The conflict over gun-control and handgun regulation in the United States has become increasingly controversial over the past few years. Well developed arguments from both sides have created a major controversy over the topic. The basis of any argument over the issue of gun-control lies primarily in the cause of violence in America, and possibly across the world. Advocates of handgun limitations or complete abolishment of them feel that the guns themselves are responsible for the increased number of homicides and violence to date.
Some argue that this limitation on handguns will decrease the number of weapons available for use and therefore will decrease the crime rates among murder and shooting cases. Yet, others contend that with out the violence in the world, which has existed since the dawn of man, there would be no need for guns, of any sort, in the first place. Handguns and other weapons provide an intimidating factor and provide security for the potential victims of America. Placing a limit on, or completely deleting, handguns would be a major violation of the Constitution of the United States and more so a violation of personal rights. Gun-control, despite how it looks on paper, is highly unrealistic and eliminates the source of protection from those who really need it.
Advocating for complete and supreme gun-control, Nicholas Dixon, in his article titled “Handguns and Violent Crime, explains his utilitarian views on handgun limitations. His purpose, as he explains it, is two-fold. First, the objective is to persuade philosophers that the issue of handgun control is worthy of their attention. Secondly, through research and data presentations, it seems that an “outright handgun ban is the best means possible”. Dixon explains that handguns are a major factor in American crime, especially on homicidal levels. Guns, bought through simple means, are a source of the increased violence in America today. The article intends to point out that although there will always be violence in the world, eliminating handguns from the long list of weapon possibilities will drastically decrease the amount of crime in the United States.
In the United States, Dixon argues, an extremely high handgun ownership rate is a cause of an extremely high handgun homicide rate. Since handguns are necessary for hand-gun homicides, then a higher homicide rate is due to the higher ownership rate of handguns. Therefore, it is a reduction of firearm ownership will likely decrease the rate of firearm related violence in America. However, limitations placed on hand-gun sales are highly unrealistic as a means for decreasing violence, therefore Dixon calls for a complete federal ban on handgun sales. A federal ban, he argues, would be more effective as opposed to an initial governmental legislation to end the sale of handguns; a federal ban would provide an immediate halt to firearm distribution. This, along with government action programs advocating voluntary buy-back systems and the seizure of crime related handguns will, over time drastically reduce the available arsenal of weapons in the hands of the general public. “It is this reduction that will, in turn, reduce the level of violent crime in the United States.”
To counter the pro-gun-control argument, Daniel Polsby, in an article titled “The False Promise of Gun-Control”, implemented a rational theory that ultimately rejects the argument that handguns cause violence. Using this statement Polsby goes on to defend the right for civilians to bear arms within the United States. To see Polsby’s perspective it must be agreed upon that criminals have always had weapons and, regardless of gun-control regulations, they always will. Laws placed to monitor handgun sales and distribution really limit the amount of protection available to the innocent. Polsby defines the necessity for a handgun as a means to solving the problem of violence on a small-scale level. As he states, the handgun allows for the “domination of a hostile transaction.” In the article it is argued that the mere sight of a handgun itself is most likely enough to deter any assailant. Even police officers in inner-city environments rarely draw their weapon, let alone fire a shot; yet, the possibility of putting yourself at risk will most likely daunt possible attackers.
Polsby also contends that those in favor of gun-control, the lawyers, professors, politicians, and news paper editors, are very withdrawn from the issue. These professions rarely involve hostile interactions of any sort. The real target for gun-control is the criminal population in America; they are the group which needs a limit on arms. However when gun-control legislation is passed the citizens that will comply with the laws are those who do not value handguns anyway, especially for a means other than protection of self and family.
The article also defends a mentality that handguns do not drive up the crime rate in America. Polsby argues that if, in fact, handguns were responsible for an increase in crime than the rate of spousal homicide would be through the roof. Most handguns are privately owned and kept in the home for protection, therefore the family would be the first exposed to the violence of firearms. Also, those countries with gun-control legislation have crimes rates that double that of countries with legalized gun ownership. It is this fact, once defined, that Polsby places the emphasis of his argument and attempt to find the major weakness of the pro-gun control argument.
In analyzing the two arguments and essays it seems that both authors raise valid arguments. Both Polsby and Dixon appear to be predominantly utilitarian in their views, basically because they are both looking in perspective of the general public or greater majority. The area where Dixon fails in his defense of gun-control lies within the fact of personal nature, living environment, and the root of violence. He seems to disregard a person’s tendency towards violence prior to the ownership of any type of firearm. The environment in which an individual is raised also plays a great deal in how that person will act in life. Although Dixon argues that the abolishment of firearms will decrease the amount of violence, it is inevitable that violence will always e present in the world. Violent tendencies stem from many different factors in the world. Due to the evidence provided in Polsby’s article, it is very clear that anti-gun legislation has no, if not a worse, effect on the rate of violence in the world. Basing his argument on his “so-called” utilitarian beliefs Dixon is actually subject to hypocritical critiscism. Although his beliefs are rooted in the protection of the general public, the prohibition of handguns will not provide this.
Polsby defends against the majority of the arguments against his cause through the use of statistics and the reality of gun-control. As opposed to Dixon, his principles are realistic. It is very clear that guns will always be available to those who have an intense desire to have them. Limitations on the public’s right to bear arms only creates a lack of defense on the part of those who need it. The misuse of firearms occurs not with the weapon itself, but with those who hold or maintain the weapon. School shooting, youth accidents, and domestic assaults all occur through the means of misuse. With irresponsible actions the handgun becomes a very violent tool, yet with some sort of responsibility and control the weapon itself provides both a spoken and unspoken protection. Without a violent or homicidal tendency there is never a chance for the gun owner to commit any of these crimes. It is only when the weapon falls into the hands of the wrong person that there becomes a problem.
The main problem with Dixon’s argument has two parts. First off, it is highly unrealistic. If all handguns suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth than there would still be crime and violence. Essentially, you could murder someone with a fork, if it was tried, which it probably has. If one were to go along the argument of Dixon we would be trying to ban silverware or attempting to pass legislation against lawn maintenance equipment. Secondly, gun control is a direct violation of American Constitutional rights. Is the solution then to amend the Constitution. Imagine the turmoil that would erupt by a Constitutional amendment. This would just open up the door for the government to take away other rights the framers of the Constitution intended Americans to have.
Ultimately, there is no easy solution, and there may never be. Yet if there was to be a more realistic one Polsby would have it. Violence, the major motive behind gun-control, has been around since the first man walked the earth and will always exist, this is inevitable. It is impossible to solve the human problems of violence through the non-human means of gun-control. Essentially all that would happen is taking protection away from those who need to defend themselves. To attack violence, violence must be attacked, the solution to the problem is not to infringe the rights of the great majority of the American public.