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Gun Control 1 Essay

5696 words - 23 pages

Gun control in the United States is based on a long history of discrimination which continues to this day. While blacks were the first targets of gun control measures, different racial and ethnic minorities have been targeted over time, and today the poor now face economic discrimination in many gun control laws. Gun control may be portrayed as a measure to reduce crime,1 but even in its earliest forms firearms regulation has been used as a means to control specific societal groups by keeping them from possessing weapons. The first selectively restrictive gun control legislation was enacted in the pre-Revolution South and primarily aimed at keeping free blacks from owning firearms and ...view middle of the document...

The Gun Control act of 1968 was another major shift in firearm restrictions. The supposed aim of this bill was a reduction in crime, but an underlying motive was to keep black militant groups from arming themselves with readily available and inexpensive weapons. The new objective became the removal of inexpensive firearms from the market. Banning cheap guns was justified as a safety precaution to protect consumers and a way to keep criminals from accessing cheap firearms. One of the major accomplishments of this kind of legislation, however, was keeping guns out of the hands of the poorer people in society. The poor had truly become the primary target in gun control. Gun bans were instituted in order to keep the poor from legally possessing firearms. On the surface this seems like a reasonable way to keep guns out of crime prone areas. In reality, it ensures that criminals will be the only people with firearms. People who obey the law, but need housing assistance, will have no means to protect themselves.
Some may argue that this prejudice is a necessary evil in the quest to reduce gun violence. Many criminologists conclude that the mere availability of firearms does not necessarily lead to gun violence. Like most scholarly subjects, however, there are disagreements in the field. The merits of some of these counter arguments will be discussed later in the paper. Although it may seem initially counter intuitive that gun control is not an effective means to reduce crime, it will be demonstrated that the demand for firearms by criminals will exist regardless of their legality. Felons account for the vast majority of homicides committed with guns and by definition are not legally allowed to even possess firearms.2 The actual effectiveness of any proposed gun control must be evaluated for its potential positive impact on crime rather than its emotional appeal.
Southern Gun Control
Gun control existed in North America even before the creation of the United States and was racially motivated in its earliest forms. The first law in the colony of Virginia that mentioned African-Americans was a 1664 act that barred free blacks from owning firearms.3 Another pre-Revolutionary example is “An Act for the Better Ordering of Negroes and Slaves” enacted by South Carolina in 1712 which included provisions addressing firearm ownership by blacks. Virginia also passed “An Act for Preventing Negroes Insurrections” around the same time.4 The title of Virginia’s act reveals the true motivation behind Southern legislation, which was to keep blacks from possessing arms. Slave owners were terrified by the possibility that armed blacks might stage an uprising. Laws differed from state to state, but in many cases it was the free blacks that were the primary targets of gun control. Apparently, it was free black men who were thought to be more likely to stir up discontent and lead rebellions. Black slaves were usually...

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