Handguns and other firearms have a long tradition in American civilization. The right to bear arms is an American right featured in the second Amendment of the Constitution. In the 18th century when the constitution was written, times were different, there was a need for citizens to arm themselves to insure the safety of the society as a whole. Contemporarily the police department preserves the safety of society and the need for armed citizens is out of date. The founding fathers of the Constitution could presumably never have imagined the horrendous outcome of their actions.
Every year too many lives are claimed as the result of the American governments inability to fully face up to effects of the issue. Compared to other western countries that have considerably stricter gun control laws America is still viewed as The Wild-Wild West (ARPP, 66). However, is there a relationship between crime and firearms? In this second amendment our right to have a gun, are we dooming ourselves with higher crime rates and more horrific crimes just to have the right to have a gun in our house?
This paper will set forth and find the results of studies conducted to find a conclusion. This is a very important issue when it comes to sociology and our society. The importance of violence and force as sources of power has only recently begun to achieve recognition among sociologists. Power has traditionally been conceptualized as deriving from lasting attributes of persons and from their position in the social structure such as sex and race. However, when power is examined at the interpersonal level it is typically viewed as deriving from family role and gender.
These sources of power ultimately derive to some extent from a capacity to use physical force and violence. This capacity often relies partly on a rather transitory attribute of the person, the possession of weaponry. The single most important factor that sets human violence apart from aggression among lower animals is arguably the humans greater technological capacity to inflict harm on another creature. These tools of death are readily available to humans and are vastly more lethal than even the most deadly natural equipment of any other species (Kleck, 670).
Yet, little is known about the impact of weaponry on violence or how weaponry is used to coerce compliance in hostile social encounters. Firearms are seen as violence enhancing devices, it is just assumed that the possession along with the use of firearms increase the chances of the victim to be injured or killed. However, a broader view must be taken and firearms must be seen as a source of power. For without these devices a nation such as the United States would probably never have been free from rule.
Little is known due to the previous studies on this issue all suffered from one of the four problems. The first problem is all studies using cases known to the police all are biased regarding the dependent variable. This happens by incidents of minor violence being omitted from the database or did not bother to be reported due to the low significance level. The second problem is studies usually examine local samples (single city or area). The problem with this, when looking at the larger picture, is weaponry varies sharply across localities, not just in general availability.
The third problem is unsophisticated; by this it is meant that they rely on simple percentage table methods. The final problem is that prior research on real-life violence has ignored the distinction between the effects of weapons on whether the aggressor attacks and whether an attack is completed. Either only attack is studied or both are combined together (attack and injury variables) for one category labeled injury (Kleck, 677). As time passes by, improvements in fields of research gives you better methods of studying and comparing variables.
Gary Kleck and Karen Mcelrath used two data sets for this research. The first data set is used to analyze whether assaults result in attacks on victims and if any injury is a result of this attack. The second data set is used to analyze whether injuries result in the deaths of victims (Kleck, 678). Using this advanced study method Kleck and Mcelrath had interesting results. It seems that the presence of deadly weaponry in threatening situations reduces the probability of attack by the possessors of the weapons.
This is significant for handguns and other firearms such as shotguns and rifles. The second finding is that the apparent effect of the presence of less lethal weapons increases the probability of attack. By other weapons, Kleck means instruments such as knives, blunt objects and broken glass bottles. Thus the findings are, as lethality of weapons present increases, the probability of attack decreases which can be seen in figure 1 (Kleck, 682). The conclusion to the Kleck and Mcelrath study is that their findings support a more complex outline of the significance of firearms in America today.
They found that the possession of guns appear both to inhibit attack and, in the case of attack, to help reduce the probability of injury, however, it also increases the probability of death in the case of an injury. In other words, the positive effect of guns on death was larger than their negative effects on attack and injury. Another study that deals with firearms was conducted by David McDowall, Brain Miersema and Colin Loftin. These scholars investigated an ordinance that was passed on March 15, 1982 in the town of Kennesaw, Georgia. This ordinance required households to maintain a firearm and supply ammunition (McDowall, 48).
This ordinance was put into place to try to deter potential offenders, however it did not work. Conclusions of this study show that the gun ordinance did not deter burglaries within the city. It is not conceivable that other area studies will show a relationship between increased number of guns in a society and a decrease in crime. However, some people do not consider the facts they read about guns not influencing crime. A study done of 539 residents of Cincinnati by Liqun Cao, Francis Cullen and Bruce Link, found that gun ownership was related to crime related factors.
As the level of crime increases in ones neighborhood, the armament level raises as well, due to defensive purposes. This study shows a relationship not on how guns affect crime, but how crime affects firearm ownership. Studies have shown that there is no relationship between gun ownership as a deterrent of crime. The conclusion to this study concerning gun ownership due to protective reasons is that ownership in an area increases as chaos in area increase. Concealed weapons are another issue all by themselves. Living your everyday life, not knowing if another individual is packing some heat or not concerns me.
A resent study conducted by M. V. Hood and Grant Neeley tests the relationship between concealed weapons and the crime rate in smaller areas. This study (unlike the McDowall study) shows an actual relationship between possession of firearms and decrease in crime. This relationship can been seen in certain areas of Dallas where levels of concealed weapons are higher. There are lower levels of violent crime with higher levels of property crime due to the higher income area (Neeley, 535).
Unfortunately, the number of concealed weapon permits has not had a significant increase only . % of individuals in Dallas carry concealed weapons. So the total crime rate for the whole city could not be used, only smaller areas could be taken. These areas are only certain zip codes, this is done because these areas are higher income neighborhoods and can afford the cost of buying and up keeping of firearms. Evidence of a relationship between concealed weapons and property crime was found in this study. This relationship is positive by showing that violent criminals turn to property crimes instead of violent assaults, caused by fear of confronting an individual with a concealed weapon.
There is much concern for personal safety in todays world. This is because a lot of todays youth is growing up within a gun infested society. However, kids between the ages 16 and 19 have the highest handgun victimization rate among all age groups (Economist, 38). Its not hard to understand why, since there are on average more than one gun per household, kids are likely to find firearm and in some cases even use it. In a study made across high schools in Seattle, 47% of males and 22% of females reported that they had easy access to handguns and 11. were gun-owning males (Economist, 39).
The access to guns might prove to be a deadly for both innocent bystanders and the holder of the gun. One of the prerequisites for owning a gun should be that the person is responsible enough to own a firearm. Since there are no guarantees for that, guns should only be issued in extensively controlled forms otherwise the government jeopardizes the safety of the people they’ve sworn to protect. In ages 10-14 (72%), and in the ages 15-19 (85%) of all homicides are committed with firearms.
In addition to that 60 % of all suicides among youths is committed with a handgun. The total firearm death rate concerning white males in their teens now exceed natural causes (Economist, 39). These are alarming statistics show the brutal reality of firearms in the U. S. These startling facts brings the Economist article to its conclusion that children should be trained in firearms use for either sport or personal security. It is believed that the knowledge these individuals absorb through training and/or lessons will help drop these death rates dramatically.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to write about guns for children in a way that does not assume that youth have an incredible maturity level of thinking and behaving. Yet by doing this, we are introducing them to the brutal adult world much earlier than they should be. However, not all guns found on the streets and in homes were legally purchased. Gun availability has been said to be linked with violent crime, in other words, as gun availability increases then so does violent crimes.
A study conducted by Lisa Stolzenberg and Stewart DAlessio concludes that an increase in legal firearms in society has no effect on decreasing crime rates. However, they did conclude that as illegal firearms in society increases, so does violent crimes. This is proven by studying youth and gun violence. The only way youths can obtain firearms is illegally by stealing them. The number of stolen guns in an area should influence the frequency with which youth commit crimes with a gun. As the number of stolen guns reported increased, the rate of which youths were arrested for gun-related crimes also rises (Stolzenberg, 1476).
The fact that as firearms increase then violent crime increases can also be seen in Kansas City where police conducted a 6 month cracked and seized 29 guns which dropped the gun related crime by 49% (Stolzenberg, 1477). The findings of these studies have important policy implications. Reducing violent crime while recognizing the right of a citizen to own a gun has always been the central challenge facing gun control advocates. Most gun control efforts have been directed at restricting the acquisition of guns or at employing weapon enhancement statutes to deter individuals from committing crimes with guns.
The approaches used are based on logic, first by reducing the gun pool you reduce the number of individuals with guns, hence less gun crimes will occurs. The second is individuals are less likely to carry or use a weapon if criminal penalties are severe. Unfortunately, no scientific study has proven a approach that will decrease crime while not inflicting on our second amendment right to bear arms. Future research is needed so a answer can be found to help decrease guns and violent crime.