Should a country allow all its citizens to possess guns?

For lowering the impact of crimes involving the guns, police officers respond to the situation as soon as possible. Although successful sometimes, more often they cannot prevent gun-aided murders. If we are being shot at, our first reaction would be to fire back and defend ourselves using weapons apropos to the situation, usually guns. Waiting for the cops to arrive and take control of the crime spot would be usually unfeasible. In the United States, every citizen has a constitutional right of self-defence. It is thus important for states of the US to pass concealed carry laws of owning guns by the citizens.

In developed countries like the US, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Italy, Georgia and Serbia the citizens are allowed to possess guns. Statistics of US shows that its states having concealed gun laws have decreased the level of crimes. Criminals have revealed that they fear attacking citizens who possess guns for self-defence. Concerns for self-protection among all citizens have motivated states to pass laws that would allow students to carry guns to school. Such states argue that it will help in promoting campus safety and reducing violent crimes. If citizens carry guns there is a high chance that they will ensure their self-protection and thus reduce the cases of violent crimes. According to the author of “More guns, less crime” John Lott (2010), “When criminals commit a crime, they want to reduce risk to themselves.” It shows that criminals will dread in committing violent crimes when they know that citizens carry guns for self-defence. Studies conducted by Clinton Justice Department also revealed that in case of attacks, armed citizens kill more criminals compared to police. Citizens owning guns would rather kill criminals than handing them to police custody.

In 2007, a Korean student Cho Seung-Hui fired indiscriminately inside Virginia Tech University, USA killing 33 students and leaving 29 critically injured. When much lonely and obnoxious Cho reached college level, he wrote poems and plays-totally subjected with death and molestation- which made many students to abandon classes and even frightened English teacher. At a time when he told his roommate about suicidal feelings, he was taken to a mental health system and the judge had ordered him as "an imminent danger to self or others as a result of mental illness". Example of Cho indicates ultimate truism that guns don’t kill mass of people; the real culprit is the people’s cynical attitude. People planted in with evil seeds continue to find ways out to commit crimes. Zealot criminals and murderers can easily manage guns through illegal sources since absolute control of guns is impossible. Again, it’s not obligatory that they need guns if they want to kill someone. They can do it with stone, sickle, rods and almost everything as murders are easy for committed murderers. Thus, for a country having fine guns law, it’s erudite to allow the citizens to possess guns for self-defence.

However, that’s not applicable in developing countries like Nepal where there is not a proper functioning guns law. In 2005, a callous Royal Nepalese army opened a random bullet at an open shrine in Nagarkot that took the lives of 13 villagers and injured many. Also, several cases of murder by guns are going on even in the public places of Nepal. Similarly, some critics argue that states will increase crime if they allow citizens to carry guns. Gun conceal laws argue that a citizen owning a gun will respond well while defending himself in case of a combat. Nevertheless, this citizen may not have good training on how to use a gun or handle stressful situations. Hence, we cannot be sure that carrying guns ensures the civilians’ safety as they always tend to have less experience in using guns when compared to criminals. Police have also reported cases where citizens possessing guns kill each other because of personal conflicts (Carter, 2002). Moreover, if state allows all its citizens to carry guns, it would be difficult for police to track guns used to commit violence. Offenders may steal the gun of registered citizens and use it to commit violence. Violence will therefore increase, because it would be hard to track criminal offenders.

In short, it is found that the country allowing guns to citizens have low levels of crime. Statistics reveals that crime rates have reduced in those states of US that have implemented concealed carry laws. Therefore, there must be license for the citizens to possess guns in such countries, where sophisticated gun laws can be implemented to prevent the misuse of such arms. However, some critics claim that crime rates will increase if states allow citizens to possess guns, because they will make the guns readily available to felon, which is also not wrong in case of many countries where legal framework is not strong.

Author: Sandesh Prasain
The author is an Advanced Subsidiary (AS) Level student at British Model College, Thapathali, Kathmandu.

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