Outlawing handguns is the best (self)-defense
Tue, Jan 23, 2007
In 1999, 337 homicides committed with firearms occurred in Detroit. In that same time frame, in Windsor, Ontario, a city located a half-mile from the American metropolis, only one person suffered died from a gunshot wound. While Windsor's population accounts for merely one-fifth of that of Detroit, the difference remains staggering. Why the astounding discrepancy?
The second amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees that, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." The noble effort to ensure the sanctity of inherent rights included this item given the need for defending one's self, and now extends to recreational pursuits such as hunting. However, as Oliver Wendell Holmes wisely commented, "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." Social contract requires the relinquishing of certain freedoms in exchange for a safer society. Gun-control, a concept proven to increase the level of security, involves the surrendering of certain firearms, and presents the opportunity to live in a less dangerous environment.
America's closest sovereign ally chose protection over freedom. The United Kingdom's gun-control policies, considered to be among the strictest of any country, necessitate a rigid registration of allotted weapons, and ban handguns. In order to obtain an approved firearm, an individual must supply the police with a valid reason for acquiring the item; "self-defense" does not qualify as satisfactory explanation for gun ownership. Additionally, a character examination, inspection of the premise in which the firearm will be contained and a personal interview must be completed. Persons that have served prison sentences of three years or more may not apply for a firearm certificate. The violation of these guidelines warrants a minimum of five years in prison and an unlimited fine.
Gun-control policies in the United Kingdom became exceptionally stringent only recently. In both 1988 and 1997, shocking "massacres," in which legal gun-owners slaughtered defenseless civilians, prompted the passage of Firearm Amendment Acts one and two.
The regulations appear effective. In the United Kingdom, all but a few select branches of the police force do not carry guns. Contrastingly, in the United States, all members of the squad usually bear firearms, and the government requires many to possess a handgun even when off-duty. Shockingly, the United Kingdom experienced 62 murders with firearms from 1998 to 2000, while the United States suffered 8,259 gun-related fatalities.
In recent polls, only half of Americans favored stricter gun-control guidelines. The opposition, led by the unifying voice of the NRA, presents a hefty obstacle. In all probability, more moderate restrictions may be in order.
The primary objective should be the outlawing of handguns. While hunters use firearms for recreation, handguns are not the weapon of choice for such pursuits. Instead, humans seem to provide excellent targets for handgun-wielders. According to the FBI Crime Report for 2001, 78 percent of all firearm homicides were committed with handguns.
The right to bear arms, an important freedom, should not conflict with the right to life. When these two intentions conflict, perhaps the premier form of self-defense is not the purchasing of weapons, but the relinquishing of guns.
Julia Kallmes is a senior at Mayo High School. To respond to an opinion column, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.