Gun ownership should be tightly controlled essay

The literature of gun advocates supports my contention that guns are inherently dangerous. They advocate the private ownership of guns to prevent crime and to arm the militia. Guns can serve these purposes only because they are effective means of inflicting and threatening harm. Even guns normally not used to harm humans have purposes that ride piggy-back on this fundamental purpose. Shotguns are used to kill animals, and target guns are designed to be especially accurate. Taken together, this evidence supports the common view that guns are inherently dangerous. That is why we have special reasons to regulate them.

Gun Ownership Should Be Tightly Controlled Essay – …

Second, the nature of secondary gun markets helps explain how the widespread availability of guns increases crime in general, and homicides in specific. Various opponents of gun control claim that "If we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns." Armchair arguments suggest why this is a silly claim. Where, one might ask, do criminals get their guns? They often steal them or buy them from those who purchased them legally. Even guns obtained from other criminals are usually traceable to people who purchased them legally. Empirical evidence supports this armchair supposition. Most criminals report having stolen their guns, received them from a friend or family member, or purchased them from someone who had stolen it. At least half a million guns are stolen each year (Cook, P. J. et al. 1995: 81), and these swell the numbers of guns available illegally.

Gun Ownership Should Be Tightly Controlled Essay

gun ownership should be tightly controlled essay

Put differently, gun control does not concern what private individuals should do, but what governments should allow private individuals to do. We must determine the risk of permitting the private ownership of guns, constrained by these complicating considerations. To illustrate how this might work, consider the following example. We have evidence that a number of wrecks are caused by drivers using cell phones. Roger wants to use his cell phone while commuting to work. He decides the inconvenience of not using the cell phone is worse than the small probability of personal harm. He might overestimate the inconvenience of not being able to use his cell phone or insufficiently appreciate the seriousness of the risk. However, since he is an adult, we might think we should not interfere with his decision to use a cell phone while driving. That is what autonomy requires. Yet Roger is not the only person at risk. Passengers in his or other cars may also be harmed. The seriousness of harm to them must also be considered in deciding to permit or restrict drivers' use of cell phones.


We have shown that owning guns is not a fundamental interest and that guns are inherently dangerous. That is why we cannot categorically dismiss all forms of gun control. However, this is a weak conclusion. For although guns are inherently dangerous, they may not be so dangerous as to justify more than a system of minimal registration. What seems clear is that their inherent dangerousness precludes the idea that guns cannot be subject to governmental control. Some form of gun control cannot be categorically dismissed. Before determining the actual danger that guns present, we should first determine how risky an action must be before we can justifiably restrict it.


Although inherently dangerous, guns are far less dangerous than weapons of mass destruction, and they do have seemingly legitimate uses. That is why we must show just how risky they are before we can legitimately abolish or seriously restrict them. We must also determine if they have sufficient benefits so that we should permit them, even if risky.

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This is our rational for all laws proscribing risky actions. Every drunk driver does not cause an accident. Most do not. Yet we do not flinch at laws forbidding drunk driving. For it is not merely that drunk divers are statistically more likely to cause harm, they are more likely to cause harm they are inebriated. We can arguably use the same rationale to justify restricting access to guns. We restrict access not only because guns are inherently dangerous, but because - if gun control advocates are right - permitting private ownership of guns is very risky.