Gun control


The topic or the debate on gun control is one of the mostcontroversial and heated debates today in the United Statesespecially considering the campaigns are ongoing. The issue ofwhether there should be strict rules on gun ownership attractsimmense arguments (Lott, 2013).Guns are given to the people for the sake of their own security andprotect themselves in case of an attack. On the contrary, criminalscan take advantage of the lose gun control rules to acquire guns andharm the people (Lott, 2013).

Thesis statement

Whereas people may argue that they need guns for their ownprotection and that of their family, recent events of mass shootingsasserts that there are numerous guns in the hands of criminals or thementally ill and strict gun control rules are essential.

Arguments for gun control

Background check on people owning guns

There have been numerous mass shootings in the United States since2012 and this is an indication that the guns being used to killinnocent people are in the wrong hands. When there is littlesupervision or control in the issuing of guns, there is a highpossibility that guns will be acquired by criminals and mentally illpeople who end up committing crimes (Lott,2013). There is need to have strict gun buyinglaws and to have thorough background checks before selling a gun to acitizen. This would go a long way in preventing criminals, abusersand mentally ill from accessing deadly rifles (Lott,2013). An example of a gun in the hands of amentally ill is the case of the shooting at SandyHook Elementary School shooting by Lanza who was later known to bementally unstable and antisocial. It is evident that if the policehad undertaken a proper background check, the criminal would not havebeen allowed to access a gun.

Legally owned guns used for crime

In the last 30 years, there have been more than 70 mass shootings inthe United States. 75% of these shootings have been perpetrated bylegally owned guns. An example is the Sandy HookElementary School shooting where the 20 year old student used hismother’s legally obtained semi-automatic gun to kill over 20 people(Lott, 2013). Research has indicated that ifthere were strict gun laws, there would be reduced incidents of massshootings. Some of the proposals to the gun control laws include theban on the purchase and production of semi-automatic rifles (Lott,2013). Additionally, there should be no magazineswith more than 5 to 10 rounds of ammunition. Whereas some incidentsmight not be prevented, it is essential to have measures that wouldreduce the effects of the incidents.

Few deaths and few violent crimes

Research has indicated that there are extremely fewviolent incidents and deaths in countries where there are strict guncontrol laws. An example is the UK where there are only 6% deathscaused by guns compared to America’s 60% (Lott, 2013).This is an indication that an increase in the number of guns in thehands of the citizens increases the rate of violence and deaths in acountry. Although Americans may not be denied access to gunscompletely through gun control laws, it is essential to ensure thatthe people who own guns are responsible, rational and well-informedabout the use of the firearm.

Arguments against gun control

Self-defense as a human right

One key argument against gun control is thatcitizens need to protect themselves and their families. People whoare against gun control argue that the criminals are already armedand denying the citizens a right to own a gun is exposing them to thecriminals (Lott, 2013). Additionally, somepeople state that the ownership of a gun is a human right that thegovernment should not deny the people. The National RifleAssociation`s Institute for Legislative Action states that the issueof self-defense is a fundamental right that every citizen should beaccorded. The Supreme Court also added to this debate when itsupported gun ownership for self-defense.

More guns-less crimes

Secondly, when many citizens own guns, violent crimereduces significantly. According to the NRA, the rate of violentcrimes in the USA has reduced significantly from 1990 to 2010 where100 million more people have acquired privately owned guns. Murderrates have reduced by 52 percent while the violent crimes havereduced by 47 percent (Lott, 2013). Althoughthe NRA associates this reduction to the increased guns in the handsof the citizens, it is vital to note that there are other factorssuch as police patrols that have contributed to the reduction.

Numerous guns in the hands of the citizens

Lastly, there is an argument that there are alreadyso many guns in the hands of the citizens and embarking on guncontrol will have little or no effect. This implies that if therecriminals out there, they have already acquired the firearms andhaving gun control laws is an effort in futility (Lott, 2013).Over a 100 million citizens acquired guns between 1990 and 2010. Thisindicates that there are indeed numerous firearms in circulation.


Although the arguments against gun control touch ofhuman rights and the aspect self defense, it is clear from othercountries such as the UK with strict gun laws that gun control isindeed vital. The numerous mass shootings in schools in the last 30years are an indication that guns in the hands of the citizenswhether legally owned or illegal, pose a danger to other citizens.The law enforcement officers should be given the sole responsibilityto protect the citizens and to deal with the illegally armedcriminals (Lott, 2013). There should strictgun control laws in America to ensure that the people who own gunsare not only responsible and rational in the use of the firearm.


Lott, J. R. (2013).&nbspMore guns, less crime: Understandingcrime and gun-control laws. Chicago: University of ChicagoPress.

Gun Control



of Issues at Stake in This Policy Area

Theissue of gun control has been a subject of discussion for the lastfew years. Gun control denotes policies and regulations that regulatethe manufacturing, trading, transferring, modification, possession,as well as the usage of firearms (assault rifles, submachine guns,revolvers, carbines and self-loading pistols among others) (Parker,2011). However, such policies vary from one country to the otheracross the globe. For instance, in the United Kingdom, there arestringent policies on gun possessions. On the other hand, the UnitedStates, like other industrial democracies, have fairly fewrestrictions, but differ from one state to the other.

Accordingto studies, policies related to gun control are highly driven byincreased gun mortality rates and injuries (RAndrés &amp Hempstead,2011). Nevertheless, the subject on whether such policies amplifies,reduces or have no impact on rates of gun related crimes is generallya difficult one. There exists a range of research articles concerningthe degree of firearm related deaths and injuries, sale of firearms,as well as the linkages between gun possession and violence.Nevertheless, studies in to the effectiveness of different guncontrol policies have been basically insufficient. For instance, acritical review conducted by the National Research Council in 2004demonstrated that whilst a number of strong conclusions have beenmade by recent studies, there are still knowledge gaps on theefficiency of gun control policies (Andrés &amp Hempstead, 2011).Due to the dearth of appropriate data, gun control is regarded to beamong the most laden subjects in American politics. Researchers havealso remained bottlenecked on a range of issues. Remarkably, it hasbeen impossible to carry out research on gun violence in the UnitedStates using federal funding.

In2007, the number of firearms distributed among armed forces,civilians and law enforcement agencies across the world wereapproximately 875 million (Parker, 2011). Out of this, 650 millionwere held by civilians, out of which 270 million were held by UScivilians. Additionally, 200 million were held by state militaryforces, 26 million by law enforcement agencies and 1.4 million bynon-state armed groups (Parker, 2011).

Proposalsto Strengthen Background Checks

Variousproposals have also been unveiled as a way of strengthening thebackground check system. They encompass putting in place backgroundchecks involving the sale of all firearms such as getting rid ofimpediments in the HealthInsurance Portability and Accountability Act. Throughthis, states would be in a position to generously share informationregarding mental health problems which involves potential firearmbuyers.

Thesecond proposal that has been put forth by the Department of Justiceis enacting a law that would elucidate individuals who are bannedfrom owning a gun under the federal law, while submitting sufficientinformation on the same matter. That would involve issues linked withmental health.

Anotherproposal by Hillary Clinton is closing any loophole concerningfirearm show as well as internet sales which recently permitoffenders to buy weapons.

Proponentsand Opponents of Policy

Supportersof gun control policy put forward that extensive firearm possessionboosts the risk of gun-linked homicide, crime as well as suicide(Miller &amp Hemenway, 2008). For instance, the National ResearchCouncil carried out a review in 2004 that showed that high rates ofhousehold gun possession are linked with more gun related suicide(Miller &amp Hemenway, 2008). Besides, unlawful trade of firearms isthe main source of crime guns, while firearms are employed countlesstimes every day. The review also demonstrated that various policeinterventions have a high possibility of effectively lowering gunviolence and crime.

Accordingto Andrés &amp Hempstead (2011), there are strong relationshipsbetween household gun ownership and the level of gun-related suicide,assault and homicide, especially concerning female victims. AStanford research conducted in 2010 to explore United Sates crimedata in that year showed a positive relationship between high crimelevels and right to carry firearms (Andrés &amp Hempstead, 2011).This is so particularly in the level of provoked assault. Passingregulations to carry firearms is estimated to result in eight percentamplification in provoked assault.

Onthe other hand, opponents of gun control policy argue individualshave a right to possess weapons (Miller &amp Hemenway, 2008).According to them, people should arm themselves for various purposesincluding self-defense and hunting among other reasons. Much of thedebate surrounds the Second Amendment, and in the year 2008, theSupreme Court made its ruling based on this amendment arguing that itsafeguards the rights of individuals to possess firearms (Kraft &ampFurlong, 2014). Opponents of gun laws also argue that the firearmsessentially make society more secure and dissuade criminals fromvictimizing citizens. Particularly, they argue that armed individualsare able to prevent mass shooting. Furthermore, it is argued that guncontrol regulations do not limit suicide, injuries and murder relatedwith firearms. In fact, such laws infringe individual liberties.

Otherscholars such as Don Kates, Gary Mauser, John Lott and David Mustard,have evidenced that ownership of firearms is positively linked withreduced murder rates. In his book, “More Guns, Less Crime”,economist John Lott provided data demonstrating that regulations thatallow law abiding individuals to legally possess and carry a firearmpublicly have a high likelihood of reducing crimes based on thereason that it is hard for offenders to distinguish who may becarrying a weapon (Kraft &amp Furlong, 2014).

Theoriesof the Policy Process

Thereare various theories related to the gun control policy. For thepurpose of this paper, three theories are discussed. They arepunctuated equilibrium, streams theory and rational choice theory.

Rationalchoice theory is a model for understanding. Generally, it is used tomodel economic and social behaviors. The theory is founded on thepresupposition that collective social behavior is caused by behaviorof personal actors, considering that everyone makes his/her ownindividual choices (Sabatier &amp Weible, 2014). Therefore, theassumption of rational choice theory is that people have their ownpreferences amongst the available alternatives which permit them tochoose their preferred option. On the other hand, the rational agentembraces accessible likelihood of events, information and benefitsand costs while determining preferences, whilst ensuring that theyare consistent in selecting the best choice.

Applyingthe rational choice theory to the gun control debate, it all involvesmaking rational choices. In this case, there are only two choices:implementing gun control policies and regulations to regulate themanufacture, possession and use of firearms, or allowing individualsto publicly carry and use firearms. Certainly, people are reasoningactors and usually evaluate the benefits and costs, means and ends,while making choices or decisions.

Anothertheory is the Multiple-Streams Framework. The theory perceives thepolicy process as comprising three streams which should come togethersimultaneously prior a policy is modified (in a windows ofopportunities) (Sabatier &amp Weible, 2014). They first stream isthe problem stream that is composed of problems surrounding thepolicy issues as well as the supporters. Secondly is the policystream that consists of various policy solutions as well as thesupporters. Lastly is the politics stream that comprises the motiveby policymakers to make it to policy after considering the problemand solutions provided. Applying the multiple-streams theory in thegun control issue, the problem and policy streams in this case wouldencompass the issues put forth by the proponents and opponents of theregulation. These would entail the costs and benefits of regulatingand not regulating firearms, which is then used by public officialsto make a decision. Elections may also be used.

Punctuatedequilibrium is the third theory. The theory denotes that the policyprocess characterizes a long period of high modification interposedby short periods of key policy modifications (Sabatier &amp Weible,2014). The latter arises when those against the policy modificationfashions novel images and utilizes various policy avenues includingstate legislatures, executive arm, as well as courts. In the currentcase, it is clear that gun control policy has attracted Supreme andFederal Court cases which have been overturned based on the SecondAmendment that gives people rights to carry firearms. For instance,District of Columbia V. Heller, 554 U. S. 560 (2008) and UnitedStates V. Warner (10 th Cir.1993) among others (Sabatier &ampWeible, 2014).


Kraft,M. &amp Furlong, S. (2014). Publicpolicy: Politics, analysis, and alternatives.London: SAGE Publications.

Miller,M. &amp Hemenway, D. (2008). Guns and suicide in the United States.New England Journalof Medicine,359 (10): 989–991.

Parker,S. (2011). BalancingActs: Regulation of civilian firearm possession.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

RodríguezAndrés, A. &amp Hempstead, K. (2011). Gun control and suicide: Theimpact of state firearm regulations in the United States, 1995–2004.HealthPolicy,101 (1): 95–103.

Sabatier,P. A. &amp Weible, C. (2014). Theoriesof the policy process. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.