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The Arguments For and Against Gun Control

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The Arguments For and Against Gun Control

Advocates of gun control maintain that by making firearms--especially handguns--more difficult to obtain, the number of shootings (both accidental and deliberate) will be reduced. They also support licensing all persons who own firearms and registering each gun as well. However, just because a gun is registered does not mean that it won't be used in an illegal act. For example, Buford O. Furrow, the man who opened fire at a Los Angeles Jewish community center in 1999, was armed with seven guns, including a Glock 9mm automatic handgun and a custom-made assault rifle--and every one of his guns was registered.

Similarly, Bryan Uyesugi, the man who shot and killed seven employees of the Xerox Corporation in Hawaii on November 2, 1999, had 17 firearms registered. Between June 18, 1990 and November 3, 1999, workplace shootings caused the deaths of 116 people.
Just registering a gun does not guarantee that its owner will not use it to commit a crime. Advocates of gun registrations say that by having to register their weapons with the federal government, gun owners will be more careful in making sure that their guns do not become stolen, or that they do not sell or trade their guns to a criminal. Opponents fear that one day the federal government may use gun registrations against gun owners and confiscate all registered weapons.
As mentioned previously, Americans vary widely in their attitudes toward gun control. According to various polls and studies, residents of New England and the mid-Atlantic states tend to be strongly in favor of gun control; they are far less likely to have ever owned a gun than are other Americans. While two out of five Southerners and one out of three Westerners have owned guns, fewer than one in seven residents of the Northeast have. Meanwhile, Southerners are more likely to have a gun at home and elsewhere (such as in the car), and they are more likely to shoot to kill. Westerners are most likely to hear gunshots. As a group, residents of the mountain states are the most certain that guns deter crime. Midwesterners are most concerned about crime. As might be expected given these regional variables, gun control laws vary from state to state. For example, Arizona residents are not required to register their weapons, and they may carry concealed weapons. (A concealed weapon is one that is hidden from view, such as under a shirt or in an ankle holster.)In Massachusetts, it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon, and gun owners must be licensed and their weapons registered, even if the gun is used solely for target shooting.
There is great debate as to whether allowing concealed weapons decreases or increases crime. Some supporters of concealed weapons reason that people are less likely to attempt to commit a crime when they face the possibility that the potential victim may be armed. Detractors say that carrying a weapon makes a person more likely to use it--particularly in anger, such as after being cut off in traffic. Currently, there is no nationwide law that requires gun owners to be licensed. The federal government has left that up to the individual states.

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