Posted: March 26th, 2022
Gun Control vs. Crime Rate
Gun ownership in Virginia and the effects it has on crime rates
There is much controversy regarding gun laws and the effects that they have on crime levels, as many are inclined to believe that they reduce the number of gun-related offences while others believe that they actually amplify the chances of a person being shot. American culture has come to be a gun culture, considering that guns are present in a series of environments related to American traditionalism. The mass media constantly bombards the masses with gun stories and vivid images displaying guns as being an active part of society. The Constitution of Virginia is focused on protecting people’s rights to bear arms and it prevents the government from taking away this right.
The Second Amendment legalized gun ownership and it practically made it possible for people to be in possession of particular types of guns without being penalized by the authorities for this. One of the primary reasons for this law is the fact that militias need to have access to firearms in order to be able to function correctly in extreme circumstances. This matter is actually divisive, taking into account that many civilians have trouble understanding whether guns are meant to be carried for their personal protection or if they are meant to be carried with the purpose of putting them to use in case of a militia gathering.
People across the U.S. are obsessed with guns and this is perfectly reflected by the fact that shooting occur on a frequent basis: bad guys shoot innocent victims, shoot each other, and children are addicted to playing shooting computer games and with firing toy guns. Despite this, most people have little to no experience in using a gun or in seeing a gun being used. “Even the vast majority of police officers have never exchanged shots with a suspect” (Lott xiii). However, it is likely for most people to know someone who was the victim of a shooting or who was robbed by an armed individual. This means that guns are closer than one might be inclined to believe that that society needs to acknowledge that they represent a serious threat.
Statistics is an important concept when regarding gun-related crimes and most are probable to acknowledge that crime stories are often told in statistical terms. Even with this, these stories are also told by using real-life ideas and this makes it possible for the masses to gain a more complex understanding of the risks related to simply living in a society where gun laws are not very strict. “The number of firearms in the United States is estimated at between 200 and 230 million, and it continues to increase each year” (Wilson 3).
“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”
It is surely surprising that even though most people have never fired a gun and some have never even seen a gun from a first-person perspective and the masses are nonetheless inclined to have opinions regarding gun control strategies. These people are generally inclined to believe that the U.S. needs tougher laws meant to control gun use and ownership. However, they need to understand that “others see guns as objects that can be used recreationally in target shooting or hunting, to help provide a sense of accomplishment, and as a means of connecting with their heritage” (Wilson 3). Some need guns in order to protect themselves and their property while others simply like to collect weapons as a hobby.
Many believe that gun control is not a real criminal justice issue and that there are topics that need to be provided with a more significant amount of attention. These people generally believe that gun ownership is not necessarily an important problem and that crime rates have nothing to do with the number of individuals owning firearms. While it is intriguing to consider this point-of-view, it is difficult and almost impossible to understand the exact relationship between gun ownership and firearm-related crimes.
The state of Virginia proposed an amendment by insisting that “the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated Militia composed of the body of the people trained to arms is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free State. That standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the Community will admit; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to and governed by the Civil power” (Documents on the First Congress Debate on Arms and Militia).
Civil power is one of the most important concepts in the U.S. And it is thus essential for people to be provided with assistance in having the authority and the strength to fight for their rights. Gun-related laws in the state of Virginia are strict and it is essential for a person to be at least 21 and to prove that he or she is capable to use a firearm by enrolling and taking particular courses. However, individuals only have to be 18 in order to be able to buy a firearm from a private seller. The state does not allow individuals who have been barred from owning guns with the opportunity to get a permit. Gun ownership is not allowed in the cases of “a convicted felon, anyone who has been convicted of drunkenness or a violent misdemeanor within the past three years, anyone who was involuntarily committed within the past five years, anyone who is a habitual drunkard or who is addicted to drugs, and anyone who has been dishonorably discharged from the U.S. military” (Garret).
Buying a gun can be a very difficult process in the state of Virginia, as any firearm dealer needs to perform a background check on a potential buyer before the transaction is actually finished. In order to do so, the firearm dealer needs to cooperate with the Department of State Police, which is then required to perform extensive search regarding the potential buyer’s background. This enables the authorities to differentiate between individuals who pose a threat for the well-being of the state and individuals who are 100% unlikely to use a gun wrongly.
Individuals are typically limited to buying only one gun in a 30-day period, as it is important for the authorities to control the number of guns accessible to the general public. Also, persons selling firearms need to be thoroughly checked and approved by the authorities in order to be able to work for a federally licensed firearm dealer.
It is, however, intriguing that the state of Virginia fails to prevent illegal use of firearms in a series of situations:
It does not require that the transfer of a firearm between individuals who have no license to carry one should involve background checks;
It does not oblige firearm dealers to get a state license;
It does not make it mandatory for individuals owning guns to report situations when their guns were lost or stolen;
It does not control the transfer or ownership of large rifles;
Basically any individual who meets the basic requirements for owning a firearm needs to be provided with the right to do so, regardless of the person’s intentions of using the gun. In addition to this, Virginia is also known as a state that is among the top three interstate providers of crime guns. This means that numerous firearms leaving Virginia end up in the hands of criminals in spite of the fact that there are a multitude of laws that should presumably prevent this from happening.
Gun shows in this country are a good location for criminals to procure their weapons, as not all guns sold during such events require that the dealers perform a background check. This practically means that many criminals can virtually visit gun shows and buy guns without being questioned with regard to their background or their intentions with the firearm. The general public needs to accept that conditions in Virginia are critical and that some environments favor criminals by providing them with all the tools they need with the purpose of The national average for the percentage of weapons retrieved in a crime during a two-year period from the original sale of the respective guns is 22.6%. Virginia has a shorter time-to-crime level and this means that gun trafficking in very common across the state. Criminals virtually take advantage of the fact that federal gun laws are vulnerable and that they can be exploited in a series of ways.
The fact that the authorities do not verify weapon sales taking place between private individuals is especially worrying and it practically provides criminals with the opportunity to get their guns safely and legally. It would thus be pointless for a criminal to try and get his or her hands on a firearm by following the normal technique, considering that he or she can simply buy a gun from anyone willing to sell it as long as the seller is not a firearm dealer.
In order to be able to get a better understanding of firearms and the degree to which they are available to the masses one needs to focus on types of firearms and the attitudes that the authorities put across them. Machine guns, for example, are considered to be extreme firearms and it is required that every machine gun in Virginia to be registered within twenty-four hours from the moment when it is bought. “A Certificate of Registration, valid as long as the registrant remains the same, shall be issued upon receipt of a completed Machine Gun Registration Application” (Machine Gun Registration). While machine guns are registered and this makes it very difficult for criminals to get their hands on a machine gun, other types of firearms are rarely registered in the state (Firearms / Concealed Handguns).
One of the most surprising things about guns and their existence in Virginia is the fact that individuals are allowed to carry weapons in the open without receiving any form of penalization for doing so. There have been a series of situations where citizens who were not familiar with the law called the police as a result of observing people holding guns in the open. Open carry is the law of the land in Virginia and, as citizens of the Commonwealth, individuals in the state have the right to carry firearms in the open in locations where they are allowed to do so.
Virginia compared to Washington D.C.
Gun ownership in Virginia is not necessarily an important issue, as crime rates are much lower in this state when compared to neighboring states where gun ownership is less frequent. Many individuals in D.C. actually attempted to claim that weak control laws in Virginia are one of the principal reasons for which crime levels are higher in D.C., “but the reality is that Virginia with all of its guns and few laws does not have the crime problem that plagues Washington, D.C. And its gun bans” (Blanks).
Cases of criminals taking advantage of gun laws
The Virginia Tech Massacre is probably one of the bloodiest events that the state came to be known for. The shootings occurred in the morning of April 16, 2007, and saw 33 people being killed while 17 were wounded. Seung-hui Cho was twenty years old at the time when the shootings took place and is considered responsible for the deadliest mass killing in the history of the United States. Consequent to shooting 173 rounds, Cho shot himself in the head just as the police entered the building.
A Glock 19 (9mm) handgun and a Walther P22 (.22) handgun, both semiautomatic weapons, were used in the shootings. “Cho purchased the Walther first by ordering online and picking up the pistol on February 9, 2007, at J-N-D Pawnbrokers in Blacksburg. On March 13, he purchased the Glock 19 at Roanoke Firearms in Roanoke, about 30 miles from Virginia Tech campus” (Lee Carter). It is surprising to consider that both firearm dealers performed a background check before providing Cho with the weapons and determined that it was legal for him to purchase a gun. This proves that the background check system is faulty, taking into account that the student was deemed a danger to himself in a court of law. It appears that background checks fail to take into consideration particular concepts and that mentally ill individuals might be provided with the right to carry a firearm as long as they meet a basic set of requirements.
One can practically consider that Cho managed to work around laws that would have prevented him from acquiring the guns and managed to come in possession of two handguns in spite of the fact that his background should have prevented dealers from working with him. The purchases were separated by a 30-day period and thus did not act in disagreement with the state’s “one handgun per month” legislation. Cho was very clever in planning the shootings and he initially chose to kill Emily Hilscher, a girl who he knew had a boyfriend who was fond of guns. Cho realized that police officers would first have the tendency to search for her boyfriend instead of considering another suspect. This also played an important role in making it impossible for the authorities to trigger an alarm throughout the Virginia Tech campus.
The authorities in Virginia accepted the gun ownership control system’s faults and focused on introducing new regulations that would make it possible for firearm dealers to detect potential buyers who should not be allowed to own a weapon. Moreover, numerous individuals expressed significant interest in having the government prohibit the sale of weapons at gun shows, even with the fact that Cho did not purchase the firearms from such an exhibition.
Although one of the reasons for which the Virginia Tech shootings were made possible is the fact that the gun ownership system was faulty at the time when Cho bought the pistols, it would be irresponsible for someone to claim that the nonrestrictive gun laws in the state are one of the motives for which Cho was enabled to act. The authorities are actually responsible for providing Cho with the opportunity to buy the two pistols, considering that they failed to realize that it was important for a background check to be more complex and to involve a series of other factors such as a person’s experience in dealing with psychiatric facilities.
Gun control nationwide in regard to Virginia The contemporary political class seems reluctant to acknowledge that gun control needs to be addressed more thoroughly. Gun violence exists and it is essential for the authorities to realize that the matter is more serious than some might be inclined to think. Even with this, it is difficult and almost impossible for someone to claim that gun ownership in Virginia needs to be addressed and that lesser people should be provided with the opportunity to own guns. The masses need to understand that gun ownership is not a right that gun owners take lightly, as they perfectly comprehend the fact that the state trusts them with a great responsibility and that they have to do everything in their power in order to make sure that this responsibility is properly acknowledged.
The state of Virginia has experienced a steady drop in crime rates during the last seven years. This is curious when considering that gun ownership control laws did not change significantly and that criminals have wide access to firearms in the territory. This makes it possible for individuals to accept that gun laws are not necessarily weak and that they do not favor criminals. Moreover, experts expect this year’s report to show that crime rates have fallen even more.
The following table actually demonstrates that conditions are not as critical as someone might be inclined to believe when considering gun control laws in Virginia and the effects that they have on crime rates.
Forcible Aggravated Larceny Vehicle
(Virginia Crime Rates 1960 — 2011)
Blank, Jeremy D., “Guns Vs. Crime,” Retrieved November 22, 2012, from the American Partisan Website: http://www.american-partisan.com/cols/blanks/081400.htm
Lee Carter, Greg, “Guns in American Society,” (ABC-CLIO, 04.05.2012)
Lott, John R., “More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun-Control Laws,” (University of Chicago Press, 15.06.2000)
Wilson, Harry L., “Guns, Gun Control, And Elections: The Politics And Policy of Firearms,” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007 )
“Documents on the First Congress Debate on Arms and Militia,” Retrieved November 22, 2012, from the Constitution Website: http://constitution.org/mil/militia_debate_1789.htm
“Firearms / Concealed Handguns,” Retrieved November 22, 2012, from the Virginia State Police Website: http://www.vsp.state.va.us/Firearms.shtm
“Machine Gun Registration,” Retrieved November 22, 2012, from the Virginia State Police Website: http://www.vsp.state.va.us/Firearms_MachineGun.shtm
“Top Sources of Crime Guns in America,” Retrieved November 22, 2012, from the Trace the Guns Website: http://www.tracetheguns.org/#/states/VA/exports/
“Virginia Crime Rates 1960 — 2011,” Retrieved November 22, 2012, from the Disaster Center Website: http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/vacrime.htm
“Virginia State Law Summary,” Retreived November 22, 2012, from the Law Center to prevent Gun Violence website: http://smartgunlaws.org/virginia-state-law-summary/
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