Hand Guns


I. Introduction

It is estimated that in 1994, 39,720 individuals died from firearm related

injuries in the United States . This figure is very alarming, especially

when one considers this number not as a statistic, but 39,720 human beings.

The issue that will be addressed is one that brings with it great

controversy. Does our right to own guns infringe upon the rights of others

to live? Would it be a greater injustice to ban the right to own guns thus

saving lives? Would this action decrease pain and increase pleasure for the

majority?

I ask that an open mind be kept throughout this presentation, for guns

impact two basic rights provided by the Constitution. The first can be

found in these words at the end of the introduction: ".in order to promote

the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our

posterity" . The next can be found in the Second Amendment: ".the right of

the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" . These two rights

clearly belong to all citizens, but now one must question: What about the

39,720 individuals who were killed by guns in 1994. Were their rights

upheld, or has a great injustice been committed?

Whenever there is an issue which generates great controversy, there are

always at least two sides or views which must be considered.

There are many degrees of either freedom or control which individuals

believe, but they fall into either pro gun control or against gun control.

Those who are against restrictions on gun control are represented by the NRA

(National Rifle Association). The NRA states the Second Amendment as ".the

ultimate civil liberty- the right to defend one\'s own life- without which

there are no rights". The NRA strongly defends any and all gun rights, for

they see any gun restriction as the beginning of civilian disarmament.

Those who are for gun control and regulations also have varying degrees of

beliefs, but they all believe that more regulations are in order. Some want

the abolition of virtually all guns, while others simply want tougher

regulations on applicants desiring a gun. This side also has many

organizations which work to represent their beliefs, one of which is HCI

(Handgun Control Incorporated).

The right to own guns is defended by many for some of the following

reasons. The right to own a firearm provides the public with power. This

very power which we as United States citizens hold strikes fear into the

hearts of any dictator or Communist. Secondly, many have purchased guns for

the reason of self defense. In a confrontation with an attacker, a handgun

can mean the difference between life and death for a victim. There are also

many individuals who use guns to hunt and participate in competition.

The ATF reported that from 1899-1989 more then 211 million firearms have

been transferred, with approximately 7.5 million additional guns sold each

year since. As stated before, 39,720 died in 1994 due to firearm violence.

Without a doubt, America has a serious problem with gun related violence.

The question now arises weather this violence problem is restricted to the

Unites States, or is it a plague that we share with most other countries?

In Switzerland, each male is trained and issued a fully automatic weapon,

for they have no standing army. Yet, in 1990, only thirty-four homicides

were related to firearms. This shows that there is no direct relationship

between firearm ownership and crime, but just the opposite. A thoroughly

armed people is relatively crime free. Now consider Mexico, with a firearm

homicide rate two times greater then the United States. They have very

strict laws which do not allow individuals to own guns. In contrast,

Israel encourages all of its citizens to carry handguns or fully automatic

weapons. The result is that in any large crowd, there are many armed

individuals. In Jerusalem, 1984, a group of terrorists planned to open fire

on a large group of people. They resulted in killing only one person before

the three terrorists were shot and killed by armed citizens.

Gary Kleck is a nationally recognized criminologist from Florida State

University. He has reported that an estimated 2.45 million crimes are

prevented a year by citizens using firearms, most of which did not require

any