The United States should impose Stronger, More Effective Gun Control Laws
Debate Rounds (4)
Resolution: The United States should impose Stronger, More Effective Gun Control Laws
This resolution can also be interpretted as the U.S. Congress Should pass stronger, more effective gun control legislation than we have now, to deal with the surge in mass gun shootings over the last three years and the 491,930 cases of gun violence the nation experiences on average annually. (On average, 33,000 Americans are killed with guns each year , and contrary to popular belief, statistics show that gun violence has not decreased over the last decade ).
First Round is for acceptance only. (However, Con make a brief statement about his position on this issue in ROUND 1 and even provide 1 to 5 sources to back up his claims.)
Resolution: The United States should impose Stronger, More Effective Gun Control Laws
The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently ruled that U.S. Congress has the right to pass gun control legislation as long as it doesn't violate the Second Amendment--but how is this possible? Easy. It's because most people don't truly understand the Second Amendment
Before we get into the lively discussion of why U.S. Congress should impose sensible, more effective gun control laws than are currently on the books, I'm going to briefly explain that U.S. Congress has this power, and that the U.S. Supreme Court has historically and consistently ruled in favor of this interpretation . Furthermore, the implied powers granted to U.S. Congress via Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution--the portion I'm referring to known as the "Necessary and Proper" Clause--give Congress the authority to pass gun control legislation, as long as it does not violate the Second Amendment .
First of all, in order to understand why the U.S. Supreme Court has historically ruled that gun control is not unconstitutional, we have to look at the exact wording of the Second Amendment--which brielfy states the exact motive for having it inserted in the Bill of Rights.
"Amendment II. A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed. "
There are actually several ways to interpret this, but the most conservative U.S. Supreme Courts (and by extension, U.S. Congress) have interpretted this to mean that people have the right to arm themselves for the purposes of self-defense--but not necessarily for anything beyond that . In other words, the Second Amendment grants people the right to arm themselves in self-defense--but not to maliciously and criminally injure others, to rob other people's property, or to act against law enforcement or state and federal governments . Of course, this fits in line with the most conservative rulings of the nation's highest court, but historically the Court has also interpretted the Amendment to mean that having arms is only constitutionally protected for military purposes . In fact, this is a position held by several sitting members of the current U.S. Supreme Court, and also the recently retired Justice John Paul Stevens .
Either way, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that there is nothing unconstitutional about having moderate (conservative rulings) to abundant (liberal rulings) national gun control laws, because the Constitution doesn't guarantee the unrestricted, unconditional right to own firearms .
In fact, because of historical U.S. Supreme Court rulings, U.S. Congress has already passed various laws restricting gun ownership or requiring gun registration and background checks on some gun purchases. As early as 1934, Congress passed the National Firearms Act, which required certain firearms and destructive devices to be registered with the U.S. government and which imposed a tax on sales of such devices; failure to comply with the act had criminal penalties, including up to 10 years of incarceration and between $10,000 to $100,000 fines for individual violations . Over the years, congressional legislation signed into law has made it a crime for convicted felons, those convicted of certain misdemeanors, and for fugitives of justice to own and use firearms; people who illegally use drugs are prohibited from owning/operating a firearm, as are people who have been committed to a mental institution and who suffer a dangerous mental illness (however, not everyone diagnosed with a severe mental illness is prohibited from owning firearms); others are outlawed from owning and using firearms as well .
Current Federal Gun Control Laws and Their Limitations
In the last paragraph, I explained that certain people are probited from owning/operating firearms under federal law in the U.S. These people include :
-convicted felons/people convicted of certain misdemeaners
-fugitives of justice
-unlawful users of drugs
-non U.S. citizens/non-permanent legal residents
-people committed to mental institutions and diagnosed with dangerous mental illness
-those with a criminal history of domestic violence (a single misdemeaner incident or more/greater)
But current federal gun control laws also place legal responsibilities (punishable with a fine and/or incarceration for not complying) on people who engage in the business of selling and buying firearms, also known as gun dealers.
Current national law requires gun/firearms dealers to be licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and federal restrictions make it a crime for them to sell firearms to people under 18 years of age and other people prohibited from owning/using firearms . It is a crime for a gun dealer to sell, deliver, or transfer a firearm without the transaction first being approved by a prescribed source, after a background check has been conducted; the dealer is also required to document the sale of the firearm with federal form 4473, which identifies the purchaser's information and the make, model, and serial number of the firearm . However, form 4473 is kept by the dealer, and the ATF is not allowed to put the purchaser's information in an electronic registry that can be later used by law enforcement; furthermore, current laws (the Tiahrt Amendments) require that the ATF destroy records on background checks after 24 hours that it approves a gun sale, and the ATF cannot use tracing data in some legal proceedings to revoke or temporarily suspend a dealer's license . The ATF can only investigate dealers on an individual basis with regards to purchases, and can only collect 4472 forms after a gun dealer goes out of business .
It's these limitations that place great strain on the ATF and that prevent it from more effectively carrying out its work. Because the ATF cannot create an electronic registry on gun purchases and must destroy information after it approves a gun sale (background checks are performed soley to determine if the gun purchaser is someone prohibited from owning/operating a gun), crimes committed with firearms take longer to investigate and provides the assailant with more time to break the law. The lack of an electronic registry on gun purchases in some cases allows assailants who use guns to avoid ever being detected and be brought to justice.
The Bradley Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence reports that the current weak guns laws in place at the federal level have allowed tens of thousands of guns to leave gun shops without checks or records, one of the reasons being the severe restrictions placed on the ATF's role during transactions and the follow up . Requring gun dealers to better keep records of all firearms in their possession and to register all gun purchases in an electronic registry would allow the ATF and other law enforcement to better track guns in this nation and would vastly reduce gun crimes and violence; it would also shorten the time between an incident of gun crime and apprehension by law enforcement.
Gun sales and transactions between individuals is even less strict and unfortuneately a background check and federal form 4473 are not legally required in such sales, which increases the probability that someone prohibited from owning a firearm will obtain one through such a transaction, such as a convicted felon or a minor. It also makes it more difficult for the ATF and other law enforcement to track a gun sold in this way used in a criminal incident . In point of fact, firearms sold by "occassional sellers"--people not required to abide with the federal background check--were used in the Columbine School massacre that killed 12 students and 1 teacher, not including the two young perpetrators , who committed multiple felony violations of federal in the days leading up to the school shooting .
Firearms sold by "occassional sellers" in the U.S. have also found their way into the hands of terrorist organizations in the middle east, including the Lebanese branch of Hezbollah, and across the Southern border into Mexico, where rivaling drug gangs have used the weapons to mow down each other and countless innocent bystanders .
Shockingly, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence reports that more than 90% of the guns used by Mexican drug cartels originate in the U.S; 2000 guns are estimated to cross--illegally--the Southern border into Mexico per day . Mexico, where guns are strictly outlawed, has seen over 100,000 people lose their lives in a drug war partly fueled by illegal firearms being shipped in from the U.S. . The ATF estimates that 40% of all gun sales in the U.S. are made by unlicensed sellers who do not perform background checks, and that this is one major reason why guns are flowing across the Mexican border at such an alarming rate .
But, as we shall see in the next ROUND, the U.S. is also suffering a major crisis all its own, for its weak/inefficient federal gun control laws currently in place.
baus forfeited this round.
Before I proceed I want to thank Baus for being brave enough to accept this debate. My objective with this debate is to educate both debaters and the readers about firearms violence inside the United States and how it compares to other industrialized nations, and about troubling weaknesses in federal gun control laws and the loopholes specific prohibited individuals use to get their hands on these powerful, remarkable weapons.
Loopholes & Weaknesses in current Federal Gun Control Laws
As I discussed in the previous ROUND, there are certain limitations with current federal gun control laws that make it difficult for the ATF and law enforcement to reduce gun violence in our nation and to sometimes quickly apprehend a culprit following an incident of gun crime or violence. Among the restrictions placed on law enforcement are the Tiarht Amendements, which prevent law enforcement from creating an electronic registry of gun purchases and gun owners at the federal level (therefore limiting the ATF and other national law enforcement agencies from being maximally efficient in their work and prolonging gun crime/violence investigations) . The Amendments require law enforcement and the ATF to destroy records following gun transaction background checks and they prohibit law enforcement agencies from diseminating what information they might have (such as forms 4473, collected after firearms dealers go out business) to the courts . Furthermore, firearm sales between individual persons is hardly managed at all by current federal gun control laws and such transactions do not legally require a background check to take place , providing convicted felons and other individuals prohibited from owning/operating firearms with an opportunity to get their hands on one. Indeed, the ATF estimates that a whopping 40% of all gun sales in the U.S. are made by individual, unlicensed sellers who do not have to perform background checks .
But, as I will demonstrate in this ROUND, current federal gun control laws are also weak in other ways and they're presently riddled with loopholes that make it easy for some prohibited people to get their hands on these lethal weapons of war.
Currently, millions of fugitives across the country can pass federal background checks and buy guns illegally because police departments are not required to enter names into a national database that tracks criminals on the run . This dreadful gap is largely a byproduct of the fact that police and prosecutors are often unwilling to spend the time or money to pursue fugitives across a state border. Because state law enforcement has no intention of pursuing these fugitives of justice in a different jurisdiction, these criminals travel relatively forgotten; the fact that there's no federal law requiring state law enforcement to enter fugitive names in the FBI fugitive database--the National Instant Background Check System--makes this problem a serious weakness of current federal gun control law . Investigative reporter Brad Heath of USA Today recently found that in five states alone, law enforcement agencies failed to provide information to the FBI database for at least 2.5 million outstanding arrest warrants, according to police and court records on file . What's shocking is that tens of thousands of these fugitives on the run are wanted for violent offenses and felonies . According to USA Today, the federal databases used to perform background checks are missing more than 900,000 Michigan arrest warrants, 150,000 Ohio arrest warrants, 184,000 Washington arrest warrants, and many more from other states .
In response to this alarming discovery, Dan Gross of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has said, "It is...not surprising to me the extent to which there are holes in our system, given Congress' lack of success in addressing them" .
In many cases, entering fugitives' names in federal databases would be as simple as checking two boxes in a state law enforcement's computer system, but the lack of courage by Congress to pass additional gun control laws, such as requiring state police to report names to the FBI database, allows this major lapse in background checks to continue .
And fugitives on the run are taking this opportunity because of Congress' inaction. Fugitive Deandra Smith, who was already wanted for a nightclub shooting (and multiple felony charges), was able to purchase a variety of guns at an Arkansas Pawn Shop in 2013 because his name was not entered in a federal or even a state database . To quote his lawyer, "Without that [entering his name in a database for background checks], it wouldn't matter how many background checks...[firearms dealers] ran ." Every year, hundreds of thousands of fugitives on the run and people prohibited from owning firearms, like Smith, attempt to take advantage of the current set-up .
According to a new report by the UC Davis Violence Prevention Program, which observed 78 gun shows in 19 states, loopholes in present gun control laws allow for easy access to guns that can be purchased by just about anyone, whether legally prohibited from purchasing a gun or not .
Among the findings :
--illegal purchases, where surrogates buy a gun from a licensed dealer, is common at gun shows
--anonymous, undocumented gun sales are common
--parts used to make untraceable guns are widespread and easily attainable at gun shows
Garen Wintemute, professor of medicine at UC Davis School of Medicine, found that “illegal" purchases "were often conducted entirely out in the open" . Wintemute asserts that more has to be done to prevent both unregulated gun sales and illegal guns sales at gun shows; “law enforcement needs to have an expanded, proactive program at gun shows to prevent the illegal sale of guns” . If not, individuals prohibited from purchasing firearms, like the dangerously mentally ill, minors, and convicted felons, will find gun shows to be an excellent source to obtain firearms--weapons the law states they shouldn't have.
Currently, 44 states have laws regulating the sale of firearms to the mentally ill, but few states submit the names of prohibited mentally ill to the national database for background checks; in fact, just seven states account for 98 percent of all names prohibited for mental illness . A frequently cited example is that of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooter who passed a background check to obtain the gun he used with which he killed 32 people on the university campus (and wounded 17 others), despite being declared mentally ill two years prior .
Different states also have varying degrees of additional gun control laws in effect, but some have very few, almost entirely relying on current federal gun control laws (some state governments have also tried to abolish federal gun control laws within their state borders, even calling for the arrest of federal agents who dare to enforce firearms legislation; something not permitted by the U.S. Constitution ).
What Federal Gun Control Laws Ought to Do
Current federal gun control laws do not go far enough to prevent fugitives, convicted felons, the dangerously mentally ill, and minors from obtaining weapons they clearly shouldn't have. The Tiarht Amendments, though understandly trying to protect the anonymity of gun owners, create a stumbling block for the ATF and other law enforcement agencies charged with apprehending culprits of gun crime/violence. They frequently act to prolong the time between an incident of gun crime to final apprehension of the assailant, and in the case of new criminals or fugitives/convicted felons, like Deandra Smith, that's simply more time for them to engage in gun-related criminal activity.
It would better serve law and order in this country to establish an electronic registry that law enforcement can use to link an individual gun owner with a registered firearm make, model and serial number. We can still protect the rights of gun owners to defend themselves while more effectively restricting criminals and others prohibited from owning guns. We shouldn't have to make the ATF and other law enforcement agencies jump through hoops and expand their investigations just to determine the individual that owns a gun make with a specific serial number. Determining who owns what gun should be as easy as it is to link a driver with a specified, registered automobile, especially for criminal investigations.
Gun transactions between unlicensed individuals should still require a background check; it's simply way too easy for someone prohibited from owning a gun to purchase a firearm through these transactions. The ATF estimates that 40% of all gun sales in the U.S. are made by individual, unlicensed sellers who do not have to perform background checks--well that's just an incredible opportunity for minors, the mentally ill, fugitives of justice, convicted felons, drug peddlers and others to abuse! Gun Control Laws need to be expanded so that all gun transactions require a federal background check.
Federal law should require state law enforcement to register a fugitive's name in the FBI fugitive database to better enforce current restrictions with gun laws. Our current gun laws would be so much more effective if this was already the case. Likewise, the names of the prohibited mentall ill should be required to be submitted to the national database for background checks.
(Additional recommendations exist.)
baus forfeited this round.
U.S. Congress's Unwillingness to Pass New Gun Control Legistlation has Spurred President Obama to use Executive Authority
U.S. Congress's unwillingness to pass new gun control legislation over this last decade--which includes failure to extend the expired Federal Assault Weapons Ban --has prompted President Obama to take matters into his own hands, by using Executive Authority, on the basis of surging incidences of mass shootings across the country.
In Summer of 2013, after the U.S. Senate failed to pass bill S.150: the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, the White House closed a number of gun law loopholes and took various actions to make it harder for criminals to get their hands on guns and for certain assault weapons to be obtained inside the United States. One such executive action included barring the acquisition of machine guns and similar assault weapons without a background check; the new ATF regulation requires all individuals to undergo a background when trying to attain a machine gun, or similiar assault weapon, or a short-barreled shotgun . The White House has also banned U.S. military weapons sold overseas and across national boundaries from returning to the country .
The U.S. President has implemented a dozen more Executive Actions to close numerous gun law loopholes and to prevent assault weapons from getting into the wrong hands, but the extent of these regulations is brutally limited.
Gun Crime & Injury Due to Firearms Are Off the Charts in America
Statistics show that America is presently experiencing a crisis with gun violence :
--On average, 32 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 140 are treated for firearm injuries in the emergency room; 33,000 Americans are killed with guns each year.
--One person is killed by a firearm every 17 minutes, 87 people are killed with guns everyday (either murdered or suicide), 609 are killed with guns every week; over 100,000 are shot in the U.S. per year.
--In 2011, more than 80% of all homicides commited in the U.S. were done with firearms.
--In 2010, 82 children under 5 years old died from firearms compared with 58 law enforcement officers killed by firearms in the line of duty.
--Nearly three times more kids (15,576) were injured by firearms in 2010 then the number of soldiers (5,247) injured in combat in the war in Afghanistan that same year.
--Every day on average, 51 Americans kills themselves with a firearm and 45 are shot or killed with a firearm.
--The U.S. firearm homicide rate is 20 times higher than the combined rates of 22 countries that are our peers in wealth and population.
--In the U.S., firearm homicide is the second leading cause of death for young people 1 to 19 years of age.
--A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense.
The following map illustrates the number of deaths in each U.S. state due to injury by firearms per 100,000 people (year 2007). You'll notice that states with additional gun control laws have fewer deaths due to injury by firearms per capita; this is partly explained by the fact that there are fewer suicides by firearms in these states .
The financial toll of firearm violence/injuries in America is also staggering. Every year, U.S. taxpayers pay $100 billion for medical treatment, criminal justice proceedings, new security precautions, and other expenses caused by firearms violence or required for firearms violence prevention . The lifetime medical cost of all gun violence victims in the U.S. is estimated to be $2.3 billion, with approximately half of the cost paid by U.S. taxpayers . The lack of weak, porous gun control laws in the U.S. is a drain on taxpayers.
And contrary to popular belief, the number and rate of firearm deaths in the U.S. have not decreased for a decade; they've actually remained the same . The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that from 1999 to 2010, the number of deaths caused by firearms each year has remained constant (a slight increase) while the rate of firearms deaths has remained the same (10.32 deaths per 100,000 population) (table directly below) .
This is in contrast to the decline in both the number of deaths and rate of deaths caused by firearms observed over the previous decade, after the Brady law went into effect and required background checks on most gun purchases (all sales performed by licensed firearms dealers) . Unfortunately this decline has not continued over the last decade.
The CDC reports the same trend with HOMICIDE Firearms deaths and rates per 100,000 people over the last decade. Despite observing a decline in this number and rate from the 1980s to 1990s (after the implementation of the Brady gun control law), the numbers and rate remain constant from 1999 to 2010 (table directly below) .
The same trend is observed with suicides caused by firearms and with non-fatal injuries caused by firearms; this despite the Brady Campaign showing a slight drop in the percent of Americans and American households that own firearms during that period (graph directly below) .
The United States has more than 11,000 gun-related homicide killings per year--which is off the charts compared to other advanced countries . Compare this to Japan, which experienced only 7 gun-related murders in all of 2011; in Japan guns are hard to come by, but they're not completely illegal (approximately half a million firearms are registered to private citizens in Japan) . Japan has a population of 130 million people, or slightly less than one-half the population of the United States .
U.S. Gun Rights proponents often bring up the the example of Switzerland to show how liberal gun regulation can accompany low gun crime. For example, the nation's 8 million people own 2.3 million guns, but gun-related homicides numbered just 24 in all of 2009; the U.S. has as rate that is 11 times Switzerland's .
But what's often ignored is that most guns registered in Switzerland are military rifles issued to men when they join the conscript army (not concealable, portable handguns) and when Switzerland cut the size of its army over the decades, gun violence also fell, says criminologist Martin Killias at the University of Switzerland; domestic killings and suicides were higher when more people in the nation had access to guns . According to Killias, the real problem is how many people have access to firearms, not the total number of weapons in the nation .
And to substantiate this view critics point out that Switzerland has a firearms suicide rate that is the highest in all of Europe .
Some Gun Rights proponents also point to Brazil and to Mexico as examples of nations that have banned firearms but that still see homicide-by-firearms rates higher than in the U.S. Still, experts point out that ferocious drug wars mixed with high levels of local corruption push and pull firearms into those regions, through porous, poorly-regulated borders, even though guns are banned in both nations. In these nations, drug gangs are often better-armed than police . However, experts still point out that recent enacted guns laws in Brazil have made a noticeable impact on the country's homicide-by-firearms rate over the years .
A recent study of international gun crime statistics has shown that the critical detail in gun violence around the world is gun ownership. Though guns are illegal in places like Mexico and Brazil, easy access to guns in these nations forces them to have high levels of gun crime. The study, which reviewed gun crime in 27 nations, showed that gun accessibility/ownership was an even bigger factor than mental illness when it comes to firearms deaths . The study found that mental illness did play a role, but not as large as gun ownership .
Mass Shooting Events are Surging in America
Finally, mass shootings are surging in america. Incidences of random mass shootings carried out by disgruntled perpetrators at public schools, in universities, in large malls, in theaters are on the rise . The FBI reports that since 2000, the frequency of Active Shooter Events (mass shootings) has steadily been increasing (graph directly below) .
The number of people killed, shot, and injured in these mass shooting events is also surging (graph below) .
From 2000 to 2002, there was 5 or less mass shootings per year; by 2003, that number jumped to 7; by 2005, it jumped to 8; and by 2010, the number of mass shooting events climbed to 21 . Horrifying events like those observed in Newtown, Connecticut (where 26 people were killed) and Aurora, Colorado (where 12 people were killed & dozens more injured) are increasing in frequnecy in the U.S.
The number of school shootings is also on the rise (distinguished from "active shooter events"). In fact, since the heinous shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Connecticut, there have been 74 separate school shooting events in the U.S. (map below) .
baus forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Baus forfeited.
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