Health Policy: Behavioral Health Policy; Gun Control

Executive Summary

Ownership of guns attracts an immense controversy among different people across the globe. Parents who send their children to school need to rest assured that reckless gun owners cannot open fires to them. Unfortunately, this situation is not case as evidenced by reported incidences of children opening fires to their peer in some American schools. This observation underlines an existing relationship between gun control and increased incidences of criminal acts.

Indeed, nations, which have different policy frameworks, can address the issue of gun control by guiding and regulating gun ownership. The US does not confine gun ownership in a stricter manner compared to China. Some activists in the US support citizenry ownership of guns. However, those who are opposed to it raise their own concerns over security issues that are attributed to the increased possession of guns by citizens who’s may use the weapons in the wrong way.

Using the cases of gun control and ownership in China and the US, the current paper confirms that different nations need to develop requisite policies for regulating the possession of guns to ensure that people do not violate the rights of others in the process of protecting themselves. Drawing from cases of shootings in the US, the paper holds that guns need to be controlled to enhance the overall security of the US people, as it is witnessed in the case of China.

The Problem

Several cases have been registered in schools where teens have turned violent to the extent of killing their fellow students and teachers. For instance, in 1999, on 20 April, Dylan Kelbold and his friend Eric Harris staged an assault in a Columbine school that is based in Colorado. In the assault, 13 people were killed while 23 others were critically injured. They later turned bullets against themselves. It is perhaps impossible to establish what caused this attack or even other recently established children-steered crimes against people.

However, in the case of Dylan Kelbold and his friend Eric Harris, a possible cause of the violent attacks was video games that have violent themes and characters (Kleck, 2009). Studies on the video games played by the two revealed they enjoyed playing Em-up, which is a doom video game that is used by the US military in training soldiers on how to kill effectively.

Simon Wiesenthal is a center, which engages in tracking various internet-based hate groups. It discovered that Dylan Kelbold and his friend had customized a doom video version. In the game, two shooters had unlimited ammunitions and extra weapons. The shooters targeted opponents who were unarmed and could not respond to attacks. In a class project, Dylan Kelbold and his friends Eric Harris made a similar video tape. They carried guns, which they used to kill innocent and unarmed school athletes.

Therefore, although exposures to media may cause students to develop violent acts towards their peers, the fact that they have access to guns increases the risk of wrongful use of firearms amongst members of the public (Kleck, 2009). One of the effective ways of controlling this risk entails developing gun control policies to mitigate the occurrence of cases such as the one that was witnessed between Dylan Kelbold and his friend Eric Harris.

Literature Review

The US and China have different historical backgrounds concerning the gun control issue. However, such backgrounds are critical in developing an understanding of the probable different policy frameworks for regulation of gun ownership. China advocates policy frameworks that govern all activities that take place in the nation, including security, trade regulation, freedom of media, and politics among others (Neighbors, 2008).

This control is akin to the communist school of thought that is deployed in the administration of many institutions in China. This school has the effect of increasing the ability of the government to control guns that are in the hands of the public. Indeed, the government of China does not need any consent from the citizenry when developing gun control policies. Thus, China can effectively manage the number of small arms that are in the hands of its people without experiencing excessive resistance.

When few people have guns, it becomes easier to address insecurity issues that relate to homicide crimes. Such crimes are less likely to be accomplished using lethal weapons such as guns. America has a different historical path for gun control. Thus, people made a resolution to continue holding guns as a way of overcoming any incident of infringement of their constitutional rights and/or even when the government reverted to dictatorship.

This situation has attracted immense scholarly reactions. For instance, Gopnik (2007) opposes the assertion that holding of guns by the public constitutes a necessary check for the government to ensure that it does not infringe people’s constitutional rights. Neighbors (2008) supports this line of thought by adding that circumstances that led many Americans to seek the right to hold guns have incredibly changed so that there is no fear that the privileges that are guaranteed by the constitution cannot be altered.

This observation highlights the necessity to alter the attitude of activists from embracing the possession of gun to approving gun control policies. Indeed, with the small arms, an effort to fight the government might yield minimal results, as the government has a sophisticated weaponry and hi-tech military capability. Consequently, the main alarm should be focused on the threats that are posed by guns that are in the hands of some citizens on other citizens.

Branas (2006) asserts that activists push for unrestricted gun ownership rights since they (guns) are necessary for self-defense, hunting, and sporting activities. To him, people have the personality of being aggressive. Violence has no relationship with gun ownership. Contrary to this argument, it is important to note that when people become violent, they lose emotional stability. Hence, nearness or even possession of guns has the capacity to increase the likelihood of engaging in a fatal act.

Gopnik (2007) contends with this counterargument by adding that the US experiences a myriad of traumatizing incidents in which innocent people are killed in a time span of less than an hour by the power of a gun. The circumstances, which make people violent are unpredictable and sometime uncontrollable. These circumstances include family conflicts, perception of revenge, and bad business deals among different members of the public. When an individual stubs his or her friend due to these conflicts, the possession of a gun increases the chances of utilizing the weapon as a means of unleashing his or her anger.

The vulnerability of gun owners to use them in a manner that violates other people’s rights is evidenced by statistics on homicides in both the US and China. China experiences five times less the number of homicides compared to the US (Celinska, 2007). Since China has a lower number of gun owners relative to the US, it suggests that the number of guns that are in the hands of the public has a relationship with cases of homicides. A study by Celinska (2007) indicates that people who possess guns are more likely to use them when they turnout violent following the emergence of some misunderstandings. Indeed, Wright, Garen, and Barbara (2008) confirm that people who have guns are more likely to kill in case of misunderstanding than when they do not possess them.

A study by the Harvard University confirms that the number of homicides in both developed and developing nations correlates directly with the number of guns that are in public hands. Irrespective of socio-economic status, the likelihood of killing another person depends on gun ownership status. Therefore, to reduce the number of homicides, including the likelihood of repeating the aforementioned scenario of Dylan Kelbold and his friend Eric Harris, the number of people who own guns needs to be reduced significantly in the US to the extent of matching the level of gun ownership in China.

Policy Options

A problem that attracts public opinions may be solved through various alternatives. In case of gun ownership, the government of the United States may solve it by stopping the issuance of new gun ownership licenses, withdrawing licenses to recover the guns, and/or conducting a stop-and-frisk operation to enhance the recovery of guns for non-compliant gun owners. Total ban of gun ownership among members of the public may also encompass a successful strategy for reducing problems that are associated with gun ownership, including murders upon the emergence conflicts or misunderstandings between two or more people.

Policy Proposal and Recommendation

Upon considering that the number of homicides correlates with the number of guns that are owned by individuals within nations, it is important for the US and other nations that have high prevalent rates of gun ownership to develop policies to regulate gun ownership and usage. It is proposed that the US government should consider recalling all guns that are issued to individuals. It should also consider cancelling gun ownership licenses.

This move should be followed by the restriction of the authority to carry weapons to security personnel. The appropriateness of this policy proposal and recommendation depends on the capacity of the policy to enhance security and/or maintain constitutional rights of the better part of the US population as discussed in the section on political process, evaluation, and macroeconomic factors that need to be considered when validating the policy.

Macroeconomic Factors

Political climate, good will, and technology constitute two important macroeconomic factors, which can facilitate the design, improvement, and realization, of gun control policies (Collins, 2005). Technology is critical in dealing with security, rather than just possessing a gun for counter action purposes. For instance, through security cameras, people can record incidents of crime within their homes. Such evidence can be used in courts of law.

Where the knowledge of possession of a gun prevents people from stealing, technology can equally serve the same function. The knowledge of the presence of a security camera can serve as a means of instilling fear. Without political will, processes such as the designing and implementation of policies on gun control become impossible. The impacts of political climate as a macroeconomic factor and a process that is necessary for the implementation of any policy that addresses gun control are discussed in details in the next section.

Political Process

Gun control faces different political opinions. Based on the rampant incidents of homicides that are recorded in the United States, there is an increasing support for some level of gun control, although people do not overwhelmingly support the no-gun-ownership policy. In the US, some politicians who do not support gun control claim that they can shoot down any policy that is aimed at controlling the ownership of guns.

Nevertheless, this position is disputable upon considering that 50% of Americans support policies that uphold strict gun ownership (Celinska, 2007). The researcher also informs that 91% of the American people support basic procedures for analyzing people’s backgrounds before issuance of a gun license to them. This observation suggests that even if politicians may oppose policies for gun control, the public incredibly supports them.

Public support for the regulation of gun ownership stems from the fact that most of the killings that are executed using guns involve guns that are issued within legal frameworks in the United States. From 1982 to 2002, the United States experienced 62 incidents of shootings. 49 of these cases involved the use of legal guns. For the 49 cases, more than half of them entailed the use of assault rifles.

To ensure that the US does not continue experiencing these challenges, control of guns is not only necessary, but also an issue that should attract good political will (Celinska, 2007). However, even with good political will, the implementation of policies may introduce some challenges. For instance, in the state of New York, an attempt to control the carrying of guns and other lethal weapons has come with challenges of political arguments that the stop-and-frisk laws are discriminatory.

Stop-and-frisk policies help in reducing crimes rates. Citing a CNN report, Berginski (2013) provides 1990 evidence when New York reported 500 thousand crimes where 2200 of them involved murders. In 2011, New York recorded less than 100 thousand incidences of crime with only 500 of them involving murder. Although political players accept that the stop-and-frisk laws have played a critical role in reducing these crimes, they contend that the laws fail to be acceptable both ethically and morally. They do not apply equally to all citizens, despite their demographic characteristics.

Evidence of the demographical traits of people who have been stopped and frisked by the NYPD since the inception of the law shows a disproportionate application of the law based on racial characteristics of people (Kuh, 2005). The law targets mostly Blacks and Hispanics. A policy on gun control needs not to face criticisms that people have witnessed in the implementation of the stop-and-frisk law in New York.


The argument that assault weapons are deployed in sports is a baseless claim that supports continued licensing of guns. A policy for controlling firearms does not imply total ban of weapons. It is also important to note that supporters of gun control are not against the licensing of guns for hunting or for use at home for self-defense. However, it is necessary to withdrawal licenses for powerful assault rifles such as AR 15. A claim that such a rifle should be licensed for sporting activities only increases the state of insecurity (Wright et al., 2008). China forms an excellent benchmark for the US in matters of gun control. Owning shotguns is almost impractical in China. Hence, it has low reported cases of homicides.

A policy for regulating guns in the US comes in handy upon noting the already excessive number of guns that are in the hands of civilians. Smith (2013) asserts that the number of small arms is almost equal to the population size. He puts this figure at an average of 88.9 for every sample of 100 people (Smith, 2013). This figure is above that of Yemen, which is considered one of the unsafe places. The figure is also higher than the situation in failed states such as Somalia and war-prone nations such as the DRC and Chad. The indication is that Americans are heavily armed in comparison with people in all other parts of the world. Therefore, regulation of guns is inevitable if the number of homicides is to be reduced.

The policy firework for gun control should have an objective of reducing the current number of homicides by five times. Since the number of guns is almost equal to the cases of homicides, reducing the number of guns that are in the hands of the citizens can lead to the achievement of the objective. The problem of gun ownership will be resolved when legally acquired gun licenses reduces by five times with reference to the current situation. In 10 years to come, upon the implementation of the gun control policies, America should expect low homicides. Such cases might match the situation in China. With reduced gun ownership, America should not anticipate incidents of students opening fires to their peers as witnessed in the case of Dylan Kelbold and his friend Eric Harris.

Reference List

Berginski, B. (2013). Stop And Frisk Practice Ethically and Morally Wrong. The Tribune, pp. 17-18.

Branas, C. (2006). A Review of: Suing the Gun Industry: A Battle at The Crossroads of Gun Control and Mass Torts. Journal of Legal Medicine, 27(1), 103-108.

Celinska, K. (2007). Individualism and Collectivism in America: The Case of Gun Ownership and Attitudes toward Gun Control. Sociological Perspectives, 50(2), 229-247.

Collins, T. (2005). Health policy analysis: a simple tool for policy makers. Public Health, 119(3), 192-196.

Gopnik, A. (2007). Shootings. Web.

Kleck, G. (2009). Mass Shootings in Schools: The Worst Possible Case for Gun Control. American Behavioral Scientist, 52(10), 1447-1464.

Kuh, R. (2005). Reflections on New York’s Stop-and-Frisk Law and its Claimed Unconstitutionality. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 56(1), 32-38.

Neighbors, J. (2008). The Long Arm of Qing Law? Qing Dynasty Homicide Rulings in Republican Courts. Modern China, 35(1) 3-37.

Smith, B. (2013). Commentary on: Gun control, gun rights, and the role of nurses and the profession. Nursing Outlook, 61(2), 61-62.

Wright, M., Garen, W., & Barbara, C. (2008). Gun Suicide by Young People in California: Descriptive Epidemiology and Gun Ownership. Journal of Adolescent Health, 43(6), 619-622.

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DemoEssays. "Health Policy: Behavioral Health Policy; Gun Control." December 24, 2022.