Americans are faced with an ever-growing problem of violence.

Our streets have become a battleground where the elderly are
beaten for their social security checks, where terrified women are
viciously attacked and raped, where teen-age gangsters
shoot it out for a patch of turf to sell their illegal drugs, and
where innocent children are caught daily in the crossfire of drive-by
shootings. We cannot ignore the damage that these criminals are doing
to our society, and we must take actions to stop these
horrors. However, the effort by some misguided individuals to
eliminate the legal ownership of firearms does not address the
real problem at hand, and simply disarms the innocent law-abiding
citizens who are most in need of a form of self-defense.

To fully understand the reasons behind the gun control
efforts, we must look at the history of our country, and the role
firearms have played in it. The second amendment to the Constitution
of the United States makes firearm ownership legal in this country.

There were good reasons for this freedom, reasons which persist today.

Firearms in the new world were used initially for hunting, and
occasionally for self-defense. However, when the colonists felt that
the burden of British oppression was too much for them to bear, they
picked up their personal firearms and went to war. Standing against
the British armies, these rebels found themselves opposed by the
greatest military force in the world at that time. The 18th century
witnessed the height of the British Empire, but the rough band of
colonial freedom fighters discovered the power of the Minuteman, the
average American gun owner. These Minutemen, so named because they
would pick up their personal guns and jump to the defense of their
country on a minute's notice, served a major part in winning the

American Revolution. The founding fathers of this country understood
that an armed populace was instrumental in fighting off oppression,
and they made the right to keep and bear arms a constitutionally
guaranteed right.

Over the years, some of the reasons for owning firearms have
changed. As our country grew into a strong nation, we expanded
westward, exploring the wilderness, and building new towns on the
frontier. Typically, these new towns were far away from the centers of
civilization, and the only law they had was dispensed by townsfolk
through the barrel of a gun. Crime existed, but could be minimized
when the townspeople fought back against the criminals. Eventually,
these organized townspeople developed police forces as their towns
grew in size. Fewer people carried their firearms on the street, but
the firearms were always there, ready to be used in self-defense.

It was after the Civil War that the first gun-control
advocates came into existence. These were southern leaders who were
afraid that the newly freed black slaves would assert their newfound
political rights, and these leaders wanted to make it easier to
oppress the free blacks. This oppression was accomplished by passing
laws making it illegal in many places for black people to own
firearms. With that effort, they assured themselves that the black
population would be subject to their control, and would not have the
ability to fight back. At the same time, the people who were most
intent on denying black people their basic rights walked around with
their firearms, making it impossible to resist their efforts. An
unarmed man stands little chance against an armed one, and these armed
men saw their plans work completely. It was a full century before the
civil rights activists of the 1960s were able to restore the
constitutional freedoms that blacks in this country were granted in
the 1860s.

Today's gun control activists are a slightly different breed.

They claim that gun violence in this country has gotten to a point
where something must be done to stop it. They would like to see
criminals disarmed, and they want the random violence to stop. I agree
with their sentiments. However, they are going about it in the wrong
way. While claiming that they want to take guns out of the hands of
criminals, they work to pass legislation that would take the guns out
of the hands of law-abiding citizens instead. For this reason the
efforts at gun control do not address the real problem of crime.

The simple definition of a criminal is someone who does not
obey the law. The simple definition of a law-abiding citizen is
someone who does obey the law. Therefore, if we pass laws restricting
ownership of firearms, which category of people does it affect? The
simple answer is that gun control laws affect law-abiding citizens
only. By their very nature, the criminals will continue to violate
these new laws, they will continue to carry their firearms, and they
will find their efforts at crime much easier