Our gun rights
Debate Rounds (5)
Whether or not you believe gun control is the answer, it is difficult to deny that the US has a gun problem. The United States has the highest gun-related homicide rate of any major Western nation, at 3.6 per 100,000 per year. This compares very poorly with other industrialized nations, such as Canada (0.50), Germany (0.20), Australia (0.13), and the UK (0.04). It also has one of the highest rates accidental gun-related death rates in the world at 0.30 per 100,000 per year, and the third highest gun-related suicide rate in the world at 6.30 per 100,000 per year.
These consistently high numbers serve to remind us that it's not just crime that's the problem in the US, it's guns. The US has only the 105th highest murder rate in the word (4.7 per 100,000 per year), which breaks significantly from the trend of high rates of gun-related violence. You'll note that over 75% of murders in the US are committed with firearms, as compared to ~31% in Canada, ~25% in Germany, ~13% in Australia and ~33% in the UK.
Taken together, these data suggest one aspect of the problem: the proliferation of firearms in the US. American citizens own 0.94 firearms per capita, that is, almost one per person. That is more firearms per capita than any other country in the world. The runners up come from two camps: notorious dangerous countries such as Serbia (0.58) and Yemen (0.55), and "socialist" European nations with strong gun control legislation and low firearm-related death rates, such as Switzerland (0.46) and Finland (0.45). Gun control legislation in the United States is sporadic, disorganized, poorly-enforced, and generally useless. There are countless examples of individuals purchasing firearms despite a history of violence, crime, and/or mental health problems, such as the recent "navy yard" shooting in Washington DC, in which the perpetrator had been arrested previously on firearms charges, but was still able to purchase firearms before the shooting.
Of course, guns are not the only cause of the problem. The American media are notorious for glorifying the perpetrators of mass shootings and other crimes. The faces and names of the perpetrators are spread far and wide on television and other media, while the names of the victims are forgotten or ignored entirely. It has been suggested that this obsession with the perpetrators causes many, especially those with mental health problems, to consider a shooting spree as a good way to "go out with a bang," although I'm not aware of any research to support this hypothesis. This trend stems in part from the American obsession with punishment over rehabilitation: the US incarcerates more of its citizens than any other nation in the world, with approximately 2.5 million people incarcerated in total. Despite the demonstrated efficacy of rehabilitative incarceration (see nations such as Sweden or Norway), and the demonstrated inefficacy of punitive incarceration, Americans would still rather punish crimes than prevent them or aid the victims.
Contrary to oft-cited popular opinion, violent video games have been shown not to encourage violent behavior. There is, however, a lot of conflicting evidence, with studies supporting both sides of the argument.
Finally, of course, there is the issue of mental health. The relationship between mental health and violent crime is exceedingly complex, and it is difficult to sum it up with one or two references. Some studies show there is no correlation between mental health and aggressive tendencies, while others show that there is. Regardless of what someone believes about the relationship between mental illness and violent crime, most can agree that the US does a lousy job of caring for its mentally ill. Whether improved access to health care, employment, and resources can reduce violence is unclear.
The United States has a violence fetish, a heroism complex, and an itchy trigger finger. The militaristic attitude of the American people is mirrored by the policies of its government, whose "defense" expenditures amount to almost 40% of the world total. I could go on, but I'm interested in hearing your thoughts. Sources below.
Firearm statistics: http://en.wikipedia.org..., http://en.wikipedia.org...
Homicide statistics: http://en.wikipedia.org...
Incarceration statistics: http://en.wikipedia.org...
Video games: http://psychcentral.com..., http://journalistsresource.org...#
Mental health resources: http://psychcentral.com..., http://www.cmha.ca..., http://promoteacceptance.samhsa.gov...,
Military expenditures: http://en.wikipedia.org...
According the FBI's own statistics ( http://www.fbi.gov... ) the murder rate has dropped every year from 1992 to 2011 proving that we are actually seeing a reduction in murders. While it's true that guns are used in a high number of murders it's important to note that these statistics do not distinguish between murders done in self defense or by law enforcement in the line of duty. Our society does have a problem with idolizing gun wielding heroes and thugs that make it seem like the life to live in the eyes of our youth. Our justice system is severely inefficient in dealing with the people unfit for guns but that does not grant the government the right to infringe on our second amendment rights. The amendment clearly states "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." There has been a virulent disintegration of our amendment rights this past decade and we need to take a stand now and put a stop to that.
I think it's relatively easy to protect citizens and keep weapons out of the hands of criminals while still allowing responsible gun ownership. The biggest problem in the USA with regard to guns themselves is ease of access: it's ridiculously easy to get a license and purchase a firearm. Background checks do not unnecessarily infringe upon a citizen's right to privacy, and should be universal. A federal gun registry and mandatory inventories would also go a long way with relatively little impact on law-abiding gun owners and dealers. One of the biggest difficulties law enforcement have in the US is their inability to find out where a weapon came from, and thereby locate - and shut down - points of criminal access to firearms.
However, I would argue that it's not just criminal access to firearms that's the problem, its the general proliferation of, and cavalier attitude toward, guns. Several people are injured or killed each year by young children who somehow gained access to their parents' weapons. In addition, both citizens and law enforcement are too quick to resort to firearms. The US has staggeringly high rates of deadly use of force by police and by citizens in self-defense (not to mention "self-defense" cases such as Trayvon Martin's case), and yet this hasn't made society any safer - quiet the opposite. A societal shift in attitude is required. Violence should be the last resort, but that's not the way it's treated.
I could discuss the 2nd amendment for hours (wasn't it originally designed to help prevent the escape of delinquent and freed slaves?), but I won't because I know very little about the American constitution. What I would ask you is this: why are Americans (generally) so touchy about the 2nd amendment in particular? Nobody really seems to mind the violent crackdown on free speech (as long as they disagree with the views of those being cracked down upon), and there hasn't been much of a fuss about the erosion of rights to privacy, habeas corpus, and right to political and religious freedom in response to the terror "threat." The US still can't seem to figure out what it thinks about universal human rights (especially with regard to gender, sexuality, race, and religion), and continues trying to reverse the legal precedent that the right to bodily autonomy supersedes the right to life.
Basically what saying is that there seems to be an undue obsession with the right to bear arms, far disproportionate to other rights, even those which are generally considered more important, such as the right to freedom of speech, thought, and association or the right to a trial. The US government awards itself the legal ability to murder American citizens at will without trial or oversight and nobody makes a peep, but as soon as you mention gun control everybody loses their minds. What do you think about that discrepancy?
The 2nd amendment was originally created to ensure that we the people would have the same force as the government so that if it ever became tyrannical we would have the means to fight back. Whenever a country begins to commit mass murder for whatever reason they always start by disarming the people thus making the people helpless.
I would also agree that people are not as concerned about the loss of other rights as they should be. Freedom of speech is one of the most important and also the most quickly dissolving. America needs to step up and put the government in check.
"When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty"
The people have forgotten that the government is meant to serve the people, not rule us!
I'm not sure you're correct on the 2nd amendment, but I'm not American, so I don't really want to argue the constitution.
I'd like to ask about this "disarmament" argument, however. I've heard it a lot, especially in reference to Nazi Germany, but I don't understand its relevance. Nations sometimes disarm their people before a genocide, but often they do not. In some cases (Rwanda is a good example), they actually prepare for genocide by arming the people, not disarming them. There is a much stronger correlation between authoritarianism and infringement upon the rights to freedom of speech and association than there is for the right to bear arms. In addition, this is what's considered a "false correlation." Nations sometimes disarm the populace before committing atrocities, yes, but dozens of nations (if not more) around the world have enacted gun control measures much stronger than anything even being considered in the US, and not gone on to abuse their power, so disarmament alone is no reason to suspect the government's motive.
I agree that the government in the US has run entirely amok, but I would say part of that catastrophe is the government's failure to enact meaningful gun control legislation, not their desire to do so. I don't think anyone wants to eliminate the 2nd amendment entirely, or enact a blanket ban on gun ownership, but gun control legislation has been very effective at reducing gun-related death rates in other countries, so why not the US?
The murder rate in the US is more than twice as high as it is in warzones such as Afghanistan and Iraq, and 15% higher than in Palestine. 75% of those murders are committed with firearms. If you oppose gun control legislation, what would you recommend instead to bring these numbers down?
Chicago and DC have the strictest gun and yet they have the highest murder rate with guns.
I did a lot of digging regarding the claim that crime rates increase in response to gun control, and as far as I can tell, it is false. The Australian example is the most popular: homicide rates have experience a slight decline since 1997 (when the Australian firearm buy-back program was instituted), manslaughter rates have remained relatively constant, drug-related offences have declined slightly, and violent crime rates have remained stagnant, with the exception of the assault rate, which has risen. The general consensus in academia is that the 1997 buyback had little or no effect, but the few studiies which did find an effect (Ozanne-Smith et. al., Simon Chapman, Neill & Leigh, etc.) all found it to be a reduction, not an increase. The NRA and several other right-wing organizations have been accused of falsifying government statistics in order to claim an increase in violent crime in Australia since 1997.
Neither has gun legislation had a measurable impact on violent crime rates in Sweden or Norway. The most recent gun legislation in Germany (2008) has effected a reduction in violent crime rates, but it's too recent to know if this is statistically significant or not (trends are what matter, not year-to-year data). The trend continues in Canada, with studies finding no effect (Langmann) or small positive effects (Hopper).
If you argued that there is no conclusive evidence that gun control makes a society safer, I would partially agree with you. There is a lack of evidence that enacting gun control legislation results in a drop in violent crime, and yet there is a correlation between strong gun regulation and low rates of violent crime. However, if your claim is that crime increases in response to the passage of gun control legislation, you are very clearly mistaken. Most of the sources I could find making these claims had clear bias in the matter (most of them were right-wing political websites or pro-gun websites), and most of the "statistics" I found them using were either flawed (you cannot speak about "trending" annual crime rates over a period of 12 months, for example), carefully selected (the assault rate in Australia continued to rise at the same rate after 1997 as it had before 1997, making it unlikely that the gun buy-back was involved), or plain made up (a website I visited claimed that Australia had seen a 300% increase in homicides and an 800% increase in armed robberies; both claims are laughably false).
I dont't think there's any point in discussing what "may" happen as a result of gun control, without any evidence to suggest that it *will* happen, when we could be saving lives right this minute.
Had gun control measures taken in other countries been effective as they were told they would be, there would not be mass protest by the people. Regardless of an individuals feelings about guns we can all agree that everyone has an innate right to protect themselves from those that mean to do them harm. If we allow legislation that would restrict our access to firearms how are we expected to protect ourselves from a criminal with a knife trying to rob us or even kidnap us? This simple question has been dodged by almost every anti-gun person asked. They understandably dont want to fear that they may by shot but they are allowing their fear to over take their logic. Criminals are going to commit crimes regardless of any law put into place. This may sound like an extreme circumstance but for many people this is a reality. If you were being attacked by someone wielding a knife which would you prefer to protect yourself with? A gun, or a knife?
cabaedium forfeited this round.
No votes have been placed for this debate.
You are not eligible to vote on this debate
This debate has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set by the debaters. This debate either has an Elo score requirement or is to be voted on by a select panel of judges.