Gun control refers to the policies and laws enforced with the primary objective of limiting the ownership and use of firearms by the public, especially without a reasonable basis. In the U.S, gun control has been, and is a subject of political controversy (Etter and Birzer 113). Different people have diverse views concerning gun control. Proponents of strict gun control laws maintain that the gun-related crimes are linked to gun ownership, which implies that limiting gun ownership could help lessen the prevalence of violent gun-related crime. The rationale for adopting stricter gun control laws draws upon the principle that easy access to firearms translates to an increase in the number of weapons in public, which in turn, translates to higher rates of violent crime. In addition, reducing the prevalence of violent crimes and increasing public safety means that there will be no need for individuals to acquire firearms on the basis of self defense, which is the justification used for opponents of stricter gun control regulations. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (45) point out that Texas has some of the least strict gun laws. In the recent past, citizens have raised concerns regarding gun control in the state; this stems from the recent increase in violent crimes committed Mexican drug cartels. The controversy surrounding gun control often draws upon three arguments: opponents believing that gun controls laws are an effective measure to mitigate gun-related crimes and accidents; opponents believing that gun control laws are not an effective measure to mitigate gun-related accidents and crime; and those believing that private possession of guns will reduce crime. This paper argues that Texas should enforce strict gun control laws to limit gun ownership in order to lessen the incidence of violent crime and accidents involving gun use (Etter and Birzer 115).
The first justification for enforcing stricter gun control laws to reduce the prevalence of violent crime rates in Texas. At present, citizens are raising concerns about the prevalence of violent crimes taking place at the Texas-Mexico border involving drug cartels. Stricter gun control laws can be an effective approach to contain high rates of violent crimes in Texas. Vittes, Vernick and Webster (45) note that gun control laws usually regulate the kinds of firearms that can be bought and offer criteria for individuals who desire to own a gun and provide guidelines regarding the storage and use of guns. In an ideal society where the gun control laws are observed, it can be argued that less availability and ownership of guns translates to reduced crime rates. Vittes, Vernick and Webster (48) further notes that there is a two-step connection that exists between gun control and the rates of violent crime in a given society, which includes the impact that gun control imposes on the availability of guns and the impacts that availability of guns imposes on the rates of crime committed. This means that the nature of the influences is two-fold. On the other hand, high rates of violent crimes that are gun-related serve to justify the use of stricter gun control policies and laws. In a study conducted by Wright and Wintemute (945), it was established that there is a positive relationship between ownership of guns and crimes that are gun related such as homicide and suicide. Opponents of gun control maintain that gun control laws should be less strict for the purposes of self-defense against crime. However, this argument is flawed on the basis that it fails to address the root cause of the problem; it is the same guns that contribute to violent crime. Therefore, it makes no sense to increase gun ownership to for self-defense against the crimes attributed to gun ownership. Self-defense should not be cited as a reason to enforce less strict gun control law; instead, those opposing stricter gun control laws should understand that it is the guns that are making the society unsafe. The assertion that people should possess guns for protection is misguided. Moreover, there is no evidence indicating that people who own firearms for protection have been victims of violent crime. Restricting the ownership and use of firearms serve to enhance public safety (Vittes, Vernick and Webster 51).
The second rationale for stricter gun control laws is to reduce cases of fatal domestic violence. Just like criminal law, the domain of family law has been under the scope of the state government. Webster, Vittes and Vernick (125) asserts the Texas state has exercised substantial power with respect to a number of family issues such as custody, divorce, marriages and other matters relating to family law. In this regard, it is responsibility of the state to respond to issues involving domestic violence. In addition, Webster, Vittes and Vernick (128) points that resolving matters associated with spousal abuse cannot be separated from resolving issues associated with divorce and separation. With regard to the level to which guns are involved in domestic violence, Wright and Wintemute (950) points out that gun violence is increasingly becoming a family law issue. According to Webster, Vittes and Vernick (132), domestic violence constitutes about 50 percent of all reported homicides in Texas State. In most cases, a frustrated and angry husband often resorts to the use of a firearm as a means of resolving spousal issues. Besides, there are numerous abuse relationships victims linked to serious wounds inflicted by gunshots. Empirical evidence links high rates of gun ownership with high death rates and injury, especially in the domestic domain. In the last five-year period in the U.S, homicides taking place in the domestic domain have contributed to about 5 million deaths, with a significant fraction of the reported homicides being attributed gun presence in the house (Webster, Vittes and Vernick 145). In most cases of domestic violence involving firearms, the outcomes are always fatal. It is evident that the high mortality rates attributed to homicide crimes do justify the need for lax gun control regulations. Evidently, imposing restrictions on the possession and use of firearms can be the most effective approach to mitigate fatal domestic violence. Opponents of gun control argue that that there are other predictors of domestic violence such as alcohol abuse; as a result, domestic violence and fatal homicide cannot be attributed to gun ownership. However, this argument is misguided basing on the fact that the availability of a firearm in the house is likely to increase the fatality of domestic violence.
The third and important reason for enforcing strict gun control policies in Texas is public support for reforms in the Texas gun control laws is increasing. Just like the case of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which was repealed recently partly due to changing public opinions towards gays serving in the U.S military, the government ought to heed the call by the increasing public concerns regardi9ng the need for reforms in the gun control laws. A recent survey conducted by Bureau of Justice Statistics (52) regarding whether gun control laws should be left as they are, made stricter or less strict, almost 50 percent of the respondents cited the need for background checks prior to gun sales. The survey also reported that 82% of gun owners were of the opinion that mandatory background checks were needed for licensed gun dealers as well as all gun sales. About 60 percent of the respondents advocated for laws that make it mandatory to report gun thefts and advocated for stricter standards when issuing permits to carry around concealed firearms. There is no doubt that it is the role of the government to act in public interest, which in this case, can only be achieved through enforcing stricter gun control laws in Texas. Opponents of stricter gun control laws cite that such polls are often conducted after incidents of mass shootings, a time when almost everybody perceives guns as the primary cause of such shootings without looking at other factors such as the mental health status of the shooter. Nevertheless, it is imperative to note that, when evaluated over long timeframes, it can be observed that the public attitudes towards gun control laws have changed drastically, especially favoring the enforcement of stricter gun control laws.
The fourth reason to enforce stricter gun limits in Texas stems from the fact that the Right-to-Carry (RTC) laws are a threat to public safety by increasing the prevalence of aggravated assaults. According to Etter and Birzer (115), the RTC laws enable people who are not legally qualified to possess guns carry around concealed guns while in public; this is facilitated through lax laws that make it relatively easy to own a gun. Advocates for RTC laws draw upon the premise that every person who is qualified to legally acquire a gun is law-abiding and has relatively low risk of being involved in violent crime. However, this is not the case, as pointed by a study by Etter and Birzer (119) whereby at least 2400 permit holders of firearms were charged with crimes (not taking into account traffic violations), which included 10 manslaughters and about 200 felonies. The fundamental argument is that there is a linkage between RTC laws and cases of aggravated assaults, which is a threat to public safety.
In conclusion, threats to public safety such as high rates of violent crimes, fatal domestic violence involving gun use, high rates of homicides and suicides, and aggravated assaults are all important indicators of the need to enforce stricter gun control laws. The most effective solution that can be used to address the gun-related violence is through enforcing stricter gun control laws, which serves to address the root cause of the problem. Stricter gun control laws will make sure that guns are not easily accessed and owned; as a result, violent gun-related crime rates will reduce, thereby eliminating the necessity to possess a firearm on the grounds of self defense.
Bureau of Justice Statistics. Background Checks for Firearms Transfer, 2009 – Statistical Table. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, 2010.
Etter, G,W and M,L Birzer. “Domestic violence abusers: a descriptive study of the characteristics of defenders in protection from abuse orders in Sedgwick County, Kansas.” Journal of Family Violence 22.7 (2007): 113-119.
Vittes, K,A, J,S Vernick and D,W Webster. ” Legal status and source of offenders’ firearms in states with the least stringent criteria for gun ownership.” Injury Prevention (2012).
Webster, D,W, K,A Vittes and J,S Vernick. “Analyzing Policies to Restrict Firearm Access by High Risk Persons: Findings from a National Survey of Criminals Incarcerated for Violent Crimes.” Report submitted to The Joyce Foundation by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. 2012.
Wright, M,A and G,J Wintemute. “Felonious or violent criminal activity that prohibits gun ownership among prior handgun purchasers: incidence and risk factors.” J Trauma 69 (2010): 948-955.