Reflection

When talking about various political issues, it is very easy to make a quick opinion. If children are killed, this must be bad and completely removed. If anyone is being discriminated against, this should stop. Whatever the issues, our morals drive our opinions and our sympathetic thoughts. Through this blog I have kept, I have learned to thoroughly investigate a topic, such as gun control, before making an opinion, no matter how emotional or seemingly resolvable the debate is about. 

If anyone googles gun control, gun debate, or gun laws, there are an incredible amount of sources and approaches to these topics. Articles may talk about recent shootings, previous legislations, or future regulations on the topic. The results go on and on. Before making a hypothesis on the future of gun control, I learned it is important to explore all aspects of it. Within the gun debate, you can talk about the Black Market, accidental gun fire, the limit of rounds in a gun, and so many more topics.

Before this blog, I had a pretty persistent image of self-defense, seeing my sister in an United States uniform defending our country with a firearm. Therefore, it was difficult to even think about banning guns or reinforcing gun control. However, as I learned more and more about the causes of the mass shootings in Newtown, Virginia, and other places, I realized that changes we need to make as a country. In order to create a well-developed, backed theory over an issue, a person must examine all aspects of a debate, not just what their emotions and instincts arouse. 

Class links

http://guncontrolpolicy.wordpress.com/

The first blog I want to point out talks about the same topic as mine: gun control. This blog-writer covers current legislations in the United States as well as in other countries. They view gun laws as a work in progress rather than a mistake or a serious issue. In addition, this blog states that because of the recent mass shootings, the gun debate is not only more well-known but is also a more significant topic. Through discussing both sides of the debate, this blog attempts to reach a conclusion or some solution that can prevent tragic shootings. 

http://penaltyposts.wordpress.com/

The death penalty is a serious ethics debate that has gone on for many centuries. In the blog titled “Penalty Posts”, the implementations of death penalty in North Carolina is highlighted. This blog evaluates and describes the death penalty and various affecting factors, such as race. Through this evaluation, a few flaws of the process of the death penalty are exposed, including its expenses and possible existence of racial discrimination.

http://votingid.wordpress.com/page/2/

At the beginning of this unit, I knew little to nothing about the voting ID debate. However, after reading this blog, I was able to understand more clearly about the development of this policies and the specific legislations that are involved. In the blog, they describe both sides of the debate through the opinions of voter fraud and minority discrimination. This blog believes that although the voter ID process has a few flaws, it can play a big role on eliminating voter fraud. 

Important links for extended reading

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/guns-and-dollars/background-check-what-it-really-takes-buy-gun

This Frontline article describes, in detail, the process of how most felons obtain their weapons. This data is from an agent from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/jan/15/gun-laws-united-states

This is a really interesting diagram that describes and displays how the gun laws vary across the country.

http://home.nra.org/

It was very important and somewhat surprising to explore the NRA’s website. I discovered various discounts, policies, and the application process.

http://www.motherjones.com/special-reports/2012/12/guns-in-america-mass-shootings

These diagrams compare in depth the various shootings that have occurred in the last 20 years.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=firearms-research-the-gun-fighter

This includes research done by a pediatric emergency room doctor about the flaws in how people buy guns and the amount of gun accidents that happen in children.

Implications of the Future

According to criminal-justice psychiatrist Fred Osher, age, race, and socioeconomic status are more accurate predictors of violence compared to mental illness. At the same time, however, there are some mental illnesses that cause hallucinations, that may be commanding, such as voices, or they can also cause severe paranoia. Both of these symptoms increase the “statistical risk of violence”, but there is no evident correlation. Only 3-5% of all violent crimes (murder, rape, assault, and more) are cause by people with mental illnesses. Of nonviolent crimes, like possession or panhandling, one in six have a mental illness. 

Therefore, existence of mental illness cannot be a predictor of violent crimes like those of Sandy Hook or Columbine. In fact, Osher believes there are no predictors.

With the difficulty of predicting crimes, it is difficult to predict exactly what the future of gun control will be. There still needs to be some kinds of precautions to make these crimes, in theory, appear less often. If legislations like the one Obama proposed are continually shut down, gun laws will continue to have flaws. Flaws like moderately lenient background checks and unsettle the homes of secure families and enlighten skeet shooters. If the issue of gun control remains unresolved, people will continue to blame the lack of or the quality of gun laws for any tragic shooting. In addition, the families who were victimized by the numerous shootings that have happened over the years will still be disturbed that we did not learn from these tragedies. 

Bringing both sides together

Today marks the 82nd anniversary of when one of the most famous mafia members, Al Capone, was arrested for tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years in prison. Capone was also a major alcohol smuggler during Prohibition.

In 1934, due to increased gang-related gun crimes, the U.S. government passed the National Firearms Act, which taxed the process of creation and distribution of shotguns, rifles, and automatic-fire guns. In 1986, Congress passed the Firearm Owner’s Protection act, which disallows the possession of guns for felonies.

Recently in the White House, President Barack Obama proposed new regulations of gun ownerships, including universal background checks, the ban of assault rifles, and the prohibition of more than 10 round caps. The Senate turned this proposal down.

The aspect of this proposal that I support the most is banning assault rifles. You do not need an AK-47 to go hunting or skeet shooting, so it is in no way necessary for sport. This may not reduce heat between the two sides, but it is a good start to improving gun safety. Another way to improve it is a legislation that makes it obligatory to have all owned guns locked up so only the gun permit holder has access to them, and more specifically so children do not. Also, more programs such as the NRA’s Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program can help prevent harmful accidents. Both sides of the debate can understand that when kids, as young as 2 years old, die from accidental gunfire, something has to be done.

The future

In order to ratify a new amendment, there must be at least 60 supporting votes from the Senate. In April of this year, recently after the Newtown shooting, only 40 senators voted for a new legislation that would ban assault weapons, expand background checks, and limit the size of ammunition clips.

Before the Senate turned down the amendment, numerous gun enthusiasts gathered on the steps of the Capitol to protest it. Among these enthusiasts was Nick Brinley, who was carrying an AR-15. This gun is a military-style rifle that is very similar to the gun Adam Lanza used in the tragic shooting. Although Brinley’s message appears extreme, he still believes the government should identify and edit the loopholes in gun registration and background checks. He wants to be able to should his AR-15 without the government telling him otherwise. Overall, when surveyed, other gun enthusiasts also believe the gun system that’s implemented now is not perfect and potentially dangerous.

Beginning on October 1st, the General Assembly passed a law that allows concealed weapon holders to carry their guns into a restaurant that serves alcohol, given that they don’t drink any themselves. The only exception is if the individual restaurant prohibits guns. Permit holders can also conceal their weapon in a box in their car as long as the building is state-owned or leased.

Within the state-owned buildings, only private colleges and boarding schools can further limit this freedom, However, public schools and universities, including UNC-Chapel Hill, cannot. Police chiefs from all 17 of UNC’s campuses attempted at refining it anyway, and failed. Although you have to be 21 years old to obtain a permit, I believe this could cause a serious safety issue in the future.

Image

http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=9267824

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2013/0217/Gun-control-Future-hangs-on-misunderstood-majority-of-gun-owners

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/294821-white-house-gun-control-in-publics-hands

Improvement is essential

As mentioned in a previous post, my siblings’ house was broken into last semester while my sister was home alone. It was late at night, and a drunk guy thought their house was his, eventually breaking a window and attempting to break in. My sister was unarmed, except for some brass knuckles, and very scared. When it comes to home invasions, burglaries, and unexpected shootings, gun-right activists think having a gun can save the day. In fact, the 2nd amendment served the purpose to protect freedman from the Ku Klux Klan, the same way it serves the purpose today to protect women against sexual offenders. Among all gun crimes, 5 of every 6 people incarcerated as a result obtained their guns through theft or the black market. Due to the abundance of gun crimes that involve illegal weapons, I believe people should be allowed to own a gun, but it should not be as easy to obtain one.

On December 14th, 2012, Newtown, Connecticut was faced with a devastating tragedy. 26 people were murdered in an unexpected shooting at a local Elementary school. All of the weapons obtained by one of the shooters, Adam Lanza, were his mother’s.  Since then, 4 states have created new laws requiring universal background checks, 3 others have expanded bans on assault weapons, and 4 states have expanded bans on ammunition clips with more than ten rounds. The Mayors Against Illegal Guns believe that “uneven regulation across states makes guns available to criminals in all states”. According to an interactive diagram from the Guardian, there is no dispute over whether the existence of uneven regulation is true.

Professor Gary Kleck from the department of criminology at FSU asked 5,000 people to participate in a study. 213 of these people confirmed that they used a gun against a criminal. Of the 213, 76% only used the gun for show, 16% actually fired at the intruder, and 8% shot just as a warning. The 213 people were generally successfully in protecting themselves and the only time they had injuries was when they were attacked before they were able to yield their weapon. A U.S. author named Wayne LaPierre believes, “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” In theory, guns can help defend a citizen against a criminal.

However those citizens obtain their weapons through the normal processes, by applying for a gun permit and buying the gun at a store. After searching for statistics on the black market, I came upon the website titled Black Arms Market. The website only requires a credit card number and an address in order for you to buy guns or ammunition. This is a big red flag. One man in Kentucky named Adam Bunger is in police custody after getting caught for selling guns through a website like this one. These kinds of websites have multiple encryptions to keep both the users and the site’s owner completely anonymous.

According to an expert on crime gun patterns, Jay Wachtel, who also works for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the most common way criminals obtain guns is not from stealing them, but from buying them from people who can legally get them. This is called a straw purchase, and it’s a little similar to how minors get their hands on alcohol, except the currency isn’t a U.S. dollar, it’s the bitcoin. This is a digital kind of currency that makes sure no one’s credit card number can be traced back to the owner. The second most common way criminals acquire guns is through legally licensed but corrupt gun dealers.

For exactly this reason, the Democrats, as well as myself, believe that Americans have the right to bear arms, under reasonable regulation. They also believe we should ban assault weapons (I mean why would anyone need an M16?) as well as enforcing gun regulation more effectively. In 1992, gun crime prosecution increased by 22% and since then, crime has decreased by 35%. As long as the felonious are able to acquire guns as easily and as anonymously as they can now, crime rates as well as devastating massacres will continue to augment. One website called Upworthy posted a video that warns the population against the absence of gun control by saying school uniforms in the future will require a bullet proof vest.

Recently after the Newtown shooting, over 100,000 people signed various petitions asking for more strict gun control, including one that supported the reinstatement for Bill Clinton’s ban on assault rifles that expired in 2004.

Therefore, I have to agree that stricter regulation is the answer, for now. It is impossible to predict the future role of weapons and how they will evolve. However, if we can decrease the amount of people who obtain guns illegally, we can decrease the amount of gun crime. If we improve the system for registration, we could avoid giving away guns to psychotics.