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Gun Control Essay, Research Paper

Danny Moskowitz

Business Ethics

9 May 2000

The Debate Over Gun Control

I chose to do my final research paper for Business Ethics on the debate over gun control. I will look at both sides of the issue, but concentrating on the side for gun control and how it might affect business ethics. In addition, I will concentrate on the policy making process and how for one to get an initiative passed for gun control how they would go about to bring about gun control.

It is hard to believe that a two years has passed since the April massacre of 14 students and a teacher at a suburban Colorado high school. This tragedy and countless others have added momentum to proposed gun control measures pending before Congress. Policy makers and legislators have made this issue a top priority, and are currently debating over controversial gun control policies and initiatives. The controversy over gun control revolves around two interrelated questions of government authority: does the government have the right to impose regulations; and, assuming the existence of such a right, should the government regulate guns (Spitzer 1)? There have already been numerous gun control measures taken from Capitol Hill to the local level. Groups in favor of gun control are lobbying for mandatory child safety locks, tougher background checks, and other controls that will curb gun-related violence. On the other hand, gun right supporters say that these measures and legislation would infringe upon their second amendment rights to bear arms as law-abiding citizens. However, statistics taken from polls in view of all the recent shootings show little support for these gun rights. Statistics show that deaths from gun injuries are much higher in the United States than any other industrialized nation (www.oregonlive.com). In addition, this numbers show that in 1996 handguns were used to kill 9,390 people in the United States, compared with 106 in Canada and 30 in Great Britain. (www.oregonlive.com). Judging from these numbers and many similar statistics around the world, clearly something more has to be done in the United States to stop all of the gun violence. Even though control has been stymied on Capitol Hill, it is now time to get these new polices enacted in a form of legislation to curb all of this useless violence in this country related to guns.

For gun violence to decrease in the United States, someone must push for changes in policy. Polices are made and enforced by means of administrative agencies of government, constituted in large part a body of law usually called rules, regulations, or general orders which public administrators promulgate or execute within authority legislators delegated to them (Boyer 267). The policy making process can be thought of on terms of five steps. They include 1) initiating, 2) preliminary drafting, 3) public participation, 4) final drafting, and 5) reviewing (Boyer 267). For an organization to succeed and get its policy endorsed, it first must have an initiative, but even before it can think of an initiative, it must have money. Gun rights groups made nearly 2.3 million in soft money, PAC, and individual contributions during the 1997-98-election cycle, with most of the money going to the Republican side. In contrast, many groups who are lobbying for gun control must realize that raising money may be a very rigid task. One would also face the challenge of the immense organizational power of gun rights lobbyists. The National Rifle Association (NRA), who makes up nearly 90 percent of the all gun rights efforts, is more organized, more powerful, and wealthier than all gun control interest groups combined. The NRA spends millions each year on not only political contributions and lobbing expenditures, but the NRA is a key special interest group that spends millions of dollars on independent expenditures and special communication costs. With this in mind, interest groups must know who is on their side, meaning we must form collations with our allies for financial support, and one must know who our enemies are.

For many years, several key groups have been the driving forces behind gun control measures. They include Cease Fire, Handgun Control and The Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, and the Violence Policy Center. On the other hand, Gun Owners of America, National Firearms Association and mainly the NRA are the major enemies of gun control. Interest groups are assumed interested in only one policy. It will offers and provides legislators with campaign resources, in exchange for future services. One can define resource as it is used here: A resource is anything that can be used to sway the specific choices or the strategies of another individual. Thus, resources include money, in kind services, voluntary labor etc. Gun rights groups made nearly 2.3 million dollars soft money, PAC, and individual contributions during the 1997-1998 election with more that 85 percent of the money favoring Republicans (www.policy.com). The NRA accounted for nearly 90 percent of the interest s giving over the last decade. Gun control advocates contributed 150,364 dollars in PAC and individual donations during the 1997-1998-election cycle, nearly 90 percent to the Democrats (www.policy.com). One can see from all of this that when dealing with the arguments over gun control issues money talks.

The task in front of any interest group to make change and see their ideas implanted looks daunting, but it is especially difficult for gun control supporters in debate over gun control. Congress has been the main focal point in the on going debate over gun control measures. Presidents have played a minimal role in the politics of gun control, but have expressed interest in the past. The NRA has been the dominant player in the debate over gun control, but their power and influence had been declining since the passage of the McClure-Volkmer bill in 1986 (Spitzer 169). It is interesting to note the NRA stronghold on blocking many gun control measures, considering the NRA is a minority in the debate, but there achievement can be contributed to there organization and that they are on the defensive on key legislation, which is much better position to be in than on the offensive. In addition, another reason many key gun control measures have not passed is that the gun control supporters are not organized and have been very indifferent to passage of key procedures and measures. Yet, now that is a change in the horizon in the debate over gun control, and this can be contributed to a series of massacres from Columbine to Long Island. This change can be seen in a shift in agenda control in Congress (Spitzer 170). From 1968 to 1988, no bill to curb gun control came to a vote on the floor of either house of Congress, but from 1988 to 1994, twenty-seven floor votes on gun bills were taken stemming from bans on assault weapons, banning handgun sales to minors, and of course the Brady Bill. One must think that the United States should follow Maryland s example and pass national legislation requiring childproof locks for handguns. This kind of bill has become in the public spotlight since Maryland passed such action. President Clinton declared the new safety law a model for this country and he urges Congress to follow the example of Maryland. The President of the United States is highlighting gun control at a time when Democrats hope to use the issue come November in presidential and other election campaigns this year. One knows that the dirty works begins at the committee level, and a gin control lobby would have to make sure that we are on not only the agenda, but also somehow controlling the procedures and actions that are taking place there. The NRA s best strategy has always been to keep bills stalemated in the committee, just as long as they do not get to the floor of Congress, where bills get more public attention and there control advocators are more able to tap into broad popular sentiments supporting gun control measures (Spitzer 170). For one to see a bill enacted for gun control one would have to make sure that the bill, one to enact safety locks on guns, was not stalemated in committee or in a sub-committee. If this was the case one would have to attempt to blast it out, so that the bill was giving equal consideration on the floor of the houses so there it would gain even more support. It would be on these stages where an interest group would have to do all the preliminary drafting of the actual bill and all goals one would hope to obtain by its passage.

In the preliminary drafting is where all of the groundwork would be layer out for the bill. One would try to have their initiatives take affect as soon as possible, but we also realize that gun makers need time to make this bill a reality. Therefore, one would have to try to work with gun manufactures to help ease the financial plight against them to produce guns with child safety locks. One s goal would be to try to get the bill passed by November of this year. For someone to do this they would want to try to do this, because with this being an election year, many issues would be in limelight and one could be able to put the pressure on lawmakers through showing their constituents why this particular bill needs to be passed. The bill would detail that all, new handguns in the United States would be sold with an external trigger lock by January 2001, one could feel that this would be plenty of time for gun makers to make all of there guns with locks. In addition, that by the year 2005 that all guns sold in the United States be equipped with a built-in lock, with law enforcements agencies being exempted. In this bill, one would also hope to take a similar proposal like that of Maryland is that the United States would require those wanting to purchase a handgun after Jan. 1 2005, to undergo two hours of firearms safety training, like that of those who apply for a hunting license, with police; officers; active, honorably discharged and retired military personal, and with any one else who has a license to carry a concealed gun. A lot, of these proposals that one could purpose are take offs of the Maryland Bill, and the gun control advocates are hoping that a bill like this would have the same results as they did passage into law.

In order for a proposal to be passed in to law, an interest group or the creator of a bill must have the support of the public through public participation makes passage a lot easier. Polls in this country show that three fourths of Americans, including many gun owners favor requiring guns to be sold with trigger locks (www.dailynews.yahoo.com). In March, New York Republican governor, George Pataki called for mandatory trigger locks for all guns. Within a few days, Smith and Wesson, the nation s largest gun manufacturer agreed to this. Promising to provide external safety locks on all its handguns within 60 days and internal locks within two years (www.dailynews.yahoo.com).

This is definitely one the business ethics issues with the issue of gun control, is that the business of gun makers are obligated to put trigger locks on their guns. Smith and Wesson at first were very reluctant to conform to the states that are implementing these laws of trigger locks, but now they see it as a way of good pr. Some gun makers find the costs daunting, and one must ask themselves if gun makers are obligated to conform to this laws. The answer is very daunting, and it will be up to gun makers and the lawmakers to decide. In any case, one can see from all of this that the people of United States of American are fed up with turning on their television sets and hearing of another shooting in a high school, or a tragic accident of some youth involved with a gun. Resulting from all the exposure of all these high school shooting crimes and countless other acts of violence relating to useless gun violence, Americans now demand stricter forms of gun control. Already, the issue of gun control could decide this year s presidential election. Verbal wars have taken place between George Bush and Al Gore, George Bush has convinced the NRA that he wants to take the gun lobbyists out of the lobby and put them in the oval office (www.dailynews.yahoo.com). Bush refutes these comments, but NRA First Vive President Kayne Robinson stated, If we win, we ll have a president, with at least one of the people that s running, a president where we work out of their office. Unbelievably friendly relations, is what Kayne stated in a Handgun Control Ad. (www.dailynews.yahoo.com). Bush contests these comments from the NRA stating he has an agenda of his own, and he wants tougher anti-crime laws. Besides, who ever wins the presidential election could decide the fate of many key decisions on gun control not only at the legislative level but on the judicial level where the president will appoint new members of the Supreme Court who could decide the fate of gun control measures.

In a country where 90 people die every day due to gun violence – 12 of them children – guns are constantly in the spotlight, and people want to see change and improvement with the amount of gun violence in this country (www.dailynews.yahoo.com). Gun control advocates goal should be to try to fuel these popular demands and reach out to Americans through policy. Though one must first allocate funds, with enough resources we could begin a massive publicity campaign by mailing and informing the public who we are and what we are trying to succeed. As long as one is confident of the support from the masses, and we inform them of the current situations, that will further push Congress and the rest of government to act quickly in establishing the appropriate laws. In addition to mailing, gum control advocates must work at communication through email and various other web sources. As long they are confident with the response and we get adequate support, change could be just along the horizon.

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