One of the top arguments for improved gun control is the relationship between the guns in the family and the likelihood that one family member will be injured by another family member during a family conflict or even by mistake. The weapons which were meant to be a way of self-defense often happen to be the reason behind tragedies. Whereas conflicts may take place in many families, only the quarrels in families which have access to firearms can end up in serious injuries or even homicides. Furthermore, families which have weapons in their homes have higher rates of suicides. Therefore, the easy access to guns in the families results in injuries, homicides and suicides in the family members and thus it explains why the right for owning guns should be restricted.
A gun in the home can significantly increase the likelihood of domestic violence homicides in the family. According to the findings of the recent studies, the risk of domestic homicides increased more than three times in the homes which had one or more guns (Crooker, 2003, p. 78). At the same time, a gun in the home can mean that the likelihood that one of the residents will commit a suicide increases at least three times, compared to homes which have no guns. The US Congress has found out that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, and at least in 7% of cases aggressors use firearms. In other words, having access to guns, most families are still unable to protect themselves from the outer threats, but have plenty of opportunities to harm their family members. Importantly, the stats say that a gun kept in the household is 43 times more likely to kill a family member or a friend than an intruder. The counterargument of most proponents of gun rights focus on the emotional condition of a person who commits a homicide instead of the means by which a homicide becomes possible. However, compared to other weapons, such as knives or to the use of bodily power, in the cases when guns are used, victims have low chances to survive. Even though the homicides in most cases take place under the influence of alcohol or a temporary rage, the access to a gunfire does make a difference, often leading to dramatic consequences for everyone involved in the situation.
Most homicide studies, however, claim that all murderers share a common set of characteristics, and easy access to guns doesn’t turn an ordinary person into a potential murderer. The scholars claim that not every person can commit a crime in a moment of rage even if a gun is available. Therefore, the axiom “more guns equal more death” ignores the preconditions which can make a person use a firearm for committing a homicide. The stats say that virtually all individuals who become involved in violent crimes have prior records of offenses (Lytton, 2008, p. 68). The vast majority of potential murderers are social deviants with life histories of violence, substance abuse, or even psychopathology. Importantly, for most homicides, the victim-offender relationship is based on prior illegal actions. At the same time, all family murders have a long history of preceding assaults. On the other hand, the problem with this argumentation that despite the more or less obvious preconditions for becoming a murder, the access to firearms makes the violent crimes possible. One of the suggestions made by the anti-gun laws proponents is proper testing of individuals before giving them a permission to carry guns. Therefore, the statistics from homicide studies might become an important contribution to the anti-gun legislation and procedures, so that the potential offenders should be deprived access to weapons.
International evidence and retrospective analysis have shown that stricter gun laws can reduce homicide rates. Thus, by comparing gun control laws and homicide rates in England and the United States, it becomes obvious that the drastic gun control laws in England are associated with significantly lower homicide rates (Kate & Mauser, 2007, p. 662). Making further conclusions from those stats, it can be stated that reducing gun ownership can mean reducing the homicide rates at the same time. However, the question of homicide rates can be more complicated than it might seem. Thus, during the 1990s, the homicide rates in the United States significantly declined, even though the gun laws remained unchanged. Experts claim that homicide rates might depend on a wide range of other important factors, including those of abortion legalization and the increase of inmate population, which also took place in 1990s in The United States. Meanwhile, apart from the comparison of England and the United States homicide rates discussed above, there are many nations with widespread gun ownership and lower murder rates than the states that severely restrict gun ownership. However, despite all the controversial data and stats of the homicide rates in their relation to the gun laws in different locations, it can be concluded that further research is necessary for establishing statistically significant relationships between the gun laws and homicide rates, which in their turn depend on a variety of factors.
The evidence from numerous governmental reports and statistics show that the gun in the home significantly increases the risks of homicide or suicide in the family. Even though access to gun doesn’t turn an ordinary citizen into a potential murderer, the use of a gun results in more severe consequences compared to those of other weapons or only bodily force. Therefore, stricter gun laws or at least improved gun permission and training procedures might improve the existing situation with homicide rates and violent crimes in the United States.
Crooker, C. (2003).Gun control and gun rights. Greenwood Press: Westport, CT.
Kates, D. & Mauser, G. (2007). Would banning firearms reduce murder and suicide? Harward Journal of Law and Public Policy, 30(2): 649 – 694.
Lytton, T. (2008). Suing the gun industry: A battle at the crossroads of gun control and mass torts. The University of Michigan Press: Michigan, MI.