While many people have decidedly formed opinions on gun control, the debate is complicated and has strong supporters on both sides. The pros and cons of gun control come to the forefront of debate in the wake of mass shootings that continue to pop up throughout the nation. Yet support for federal bans and reforms remain elusive. Even the devastating attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in December of 2012 failed to garner a consensus on the issue of background checks for gun purchases.
The debate is complicated and lacks easy answers, but here are some major pros and cons for gun control.
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Those who are for greater gun control see three basic pros to new laws:
Gun massacres most often use legal weapons: According to Mother Jones, of the more than 70 mass shootings
in the United States in the last 30 years, about three-quarters of the guns used were obtained legally by the killers. Pro-gun control advocates believe tougher gun laws could have potentially prevented these crimes.
Gun control laws protect children and families: Moms Demand Action, a grassroots group founded in response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, believes guns in America are creating a public health crisis that is attacking children, citing statistics that show nearly eight American children are shot and killed every day. The group says stronger laws are the answer to protecting children.
Background checks will help keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them: Americans for Responsible Solutions, supported by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her astronaut husband Mark Kelly, advocates for background checks to prevent criminals, domestic abusers, and seriously mentally ill people from buying guns. The group says laws requiring background checks have prevented the purchase of guns by nearly 2 million people who should not have had them.
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Those who believe new laws for gun control are not the answer argue the following cons:
1. “Self-defense is a fundamental right,” says the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action.
The group points out that the right to bear arms for self-defense is protected in all states as well as the U.S. Constitution. Handgun restriction laws have been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Violent crime goes down when more people legally carry guns: Right-to-carry laws have been on the rise in the U.S. since the early 1990s. At the same time, violent crime rates have decreased. The number of privately owned guns has risen by about 100 million. According to the NRA
, “Through 2010, the nation’s murder rate has decreased 52 percent to a 47-year low, and the total violent crime rate has decreased 48 percent to a 37-year low.”
Widely supported gun bans don’t deter crime: The Federal Assault Weapons ban, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, expired and has not had enough support to be renewed. The NRA argues that research shows “assault weapons,” or those certain semi-automatic guns designated in the ban, “have never been used in more than a small percentage of firearm-related violent crime.”
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