Handgun Ownership as a Lawful Right

1038 words | 4 page(s)

Firearms in the United States are classified into three basic categories: handguns, rifles, and shotguns. As of 2009, the population of the United States was 307 million people (United States Census Bureau). As of 2010, the number of privately owned firearms in the United States was nearly 300 million. Approximately 100 million of those were handguns. This number continues to grow by nearly 4 million every year (NRA, “Firearms Fact Card, 2010”). The right to bear arms is a right granted to citizens by the Constitution of the United States. Yet, in recent years, certain factions want to take away this basic right, claiming that taking away the right to own handguns would result in fewer crimes. This research will support the right of private citizens to own handguns and other firearms.

Background of the Issue
According to a 2010 study by the National Rifleman’s Association, it is estimated that nearly 70-80 million people in the United States own guns, and that 40-50 million own handguns (NRA, “Firearms Fact Card, 2010”). According to a Gallup poll, three main reasons exist for gun ownership. These are protection against crime, target shooting, and hunting (Carroll). Some factions in the United States now want to completely ban the ability of private citizens to own a handgun. In 1976, Washington, D.C. passed a law prohibiting residents from possessing handguns, or rendering them unusable when in the home. In 2008, this ban was struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

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Proponents of a handgun ban base their proposal largely on the argument that such a ban would reduce the number of murders and violent crimes committed with handguns. The focus on handguns is due to their ease to conceal and use, as compared to long guns such as rifles and shotguns. This argument is strong from a theoretical standpoint, but it is not supported by studies conducted thus far. For instance, in a 2008 study published by the U.S. Department of Justice, only 8 percent of all crimes were committed by criminals visibly armed with a gun (Federal Bureau of Investigation, “2008 Crime in the United States, Expanded Homicide Data – Table 9″).

Handguns play a key role in the ability to defend oneself, one’s family, or one’s property. In 1994, felons serving time in U.S. prisons were surveyed. This survey found that nearly 34 percent had been scared off by someone with a gun. Nearly 40 percent decided not to commit the crime because the victim had a gun (Wright, Rossi, and Gruyter). According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, guns are used to frighten away intruders approximately 500,000 times per year (Ikeda, et al.). The statistics support the use of guns to scare away successfully would-be intruders. These statistics indicate that although the violent crime rate is high, it would have been nearly 40 percent higher if the intruders had not been frightened away be a gun owner. Only 8 percent of all crimes are committed with a gun, yet nearly 40 percent additional violent crimes were prevented by victims exercising their right to bear arms. The statistics support the use of guns in preventing more crime than they enable.

Both those who want to ban handguns and those who see handgun ownership as a basic human right, have the same goal. Both want to create a safer society and to reduce crime. The difference between these two sides is the method that each proposes to accomplish this goal. For the sake of argument, it is true that gun crimes could not be committed without guns. However, taking handguns away from the average law abiding citizen would not have the effect of reducing crime. Statistics demonstrate that guns are only used in a small number of crimes. However, guns prevent many serious crimes. If the number of crimes that were prevented by guns actually occurred, then crime statistics would be worse. The weakness in this argument is the source of the statistics themselves. Different sources will have different numbers. This is where careful evaluation of studies is concerned. In the cast of government sources, many studies are only conducted every 10 years, making it difficult to find recent information. However, one can still see the trends developing.

Reducing violent crime is a concern for everyone. Those that support a ban on handguns do so based on theory and assumptions. Yet, supporters of handgun ownership come armed with statistics that support the role of guns in preventing violent crime. The United States was founded on the basis that the private citizen has a right to protect themselves, their family, and their properties from those with nefarious intention. The Supreme Court agrees that banning guns is unconstitutional and they support the rights of the citizens to own guns, as long as they are not breaking any law.

When one examines the statistics, gun ownership begins to make sense as a crime preventative. Taking away handguns is not the answer to the issue. The criminal mind will always find a way to commit the crime of their desire. Although, anti-gun proponents have a sound theoretical basis for their argument, it is only a theory. It has not been supported by statistics, or in practice. Handguns play an important role in crime prevention and ownership is one of the most basic rights in the United States. To ban handguns would be to destroy the principles upon which this country was founded.

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation, (FBI) “2008 Crime in the United States, Expanded Homicide Data – Table 9.” U.S. Department of Justice, September 2009. Web. 19 September 2013.
  • U.S. Census Bureau. “Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008.” December 2009. Web. 19 September 2013.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau is one the most accurate sources for population information in the United States.
  • National Rifle Association (NRA). “Firearms Fact Card, 2010.” January 20, 2010. Web. 19 September 2013.
  • Agresti, James and Reid K. Smith.”Gun Control Facts.” Just Facts.11 February 2011. Web. 19 September 2013.
  • Carroll, Joseph. “Gun Ownership and Use in America.”. Gallup Poll. November 22, 2005. Web. 19 September 2013.
  • Ikeda, Robin M. “Estimating intruder-related firearm retrievals in U.S. households, 1994.” Violence and Victims, Winter 1997. Web. 19 September 2013.
  • Wright, James, Rossi, Peter, and De Gruyter, Aldine, “Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and Their Firearms”, Chicago, Illinois: Aldine Transaction Publishers. 1994.

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