Gun Ownership AND Violent Crime Essay Samples
Firearms policies of the United Kingdom are one of the strictest in the world. As a result, the rates of homicides and other violent crime are reported to be the lowest (Uttley 2006; Squires, 2014)). Today’s research shows that only 0,05 intentional murders involving the use of civilian firearms have been recorded per 100,000 inhabitants in 2013 (Van Kesteren, 2013). Moreover, only 2.3% of all homicides perpetrated in the country involved the use of guns (Office for National Statistics 2015). The only one killing spree to have ever happened in the United Kingdom was the notorious Dunblane school massacre, which occurred in 1996. As a result of that tragic, but landmark events the use of shotguns by the general public was entirely banned (Uttley 2006; Lott, 2010).
In the meantime, a cacophony of voices actively argue that the influx of immigrants, rising unemployment and entailing possibilities in violent crime upsurge are the reasons, which makes arming of the UK population a necessity. Concerns about legalization of handguns have been expressed by many politicians and civil activists (Warlow, 2006). However, the most important fact in this regard is that the UK population tends to be more supportive to legalization (Springwood, 2007). A survey conducted in 1999 showed that 32% of the UK population (mostly young) supported the idea of arming citizens (Uttley 2006). In 2012 this figure increased to 49% (Office for National Statistics 2015), and the supporters included elderly and adults, who are more prudent and cautious than the youth (Seiber, 2011).
International evidence in this regard persists to be contradictory. Thus, while the analysts of the United States of America have found out irrefutable links between free firearms turnover in the country and the number of homicide convictions (Carter 2006;Karp, 2011)). In contrast, their colleagues from Finland and from Israel investigated that authorizing sale of arms to citizens, who have passed necessary psychological tests is a viable solution to deter street crime (US Department of Justice 2013; Caddick & Porter, 2011). In the both countries the number of burglaries, robberies, rapes and homicide have progressively declined (Squires, 2006), after the laws legitimizing gun trade have been adopted.
This research pursues several objectives. Firstly, it tries to figure out whether there are connections between legitimizing the use of firearms and increase in violent crime. The focal point in this part of research is made on analyzing scholarly opinion and applicable statistical data. Secondly, it attempts to answer why the United States policy makers failed to develop a working model, which can countervail the communal interests with potential violations. Finally, this paper tries to understand what model of gun control is the most effective internationally, and how it can be applied to the UK realities.
Uncontrolled Use of Guns in the United States
Many thinkers argue that the constitutional right of the United States citizens to bear and use firearms for their own defense has led to almost uncontrollable use of guns in the country. Thus, in accordance with the figures provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013 only the use of firearms by civilians in the United States of America led to almost 85,000 non-fatal, but serious injuries and almost 11,500 homicides among the population. In 21, 178 cases citizens of the United States used their private firearms to commit suicides, while in 507 cases personal shotguns or handguns have been accidentally discharged and harmed the owner or the outsiders (Alvarez & Bachman 2014). As a result, a total of 33, 171 deaths in the United States of America in 2014 are relatable to the use of firearms, excluding cases, when the guns were applied legally (US Department of Justice 2015; Aynsley-Green, 2009).
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that 71% of all homicides committed in the United States involves the use of firearms. In the meantime, the data provided by the FBI suggests that 62% of all incidents, which involve the use of firearms, refer to suicides (Hauser & Kleck, 2013). Statistically, the most popular types of firearms used by the Americans are handguns, hunting shotguns and rifles. As a result of these actions, direct harm inflicted on the USA taxpayers was estimated to reach $517 million in medical bills, reimbursement and other related costs (Winddance 2013).
It is especially important to emphasize that the proliferation of guns in the United States of America aggravates the problem of domestic violence. In particular, it has been estimated that if a gun is stored at home, a typical quarrel between the spouses or cohabitants is 12 times more likely to lead to a fatality. Nearly two-thirds of all females murdered in the United States have been killed by their male intimates (Windannce 2013). It shows that the guns are frequently applied to revenge on a conjugal infidelity or other cordial matters, which are rarely controllable by logic and sound mind. Thus, although the relationship between gender and victimization from firearms needs to be explored further, it is evident that even normal people, who may become enraged under special circumstances should be subject to serious medical inspections before getting a firearm. d
The state legislatures and public advocacy groups took many attempts to curb gun violence in the country. In particular, they tried to impose age, psychological and social limitations on those, who tried to buy guns (Duggan 2001). To illustrate, in 2005 the state of Louisiana enacted the law, which mandated the gun shop-owners to stop sales to anyone, who was under twenty-five years of age, had any previous convictions and experienced any forms of mental problems (Carter 2006). Furthermore, anyone seeking to buy a gun was subject to obligatory medical examinations, and the state senate ruled that any medical practitioner who was negligent in such examinations, or who delivered a false medical opinion commits a felony. However, the armories, together with many Americans with conservative outlook started a large-scale lobby in the Congress (Aynsley-Green 2009). As a result, the right of American people to keep firearms, including the assault ones have been recognized by the landmark decision of the USA Supreme, which ruled in McDonald v. Chicago that the state legislatures and executive branches may not pass any laws or issue orders, which place limits on the Second Amendment right (Carter 2006).
Controlled Gun Politics in Israel
Similarly to the United States of America, the state of Israel has very permissive gun control policies. Due to the proximity of Palestinian territories and continual state of alertness, in average 47 of 100 adults in this country (both, males and females) have some sort of a firearm (Amit 2012). Because the country is often on the brink of armed hostilities with the neighboring Arabic countries, its citizen are not only permitted, but also encouraged to purchase firearms to protect themselves and their families.
Yet, for every 100,000 citizens in the USA, 10.36 will be the victims of a violent assault, which involves firearm (US Department of Justice 2015). In Israel, this figure is 2.01 (Amit 2012). Moreover, the practice shows that from this insignificant percentage, in the majority of cases the assailant is a ‘cuckold’, whose wife has cheated on him, while the moral standards regarding adultery in that country are extremely high. The use of firearms for other forms of violent crimes (robberies, rapes etc.) is extremely rare. Thus, the research shows that that not a single case involving a citizen of Israel using his personal gun for any forms of intentional illegal activities has been registered.
Thus, the both countries are highly developed, yet the impacts of firearms legitimization are far different. The causes of discrepancies in such outcomes have been deeply explored. A paradoxical fact is that in Israel the citizens may possess virtually any assault weapon, including sub-machine guns and army rifles. In the majority of the USA states, the population may have only specific types, which assault capabilities are not as serious as the arms used by the army or the law enforcement. However, the scholars point out on the fact that it is not the ownership itself, but the licensing procedures, which determine the causation between the fatality shootings and the number of guns in the hands of the population (Amit 2012).
Although in the both countries significant parts of the population possess civil firearms, the differences in the licensing procedures are drastic.
Thus, in Israel the following categories of people are eligible to possess firearms. Firstly, enlisted officers, sergeants and soldiers, who have been discharged from the Armed Forces have this right. However, it is important to highlight that the military service in Israel is obligatory for everyone. The commentators underscore the fact that army gives discipline and instructions into how the one should properly use a firearm and in what circumstances it can be legally used. Secondly, the categories include retired police personnel, drivers, who are involved in public transportation, business people, whose dealings involves trading in jewelry, or those who frequently transport large sums of money. Thirdly, the right to bear and use firearms belongs to people, who live in the military strategic buffer zones, which border the Palestinian autonomy and other regions and to the people, who reside in Israeli settlements (special zones, which border Arab-populated areas). Additionally to these requirements, anyone who applies to this license should not be adjudicated mentally incapacitated, women should be at least 20 years of age, and men should be at least 21 years of age. Those, who has not completed military service should be at least 27 years of age and should satisfy other requirements (Amit 2012).
Overall, it is evident that in contrast to the United States of America where the examination process is minimal (in some states virtually anyone, whose appearance does not suggest that he has some mental problems may purchase a gun), the State of Israel has developed a complex procedures, designed to ensure that he really needs this gun and that he will not inflict harm to the community.
A solution for the United Kingdom
Having analyzed applicable statistical evidence and scholarly opinion in this regard, it may be argued that current system of firearms control in the United Kingdom should be made more lenient to the citizens. Thus, the firearms policies in the Kingdom are regulated by the Firearms Act 2007 (Bennet & Holloway, 2004). In practice, only those, who reside in rural areas and may need arms for personal against wild animals, may own handguns or rifles (Davies et al 2011). Gun ownership in the cities remain extremely limited (Hillyard & Burridge, 2012).
Despite the fact that technically anyone, who is sane and has not history of prior criminal conviction may apply for a gun license, the law enforcement authorities are reluctant to issue these instruments. In the meantime, the practice shows that the rates of violent crime in the metropolitan areas of the United Kingdom are much higher than in Israel. For instance, in 2014 11, 987 cases of robberies involving knives and other sharpened dangerous objects have been registered by the UK constables. Additionally, 30,432 sexual offences happened in the UK during the period 2013-2014 (Office for National Statistics 2015).
There is a strong public support of flexible ownership laws for the United Kingdom. For instance, in one of the recent surveys 54% of the sample responded that they would not mind if the policies become more permissive. 78% of the questioned respondents were over 35 years, which shows that the adult, sober-minded and mentally balanced population supports the idea (Office for National Statistics 2015; Kleck, Getz & Bratton 2009). Some commentators speculated that gun ownership is usually favored by the youth (Carter, 2006), however in the UK the situation is a far cry from this assumption.
The situation is aggravated by the recent influx of refugees to the country. Several studies have shown that former residents of the Middle East, driven by poverty and obscure employment opportunities, these people have intensified predilection for violent crimes (Carter 2006; Squires 2000). Therefore, adapting Israeli experience appears to be a viable solution to give the UK citizens an effective defense against any encroachments upon their most sacred rights and freedoms.
Alvarez, A., and Bachman, R. (2014) Violence: The Enduring Problem. 2nd edn. London: SAGE
Amit Y. (2012). Gun Control in Israel - A Short History, Jerusalem: Ministry of Public Security of Israel.
Aynsley-Green, A. (2009) ‘There is a Determination at all Levels to Reduce the Gun and Knife Crime Problem, not Least Among Children and Young People Themselves’. Criminal Justice Matters. 76, (1), 45-46
Bennet T., and Holloway, K. (2004) ‘Possession and Use of Illegal Guns Among Offenders in England and Wales’ The Howard Journal. 43, (3) 237-252
Caddick, A., and Porter, L.E. (2011) ‘Exploring a Model of Professionalism in Multiple Perpetrator Violent Gun Crime in the UK. Criminology and Criminal Justice. 12 (1), 61-82
Carter G, 2006, Gun control in the United States a reference handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO
Davies, M.J., Wells, C., Squires, P.A., Hodgetts, T.J., and Lecky, F.E. (2011) ‘Civilian Firearm Injury and Death in England and Wales’ Emergency Medical Journal. 29, 10-14
Duggan, M. (2001) ‘More Guns, More Crime’. Journal of Political Economy. 109 (5), 1086-1108
Hauser, W., and Kleck, G. (2013) ‘Guns and Fear’. Crime and Delinquency. 59 (2), 271-291
Hillyard, S., and Burridge, J. (2012) ‘Shotguns and Firearms in the UK: A Call for a Distinctively Sociological Contribution to the Debate’. Sociology. 46 (3), 395-410
Karp, A. (2011) Estimating Civilian Owned Firearms. Geneva. Small Arms Survey
Kleck, G., Gertz, M., and Bratton, J. (2009) ‘Why do People Support Gun Control? Alternative Explanations of Support for Handgun Bans’. Journal of Criminal Justice. 37, 496-504
Lott, J.R. (2010) More Guns Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control .3rd edn. University of Chicago Press Ltd: London
Seiber, M. (2011) Gunfire-Graffiti: Overlooked Gun Crime in the UK. Waterside Press: Hampshire.
Springwood, C.F. (ed.)(2007) Open Fire: Understanding Global Gun Cultures. Oxford: Berg
Squires, P. (2000) Gun Culture or Gun Control: Firearms, Violence and Society. Routledge: Oxon
Squires, P. (2006) ‘Beyond July 4th?: Critical Reflections on the Self-Defence Debate from a British Perspective’. Journal of Law, Economics and Policy. 2, 221-264
Squires, P. (2014) Gun Crime in Global Contexts. Routledge: Oxon
U.S. Department of Justice. (2013). Firearm Violence 1993-2011. Web. Retrieved from http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fv9311.pdf
Uttley, S. (2006). Dunblane unburied. Bristol: BookPublishingWorld.
Van Kesteren, J.N. (2013) ‘Revisiting the Gun Ownership and Violence Link: A Multi-level Analysis of Victimisation Survey Data’ British Journal of Criminology. 54, 53-72
Warlow, T. (2006) ‘The Criminal Use of Improvised and Re-activated Firearms in Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ Science and Justice. 47, 111-119
Winddance Twine, F. (2013) Girls with Guns: Firearms, Feminism and Militarism. London: Routledge