Compare and Constrast Essay on Crime

This essay has a total of 2183 words and 15 pages.

crime

The twentieth century was a time of many political assassinations and
violent shootings. A nation in shock mourned the deaths of President
John Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. At the end
of the twentieth century the nation endured rising rates of violent
crime, with young people frequently involved as victims and
perpetrators and often armed with guns. Between July 1992, and June 30,
1999, there were 358 school-associated violent deaths in the United
States, including 255 deaths of school- aged children, or about 51 such
violent deaths each year. (Schmitt Rot, 2003)

Time after time, public opinion polls have shown that crime and
violence are among the most important concerns troubling Americans, if
not the most important. But do these concerns translate to changes in
public support for federal gun control measures? I will focus on public
attitudes toward gun control over both the short and longer terms.


Some Americans are convinced that more federal regulation of firearms
is necessary to reduce the number of murders that are committed with
guns and to ensure a safer, more civilized society. Others who support
private ownership of guns insist that the right to bear arms is
guaranteed by long standing custom and by the Second Amendment to the
U.S. Constitution and
that no cyclical increase in crime, no mass killing, nor any political
murders should
lead the nation to violate the Constitution and the individual rights
it guarantees.
What?s more, they say, knives and other instruments are used to kill
people, and
there is no talk of regulating or banning them.

The National Rifle Association generally believes that if more
ordinary, law-abiding citizens carried weapons, criminals would not
have a safe place to commit mass murders and other violent crimes.
Both supporters and opponents of gun control agree that some means
should be
found to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Not surprisingly, the
two sides
approach the issue differently. The two different strategies for gun
control
involve ?Deterrence?; Discouraging by instilling fear and
?Interdiction?
(Legally forbidding the use of) Advocates of deterrence, most notably
the
Second Amendment Foundation and the NRA, recommend consistent
enforcement
of current laws and instituting tougher penalties to discourage
individuals from
using firearms in crimes. They maintain that interdiction will not have
any effect
on crime but will strip the constitutional rights and privileges of
law-abiding Americans
by taking away their right to own guns.




On the other hands, advocates of interdiction, led by such
organizations as Handgun Control, Inc, the Center to Prevent Handgun
Violence, and the Violence Policy Center, believe that controlling
citizens? Access to firearms will reduce crime. Therefore, they favor
restrictions on public gun ownership.

A ten year overview of the publics attitudes about the issues
government ought to be addressing is presented by the U.S. Department
of Justice in its annual publication called Sourcebook of Criminal
Justice Statistics 2002.In 1993 fewer that 0.5 percent of adults polled
mentioned gun control spontaneously. In each year thereafter between 1
and 2 percent of the respondents mentioned gun control as an important
issue. (Web)

Humphrey Taylor, Chairman of the Harris Poll, provides some insight
into the meaning of the gun control numbers in an online essay dated
May 17, 2000 .The essay accompanied the release of Harris Poll in which
the question was asked: Education (19 percent) and health care (16
percent) continue
to come top of the list of issues mentioned spontaneously when people
were asked
to say which two issues are most important to address. The most
interesting trend is
that gun control was mentioned by 9 percent, Between 1996 and the first
half of 1999,
only one or two percents mentioned it as an issue. It now ranks sixth,
behind education,
health care, crime, Social Security and taxes. (Web2)

Pollsters from several organizations have periodically surveyed the
public for its opinion on gun control measures. Two Harris Polls were
conducted in 2001 that attempt to describe the public?s attitude on gun
control laws. In general, would you say you favor stricter gun control,
or less strict
Gun control and the other asked specifically about handguns. Data from
this poll
show that Americans support legislation to regulate firearms, but there
are significant
differences of opinion by gender and race/ethnicity and lesser
differences by age
and other demographic characteristics. A majority of adults favor
stricter handgun
control laws. Women are significantly more likely than men to want
stricter gun laws.


More nonwhites that whites want stricter gun control laws in the United
States. (Smith 2001) According to the Harris Poll?s Humphrey Taylor,
the poll results are
similar to replies given in 1999 and 2000 but as not as strong as the
poll results from
1998, just after a number of school shooting occurred .Data by age are
mixed. Respondents aged 18 to 24 years and respondents aged 30 and over
favor stricter laws that the 25-to-29 age group. Democrats and




Independents are more likely than Republicans to favor stronger gun
laws. Lower-income, more highly educated individuals are somewhat more
supportive of strict laws than are higher income individuals with some
college or less. (Smith 2001)

In a 2000 survey sponsored by ABC/Washington Post the following
question was posed; while nearly half of all respondents reported
strongly favoring stricter gun control laws, women (63 percent) were
far more in favor
than were men (34 percent). Nearly a third of men reported being
strongly opposed,
compared with only 11 percent of women. The same ABC/Washington Post
poll
asked, Do you think stricter gun control laws would reduce the amount
of violent
crime in this country, or not? Again, men and women were sharply
divided. Nearly
two thirds of women said yes (63 percent), while a slightly smaller
percentage of men
(61 percent) said no. When respondents were asked whether they favored
or opposed
a ban on the nationwide sale of assault weapons, a majority (71
percent) said
they were in favor. Again, men and women differed. (Schmittroth, 2003)
In general however if we look at the long-term trend attitudes toward
the regulation of firearms were remarkably stable over the last 40
years of the twentieth century, despite assassinations, rising rates of
violent crime, and school shootings.

Factors that could account for the stability of these attitudes: First,
gun control is a long-debated issue familiar to most people.
Individual?s attitudes toward guns are shaped by prior experiences with
firearms, especially
by an individual?s exposure to guns while growing up and by the
prominence of
guns in the local community. These formative experiences may well fix
people
attitudes toward guns and gun control. The stability of public
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