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Americans are faced with an ever-growing problem of violence. Our streets have become abattleground where the elderly are beaten for their social security checks, where terrified womenare viciously attacked and raped, where teen-age gangsters shoot it out for a patch of turf to selltheir illegal drugs, and where innocent children are caught daily in the crossfire of drive-byshootings. We cannot ignore the damage that these criminals are doing to our society, and wemust take actions to stop these horrors. However, the effort by some misguided individuals toeliminate the legal ownership of firearms does not address the real problem at hand, and simplydisarms the innocent law-abiding citizens who are most in need of a form of self-defense.To fully understand the reasons behind the gun control efforts, we must look at the history of ourcountry, and the role firearms have played in it. The second amendment to the Constitution ofthe United States makes firearm ownership legal in this country. There were good reasons forthis freedom, reasons which persist today. Firearms in the new world were used initially forhunting, and occasionally for self-defense. However, when the colonists felt that the burden ofBritish oppression was too much for them to bear, they picked up their personal firearms andwent to war. Standing against the British armies, these rebels found themselves opposed by thegreatest military force in the world at that time. The 18th century witnessed the height of theBritish Empire, but the rough band of colonial freedom fighters discovered the power of theMinuteman, the average American gun owner. These Minutemen, so named because they wouldpick up their personal guns and jump to the defense of their country on a minute s notice, serveda major part in winning the American Revolution. The founding fathers of this countryunderstood that an armed populace was instrumental in fighting off oppression, and they madethe right to keep and bear arms a constitutionally guaranteed right.Over the years, some of the reasons for owning firearms have changed. As our country grew intoa strong nation, we expanded westward, exploring the wilderness, and building new towns on thefrontier. Typically, these new towns were far away from the centers of civilization, and the onlylaw they had was dispensed by townsfolk through the barrel of a gun. Crime existed, but couldbe minimized when the townspeople fought back against the criminals. Eventually, theseorganized townspeople developed police forces as their towns grew in size. Fewer people carriedtheir firearms on the street, but the firearms were always there, ready to be used in self-defense.It was after the Civil War that the first gun-control advocates came into existence. These weresouthern leaders who were afraid that the newly freed black slaves would assert their newfoundpolitical rights, and these leaders wanted to make it easier to oppress the free blacks. Thisoppression was accomplished by passing laws making it illegal in many places for black peopleto own firearms. With that effort, they assured themselves that the black population would besubject to their control, and would not have the ability to fight back. At the same time, thepeople who were most intent on denying black people their basic rights walked around with theirfirearms, making it impossible to resist their efforts. An unarmed man stands little chanceagainst an armed one, and these armed men saw their plans work completely. It was a fullcentury before the civil rights activists of the 1960s were able to restore the constitutionalfreedoms that blacks in this country were granted in the 1860s.Today s gun control activists are a slightly different breed. They claim that gun violence in thiscountry has gotten to a point where something must be done to stop it. They would like to seecriminals disarmed, and they want the random violence to stop. I agree with their sentiments.However, they are going about it in the wrong way. While claiming that they want to take gunsout of the hands of criminals, they work to pass legislation that would take the guns out of thehands of law-abiding citizens instead. For this reason the efforts at gun control do not address thereal problem of crime.The simple definition of a criminal is someone who does not obey the law. The simple definitionof a law-abiding citizen is someone who does obey the law. Therefore, if we pass laws restrictingownership of firearms, which category of people does it affect? The simple answer is that guncontrol laws affect law-abiding citizens only. By their very nature, the criminals will continue toviolate these new laws, they will continue to carry their firearms, and they will find their efforts

at crime much easier when they know that their victims will be unarmed. The situation is similarto that of the disarmed blacks a century ago. Innocent people are turned into victims when newlaws make it impossible for them to fight back. An unarmed man stands little chance against anarmed one. An interesting recent development has been the backlash against the gun-controladvocates. In many states, including Florida and Texas, citizens have stated that they want topreserve their right to carry firearms for self-defense. Since the late 1980s, Florida has beenissuing concealed weapons permits to law-abiding citizens, and these citizens have been carryingtheir firearms to defend themselves from rampant crime. The result is that the incidence ofviolent crime has actually dropped in contrast to the national average. Previously, Florida hadbeen leading the nation in this category, and the citizens of that state have welcomed the change.Gun control advocates tried to claim that there would be bloodshed in the streets when thesecitizens were given the right to carry. They tried to claim that the cities of Florida would becomelike Dodge City with shoot outs on every street corner. These gun control advocates were wrong.Over 200,000 concealed carry permits have been issued so far, with only 36 of these permitsrevoked for improper use of a firearm. This statistic is easy to understand. It is the law-abidingcitizens who are going through the process of getting concealed carry permits so that they maylegally carry a firearm. Th e people who go through this legal process do not want to break thelaw, and they do not intend to break the law. The people who do intend to break the law willcarry their guns whether or not the law allows them to do so.Criminals will always find ways to get guns. In this country we have criminalized the use,possession, sale, and transportation of many kinds of narcotics, but it s still easy for someone totake a ride and purchase the drugs of their choice at street corner vendors. Firearms andammunition would be just as easy for these black-market entrepreneurs to deliver to theircustomers. Today, criminals often carry illegal weapons, including sawed-off shotguns, machineguns, and homemade zip-guns, clearly showing their disregard for the current laws which makethese items illegal. And when they are caught, the courts regularly dismiss these lesser weaponscharges when prosecuting for the more serious charges that are being committed with theweapons.The gun control advocates have argued their case by demonizing the gun itself, rather thanaddressing the people who commit violent crimes. This is the main fallacy in their argument.They slyly attempt to claim that possession of a gun turns average citizens into bloodthirstylunatics. This theory falls apart under close scrutiny. If legal possession of a firearm caused thissort of attitude, then why are crime rates highest in areas such as Washington, D.C. and NewYork City which have strict gun control laws? And why are crime rates dropping in states suchas Florida where private ownership of firearms is encouraged? Simply stated, legal ownership ofa gun does not cause crime.The most recent efforts of the gun control lobby has been to claim that certain types of guns andammunition are inherently evil. They assign emotional catch phrases such as “assault weapons”and “cop killer bullets” to broad categories of firearms and ammunition in the hopes that peoplewill believe that some guns have an evil nature. Most people who are unfamiliar with firearmsdo not fully understand what these phrases mean, and they accept the terms being used withoutquestion. What people do not often understand is that the term “assault weapon” has beendefined to include all semi- automatic rifles, and “cop killer” has been defined to include anybullet that can penetrate type two body armor. It comes as a surprise to most people that a largenumber of simple hunting rifles can do both. Does ownership of one of these weapons causepeople to become mass murderers? It does not, and we must not fall into the trap of blaming thesword for the hand that wields it.So I ve shown that the act of making it illegal to own firearms does little to prevent criminalsfrom getting guns. These laws only restrict people who respect the law itself, the people whowould only use firearms for legal purposes anyway. And when we give people the right to defendthemselves, we find that criminals start looking for other victims out of fear that they willbecome the victims themselves. We must work to reduce crime in America, but we should lookat the problem realistically, and develop plans that would be effective. It is obvious that guncontrol laws are neither realistic, nor effective in reducing crime. Therefore, we must direct ourefforts toward controlling crime, not controlling legal ownership of firearms.

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