In a recent article of Gun Control: An Issue for the Nineties. David Newton, of New Jersey reviles. “In 1994, 18,954 Americans were murdered. Of that number, 11,832 or 62 percent were killed by guns. On the average, one man, woman, or child is killed or wounded by a gun every 2. 5 minutes in the United States” (Newton 7).
Many Americans are disgusted by these statistics. “They look for ways to reduce deaths and injuries from guns” (7). But people differ about the best methods for solving this problem. Some people, like James Brady, want to make it difficult or impossible for ordinary citizens to own guns (7). But is disarming law abiding citizens the answer to a safer America? Others, including myself, want to punish criminals more severely.
The issue of gun control has been debated in this country for many years. However, in recent years this issue has become a topic of significant interest. One event that sparked this increase in interest was the assassination attempt on former President Ronald Reagan. Thirteen years ago a man named John Hinckley Jr. pulled a handgun outside the Washington Hilton Hotel and shot President Reagan and his press secretary, James S.
Brady, as well as two officers (Brady 18). Was Hinckley a mad man? Would it have been possible for him to commit this crime if the Brady law had been in place at the time?In May, 1994 the House of Representatives’ passed a law by a thin margin to ban assault weapons. (Witkin 31) “But as a crime control measure, the legislation doesn’t amount to much. Many of the guns banned are used by criminals; assault weapons represent no more than 1 percent of the firearms in circulation nationwide but account for about 8 percent of the guns traced to crime by the Treasure Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms”. (31)I see the passage of this law as a significant first step in an attempt by the government to disarm Americans.
“The NRA asserted the measure was ridiculously arbitrary-that the banned guns were really no different from other semiautomatic weapons not covered by the ban. ‘The guns won’t fire faster, aren’t any more powerful, won’t make bigger holes and are not the choice of criminals. ” (31). But laws controlling ownership of firearms will not control crime.
The answer to this problem is tougher laws to punish crime. I am in favor of tougher laws to put away criminals who commit crimes with guns. I use to think there was some truth to the old adage “crime doesn’t pay” Today, I’m not sure. A criminal can commit most any crime and be guaranteed he will not serve a full jail sentence. “For supporters of the Brady law, John Hinckley’s attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981 is the paradigmatic case” (49). Sarah Brady, chairwoman of Handgun Control Inc.
, has repeatedly insinuated that a waiting period would have stopped Hinckley from shooting Reagan and her husband, Jim, “Had a waiting period been in effect seven years ago,” she told USA Today in 1988, “John Hinckley would not have had the opportunity to buy the gun he used” (49). But gun-control scholar David B. Kopel, director of research at the Independence Instituted, has shown there is very little support for this claim. “Hinckley had never been convicted of a felony, and he had no public record of mental illness” (49).
“When he bought the . 22-caliber revolver from a Dallas gun dealer, he presented a Texas driver’s license, and it appears that he was indeed a resident of the state, as required by federal law. Since he committed his crime months after he purchased the gun, a “cooling-off” period would not have helped” (49). Finally, had Hinckley been unable to purchase the .
22, he could have easily used one of the handguns he already owned. “These