Gun Control: For a Safer Society

“Each year in the United States, guns kill more than 35,000 people, a
death rate much higher than in any other industrial nation. Approximately
70 percent of the murders in the United States in 1997 were committed using
guns” (Zimring: Encarta Encyclopedia). Why are these stats so absurdly
large? What is being done to bring these numbers down? “Gun control is
regulating the use of firearms and their ownership to reduce violence,”
says Franklin E. Zimring, a professor of Law and Director of the Earl
Warren Legal Institute, University of California at Berkeley, and co-author
of The Citizen’s Guide to Gun Control. Guns and gun safety are important
issues in the United States. Both Federal and State gun control laws have
been passed. Proper storage of guns, gun safety classes, more efficient
background checks, and increased penalties and laws are the beginnings of a
safer America. Many people highly support the increased enforcement of gun
laws and bills governing firearm users.

Around the world, someone’s young child is killed with a loaded gun
every few minutes. This is one of the leading causes of death in children.

According to Alan Greene, MD, “about half of US homes contain firearms, and
one in four gun owners keep their guns loaded and easily accessible. Not
having a gun readily accessible is the safest choice. If guns are a must-
have, they should be emptied and locked up securely to prevent children
from gaining access to the firearms. These guns should only be accessible
by responsible adults.” “The “Children’s Access Prevention Act” holds
adults who fail to lock up a loaded firearm, or an unloaded firearm with
ammunition, liable if the weapon is taken by a child and used to kill or
injure him or herself, or another person,” says Carl Levin, a U.S. Senator,
who is a cosponsor of the bill. “The Act also creates a gun safety
education program that includes parent-teacher organizations, local law
enforcement and community organizations.” These safety measures are the
first steps to reduce the thousands of preventable firearm deaths that
occur each year.

To own a gun, one must apply for a permit or license. One of the
strategies for controlling guns requires the licensing of guns and waiting
periods before purchasing a gun.Under the National Instant Criminal
Background Check System (NICS) managed bytheFederalBureauof
Investigation (FBI), firearm dealers are required to run a background check
on the potential buyer, which may identify convicted felons and other
individuals who are prohibited from owning a gun. This background check is
known as the Brady Bill, which was adopted in 1993 by the Congress of the
United States. In 1998, a new computerized verification system replaced the
initial five-day waiting period requirement for the Brady Bill, making the
background checks easier and faster. This bill has prevented countless
numbers of convicted felons, other individuals, such as those with mental
illness or a history of domestic violence, and minors from obtaining guns.

Strict penalties and new laws to deal with those who are
involved in gun incidents and fatalities have been discussed at recent
Legislative sessions. “These laws would work to prohibit high-risk guns
from being acquired by anyone other than the police and would also keep
high-risk people from obtaining firearms” (Zimring: World Book). “Since
1934, Federal law has limited the sale and ownership of machine guns and
sawed-off shotguns. These were considered to behigh-riskweapons.

Semiautomatic guns joined this list in 1994, and are called assault weapons
in the legislation” (Zimring: Encarta Encyclopedia). High-risk people are
those whom authorities consider most likely to misuse firearms. Federal and
state laws prohibit these people from owning guns. The laws also prohibit
sales of firearms to minors. “Current bills passed by the United States
Congress are the `Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act’, which
“prohibits civil liability actions from being brought or continued against
manufacturers, distributors, dealers, orimportersoffirearmsor
ammunition for damages resulting from the misuse of their products by
others”, and `Crackdown on Deadbeat Dealers Act of 2003′, which is “to
ensure greater accountability by licensed firearms dealers”. Gun control
bills passed in Congress pertain to the purchase, possession, and carrying
of firearms” (NRA). They are becoming stricter, and will remain a hot topic
in the Legislature as long as there is violence involving firearms taking

Guns, when used in an unsafe manner, or when in the wrong hands, lead
to numerous murders, suicides, and unintentional killings every year.

Proper storage of guns, gun safety education, more