Gun control involves the laws and regulations that limit access to particular types of guns, restricting ownership and specifying where certain firearms may be carried. Reckless handling of firearms is a debated issue in the US and has sparked discussions about individual rights, state and federal oversight, and public safety. Despite the recent history of major shootings, Texas has long maintained the least restrictive gun regulations in the country in the name of responsible gun owners. Gun-control proponents advocate for more effective regulations on the sale and transfer of weapons. While opponents contend that people have a constitutional right to bear arms, it is apparent that many go overboard, risking the lives of Americans. Therefore, Texas can adopt effective mechanisms that would help reduce the negative effects of reckless use of firearms.
U.S. Gun Control Policies’ History
Like many other civilized countries, the US has a highly contested history of gun control policies’ formulation. The US first significant federal gun control law was the National Firearms Act of 1934 (Etter et al. 231). The legislation placed restrictions on the sale and ownership of high-risk weapons and mandated the registration of some firearms within the U.S. (Etter et al. 229). Meanwhile, the Federal Firearms Act of 1938 added more rules: mandating federal permits for gun makers and dealers and banning the purchase of firearms by fugitives and some convicts (Barry 559).Moreover, the Act enhanced backround checks on individuals intending to own firearms (Barry 559). In 1968, The Gun Control Act required firearm regulation at the federal level and a minimum age for purchase of specific firearms and ammunition was enacted (Halpern 1421). The 1968 Act was signifincant in reducing the use of gun among college students (Halpern 1421).Later, Congress prohibited the production and particular assault weapons’ sale through the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994. While the US has legislated strict firearms laws, many U.S. residents suffer at the hands of reckless gun owners.
Right of Self-Defense
Self-defense is crucial among US citizens who work in sensitive and risky professions. For instance, criminal lawyers and high-profile politicians are at risk of assassinations and extrajudicial killings. Such professionals are allowed to possess firearms for self-protection under the Second Amendment as was decided in the 2008 case of District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (Baldwin). Gun ownership should be, therefore, encouraged among Americans working in risky and sensitive professions. The Second Amendment buttresses self-defense but gun owners need to act reasonably by retreating if possible without taking physical action (Baldwin). Self defense is a constitutional right that must be enjoyed without hurting others.
Need for Strict Gun-Control Laws
Although the US had strict firearms laws in the twentieth century, there has been an ineffective implementation of the same in the twenty-first century. The absence of effective rules on gun use has contributed to violence, racial inequities, and anguish in the country among US residents. For instance, about 25% of children in the US have witnessed violent acts at home, school, or in the community (Ferrara et al. 305). Consequently, there has been a surge in the cases of mental health issues among US residents, especially in the African American community (Ferrara et al. 306). The Child Welfare League of America encourages social, emotional, physical, and mental health incorporation to accommodate those affected by reckless use of guns (Paolini). Therefore, ineffective gun-control legislation affects American families, encumbering social development.
Gun violence in the US communities inflicts an enormous socio-economic burden upon the country and state. For instance, under-resourced neighborhoods are economically and socially affected by gun violence. Consequently, nearly all persons living within these neighborhoods experience negative effects on their health and wellbeing (Stack). Consequently, the cycles of concentrated poverty, structural disadvantage, and health disparity prevalent in many areas are further enhanced by gun violence (Abdalla et al. 8).Laws and policies that regulate gun ownership and use are inevitable for effective economic planning (Abdalla et al. 7). For instance, the federal, state, and local U.S. governments spend an average of $35 billion each day to deal with the aftermath of gun violence (Everytown Research & Policy). Strict and effective gun control laws are significant for the U.S. government to save billions of dollars.
Additionally, thousands of people are killed and wounded annually in gun violence which has serious economic effects on the country. Statistically, an average of $7.79 million is paid daily by taxpayers in health costs related to gun violence while losing millions related to work missed due to injury and death (Everytown Research & Policy). Moreover, about $30.16 million is lost daily on average in police and criminal justice costs for investigation, prosecution, and incarceration (Everytown Research & Policy). Furthermore, employers lose an average of $1.47 million in productivity lost and costs to recruit and train replacements for victims of gun violence (Everytown Research & Policy). While the Second Amendement promotes self-defense and use of guns, the financial burden of wreckless firearm use encumbers economic growth.
The increased rate of mass shootings requires the adoption of stricter gun control laws. Stronger gun laws are significant for economic, social, and political development among countries (Stack). For example, Australia introduced significant gun control rules after the Port Arthur massacres and this went a long way in reducing the rate of gun-related violence (Lemieux et al. 30). Meanwhile, the U.S. has weak gun control laws that have led to increased cases of mass shootings (Lemieux et al. 43).In the UK, additional gun restrictions were adopted after the Dunblane school massacre in 1996 and the Hungerford mass shooting in 1987 (Squires et al. 154-160). Critics say that the cause of rising gun crime amongst the youth and teenagers is the increasingly disturbing rise in mental health issues (Squires et al. 171). However, these young persons would not have resulted in gun use as a form of expression had the regulations on gun use been effective. While gun-control laws are crucial for a country, the regulations must be strict and effectively implemented to protect Americans from irresponsible use of firearms.
While personal security is significant, the state of Texas can adopt various mechanisms to strengthen its gun control issues. The state should make clear criminal rules by elaborating the scope or extent of freedom that gun-bearers can enjoy in exercising their legal rights to firearms. The rules could include an inquiry into the reasonableness of threat perceived before the acquittal of offenders who claim self-defense. Additionally, the state of Texas would encourage the private actors to have rules on allowing possession of any firearms within their property. Involvement of the private stakeholders would inform the ongoing discussion on private gun regulation among states.
Moreover, they would intervene in the complexities that have played a role in the increasing rate of gun violence and tackle those alongside forming stricter laws. For instance, the perpetrators involved in mass killings should face longer jail terms. Additionally, parents and educational stakeholders can be involved in the policy formulation to help understand the imapct of gun violence among students (Paolini).Therefore, people can be allowed to possess guns and other firearms, but under strict laws and regulations.
Gun violence is detrimental to the economic, social, and political development in Texas. Many US citizens have lost their lives at the hands of reckless gun owners. Moreover, the Federal and State governments spend billions of dollars in dealing with cases of irresponsible gun use. Many families undergo physical and psychological pain upon losing their members. While every American deserves personal security including the right to their privacy, the ineffective gun control laws have led to the suffering of the American community. Therefore, strict gun control legislation and mechanisms should be adopted to ensure that individuals enjoy possession of firearms for personal protection without hurting other U.S. residents.
Abdalla, Salma M., Katherine M. Keyes, and Sandro Galea. “A public health approach to tackling the role of culture in shaping the gun violence epidemic in the United States.” Public Health Reports 136.1 (2021): 6-9.
Baldwin, Lauren. “Using a Gun for Self-Defense: Laws and Consequences.”
Barry, Brendan P. “Ensuring Only” Good Guys” Can Get Guns: How Implementation of a Federal Background Check Requirement on All Firearm Transfers Can Impact Gun Violence.” Seton Hall Legis. J. 44 (2020): 559.
Etter, Gregg W., and Jeffery M. Johnson. “Gunrunning 101: A How-To Guide About What to Look For.” In Police Behavior, Hiring, and Crime Fighting. 1st ed., Routledge, 2021. 228-241.
Everytown Research & Policy. The Economic Cost of Gun Violence. Everytown, 2021.
Ferrara, Pietro, et al. “Children witnessing domestic and family violence: a widespread occurrence during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.” The Journal of Pediatrics 235 (2021): 305-306.
Halpern, Zachary S. “Young Guns: The Constitutionality of Raising the Minimum Purchase Age for Firearms to Twenty-One.” Boston College Law Review 63.4 (2022): 1421. Web.
Lemieux, Frederic, et al. “Mass Shootings and Gun Control by Police: Comparing Australia and the United States.” Guns, Gun Violence and Gun Homicides, Dec. 2021, pp. 29–52.
Paolini, Allison. Using Social Emotional Learning to Prevent School Violence: A Reference and Activity Guide. Routledge, 2022.
Squires, Peter, et al. “A Hidden Time Bomb? Policing Illegal Firearms in Europe.” Gun Trafficking and Violence. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2021. 153-187.
Stack, Steven. “Contributing factors to suicide: Political, social, cultural and economic.” Preventive medicine 152 (2021): 106498.