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Gun Control (1 Viewer)

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Octavian

This is a persuasive essay I threw together tonight for one of my classes. It's completely unpolished as I haven't even read it through once myself. The conclusion is very weak and I'm looking for a stong sentence to finish on but just drawing blanks. Needs a catchy title aswell so if you have any ideas let me know. I really don't wish to get into a debate over this, just wondering if you guys could help me polish it up some. Any criticism is welcome! Thanks a ton!



There are three types of lies in this world. Lies, damn lies, and statistics. In the debate over gun control you get a healthy dosage of all three. Surely there are few topics more clouded and misconstrued than gun control. Whether a given party is pro or anti it will almost always use facts and statistics to present itself as the absolute truth. However there can only be one truth so who is right? Do guns have a necessary place in our society or are they nothing more than a degrading medium? Well as the old saying goes there are three sides to every issue, yours, mine, and the truth. Therefore the correct answer is neither sides have the truth. In reality guns neither create or deter violence in America. With this in mind we can draw a number conclusions. First that guns and violence are not directly linked and therefore restricting the use of fire arms is simply, pointless. Second, that while our politicians and media debate this topic so heatedly, they are ignoring the real socioeconomic problems within our society that create violence. And finally, that the absence of firearms leaves a society open to attack, whether it be domestic burglary or international invasion.
Let's say John and Marsha Brown are sound asleep in their home. Suddenly, both wake up to the crash of a window. John rushes out to see what has happened and there stands a masked man that has broken into the house. What if the masked man has a gun? What if John has a gun? What if both have a gun? This is the type of situation that raises the debate. Those in favor of gun control claim that heavier restrictions on fire arms will keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Those opposed to gun control will argue that we need to put a gun in the hands of John for the purpose of self defense. So what do we do? Do we deter crime by taking guns from criminals or giving guns to victims? Both seem like logical solutions to the same problem, however neither one is correct. Why? Lets take a look at the numbers.
Lets compare two cities, one with heavy gun control laws (Vancouver Canada) and one without (Seattle Washington). Between the years 1980-1983 the city of Seattle had 87.9 aggravated assaults with fire arms per 100,000 population. The City of Vancouver? 11.4. While assault with knives and other weapons was slightly higher in Vancouver it was not nearly enough to make up for the difference in assault with fire arms. In a nutshell, Vancouver has far less crime and far less guns that Seattle. But does Vancouver have far less crime than Seattle because it has far less guns? The data seems to hint at yes, but it's deceiving. Lets take a look at another set of examples. The nations of Switzerland and England.
In Switzerland every adult male is issued an assault rifle to keep in his house for militia duty. Per capita it has more firepower than anywhere else in the world. England on the other hand is the polar opposite with some of the strictest gun control laws in the world. In 1994 the homicide rate in england was 1.4 per 100,000 population. Switzerland ranked in at 1.2. As for robbery england had 234 robberies per 100,000 populations while Switzerland had a mere 36 (Halbrook).
Clearly all this data is contradicting. While studies between the U.S. and Canada seem to say that guns create crime, the Switzerland-England comparison seems to prove the exact opposite. So what can we conclude from inconclusive data? Simple, that the presence of firearms in a society has no bearing on it's crime rate. If guns have no correlation to the rate of crime in a society though, why have their presence been under such heavy fire as of late? Well lets think about it. If one day you find your child hitting the little boy next door with a bat what do you do? Well the first thing you are going to do is take the bat away from the child. The second thing you are going to do is punish him or her accordingly. Now lets examine the reasoning behind both of your reactions. Obviously the punishment dealt to the child was done in an attempt to curb future such incidents. Your hope was that through punishing the child, he or she would come to the conclusion that negative actions yield negative consequences. But why did you take the bat away? If you simply took the child's bat and left him or her unpunished would the child learn to stop fighting? Certainly not. If the child didn't have a weapon would the fight have still occurred? Of course. In reality revoking the weapon does nothing more than assure us, the parent, that it won't be used for destructive means within the near future. The same principle applies with guns. The revocation of fire arms is not what stops crimes, it is the change in fundamental thought brought about by the justice system or another method.
So if taking away the guns won't put a dent in crime what will? To answer this question let's begin by examining recent historical trends in the crime rate. In 1991 crime was nearing its peak at a rate of 9.8 homicides per 100,000 population. Criminologists predicted that crime rates would continue to rise and more than double in the next decade. However between that year and 2001 homicide experienced a 44% drop and settled at a rate of 4.4 homicides per 100,000 population (Levitt). Rather than crime spiraling out of control to unprecedented highs, we experienced what is possibly the largest crime drop in the history of the nation. Why?
Economist Steven D Levitt makes a strong case that abortion was the cause. Levitt's theory hinges on two basic principles. First, that unwanted babies are more likely to be involved in criminal activity. And second, that abortion substantially lowers the number of unwanted births. Typically when a woman does not want a child there are reasons, such as drug and alcohol addiction, economic hardships, perhaps she is simply unmarried or in a broken relationship. Such circumstances are statistically proven to create a higher number of criminals than your typical white picket fence home life (Morse). Thus a higher number of unwanted births, results in a high rate of criminal activity.
Levitt's theory is also heavily supported when we take a look at political and criminal trends. In 1973 the supreme court ruling in the case Roe v. Wade overturned all state and federal laws outlawing abortions. That year 750,000 women had abortions and the number continued to climb until 1980 where it hit 1.6 million abortions per year and leveled off. In 1991 when the crime rate first began to fall Those born post Roe v. Wade were hitting their late teens, the time when men enter their criminal prime (Levitt & Dubner 138). Of course the majority of the individuals most likely to be criminals were missing from this generation. Thus crime rates began to rise. The country of Romania displays the converse effect. In 1966 an abortion ban was implemented and years later crime began to rise. The end result, was revolution.
We have now reached two conclusions. First that the presence of guns has no correlation to the levels of violent crime within a society, and second, that abortion does. What then, is an effective alternative to gun control for maintaining the levels of criminal activity within a society? Now I am not implying that we use abortion as a tool for controlling violence. That would surely create more violence than it was intended to prevent. The correlation between abortion and violent crime proves one thing: Violence is not typically a crime of opportunity. Homicide is not committed simply because a gun happens to be handy. It is the product of ones socioeconomic upbringing. Therefore, our target in the fight against crime should be the alcohol and drug addictions, the poverty, the lack of education, and the broken homes of America. The family is the fundamental unit of society. Broken families, yield broken societies.
Now some may say “Okay, so further gun restrictions may not lower the crime rate, but shouldn't we still restrict them so that when inevitable conflicts do arise the results are potentially less violent? After all it is better to take a fist to the gut than a bullet. Surely further gun control can save the lives of a few.” This poses an interesting argument. While we have already established the lack of a correlation between heavy restrictions for guns and crime rates, it is difficult to argue that a complete absence of firearms from a society would not result in at least a few spared lives. However such a policy could never be put into practice for one simple reason. We need and have the right to protection. From what though? This is a much more probing question than meets the eye. There are three basic types of protection that fire arms provide us. Personal protection, national protection, and protection from sovereignty.
When the topic of gun control come up usually the first thing a gun advocate will mention is the second amendment. It reads:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Most people will interpret this to mean that we the people have the right to organize militias and posses firearms for our own security. However the interpretation of this amendment has recently become the source of much scrutiny. Some now believe that in reality it says that the right to bear arms, is for those in a militia. They make the argument that since regulated Militias are no longer present or necessary within the US that we are not guaranteed the right to arms. Truthfully, we have no way of knowing for sure what the original intent of the second amendment was. So let us suppose for a second that the latter explanation is indeed correct, and that firearms are intended for the use of militias. Even if the second amendment is to be interpreted in such a way there are still no constitutional grounds for the restriction of firearms for two reasons. First that the term “militia” is legally defined as all able bodied males at least 17 years of age and 45 years of age that are citizens of the United States (US Code). So, even if we were to restrict firearms to be used solely by militia members they would be no less prevalent in our society. The second reason is the ninth amendment. It reads:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
In other words, the rights of US citizens extends beyond what is specifically outlined in the constitution, and the government has no authority to infringe upon these rights. These are the basic things. The right to travel, the right to raise a family, or even the right to defend ones self with necessary and proper force. Hence a restriction on firearms is an infringement on the 9th amendment.
The second type of protection we need from firearms is a protection from foreign invasion. To many, especially todays youth, the prospect of foreign invasion seems almost unrealistic. We have grown up in times of peace, accustomed to being the undisputed world superpower. A Quick glance through history however gives us a reality check. Greece, Rome, Persia, and China, were all at one point the most dominant nations on the globe. What do they all have in common? They fell victim to foreign invasion. Why should we believe that we will be an exception to this trend? Indeed the greatest defense we have from such an attack is not our missiles, satellites, tanks, ships, or planes. It is the possibility that every man and women in America is carrying a gun. Again we look to Switzerland as an example. During the European Nazi conquest of the 1940's why is it that this small nation remained independent and free while it's neighbors were all occupied? There are perhaps many reasons, however Nazi battle plans themselves state that due to the prevalence of guns within the swiss society it would be most difficult to conquer and occupy (Halbrook).
The third and final source of protection provided by a well armed society is from sovereignty. Guns serve to protect us from our own government as much as they do to protect us from outside attackers. What I mean is that guns give us the power to revolt and overthrow our government. While at first this may seem like a somewhat extreme concept, think of it this way: Had the American colonies not had access to firearms would this great nation even be here today? I think not. And while there is no immediate prospect of revolution, the right to bear arms is simply not a right that you can sacrifice and reclaim whenever it is convenient for you. In a sense, gun control gives the government complete and absolute power over the people.
Many hold to the notion that even if every man and women in America were armed we would stand no chance of holding up against the might of the United states army. After all what chance does a pistol stand against nuclear weapons? First of all let's apply some common sense. You don't drop a nuke on a country you are trying to occupy. Areas effected by nuclear weapons are completely obliterated and useless to both parties. Additionally, just take a look at the Vietnam war. Such a tiny nation with such tiny guerrilla forces in comparison to the US effectively put halt to our military. I have a hard time believing that, give or take, 50 million armed citizens (which would make it roughly 50 times larger than the worlds largest standing army) using similar tactics would be so easily disposed of. Let's not forget to account for foreign influences as well. A nation like the US is sure to draw much military support from parties around the world should it undergo revolution.
It is easy to see why there is so much controversy over one of societies more fundamental principles. There are facts to be twisted, statistics to be hid, and logic to be misconstrued. It takes so little to get lost in the mix of it all. However, when we dig deeper into the facts, explore the corners more commonly ignored, and follow sound logic, the answers are clear. When it comes to criminal activity, a debate over guns is completely irrelevant. To disarm a society will do little more than leave it defenseless on multiple fronts.
 
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Octavian

Sheesh, sorry thats kind of long and the indentation got screwed up. Tried to be as concise as I possibly could, even had to omit a bunch of info. Hopefully it will hold someones interest long enough to read it.
 

Uriah

Senior Member
Good essay, I'm not certain how much of a stickler your prof is (is this HS or College?), but you should probably list the author of that quote you start it off with.

Also, at the end you could bring out the good old "don't let the government have a monopoly on coercive force" argument in defense of the 2nd amendment. it's fairly well used, but it works and is solid.

You do a fairly good job of skewering the credibility of statistics, and I think that is the main point of your essay, but I also think it would be even better if you included an example of an instance when blind obedience to statistics actually produced a negative result, it doesn't have to have anything to do with guns or crime, it just shows that sticking to the "facts" blinds one to other options and possibilities.

All in all, great start!
 
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Interesting. I'm for the right to own a gun and for a woman's right to abort, so I don't disagree with you much.

I'd remove the Switzerland/Nazi statement. The notion that Hitler and his generals feared the armed Swiss citizen and therefore did not invade Switzerland is not true. It may have been a very small factor, but Hitler dove into a multiple-front war with great vigor, against far more powerful nations than Switzerland.

Switzerland simply sold its soul to save its ass. They profited off the deaths of millions, hiding stolen loot and gold for the Nazis. That is the overriding reason why the Nazis allowed Switzerland to continue to exist. Who attacks their own secret pal?

IMO the Swiss reference hurts the essay, and open a can of worms. The other statistics/references are good though.
 

americanwriter

Senior Member
I think you're trying to handle too many big issues in this, so my primary recommendation would be to narrow and focus your topic and its supporting evidence.

Second, the opening line:
There are three types of lies in this world. Lies, damn lies, and statistics.
sounds like a quote from something else. It's familiar. If so, then proper attribution needs to be given.


Third, you're writing passively. Know what you think. Make your statement. Support it. Be prepared to defend it. Tight, well constructed sentences with more nouns than pronouns will help add an edge and keep your reader's attention (an hopefully their blood pressure) at an elevated level. Get them thinking about what they believe and why. Your sentences have a lot of excess verbage. Take it one sentence at a time and trim.
 
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Octavian

Hey guys thanks a tong for the feedback you all provided some great insights. Yeah I wasn't sure if I should give credit for "lies, damn lies, and statistics" Forgot who coined it but mark twain made it popular. In the end I decided that it was cleched enough that I wouldn't need to give a citation. But I guess I was wrong.

And yeah I wouldn't normally Valeca but I got some really tight deadlines and I was looking for feedback ASAP. End of the semester rush you know? :x
 

americanwriter

Senior Member
Get er done Octavian!

Hope to get to see the finished piece. Perhaps you could post it in Debate so we could have a lively discussion over the issue later? I think what we all need from time to time is a lively debate over a profound issue that will affect our lives. Here's trusting you get a great professorial review on your paper and as few little red pencil marks as possible.
 
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