In my two previous posts, I discussed the Liberal and Conservative perspectives on enacting more gun control laws. In this post, I will evaluate these views and express my own opinion. Although Liberals appeal to the public’s common sense by arguing that background checks and more gun control laws will lead to fewer gun-related deaths, suicides and accidental deaths, the Conservatives provide more convincing arguments. Conservatives use the Second Amendment to argue that enacting more gun control laws violate our right to self-defense and safety. They also claim that gun control laws do not deter crime and may lead to tyranny. This is why I favor the Conservative view on this issue.
First, I will discuss the Liberal’s strongest arguments. Although I don’t personally agree with this viewpoint, it is important to critically examine multiple perspectives. Liberals claim that background checks will prevent criminals and the mentally ill from obtaining guns. They also state that enacting more gun control laws will prevent suicides and accidental deaths. They have strong evidence to establish these points: 90% of adults with a gun in the home approve of laws to prevent the purchase of guns by the mentally ill and 60% approve of a federal database to track gun sales. 1* According to Don Macalady, a member of Hunters against Gun Violence, “Background checks prevent criminals and other dangerous people from getting guns.”
Liberals also claim that more gun control laws will lead to fewer suicides and accidental deaths. According to a March 2014 study published in the International Review of Law and Economics, when gun ownership went down in the United States, overall suicide rates went down. Between 1999 and 2013 there were 270,237 firearm suicides in the United States, accounting for about 52% of all suicides during those years. 1* Liberals claim that additional gun control laws would lower suicides because poison and knives are unlikely means of suicide when guns are unavailable. Accidental deaths would also be decreased.
In my opinion, however, the Liberal’s position is weakened because they are unable to disprove most of the Conservative’s arguments. Liberals claim that the Second Amendment is not ‘unlimited’ and does not grant the right of an individual to bear arms. Many Conservatives acknowledge that the Second Amendment is not unlimited. However, a 2008 Supreme Court case, District of Columbia vs. Heller, confirmed that an individual has the right to a gun.
Liberals also claim that more gun control laws would decrease gun-related deaths and therefore would reduce the societal costs associated with gun violence. Conservatives claim that gun ownership reduces gun-related deaths. However, the truth is that they may both be wrong. Justin King, a Journalist on Mint Press News says that gun bans, “…do not create a sustained period of increased murders, nor do they reduce the rate of homicides.” 2* The evidence for the argument that gun control laws increases or decreases gun-related deaths is inconclusive. Thus the Conservatives are left with more convincing arguments.
In my opinion, the Conservatives’ strengths heavily outweigh their weaknesses because they are able to disprove most of the Liberal’s arguments and provide several strong arguments for their own side. They start by citing the Second Amendment and correctly state that it grants the individual the right to bear arms. This includes using guns for self-defense because citizens have the right to feel safe. Conservatives also argue that gun control laws do not deter crime because guns can easily be obtained by criminals. Rather, they believe gun ownership deters crime. As I mentioned earlier, this argument cannot readily be verified, because the evidence is inconclusive. Finally, Conservatives legitimately worry that enacting more gun control laws will give the government too much power. They fear it may lead to tyranny and even to the government taking away all guns from citizens.
The Conservative perspective appears unreasonable to many people because they are unwilling to accept any form of gun control. This can be seen as an “extreme” view, because the majority of the general public consider some gun-control laws to be reasonable and common sense.
It is important to note that while my goal is to fairly represent each side of this issue, I may have unintentionally cast a shadow across the Liberal viewpoint simply because I personally disagree with many of their arguments. However, though my research and writing of these posts, I have come to better understand both the Liberal and Conservative beliefs and have confirmed my own.