended, guns have no alternative purpose and must be treated differently.
Cars kill many people during accidents and mechanical failures, but their actual purpose is to facilitate transportation. When used correctly, cars are simply a tool for transporting people or objects from point A to point B faster or cheaper than many other methods of transportation. It is only when cars are used incorrectly that they become dangerous to others.
With our current transportation infrastructure, cars are an integral part of how our society moves and it would be virtually impossible for us to change quickly. The deaths caused by cars are tragic, but they have no bearing on the need to regulate an entirely unrelated tool.
The key difference between guns and cars in this debate is the fact that cars have purposes other than causing harm, while guns have no such redeeming aspects. At the most charitable, guns can be described as existing to allow good people to defend themselves from bad people by threatening them with death. In the context of maintaining social order, guns do serve a purpose to allow the civil authorities to impose force on violent people (giving the police the ability to defend themselves on the job), but the idea that this force should be distrusted to everybody in society is just insane.
If cars were like guns and served no purpose but to facilitate violence, then I would support as strict regulations of them as I propose on guns. Guns have no social benefit and a removal of guns from society would not have the negative effects that a removal of cars would have. In fact, the reduction of gun availability in our society would help alleviate the epidemic of gun violence that we are living in and would save many lives.
While on the subject of cars and guns, I would also point out that, in many cases, cars are far more regulated then guns. Gun enthusiasts may like to draw the comparison between guns and cars in support of their ability to own/operate guns without regulation, but they don’t appear to acknowledge the fact that car operation is far more regulated then gun operation. With guns, many states don’t require background checks, licensing, registration, or state-issue permits, yet they require all of the above for cars.
In order to drive a car, you must be registered, get training, have a license, get insurance, and submit to periodic inspections. If such strict regulations were imposed upon guns, there is little doubt that gun-enthusiasts would begin hyperventilating and gesticulating about an illegal overreach into their personal right to own weapons.
The next time somebody draws comparisons between the regulations on guns and cars, simply suggest that, since both have the potential to be dangerous, the regulations on cars should be translated to analogous restrictions on guns. Before anybody is able to buy a gun, they should be required to get firearms training, become certified through a state licensing process, get insurance for potential damages that their weapons may inflict, and register each and every one of their weapons with the state. Such a suggestion would likely result in a rapid backtracking by the gun-enthusiast as they try to make up reasons why guns don’t deserve to be as regulated as cars.
 
 
  “Guns act as an equalizer and are necessary for women to defend themselves”
 
 
  While it is true that guns make size and gender largely irrelevant in a fight, it is also true that gun ownership is not a cure for violence against women. This argument is incorrect for two basic reasons: First, not only does statistical evidence show that gun ownership does not make a women any safer, but it often shows that gun ownership makes women less safe. Second, this argument assumes an exclusivity of weapon availability to women that simply does not exist.
Statistical data about gun fatalities in the United States debunks the myth that gun ownership improves the safety of women. In every measurable rubric, gun ownership actually has a negative impact on the health and safety of women:
 
 
  Because of the high murder rates in the United States (a phenomena that gun availability is largely responsible for), both men and women are killed at higher rates than comparable countries.
 
Women who live in a household with a firearm are 3.4 times more likely to be murdered then women who live in households without firearms.
 
Domestic violence is far more likely to result in death or serious injury when guns are present in a household; abuse is likely to involve guns and it is much more likely to escalate into serious physical harm.
 
Any anecdotal stories aside (ex. women fending off attackers), the aggregate statistical evidence clearly shows that gun ownership does not make women safer. This argument is simply disproven by the facts and, while it may sound realistic, it is not supported by the real life data that we have available; this data is clear in that it indicates that gun ownership has detrimental effects on the safety of women in a household.
Beyond the statistical evidence, the idea that women require powerful firearms to be safe is just not logical. A lack of controls on guns may allow a woman to buy weapons for self-defense, but it also allows criminals to access said weapons—there is no exclusivity which guarantees that the women will be able to obtain a powerful weapon yet prevents the criminals from buying the very same weapons.
As gun laws are not gender-specific (that would be unconstitutional), whatever weapon that a women could obtain is also obtainable by the person who seeks to harm the women. The example of a single women with an assault rifle holding off a group of attackers that has been presented by some proponents of this argument just falls apart when one realizes that nothing prevents the attackers from coming armed with assault rifles. The lax gun laws which allow easy access to powerful weapons to women also facilitates criminals getting weapons that they would be unable to get under sane regulations.
 
“Background checks do not work because criminals won’t consent to them”
 
 
  Criminals, by definition, don’t follow the law and tailoring the legal gun application process for the activities of those who don’t follow the law is simply foolish. People who are not allowed to buy guns certainly hate background checks, but this is because such checks limit their ability to buy guns legally.
Background checks serve to prevent those who are not allowed to buy guns—felons, the mentally ill, terrorists, etc.—from legally obtaining firearms. Without checks, there is no way to guarantee that sellers are following the law and not selling guns to people who cannot legally buy them (the sellers have a profit incentive to sell to anybody).
If criminals don’ want to consent to background checks, then they just won’t be able to buy guns legally. By closing the legal avenues that criminals have to buy guns, they will be forced to risk buying illegal weapons—a crime that the police can arrest them for.
I bet that many criminals don’t like metal detectors, theft prevention devices and the police, but this doesn’t mean that society should stop funding these things in order to appease them. Just as with other things that make criminals’ lives harder, background checks for firearm purchases should be embraced rather than rejected.
 
 
  “Limits on magazine size do nothing to prevent gun homicides because shooters will just bring more magazines”
 
 
  Those who promote this argument are simply letting their fondness for their weapons overshadow their logical viewing of the facts.
Large ammo-feeding containers (ex. drums, clips, belts) exist because they make a weapon much more effective in a combat situation. Such containers allow large numbers of rounds to be shot, uninterrupted, and without the risk of a fumbled magazine switch. The military uses large ammo feeders for these very reasons and any assertion that the size of the magazine is irrelevant to the efficacy of the weapon is simply wrong.
It is true that many small clips can replace a larger feeding mechanism, but it is inarguable that this method of ammo supply is less efficient. Whenever a clip is empty, it must be ejected and a new one inserted before the gun is operable. This insertion usually requires two hands, necessitates a pause in shooting (even if the shooter has another loaded weapon), and has a risk of error; with every exchange, there is a possibility that the gun will jam or the shooter will fail to successfully load the clip.
If large ammo feeders are useless, then why are the gun-enthusiasts so incensed that they may no longer be allowed to own them? Gun enthusiasts understand the benefit of large ammo feeders and wish to defend them because they recognize the advantage that such feeders give.
The next time somebody argues that magazine size is irrelevant, then simply point out this logical fallacy in their argument: if the magazine is irrelevant to the weapon, then there is no reason for the gun-enthusiast to object to magazine limits. This argument’s very existence disproves its foundation. The reticence to implement such restrictions demonstrated by those who make this argument proves that their argument is not true.
 
 
  “It is hypocritical for politicians with children who go to schools that have armed guards to push for gun-free schools”
 
 
  This argument is so absurd that even Fox News has refused to get behind it when NRA representatives have broached it during interviews. To quote Fox host Chris Wallace on this attack: “That’s ridiculous and you know it, sir.”
Wayne LaPierre and the rest of the NRA administration (not the membership, but those who control the group) have attempted to attack the “elitism” of our politicians because many politicians send their kids to schools to armed guards. 
It is true that many politicians send their children to schools that have armed guards, but there is a very good reason for this: the children of politicians are often the target of threats intended to compel politicians to act. Threats against the children of legislators can disrupt public policy and are a very real threat—it is this very reason why the president’s family are protected by the Secret Service at all times. As the average child is not potential leverage over somebody who is responsible for the operation of the government, there is no hypocrisy when somebody supports different levels of armed protection.
If we want to protect our children from shooters, we can either implement strong gun controls that prevent shooters from getting guns, or we can attempt to get Secret Service level protections for every American child. As is immediately apparent, the first option is possible, while the second is completely unfeasible and only serves to act as a distraction for those who would attempt to stop sane gun laws from being implemented
 
 
  “There are already so many guns out there that any regulations on gun sales are ineffective”
 
 
  This argument is actually very strong and requires a great deal of thought on the part of the gun control advocate to refute. It is undeniable that there are too many guns already on the street and that seller-centric gun control laws are somewhat limited.
A gun, when well maintained, can last for decades and can remain a deadly threat to the public in the wrong hands. Unfortunately, decades of lax gun laws have caused our society to be flooded by weapons and, even if gun seller restrictions were to implemented, there will still be a supply of guns.
The gun control advocate’s refutation of this argument is fairly simple: Despite the number of guns in our society, this is no reason to make the situation worse than it already is. Eventually, given time and good legislation, the number of guns on the street will decrease and become manageable again, but this will not happen without controls on gun sales.
In the long term, the only way to get a handle on gun violence is to stop the sale of new guns and to let attrition gradually remove them from the market. Guns which are seized by the police should be destroyed and removed from the market permanently.
A gun which has been used in a crime is somewhat dangerous to hold, simply because it can act as an evidentiary link back to a shooting (these guns are called “hot” guns). Oftentimes, criminals will dispose of their guns due to the risk that they pose and will require new weapons. Currently, guns are so plentiful that this process of replacing hot guns is easy and cheap enough that few criminals have a hard time getting new guns. By stopping the flood of guns into our society, it will become harder to replace these guns and criminals will eventually have a hard time obtaining clean weapons. Prices for new weapons will go up and criminals will be forced to hold onto their dirty weapons (risking arrest) and spending significant funds buying a new gun.
The argument that, because there are already too many guns, we should not implement any controls on new guns is fatalistic and will only perpetuate our country’s gun problems. Unless we take the first step that is limiting the number of guns to be flooding society, there is little hope that we will ever succeed in solving our county’s problems.
 
 
  “We cannot rely on the police to protect us because they are underfunded and often unable to get to a crime on time”
 
 
  One of the arguments that gun enthusiasts keep going back to is that they desire the ability to defend themselves against potential threats—in the case of this argument, they say that the police are unable to defend them.
It is true that the police are not able to stop all violent crime; if there is a person breaking down the door, the police will often take minutes to get there. Those who support this argument claim that order can more effectively be maintained by giving the citizen a gun with which to kill the intruder in less time than it takes for the police to arrive. These people support vigilantism over order and are hopelessly misguided.
Police forces are groups of organized and trained professionals that uphold order in society—it is their job to ensure that society does not devolve into a state where every person needs a gun. If the police lack the resources to maintain order, the proper solution is not to arm everybody, but to increase funding to the police and directing them to improve.
Supporting gun ownership out of a misplaced sense that vigilantism is the proper way to maintain social order is simply wrong and only leads to terrible miscarriages of justice. As we saw during the Trayvon Martin tragedy, such attempts at vigilantism can result in innocent people (including children) being killed out of fear.
Rather than supporting a wild-west style society, where everybody is armed and there is no real force preserving social order, we should attempt to fix our damaged police forces. To free up resources, we should end the war on drugs and increase the funding for police forces.
The terrible irony of this situation is that the very policies of easy gun access and lower funding for public services (ex. police) favored by the American right are the things that cause police forces to be inadequate. In supporting cutting funding for police officers, the right wing reduces the police’s ability to protect everybody in society; response times are increased and coverage is reduced. When combined with the many, easily accessible, firearms, this reduction in police coverage creates a dangerous situation where police are unable to protect everybody. Powerful guns have flooded our streets and criminals have the ability to meet the police with armor-piercing ammo, body armor and assault rifles. This situation is unsustainable the answer is not to make things worse by weakening gun regulation further.
If people want to live in a society where they need to rely on their own guns to protect themselves, I suggest that they move to a lawless area—perhaps an area in the Sudan or Somalia—and try it for a while before they consign us to follow them. We have a problem with crime now but, if we consign ourselves to even more gun accessibility, thing will only get worse. We progressed from the old wild-west days into a civilized nation, and it is those who support this argument who would drag us back to the day where everybody must be armed and willing to kill to survive.

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