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ENG 101- Research Paper Assignment

Sep 11, 2023

Research Paper Assignment

Learning to write a quality research paper is one of the most important skills you can acquire as a college student. Your research-based writing provides you with an opportunity to participate in an intellectual discussion on a topic of immediate interest to you.

For this assignment, I will ask you to stay away from the typical research paper topics such as Birth Control, the legalization of marijuana, Abortion and the Death Penalty.

Your research paper will be one with a thesis—not a report of information. The facts included in your paper will call for interpretation, and you will try to persuade readers that your interpretation or opinion about the topic is correct.

Research Paper Assignment: Gun Control in America 

“When the Second Amendment was written, guns fired 1 round a minute. Now they can fire over 100. Guns have evolved over the years. So should our gun laws.” This statement made by Shane Claiborne perfectly encapsulates the need to change Gun-related laws in America because of the kind of danger they have become capable of posing to the American population. The violence perpetrated by firearms is a deadly phenomenon that harms American people on a regular basis. In comparison to other developed and developing countries, the loss undertaken by America due to the violence caused by firearms is astronomically high. This showcases that there is a severe need for alteration in American laws when it comes to gun control since the present system in place is failing in every way. Gun Control laws should become more rigid and be enforced strictly because such actions will reduce gun-related violence in America.      

The United States boasts the disturbing distinction of having 120.5 guns per 100 people (Fox and Fridel 16). This data clearly implies that guns and firearms have a much safer haven in this country than humans. This is a result of a pervasive gun culture that operates in the American community. This culture developed because of the country’s colonial history and revolutionary roots, which has made gun-control laws such a difficult element to inculcate in the Constitution. The country’s dependence on Guns led to the formulation of 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.” Unfortunately, the country refused to transform with time, as Guns have now become much more of a threat rather than a tool of defense, with 500 Americans losing their lives every day because of Guns (Fu 42). The attitude and the beliefs regarding Guns practiced by the forefathers cannot function anymore and need to be replaced. Guns need to be regulated and monitored for the safety of people, with strict laws.

Though even with the popularity of Gun culture, the threat posed by firearms was always dominant in American society. The history of American laws related to gun control reveals a background that is racially motivated as well as outdated. Therefore, an attempt to have some kind of gun-control in place can be found even before the formulation of the Second Amendment. This attempt can be found in the criminalization of gun transfer to Catholics, regulation of the amount of gun-powder that can be stored in homes, and mandating the compulsory participation of people during the door-to-door surveys to check the presence of firearms (Fox and Fridel 20). The failure of these regulations showcases that America had always had issues when it came to gun-control. Such regulations could not be successful on a wide scale as, ultimately, the constant wars and inner strife led to the legislature deciding to provide firearms to various individuals on a large scale, ultimately leading to the Second Amendment. Thereafter, Second Amendment has always been used as a reason for opposition against gun-control, stating that it goes against the right of defense for every individual, even though the absence of gun-control is affecting the present and future of the country.

However, the implications of the Second Amendment were never to provide firearms for self-defense. The concept of an individual versus a collective right was not even a consideration in the formulation of this Amendment, as the founding fathers considered both of them to be intertwined. Therefore, the implication that the founding fathers wanted every individual to have guns in order to defend themselves on the basis of their instincts is wrong. The reason laws are formulated is because humans in the society need to be monitored so that they stay within certain limits as dictated by society for their safety and others. Laws were made because humans cannot be trusted with their instincts and need to be within its confines; unfortunately, the present laws are so lax that they are unable to do so with respect to Gun violence. Hence, these laws need to become stricter.

“Slave Codes” and “Black Codes” made gun ownership extremely difficult for Black people. The effect of this trickles down to this date, as America is still plagued by horrible racially motivated attacks through firearms on Black civilians. These codes were essentially put in space in order for White men to have control over Black people (Arden 22). This provides all the more reasons for strict and altered gun-control laws with enforcement, as the racial disparity has resulted in Black people finding it more challenging to own Guns. Due to this, white civilians have more guns in comparison to People of color; because of which, there is still an oppressor-oppressed dynamic in the incidents of Gun violence with respect to a racial perspective. The laws need to develop as they were not wholesome and did not care for the safety of all kinds of people. The present laws put people of color at a considerable disadvantage and danger. The reasoning of history and the spirit of the Constitution have produced an inaccurate imagery which has become a massive roadblock in the enforcement of strict gun-control laws.

The imagery produced by Wild West produced in the mainstream is also inaccurate as one of the first laws passed in Dodge City, Kansas, 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” (Wamser-Nanney 50). This clearly showcases that the glorified past presented by opposers of gun-control is inaccurate. In reality, there has always been a need for better gun-control laws. Still, the attempts have failed repeatedly, either because of historical events or people’s unwillingness to understand and care for the safety of others. Therefore, even after such horrific incidents of Gun-violence, American laws are still lacking in producing any kind of effective action, which is actually the need of the hour. There are several instances of Gun-violence which could have been controlled if strict gun-control laws were present.      

The first incident of gun violence that invited a considerable amount of attention and led to an alteration in the Constitution was the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre on Feb. 14, 1929. This massacre caused the death of seven gangsters. These seven gangsters were associates of “Bugs” Moran (Arden 44). The fact that people with criminal backgrounds were able to garner guns so easily in the American market shocked the country and led to the demand for strict gun-control laws. The debates produced by this incident led to the National Firearms Act and The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 (Arden 45). These acts made the sale of guns to specific individuals illegal and made federal firearms licensees compulsory, respectively. Unfortunately, the laws were overturned after public anger died down because it affected Gun manufacturers and attacked individual liberty, in accordance with some people. Instead, education reforms were pushed as a solution to the problem, which, even though essential, are not adequate to combat Gun-violence, as proven by future incidents of Gun-violence. These laws could have actually stopped various incidents of Gun-violence in the future, where firearm-related crimes were committed by individuals with a criminal background.

University of Texas mass shootings, along with assassination attempts on various prominent figures, led to President Lyndon B. Johnson making the Gun Control Act of 1968 (G.C.A.) into law (Mazur 4). The mass shooting at the University of Texas was done by Charles Whitman. Whitman, even after receiving appropriate medical attention and having an apt educational background, was unable to control his instincts and killed 16 people (Mazur 8). This showcases the flaw with the concept of a Good Guy with a Gun. The ease with which Whitman was able to garner a firearm, even after being honorably discharged from the Marines for violently acting towards another man and frequently visiting mental health professionals, reveals the inefficiency of the present system and showcases the necessity of background checks which are not enforced properly by the present laws. The man should not have been sold guns, and the guns he possessed already should have been regularly monitored and taken away when he showcased disturbing behavior. This shooting is primarily considered to be the first in a long string of mass shootings in America. Unfortunately, even after one tragic incident after another, strict laws with proper enforcement have not been formulated.

The result of the Texas mass shooting was the Gun Control Act of 1968 (G.C.A.), which restricted Gun Ownership (Mazur 6). This was again amended by the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986 (F.O.P.A.). Unlike other countries, the disastrous effects of such shootings do not tend to have lasting effects on the legislature. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, which instilled a waiting period of five days, is now replaced by instant background checks. This has led to an increase in gun-related violence as the medical background of people buying guns does not go through an intensive investigation. People supporting gun ownership also oppose this kind of quick background check. These quick background checks allowed 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron to garner a gun which he then used in a mass shooting that occurred at a Tops Friendly Markets supermarket located in Buffalo, New York, United States. This was a racially motivated mass shooting in which the shooter managed to kill 10 Black people (Oxford Analytica 22). Such attacks and their analysis clearly showcase that the present system is flawed and needs regulations with strict laws. The incidents initially produce a huge reactionary measure which, due to an absence of coordination and compromise, fail to come to fruition or are reverted and amended quickly when the mainstream impact of the incident wanes. American Parliament is formulated in such a way that even if the majority supports an idea if there is an absence of an agreement between the majority and minority, laws cannot pass. Hence, gun-control laws have had such a sad fate in Congress.      

As a result of the Buffalo Mass shooting, a Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act was proposed. This Act, unfortunately, did not pass successfully in the Senate. The reason behind this was the uncompromising nature of both the dominant political parties, the Democratic and Conservative (Fleming et al. 350). This uncompromising nature has to this date, made it difficult for the American government to formulate laws that could effectively control Gun-related violence. The opinions regarding such issues never align, and this leads to delays and an increasing probability of gun-related crimes. The Media also plays a huge role as it is so overwhelmingly in the favor of Democrats and does not pay heed to the opinions of Republicans. Such an ignorant attitude makes the Republicans more opposed to any compromise, as they are more scared of losing their vote bank. America is a country of diverse opinions whose primary priority has always been the safety of its citizens. It is on the basis of this priority that opposing opinions need to be harmonized. This can only be done through the right kind of attitude by both the government and the media. This attitude has not been reflected since the inception of this problem. This reflects ineffectiveness in the entire political system towards such an important issue of enormous urgency.      

The attitude towards gun-control laws practiced by Congress also provides encouragement to crimes rooted in racism. The manner in which laws related to firearms have progressed in American history has been mainly aimed at providing power to White people. Prior to the Civil War, “Slave Codes” prohibited enslaved people from having Guns. After the Emancipation Proclamation, “Black Codes” were created, which prohibited Black civilians from owning Guns (Sellers 1400). The decision was upheld by the Supreme Court in the case Dred Scott v. Sandford. The statutes that prohibited Blacks from owning guns, unavoidable traces of it still remain in effect through economic means. The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1878 caused most states to adopt a facially neutral attitude towards business associated with the purchase of handguns. However, the intent remained anything but neutral. The Southern States inculcated bans on cheap firearms and massive taxes on guns to prohibit Black people from owning guns. Licenses and Permits issued by Police forces routinely make it difficult for people from “unpopular groups” to own guns (Wamser-Nanney 348). Public Housing Residents, most of whom are people of color, are singled out for gun bans. Gun Sweeps in high-crime neighborhoods increasingly target only People of Color. This is clear evidence of the disproportionate distribution of Firearms between People of Color and White Civilians. This is a situation of grave danger and puts Black people at considerable risk against people with racist mindsets, who might use this difference as an advantage and attack them. There have been many mass shootings with racist intent, like the 2022 Buffalo shooting, which showcases that this is a matter of critical concern. The danger to People of Color makes the issue of modifying existing laws related to firearms and introducing good gun-control laws more urgent. The present law provides undue control to certain people who are extremely dangerous and leaves various innocent people vulnerable. It also forces many people to take an illegal route which is distasteful.      

A big argument against gun-control laws is that it takes the ability of an individual to protect themselves from a dangerous situation. There is a big issue with this argument in regard to whether individuals are capable enough to control the tool that they are using for protection. Impulsiveness is a natural element of a human’s character. It takes a large amount of training for officials to monitor this impulsiveness, in order to use a firearm. At present, there is no requirement for a mandatory training procedure in order to own a gun. Therefore, the central question arises whether common individuals are capable of handling guns. More than half of the suicides in America occur through firearms (Swanson 178). In most of the cases, these firearms are either owned by the individuals, or they are owned by their families. If individuals are not responsible enough for their own safety, how can they be considered to be responsible for other people’s safety 77 percent of mass shooters from 1966 to 2019 owned their guns legally (Sellers 1332). This clearly showcases that there are some massive flaws that are present in the system. The individuals who are being provided with guns do not have the mental caliber to use the firearm judiciously. The present time is filled with multiple difficulties as well as complexities. Life cannot be attributed to the feature of being simple. There are several ups and downs, and through that, it becomes extremely difficult for humans to control their emotions. Even officials with impeccable training fail to do so; in such a situation providing such individuals with firearms is a huge mistake. This is a massive threat to them as well as to the society. Therefore, an urgent alteration to the present laws, as well as the introduction of new laws, is necessary in order to combat the threat of increasing violence through firearms. Strict gun-control laws are needed, but the fact that they are impactful is clear from their effect on other countries.

Another reason behind the urgency of stricter Gun Control laws is the vast difference between firearm-related violence between America and other countries. Other countries have strict regulations when it comes to gun control; many of those countries, like Canada, have adopted strict regulations after facing a series of gun violence incidents and experienced significant improvement. This implies that if America has strict regulations in regard to gun-control then, then improvement can also occur in this country. In America, civilian-owned firearms are 88.8 guns per 100 people (Swanson 178). In this statistic, the second-highest country is Yemen, with 54.8 guns per 100 people. According to the report presented by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center, there is a connection between the number of guns and gun violence in the country (Fleming et al. 350). America has earned the unwanted recognition of being the country with the highest rate of gun violence, and the reason for this has been continuously attributed to the weak gun-control laws present in the country. In comparison to other countries, these laws are dated and unregulated. Various studies have concluded that restricted access to Guns can significantly reduce gun violence. This aspect of restricted access is abundant in the gun-control laws of other countries, but not in America to that extent. Canada keeps Guns accessible to its civilians but puts forth significant restrictions when it comes to access to different types of Guns (Fleming et al. 364). Advanced firearms cannot be brought by a civilian with no required knowledge. Gun ownership is possible, but it is not easy, and therefore firearms are handled with a lot of awareness. Canada categorizes guns into three types- Prohibited, Restricted, and Non-Restricted. The purchase of dangerous guns is restricted by harsh regulations. America, over the years, has attempted to bring regulations like this but has failed because of the capitalistic ambition of Gun manufacturers who do not want to restrict their markets. There has never been any fruitful compromise, something which Canada successfully managed. During the formulation of this law, it was decided that those who had registration certificates for such guns before they were banned could keep them. Registration was made compulsory for restricted and prohibited firearms. In order to buy a gun, an individual had to be 18 or older. There are stringent background checks that are required in the process of licensing, which is not the case in America. The background checks analyze whether the applicant is suffering from a mental illness, or is associated with some kind of violence. Third-person character certificates are also a huge necessity. In order to carry firearms in public places, Canadians need to garner a special permit. The permit is only given for professional reasons or in order to save lives. In contrast to the American Federal Laws, safe gun storage is a requirement as per Canadian laws. It is essential that the guns are locked in a room, compartment, or container that’s difficult to break into, with a trigger cable lock, or both, depending on the type of firearm. Guns must be unloaded when stored. During transportation, such stringent regulations are followed. The non-restricted guns have weaker regulations guiding them in comparison to the other two categories. These regulations have significantly reduced gun violence in Canada in comparison to the 20th century.           

England also has stricter regulations in comparison to America (Hurka et al. 788). The United Kingdom is hailed as having one of the strictest gun-control laws in the world, which is evidently reflected in the level of Gun-homicide present in the country. Handguns are banned; they can only be used by police officers or individuals employed with the army. The constitutional origins of both countries are identical, yet because of effective political action, England has been able to formulate strict laws. Military-style weapons are entirely prohibited for ownership by civilians. In order to own firearms and ammo, civilians need to go through a rigorous process. Firstly they need to present an adequate reason for wanting to own a gun. These reasons should be either related to profession or for vermins. Self-defense is not considered an apt reason because humans are not trusted enough to not make unjust use of their access and attack others instead of defending themselves. Gun and ammunition could only be owned by people who had licenses. It was also made compulsory for buyers who needed to pass safety tests. The licenses need to be renewed once every five years. Local Police chiefs have the responsibility of analyzing whether the reason for owning the guns is justified. If a person applies for a gun in order to combat vermins, then local police officials need to check whether vermins are actually present in the house. Proper background checks are also facilitated, which check a person’s criminal record, mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction, and references regarding mental state, home life, and attitudes toward guns. It is required that a license is renewed every five years, but police officials have the right to revoke a license at any time if they think that the person no longer has the use of a gun or an owner has become a threat to society. In the U.K., a civilian needs to be 18 years old in order to own a gun. British have their own safety standards that need to be fulfilled by owners, which will be analyzed by the local police officials. If owners fail in this test then local police officials will have the right to take away the firearms. These safety standards also aim to prevent any other family member of the owners from garnering unauthorized access to the firearm. Unfortunately, these kinds of strict regulations are absent from the laws of America. Here also, a lot of compromises were involved in the lawmaking process. It is because of these compromises that an exception was introduced in the licensing requirements, where even without a license, an individual was able to retain the membership of Gun clubs. The only requirement is that there should be an engagement with the club in terms of target shooting. The gun clubs should also fulfill specific criteria with respect to security and storage arrangements for guns and ammo.

Along with the formulation of laws, their enforcement is also strict. If a civilian is found to own a gun unlawfully in England, then they face a prison sentence of a minimum of five years (Hurka et al. 800). In the 20th century American Gun Laws and British Gun Laws did not share much difference, but as years have gone by, there has been a significant difference in the reaction of America as a country to Gun violence in comparison to Britishers. There were huge incidents of Gun violence in both the country accompanied by public outcry, but the reaction of both countries differed. In 2012 a school shooting took place in Dunblane, Scotland. The country went into shock when they realized that the shooter lawfully held the two rifles and four handguns that he used for the massacre and had lawfully held firearms for almost 20 years prior to this incident. Various reports have claimed that the Gun-violence in the United Kingdom has not stopped entirely because of the laws but has significantly reduced. Though the rules were strict, surveys have proved that between 2008 and 2009, more than 800,000 certificates were active in the U.K. This showcases that strict gun laws do not take away from individual liberty, as stated by the opposition to gun-control laws in the U.S.A. Since Gun ownership was still possible, even with strict rules. This showcases that it is possible to have strict gun-control laws while preserving individual liberty. Even though reactions were equally strong in both countries, the difference was that an organized group in America was continuously stopping strict gun-control laws from being formulated through reasonings that necessarily weren’t true, as proven by the U.K. in the case of individual liberty. The reduction in gun violence experienced by Canada and England proves that strict gun-control laws can effectively reduce violence produced by firearms significantly.  

There is so much focus on the potential losses that could occur if strict gun-control laws are formulated that enough attention is not provided to the gains the country will enjoy as a whole if gun-control laws are made strict in nature. First and foremost, America as a country needs it because of the rising cases of gun violence and the visible proof of the impact it has had on countries like America and Canada. Between 1999 and 2016, Guns were found to be the leading cause of death in both homicides and suicides. American Journal of Public Health, in its study, found that the “legal purchase of a handgun appears to be associated with a long-lasting increased risk of violent death” (Toch and Lizotte 228). In the comparative study to other countries, it was observed that background checks by federal departments could significantly reduce deaths caused by firearms. Similarly, mandatory background checks during the purchase of ammunition can reduce deaths from the projected 80.7% (Toch and Lizotte 226). These studies clearly prove that strict gun-control laws have the capability of making a meaningful impact and making the country more secure against this threat of gun violence. It has also been noted that the places where the most amount of Violence takes place are where there are regulations like right-to-carry and stand-your laws. These laws need to be monitored and replaced by strict laws so that the incidents of gun violence can be significantly reduced. Apart from ownership, there are various other aspects that need to be controlled and monitored, like high-capacity magazines, which have been used in almost half of the mass shootings from 1998-2016 (Toch and Lizotte 240). There have been various conversations in Congress in regard to the banning of high-capacity magazines, but the capitalistic intent of manufacturers has always halted any substantial decision in regard to this matter. The arguments presented by the opposition are always based on the possibility of losing the human liberty of owning and buying things. High-capacity magazines are not a requirement even for people who want to own guns. Civilians do not need to carry high-capacity magazines even for the purpose of defending themselves. Still, the Congress fails to come to a common ground regarding this issue. It is important that a concrete step is taken towards the prohibition and control of such equipment, as they are a constant danger to the lives of people.  

The ‘Good Man with a Gun’ concept states that a man with a gun has the capacity to protect himself, his family as well as his country (Mazur 5). On the basis of this concept, people who oppose strict gun-control laws emphasize their claims. The fantasy created by the ‘Good Man with a Gun’ concept has become deadly. There have been multiple innocent civilians that have been killed by ‘men’ patrolling the streets just because the victims appeared deadly. Men without any training, with a biased perspective, with the control of a Gun, put the lives of many people in danger. Laws have been made because individuals in society need to be monitored as well as regulated. ‘Man’ has the right to be free, but they always need to be regulated by law, or otherwise, there would not be any difference between wildlife and society. Therefore, the hesitance shown in gun control by American lawmaking bodies seems unethical, when it can save so many lives.      

America has been plagued by various incidents of violence induced by firearms. The historical background of gun control laws showcases the utter inefficiency on the part of authorities, which has led to an unfair distribution of firearms in present times. Various incidents of gun violence in America also showcase that in the presence of efficient gun-control laws, these incidents could have been avoided. The reaction of both the Government and Media towards gun violence has been disappointing, as apart from intense debates, there has been nothing effectual that has happened in a long-term manner, unlike countries such as Canada and England. The difference of opinion regarding gun control in the common public has also made it extremely difficult for such laws to pass in Congress. New laws are necessary because of the racist intent present in the practices and regulations in practice prevalent in today’s world. Human instability also adds to the urgency of formulating stricter laws. Therefore, Gun Control laws should become more rigid and enforced strictly because this will reduce gun-related violence in America. 

Works Cited

Arden, Andrew J. “Mass Incarceration, Deprivation of Rights, and Racial Subordination: US v. Gary, the American Gun Control Narrative, and Ugly Truth behind Sec. 18 USC 922 (g).” NCCRL Rev. 2 (2022): 141.

Fleming, Anthony, Dylan S. McLean, and Raymond Tatalovich. “Debating gun control in Canada and the United States: divergent policy frames and political cultures.” World affairs 181.4 (2018): 348-371.

Fox, James Alan, and Emma E. Fridel. “The menace of school shootings in America.” The Wiley handbook on violence in education: Forms, factors, and preventions (2018): 15- 35.

Fu, Yubo, et al. “Epidemic VS pandemic: A visual data analysis of gun deaths Vs COVID-19 deaths in the United States of America.” (2021).

Hurka, Steffen, and Christoph Knill. “Does regulation matter? A cross‐national analysis of the impact of gun policies on homicide and suicide rates.” Regulation & Governance 14.4 (2020): 787-803.

Mazur, Karol. “The” GOOD GUY WITH A GUN” CONCEPT IN THE AMERICAN GUN CULTURE AND GUN CONTROL POLICY.” Scientific Journal of Bielsko-Biala School of Finance and Law 25.2 (2021): 5-10.

Oxford Analytica. “Mass US shooting in Buffalo highlights familiar issues.” Emerald Expert Briefings oxan-es (2022).

Sellers, Joshua S., and Erin A. Scharff. “Preempting politics: State power and local democracy.” Stanford Law Review 72.5 (2020): 1361-1419.

Swanson, Jeffrey W. “Preventing suicide through better firearm safety policy in the United States.” Psychiatric services 72.2 (2021): 174-179.

Toch, Hans, and Alan J. Lizotte. “Research and policy: The case of gun control.” Psychology and social policy. Taylor & Francis, 2019. 223-240.

Wamser-Nanney, Rachel. “Understanding gun violence: Factors associated with beliefs regarding guns, gun policies, and gun violence.” Psychology of violence 11.4 (2021): 349.

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