In the wake of several mass shootings in the United States over the past few years, the issue of gun regulation has once again become an important one on the contemporary political scene. The present sample essay will seek to make the argument against increased gun regulations in response to this situation. This argument will be made through five interrelated parts:
- Implementing even minor further regulations could constitute a slippery slope that would eventually infringe on the liberty of Americans.
- More guns rather than fewer guns are actually the key to ensuring safety against mass shootings.
- The Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and its guarantee of the right to bear arms.
- It would be logistically impossible at this point to actually implement any kind of ban on firearms ownership.
- Ways in which guns are intertwined with the broader culture of the United States.
Negative impact of stricter gun control
To start with, then, the reason that most gun advocates are opposed to even simple governmental measures such as expanded background checks for gun sales is that they perceive it as a potential slippery slope from such efforts to the confiscation of guns in general. Moreover, they have good reason for seeing the matter in this way.
As Graham has pointed out, for example, whenever President Obama makes a reference to the Australian system of gun regulations as a good model for the United States to follow, this is met with anxiety by many Americans—due to the simple fact that in Australia, simple regulations were followed by bans on several forms of firearms ownership (paragraph 5).
In short, then, if the liberal anti-gun agenda is allowed to an inch, then there is every reason to believe that it will begin asking for a foot. This is not a matter of conservative paranoia; rather, it follows logically from the regulation models that people such as Obama tend to favor.
Moreover, it also worth pointing out that further gun regulations may not even work, insofar as even current gun regulations are not implemented in an effective way. LaPierre, the CEO of the National Rifle Association, has indicated that most of the people who are currently not supposed to be able to buy guns—such as violent felons and the legally insane—are not even registered within the existing background system in the first place.
He uses the image of a fishing net with holes that are too big to capture the fish, suggesting that it would be necessary not to make the net as a whole bigger but rather to make the holes smaller. If efforts such as increasing the scope of background checks will not even fulfill the short-term objective of actually catching more people who are not supposed to buy guns, even the minor benefit of this kind of expanded regulation would be canceled, leaving only the risk of the slippery slope.
Determining the safety of gun control measures
An argument against gun regulations can also be made from the perspective of simple public safety. The main idea here would be that the best protection against gun violence would be the presence of a sane man with a gun; otherwise, the potential victims of the deranged gunman would just be more or less sitting ducks.
The suggestion can thus be made that what is really needed for increased safety within the United States consists not of further gun regulations that will make it difficult for people to purchase firearms, but rather the normalization of firearm possession across the nation. This will make people such as potential mass shooters think more carefully before taking such actions because they will likely be aware of the fact that they will be violently resisted and probably killed before they would be able to actually enact their plan in any kind of coherent way.
This line of argument is supported by a cursory overview of the kinds of targets that have generally been chosen by mass shooters for their massacres. As the blogger, Flamehorse has put it mass shootings:
“can’t be done at the White House or a police station, but malls, schools, ordinary workplaces, and churches are all soft and rich targets because they contain many people and few of them are armed” (point 4).
That is, these killers would seem to strategically select targets where casualties will be maximized, and one of the key reasons why they will be maximized is that most people in those targets will not be equipped to respond to violence with violence. If the general landscape of the United States was such that a strong portion of all people in all places could be expected to be armed, then this would significantly alter the mass shooters’ strategic calculations and potentially even serve as deterrence against implementing such heinous plans in the first place.
The constitutional stance on gun control
It is now time to turn to the Constitution itself. Almost all advocates against gun regulation rely heavily on the Second Amendment within the Bill of Rights which guarantees the right of the American citizen to bear arms. Now, some of the proponents of gun rights have made somewhat compelling arguments regarding the original intent of the Second Amendment, suggesting that the Framers primarily meant to ensure the right to bear arms within the military context, and not at the level of everyday life. However, this line of argument is problematic for two main reasons.
Firstly, it makes no sense to explicitly state that the armed forces have a right to bear arms; indeed, the very nature of the armed forces is that they can defend their own right to bear arms, by violence if need be. It thus logically follows that the Framers must have had something at least a little broader in mind when formulating the Second Amendment and placing it in such a prominent place within the Constitution.
The inability to control gun ownership
Moreover, the argument can also now be made that it would be more or less logistically impossible to implement more serious gun regulations, such as bans on the possession of certain kinds of firearms. This is based on the simple fact that many Americans already possess such firearms, and no matter what the courts may or may not decide, those Americans cannot just be compelled to forcibly part with their own property. As Goldberg has put it:
“America’s level of gun ownership means that even if the Supreme Court…suddenly reversed itself and ruled that the individual ownership of handguns was illegal, there would be no practical way for a democratic country to locate and seize those guns” (paragraph 14).
Advocacy for banning certain kinds of firearms is thus just plain irrelevant, insofar as relevant policy proposals would at a minimum need to have reasonable pathways to actual implementation.
Of course, this also dovetails into the argument regarding safety that has been made above. If many Americans are already in possession of sophisticated assault weapons, and at least some of those people are illegal in possession of them, then implementing gun control regulations that restrict other Americans from accessing those weapons would not enhance public safety at all, rather, it would only create an asymmetry of power, where some people will be able to attack other people, and the others will not be able to defend themselves.
This would be nothing less than a recipe for ongoing massacres in the future. Just as both the United States and the Soviet Union building up nuclear stockpiles was the best way of ensuring that neither nation would actually use those weapons, the best deterrence against gun violence would be the proliferation of gun ownership, not regulations that asymmetrical put some people in a powerful position and others in a weaker position.
In summary, the present essay has consisted of a multifaceted argument against gun regulation within the United States. Gun laws vary by state, and a mass shooting can occur anywhere. A key point that has been made here is that gun regulation will not make the nation safer, insofar as the best defense against gun violence would be effective deterrence through the more general ownership of guns by Americans; and another is that the Constitution of the United States clearly protects the right of Americans to defend themselves and their nation through the ownership and use of firearms. The United States is a unique place, and it must develop a gun policy that is congruent with its own culture and values.
Flamehorse. “10 Arguments against Gun Control.” Listverse. 12 Dec. 2013. Web. 20 Jan. 2016. http://listverse.com/2013/12/12/10-arguments-against-gun-control/?
Goldberg, Jeffrey. “The Case for More Guns (and More Gun Control).” The Atlantic. Dece 2012. Web. 20 Jan. 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/12/the-case-for-more-guns-and-more-gun-control/309161/.
Gopnik, Adam. “The Second Amendment Is a Gun-Control Amendment.” New Yorker. 2 Oct. 2015. http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-second-amendment-is-a-gun-control-amendment.
Graham, David A. “Why Conservatives Mistrust Even Modest Efforts at Gun Control.” The Atlantic. 2 Oct. 2015. Web. 20 Jan. 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/10/conservatives-gun-control-and-distrust/408643/.
LaPierre, Wayne. “The Truth about Background Checks.” NRA News. n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2016. https://www.nranews.com/series/wayne-lapierre/video/wayne-lapierre-the-truth-about-background-checks/episode/wayne-lapierre-season-1-episode-5-the-truth-about-background-checks.
United States. Constitution of the United States: Bill of Rights. Avalon Project, 2016. Web. 19 Jan. 2016. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/rights1.asp.
Wallace-Wells. “Bernie Sanders, Guns, and the Idea of Vermont.” New Yorker. 17 Jan. 2016. Web. 20 Jan. 2016. http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/bernie-sanders-guns-and-the-idea-of-vermont.