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Overview to Guns and Crime Rate Background

Overview to Guns and Crime Rate Background

The issue of whether or not gun control reduces crime rate is one that has plagued America throughout the 20th century, as guns have become more and more easily available. It is easy to attribute increasing crime rates to the prevalence of guns, but the question remains as to whether or not research bears this out. Furthermore, there may even be evidence that increased prevalence of guns among law-abiding citizens could discourage overall crime rates, thanks to citizens being able to defend themselves. As the common argument goes, “If guns are outlawed, then the only ones with guns will be outlaws.”
Originally, it was thought that if guns could be controlled, then the crime rate would decrease. This was the prevailing ideology behind the 1934 National Firearms Act, one of the first strong pieces of gun control legislation in America. The Act was designed to be an attempt to decrease the availability and “gangster weapons,” such as machine guns and hand grenades. These guns would be regulated strictly by the government in an attempt to decrease the crime rate which had been rising thanks to the gangsters who supposedly used the weapons being restricted. Since then, the National Firearms Act has become Title II of America’s gun control law, with Title I being the 1968 Gun Control Act.
This natural response, then, that increasing regulations on guns would decrease crime, should theoretically have been borne out, as these Acts have both been in existence for many years. However, they have met with a great deal of resistance, both within government and without. Many believe that such a restrictive set of policies concerning guns is very close to violating the 2nd Amendment, which guarantees the right to bear arms in order to be able to form a militia in necessary times. These proponents of the right to possess guns very much opposed the restrictive policies placed upon guns, especially as gun ownership became more and more easy thanks to increased design and manufacturing methods over the years. Indeed, this technological growth represented the secondary factor facing the restrictions placed on guns. The crime-rate easily continued to grow as did the population, as urban environments continued to become more and more crowded and poverty rose, and guns, which were becoming more easily produced than ever before, easily fell into such environments. Thus, it is possible that the failure of the gun-control Acts to definitively and undeniably reduce gun-related crime could be due to these other factors, and not due to the inefficacy of the general idea of the Acts themselves.
Now, guns of all kinds are accessible and purchasable. America has been labeled as a “gun-friendly” culture by other nations. Gun control activists argue with those who fully support the right to bear arms, with each group arguing that its own policies are the best ways to decrease the crime rate. There is no clear answer at the moment, not least because any study attempting to prove the issue in favor of either group will encounter tremendous difficulty in definitively claiming anything. But one way or another, America’s policy on guns will be integral to the future of its crime rate. Whether easing restrictions or increasing them will decrease the crime rate is unclear, but the future will be set by whichever road is chosen.

Illegal versus Legal Guns and Impact on Crime

Illegal versus Legal Guns and Impact on Crime

While evidence seems to be mounting that legal restrictions upon guns do not decrease overall crime rates, the fact remains that illegal firearms remain one of the biggest causes of crime in the country. In a world where law-abiding citizens do obey tough strictures on possessing firearms, then illegal guns would seem to be even more dangerous, as the only individuals to have guns in such a world would be those who did not obey the law, and officers of the law.
But if a great deal of effort and focus was placed on attempting to rid the world of illegal firearms, as opposed to placing an emphasis on restricting law-abiding citizens’ access to those guns, then it make the difference that so many policymakers and law enforcement officials have sought. Instead of attempting to prevent average citizens from obtaining guns, resources should be spent on cracking down upon the presence of illegal firearms in the country.
In the 1992-93 Kansas City experiment, a number of police officers in the inner city of Kansas City were put specifically and entirely on the duty of searching for and eliminating illegal firearms. This heightened crackdown took place over a period of 29 weeks, after which results were studied and compared with those of the first, unchanged 29 weeks.
After the 29 weeks of heightened activity against illegal firearms, the rates of gun crimes in the part of the city monitored decreased significantly, by almost 50%, whereas the “control” section of the city, in which a crackdown on illegal guns was not enforced, experienced no change in its crime rate.
So what do these statistics mean? Quite clearly, they mean that focusing law enforcement forces specifically upon removing illegal firearms is an effective strategy for decreasing rates of gun crimes, at least temporarily. The study did not show other types of crime decreasing, nor did it show that these results remained for an extended period of time, beyond this initial, uncharacteristic surge of police action.
But the study still provides enough evidence for further action to be taken. Illegal guns clearly have an impact on the crime rate, increasing it to undesirable levels, while restrictions and laws on guns seem only to prevent citizens from having the necessary means to defend themselves.
The solution would appear to be a combination of actions. Combating illegal guns via greater police action makes a great deal of sense, but so does repealing some of the more restrictive gun laws. This would free up resources to then aid in cracking down upon illegal guns, as well as increasing the prevalence of legal guns, which, as shown elsewhere, seems to have a negative effect upon crime rates, too. Thus, law enforcement systems could begin enforcing a policy concerning both legal and illegal firearms that would greatly decrease overall crime.
Such a policy has not been enacted, of course, because there are too many other factors to consider. Even the study performed in Kansas City could not conclusively rule out the presence and role of other factors, as it did take place in a city full of huge numbers of unaccountable variables.
Furthermore, such a policy might not be functional or practical if implemented throughout the country, as illegal firearms in different communities might not be worth the resources they would require to eliminate. Nonetheless, the results of these studies need to be examined in order to determine the future course of America’s relation with guns, both legal and illegal.