Gun control is a highly speculated and debated issue that raises international security concern in terms of the design and effectiveness of gun control policies. All people in any part of the world wish to live without fear of a bullet gunning them down accidentally or intentionally through criminal activities. The controversy of gun control lies within how it influences the relative incentives of criminals and the acquisition of firearms by law-abiding citizens.
The world fears that the ownership of guns by law-abiding citizens might be a prerequisite for the acquisition of more guns by criminals through robbery. This paper examines gun control through a comparison of the different policies that are currently used to regulate the ownership of firearms in China and the United States. Regardless of the intensity of gun control debates on violence prevention, the public has very poor knowledge about the laws that govern the use of firearms.
In addition, politics-oriented people and activists have different reasons for supporting or opposing gun control policies. The consequences of gun ownership, especially in the US, as compared to China, provide an understanding of the importance of having gun control policies.
History of Gun Control
The controversy over the control of firearms is not new. Besides, it is not confined to China and the United States. Gun control can be traced back to the 18th century when Cesare Beccaria, an economist, founded the classical school of criminology. Gun control is also evident in1929 when the Soviet Union was established (Blackman 23). China established gun control in 1938.
However, it was not until the 1980s and early 1990s when unsubstantiated violence and escalating crimes that were fueled by illicit drug wars sparked international debates to put forth stringent legislation to restrict the ownership and use of lethal weapons. This debate still exists in many countries around the globe. In most cases, gun control laws make no peculiarity between criminals and law-abiding citizens.
The implication that anyone owning a firearm has the likelihood of breaking the law forces many nations around the globe to limit the use of the gun to state-related purposes. Both China and the United States have different myths and laws about gun control regarding the ownership and use of firearms. China exhibits powerful dictatorial governance styles that are led by authoritarian leaders. Thus, it controls many state activities that involve security, trade, media, and politics.
Government leaders in China formulate and pass most laws in parliamentary debates without considering the views of the citizens, especially when handling sensitive issues that might receive resistance. The government exercises power over the rights and freedom of the citizens to handle firearms through its strict gun laws. Immense control of the correlation between gun control and crime restricts lawbreakers in terms of the usage of lethal weapons.
For this reason, the government effectively handles the gun issue without much resistance from citizens. In China, one has to follow the laid-down decisions made or else face the law. In contrast, America practices corporate governance that provides a sense of democracy to Americans. As a result, Lie demonstrates how America exhibits a different historical background, vis-à-vis the control of firearms (136).
Ever since the uniting of the American states, citizens own firearms since the American style of regulating the acquisition and use of guns has never been strict. However, evidence regarding the effectiveness of previous gun bans in America is very controversial as the first centralized limitations on the possession of involuntary arsenal and handguns endorsed in 1934 were somehow triumphant, although this depended on the infrequency of misdemeanor incidences.
This situation went ineffective after several years. In the federal firearm laws, a clause reveals that a person can purchase and possess a gun at a minimum age of 21 years, regardless of whether the dealer is licensed or illegal.
The American government relies on the fact that it has strong military personnel to control any kind of violation that involves the use of these lethal weapons. In his essay, Adam Gopnik criticized the freedom of arming Americans with guns, saying that when “something becomes hard to procure, fewer people will acquire including bad people” (par. 3)
Comparison of Firearms and Firearm Regulation in China and America
The gun control debate is a contemporary issue that calls for a change of attitude towards the acquisition and possession of shorthand weapons. However, human beings are naturally resistant to change. For this reason, different activists of the gun control policy in both countries have diverse reasons in support or opposition of the policy. Generally, supporters of gun control claim that lawbreakers will have easy access to guns from illicit dealers or through robbery if these laws are not implemented (Silko 3).
This situation will intensify the rates of violent crime. On the other hand, opponents of gun control claim that these laws infringe the rights of citizens to protect themselves against criminals. Nevertheless, gun-related killings have become a common trend, especially in the United States. Kleck reveals a case where a weird gunman, Anders Behring Breivik, opened gunfire in a school in 1996, thereby killing 16 pupils and their teacher.
The hooligan attracted a sentence of 21 years in jail (Kleck 36). In yet another incidence, Purdy, a wanderer, poured over 100 shots in a very short time and later used the rifle to kill himself (23). There are also varieties of factors that are known to start violence not only in crime scenes but also in normal life situations. These factors include vengeance and family clashes, which result in murder. The frequency of homicide instances directly relates to the number of firearms that are possessed by people legally or illegally.
A proof of this situation is seen in an investigation of crime rates of both China and America. The number of deaths resulting from gun violence in the United States outdoes that of China by nearly five times. Low homicide rates in China, as compared to the United States, link to the stringent gun control measures that have been put in place to ensure a high sense of security to law-abiding citizens.
Gun possession in China is highly forbidden, with any instance of guns being allowed only to rule implementers, gemstone, and banking confidential defense institutions, and the armed forces. According to Blackman, the likelihood of a person causing death is more if that person possesses a gun in relation when he or she has no gun (32). Statistical findings attest that an estimate of 30 people is shot and murdered each day in the United States.
This observation translates to an average of 30,000 homicide cases per year. It correlates to approximately 283 million civilians who are in possession of firearms in the US. Loosened laws enable anyone who wishes to own a gun to acquire it without much struggle. In America, guns are stashed everywhere. They almost outnumber the number of US people (Amar 111; Lie 138).
Studies reveal that gun control is highly supported by the public. Nevertheless, most politicians who oppose gun control claim to represent the interest of the public, which is actually contrary to the statistics drawn from citizens’ opinions regarding the possession of lethal firearms. For instance, research conducted on public opinion concerning the acquisition and ownership of handguns suggested that an estimated fifty-three percent of US citizens stood for the implementation of gun control (Blackman 23).
The public seems supportive of universal gun control laws. Failure to pass the checks denies one a license to own a gun. Conclusions indicated that despite the urge for politicians to shoot down the bills regarding gun control, the public provided over 91% support for its execution (Blackman 25). The positive attitude towards gun control relates to witnessed incidences of homicide resulting from owned lethal weapons.
Enhancing Gun Control
Do fewer or more guns mean less crime or vice versa? The controversy of weaponry lies within the ‘more-guns-equal-more-death’ argument (Blackman 48). The rampant murder cases resulting from shootings in the United States provide clear evidence that loosening gun control laws have increased incidences of crime.
The consequences of an influx of concealed weapons are rather predictable. Logically, firearms do not per se cause violence. However, the availability and ease of acquisition imply intensify lethal consequences (Blackman 49).
Regulation of the acquisition and ownership of guns becomes inevitable in any country that is determined to reduce the rate of crimes that result from organized or unorganized shootings. Governments have to strengthen firearm laws to improve the security of all people (Kleck 44). In China, gun laws are so strict that the acquisition of the simplest shotgun by an average person is extremely difficult. As a result, the country has low levels of gun-related murder cases as opposed to the United States.
In contrast, the United States has a very high number of privately owned guns. As said earlier, the number of firearms in possession by American civilians nearly outnumbers the population count (Amar 111). In the US, the significance of short guns, whether for constructive or destructive application, is much determined on their corporeal distinctiveness such as convenience and the ability to project an enormous force.
However, realistic criminological and legal studies attest that the significance that is attached to the guns shows very little correlations to the guns themselves. The attachment of symbolism to a gun is also a common phenomenon in American society (Blackman 65). American society displays a unique sense of self-reliance. For this reason, Americans attach so much care on guns in a claim that they symbolize self-reliance and their individualism (Kleck 47).
Nevertheless, the degree to which guns have permeated in the American consciousness is an issue of concern in the United States. This situation becomes a senseless argument, especially when it touches sensitive issues regarding security such as gun control. The uncertainty of a person to forget the gun as a status symbol and using it to terminate a life remains anonymous to both the gun user and the undefined target.
The United States should emulate the strict rules that are executed by China’s government in its regulation of firearms since this strategy has significantly reduced the number of homicide cases in the country.
The issue of gun control versus security levels remains a hullabaloo to many countries in the globe, including the United States. However, if security is the debate, the practice of restricting gun possession is inescapable. Permission to private guns to civilians can have across-the-board consequences. The number of guns in a violent scene highly accounts for the likelihood of losing a number of lives in case of a shoot-out crops up. Reports have had it that the majority of civilians support the gun laws to guarantee some increased sense of security.
Firearms amplify the rate of crime. Acquisition of firearms by law-abiding citizens also avail cheap sources of guns to criminals through robbery. The number of reported cases evidences a number of scenes relating to stolen guns. The claim that a person is safer in China in relation to the US is true. Strict laws in China have exemplified rarer cases of gunfights and gun killings. The US federal law has over twenty thousand gun laws. Incongruously, most politicians advocate for ownership of private firearms.
This decision compromises the wishes of the most innocent and peaceable Americans. However, it is hard to balance gun control and interest groups in America. The government has no option but to restrict or even ban the use of lethal weapons by civilians. In addition, there should be stringent rules that lead to sentencing of criminals who are found handling licensed or prohibited weaponry. Fewer guns in the hands of citizens will reduce homicide, thus saving many lives in return.
Amar, Reed. “Second Thoughts.” Law and Contemporary Problems 65.2(2002): 103-111. Print.
Blackman, Paul. “The Federal Factoid Factory on Firearms and Violence: A Review of CDC Research and Politics.” Journal of Firearms and Public Policy 7.1(1994). 21-74. Print.
Gopnik, Adam. Shootings, 2007. Web.
Kleck, Gary. “Policy Lessons from Recent Gun Control Research.” Journal of Law and Contemporary Problems 49.1(1986): 35-63. Print.
Lie, John. “American Sociology in a Transnational World: Against Parochialism.” Teaching Sociology 25.1(1995): 136-44. Print.
Silko, Leslie. In the Combat Zone, 2003. Web.