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Kayla Parker

Mrs. Erskine

Research Paper

15 December 2017

U.S. Gun Control

Imagine that you’ve won free tickets to go see a country music festival in Las Vegas.

The first few performers sing and you were having the time of your life, but suddenly you hear

people screaming and running. You hear piercing gunshots and people yelling for help. You’re

trying to find cover to avoid getting shot. This is what thousands of people were doing on

October 1st , 2017. With stricter gun control laws, this situation and several others could’ve been

prevented and many people would still be alive today. Gun control is a controversial issue in the

United States today and in order to implement change people need to look at the legality of

firearms, previous actions the U.S. took, possible actions the U.S. can do in the future, and

suicide by guns.

Although many believe that the second amendment gives everyone the right to bear arms,

owning a firearm actually comes with many regulations. The second amendment states, “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.” In 1791, the second amendment was ratified. The notes from

the convention did not mention anything about individuals right to own guns. When the second

amendment was first ratified, there were many people who could not buy or own guns, such as,

Native Americans, indentured servants, and slaves. Also, doctors, lawyers and school principals

could not buy guns either. This is important as it proves the existence of gun control as early as
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citizens could first legally purchase guns in America. In 1792, the U.S. passed a law that every

male that can serve in the military and owns a gun will have occasional gun inspections and they

need to register their guns. This law helped keep the second amendment organized and helped

the government keep track of who owned guns. Then in 1938, The Federal Firearms act made it

illegal to sell guns to felons and everyone who sells guns needs a gun license (“Background of

the Issue”). In more recent times, Barack Obama passed a bill in 2013 that helped prevent who

have severe mental illnesses from buying firearms. This was a huge step forward because it

prevented mentally unstable people from easily obtaining guns. In 2017, President Donald

Trump signed a bill that revoked Obama’s bill, which now makes it easier for people with mental

illnesses to buy guns (Vitali). Firearms are now extremely accessible, as well as other devices

that can be added onto firearms to make them more powerful. Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas

shooter, added a device onto his gun called a bump stock. A bump stock replaces a rifles original

stock and allows the shooter to fire rapidly. Paddock shot 90 shots in 10 seconds, while a fully

automatic weapon fires 98 shots in 7 seconds. Currently, the United States has not banned selling

and use of the bump stock (Buchanan) which makes it completely legal to make a gun almost

fully automatic . This is one of the many issues that surround gun control today as it is illegal to

turn your gun into a fully automatic weapon, the bump stock is a close second.

Throughout history, there have been many gun laws placed and removed. In 1865 when

President Abraham Lincoln gave the Emancipation Proclamation, “black codes” in the south

prevent blacks from owning guns. This wasn’t a law but many people abided by it. In 1934, the

possession, sale, distribution, and manufacture of fully automatic weapons, such as machine guns

were banned by congress. The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 forced firearm sellers to obtain a

license to distribute guns and citizens had to register their guns. The Gun Control Act of 1968
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was put in place to “keep firearms out of the hands of those not legally entitled to possess them

because of age, criminal background, or incompetence.” This prevents people who are mentally

unstable and felons from buying and selling guns. The Armed Career Criminals Act of 1986

increased the penalties for people possessing firearms who are not qualified to own them. The

Crime Control Act of 1990 prevents bans people from buying and selling guns in “school zones.”

In the past few years, there has been a huge push back on gun control. The U.S. was moving in

the right direction, especially after the National Instant Criminal Background Check

Improvement Act, which makes the seller check to see if the buyer has any history with mental

illnesses and has a criminal record. After President Trump’s bill it is easier for criminals and

mentally ill people to buy guns. However, many believe that it is necessary for the U.S.

government to enforce these past laws and pass new bills that will strengthen gun control in the

United States.

According to Barack Obama, the 45th president of the United States, there are three steps

to take in order to strengthen gun control. The first step is to actually enforce the National Instant

Criminal Background Check Improvement Act as it is supposed to be (Merino). Obama stated

that “the selling of firearms via the Internet or at gun shows but do not obtain a license and

subject buyers to background checks will be federally prosecuted. A person who “willfully

engages in the business of dealing in firearms without the required license is subject to criminal

prosecution and can be sentenced up to five years in prison and fined up to $250,000” (Farley).

The second step is to reward states that give the best data. If states are rewarded, they will be

more inclined to give correct and valid data. The third step is to make the system faster and more

effective. Obama said “we need to make the system faster by providing an instant, accurate, and

comprehensive system for background checks to sellers who want to do the right thing.” If there
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are more technologically advanced background checks, then the risk of a criminal or a mentally

ill person obtaining a gun is reduced.

As of 2017, guns are the number one cause of death by suicide. Between 1999-2013,

there were 270,237 suicides by guns (“Gun Control-ProCon.org”). People who are planning to

commit suicide are more likely to use guns as they are more deadly compared to other methods

of suicide, so a person who attempts suicide by gun is less likely to survive. Studies also suggest

that suicide attempts often occur after people decide to kill themselves, so people with deadly

ideas in their head when the impulse hits are more likely to use a gun than those who have

planned their death in advance (Sanger-katz).

The legality of guns, previous actions that the United States took, future actions that the

United States, and suicide by guns can take will help fix the issue of gun control in America

today. There are more regulations that come with buying and owning a firearm in contrast to

what many people believe. The U.S. government has passed many laws that have attempted to

improve gun control but recently it has started to move in the opposite direction. The three steps

that past president Barack Obama proposed will help decrease the likelihood of dangerous

people acquire deadly firearms. Knowing about suicide by guns can help americans be aware

about the issue at hand.

Works Cited

“Background of the Issue - Gun Control - ProCon.org.” Should More Gun Control Laws

Be Enacted in the United States?, 8 Feb. 2018, gun-

control.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=006436.
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Buchanan, Larry, et al. “What Is a Bump Stock and How Does It Work?” The New York

Times, The New York Times, 4 Oct. 2017,

www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/04/us/bump-stock-las-vegas-gun.html.

Farley, Robert. “Sorting Out Obama's Gun Proposal.” FactCheck.org, 13 Jan. 2016,

www.factcheck.org/2016/01/sorting-out-obamas-gun-proposal/.

“Gun Control - ProCon.org.” Should More Gun Control Laws Be Enacted in the United

States?, 5 Oct. 2017, 6:21pm, gun-control.procon.org/.

Merino, Noë l. “Restrictions on Gun Sales Need to Be Strengthened.” Gun Control,

Greenhaven Press, 2013.

Sanger-katz, Margot. “Gun Deaths Are Mostly Suicides.” The New York Times, The New

York Times, 8 Oct. 2015, www.nytimes.com/2015/10/09/upshot/gun-deaths-are-mostly-

suicides.html.

Vitali, Ali. “Trump Signs Bill Revoking Obama-Era Gun Checks for People With Mental

Illnesses.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 28 Feb. 2017,

www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trump-signs-bill-revoking-obama-era-gun-checks-

people-mental-n727221.
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