Gun violence is one of the most contentious issues and most intensity debated not only in the US but also in other countries. According to recent research, gun subculture has been on the increase specifically in the US which records most gun violence occurs. According to the General Social Survey, the year 2004 had 36.5% Americans is possession of guns and other assorted firearms. This figure kept has kept rising from then with more and more US citizens admitting to owning two or more firearms for various purposes. "The society especially the media has continuously overlooked the role of guns in preventing crime."(Gerds, pp 30)
Crime researcher David McDowall conducted a research that found out that guns were mostly used for self defense purposes. The exact figure was that an estimated 64,615 guns were used for self defense purposes. Of most of the time that guns were used for self defense, the victims admitted having been attacked by strangers. This mounted to about 7.1% of the times the guns were used for self defense. The rest of the percentage of gun violent incidences was committed by offenders who were well known to the victims or acquaintances.
Recent research indicates that gun ownership led to increased crime as well as intensifying a more lethal outcome of a crime. The public policy approach is to develop ways and means of intervening in gun ownership through law enforcement and regulatory agencies. One such policy is that individuals with any crime record are prohibited from buying and owning a gun.
Proponents of gun ownership control always attribute the high number of homicide cases hence see the need for stricter gun control policies. This is because the use of guns is split between recreation purposes and protection. Opponents to stricter gun regulation policies always cite the use of firearms for self defense purposes as being the most effective method of reducing the rate of crime in the country. Critics of stricter gun possession policies also argue that criminals are less likely to obey firearm laws hence limiting access to law abiding citizens only makes them vulnerable to criminal activities.
Access to firearms
U.S. policies main objectives are to maintain the rights to legitimate ownership of firearms while at the same time trying to restrict access of firearms to groups that pose a high risk to the society. There are strict rules and regulations limiting firearms ownership and access to persons under the age of 18 years. There is a misconception between about what can be termed as legal possession of firearm as well as what can be illegal. "ATF's investigation in gun shows the high number of felons who bought and sold guns later used in criminal activities."(Roleff, pp 10)
60-70% of firearms in the U.S. are sold through federal authorized dealers. The rest of the percentage is sold through secondary arms dealers. However, access of weapons through secondary means poses a great risk of a weapon having been previously used in homicide and other criminal activities. The risk of restricting gun access is that unlicensed private gun dealers are permitted to sell guns and other firearms at gun shows or in privately owned locations. This growing access to guns is one of the driving forces in the increase of guns in the country.
The beginning of federal amendments with regards to firearms took place in 1791 followed by the federal legislation which was known as the National Firearms Act. This act was established with an aim of regulating the same of firearms as well as establishing taxes on their sale. Registration was also required for the possession of some type of firearms. Since then, there has been various amendments to the previous legislations prohibits individuals with previous criminal records of owning firearms. There have also been the removals of special favors that give exemptions to firearms usage and possession.
Right to carry
One of the factors that have led an increase in gun culture prevalence is as a result of current legislations regarding the right to carry and posses' firearms. The result of these laws is that they permit people to carry firearms openly such as the act known as the open carry. Some of these policies allow the possession of firearms without necessarily requiring a permit of ownership. Such laws are created with intent of reducing crime. They are formed behind the idea of being crime deterrent as since criminals cannot know whether potential victims are in possession of firearms. "However, there is a heated debate on what to prioritize between guns, crime and freedom" (LaPiere, pp.174)
Another factor that has led to the current gun subculture prevalence is the social evolution that has been apparent in modern societies. The younger generation has little regard for social ethical values hence tend to live and behave irresponsibly. Recent research indicates that juvenile crime has been on the increase in the U.S. today. This rise is attributed with deteriorating social norms and practices as well as little respect for the law. Despite the government restricting gun possession to a particular age
According to research, the number of youth possessing firearms and other assorted weapons has been on a sharp incline. This has gone on to increase the number of gun related violence. The sharp increase is attributed to the American public strongly opposing attempts to ban gun ownership. Moreover, the public is divided over the regulation of gun ownership by the government. According to the Gallop poll of 2008, 28% of the population supported a total ban on guns. However, this was the least figure on gun ban support since 1959.
The same poll revealed that 49% of the population supported more restrictive laws and policies regarding gun ownership and possession. There exists a sharp division between the proponents and the opponents of gun possession laws. Those who support more restrictive laws argue that the increased prevalence in the gun subculture is one of the key drivers of the increasing crime rate. However, opponents of more restrictive laws argue that restricting gun possession makes innocent citizens become vulnerable to criminal activities. "The question we should ask ourselves is whether the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made strict, less strict or remain the way they are" (Kleck, pp.328)
Guns and crime
Incidences of gun violence and self defense have always been the main cause of controversy. In the year 2007, a total of 12,632 murders were committed by the use of firearms whereas a total of 613 individuals were killed unintentionally. This raises the question as to how gun possession can be effectively approached so as to avoid incidences of gun violence while at the same time targeting self defense purposes. This has sparked a heated debate among the citizens as well as the political arena.
Recent surveys suggest that the number of times that guns are used in crime deterrence amounts to 2.5 million times. Whereas this might be true, The American Journal survey indicated that the U.S. had the highest number of gun possession in the world and also had the highest rate of homicide cases as compared to other countries. This clearly indicates that there is a close connection between the homicide cases and gun possession in the country. Between 1988 and 1997, of the total 233,251 victims of homicide cases, 68% were killed by the use of firearms.
Guns and suicide
There exists a close connection between household firearm ownership and gun suicide rates. "There is significant gun ownership in the south according to recent state surveys" (Kleck, pp. 39) the late 80s and the early 90s recorded a sharp increase in adolescent suicides using guns. In the U.S. suicides involving firearms account for 52.1% of all suicide cases in the country. This is a sharp contrast for other countries where there exist more strict guns laws hence suicide attempts occur through other means. Reviewing of gun laws to introduce more strict regulations regarding gun possession would undoubtedly reduce the cases of gun related violence.
Guns and domestic violence
A series of cases have been reported that attribute the rate of gun possession with the fatality in domestic violence cases. There is significant evidence indicating that homicide was slightly higher in homes where there was the presence of handguns. There was also higher fatality in domestic violence cases in homes where gun possession was high. This led to the fact whether it was necessary to increase gun possession for self defense that happened less frequently while sparking a more complex problem of fatality in domestic violence cases. (DeConde pp.388)
There has always existed a sharp division regarding gun possession and ownership. This is because proper regulation and monitoring the process has been overlooked. This has led people to have various uses for guns and continue to abuse what would have been an otherwise crime deterring strategy. We find that some the shooting actually occur as a result of mutual argument of passion or domestic abuses case. The rate of casualty level in such cases where guns are involved is incomparable.
This leads us to the question whether the increasing prevalence in the gun sub-culture really reduces crime or only serves to ignite more criminal activities. According to research, there is a close connection between criminal activates and gun possession. This indicates that the 'more gun- less crime' policy is inapplicable in recent times. The increased rate of gang activities and the availability of firearms in the country has fuelled the homicide rate to a record figure in most states in the U.S. Introducing more strict rules regarding gun possession would surely reduce the rate of crime in the country. This is because people are taking it upon themselves to abuse the gun laws which are increasingly becoming irrelevant with regards to gun possession and use.