Gun Ownership and Violent Crime


Institution Affiliation


The paper discusses the relationship betweengun-ownership and the rates of crime. The introductions sectionprovides background information by identifying the current trends andthe contributing factors. On the other hand, the literature reviewsection of the paper discusses the legislative frameworks ofoperations. In this case, it integrates both the federal and statelaws that have been passed in the past to deal with the ownership offirearms within the United States. The methodology states aninclusion criteria and the sources of information to be used in thepaper.


Introduction 4

Background Information 4

Problem Statement 5

Research Question 5

Purpose of the Study 6

Significance of the Study 6

Literature Review 7

Eligible Persons 9

Federal Gun Laws 10

State Gun Laws 12

Methodology 14

Inclusion Criteria 14

Conclusions 15

References 17

IntroductionBackground Information

Accordingto firearm production records in the United States, there wereapproximately 371 million firearms owned by private citizens as wellas law enforcement agencies in the country. This relativelytranslated to one gun per citizen (U.S had a population of 319million people). Moreover, 52% of the non-military gun industryrevenue came from the private citizens. The highest numbers of gunswere the handguns which comprised of 52% of the total firearms soldin the United States. Research has also proven males account for thelargest group of individuals owning (45%). Moreover, 33% of whitesalso own firearms with 38% of the firearm holders belonging to theRepublican Party.

Overthe last few years, there has been a substantial increase in thenumber of gun-related violent crimes. This has resulted in severaldeaths (Siegel, 2012). The elevation in thenumber of such instances has reignited the debate on gun ownership inthe United States and other countries across the globe. In some ofthe nations affected, the regulatory authorities have developedstrategies aimed at reducing the number of guns owned by civilians.However, it is in the United States that the issue has led to adebate regarding the safety of individuals (Siegel, 2012).Whereas some argue, that it is the responsibility of the federalgovernment and the local security agents to ensure the safety ofpeople, others believe that security begins with personal initiative.In the of the latter argument, the proponents have supportedownership of guns while the former has campaigned for disarmamentwith the hope that the reduced number of guns will ultimately lead toa fall in the rate of violent crimes (Siegel, 2012).

Thereare various aspects of gun control issues that have been discussed asa means of ensuring the safety of all people living in the UnitedStates. However, some of the factors are measured through surveys(Siegel, 2012). The problem with some formsof studies is that they depend on the level of honesty of theresponse. The validity and reliability may, therefore, be compromiseddue to bias and false information. Firearms are classified into threebroad categories, and they include shotguns, rifles, and handguns(Siegel, 2012). The first two are alsoknown as the long guns. The difference between a semi-automaticfirearm and a machine gun is the number of bullets fired by one pullof a trigger. The former releases a single shot at a time andautomatically reloads before ejecting the next bullet when thetrigger is pulled (Lott, 2010). On theother hand, an automatic weapon/ machine gun may fire severalmultiple rounds with a single pull of a trigger (Siegel,2012).

Problem Statement

Themain issue that arises in this discussion relates to the ownership ofguns and its impact on the security of an individual. There havedifferent arguments about guns and the number of violent crimes. Itis, therefore, important to establish the facts behind ownership ofguns and whether they increase or reduce the rate of offense in thelong run.

Research Question

The study will be based on one primary researchquestion:

  • Does gun ownership have an effect on violent crime?

Purpose of the Study

Thisstudy is aimed at providing facts to the general public with regardsto the ownership of firearms and their impacts on the rate of crimein the society. The argument is born out of the increasing cases ofdeaths attributed to ownership of guns by the public. The gun controldebate has been filled with myths and fear factors with individualoffering personal bias opinion on the entire process. It is for thisreason that thus study will identify facts and research work that todetermine the impact of gun ownership on the rates of crime.

Toaccomplish this, the survey will include reliable sources ofinformation and conduct a comparison analysis between the changes inthe number of non-military guns held by individuals and the rates ofcrimes within a given period. Additionally, the number of deaths thatcan be attributed to the ownership of guns will also be identifiedand corrective measures identified to deal with the issues of publicsafety.

Significance of the Study

Itis essential to determine the impact of gun ownership on the numberof violent crimes witnessed in any given location. Due to thesensitive nature of the gun ownership debate, decisions made by therelevant authorities should be based on facts rather than hearsay andemotions. The increase in the number of deaths, especially theshooting of Black Americans in the United States, has led to moreactivism and the demand for stringent laws on gun ownership. Thenumber of shootings in malls has also increased considerably. Despitean increase in the number of guns owned by private citizens, crimehas relatively reduced as individuals feel they are more securethrough the ownership of the firearms rather than depending on thegovernment agencies to provide any form of protection to them.


Thisis the second part of the paper, and it seeks to summarize articlesand sources of information on the relationship between ownership ofguns and the rate of violent crime. The information included in thissection should be reliable and free of bias. Additionally, it shouldprovide an extensive evaluation of the changes that have beenwitnessed in the recent past and the reasons for such variations.

Gerbis(2015) states that there has been increasing demand for stringent guncontrol laws due to the belief that availability of more gunsculminates in more violence in the society. On the other hand, Perry(2015) acknowledges that there has been a substantial decline in thenumber of homicides despite a rise in the number of private citizenswith guns (Perry, 2015). However, people are getting more concernedwith the increasing number of citizens seeking to own guns. Accordingto the 2012 Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports, the numberof guns in the United States has outnumbered people. Data from thereport also indicate also compare the increase in the number ofprivately owned firearms from 185 million to 357 million in 1993 and2013 respectively (Perry, 2015). The table below shows the percentagechanges in the number of privately-owned firearms against gunhomicide rate in the United States. It covers between 1993 and 2013.

Additionally, apoll conducted in October 2014 concluded that approximately 63% ofthe United States’ population believed that gun ownership enhancedthe security of their household (Defilippis &ampHughes, 2015). The results were in line with the argumentsproposed by the National Rifle Association that has developed aslogan that states that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gunis a good guy with a gun.” This statement is born out of the beliefthat a society with a high number of guns experiences less crime(Defilippis &amp Hughes, 2015).

Inthe analysis of the status of gun ownership in the United States, itis essential to analyze the legal frameworks of operations. This partof the paper will include an analysis of the second amendment,eligible persons, major federal gun laws as well as state by statelegislations.

Inthe United States, the Second Amendment of the Constitutionhighlights the keep and bear arms (National Rifle Association &ampInstitute for Legislative Action, 2014). In the past, there had beenintense debate regarding the scope of the amendment. However, twoleading cases by the Supreme Court that ruled on the matter. Districtof Columbia v. Heller was a decision made in 2008. According to theruling, a ban on handguns in the Federal District of Columbia wasoverturned. During the case, it had been established that mostindividuals viewed the second amendment as one of the major ways ofassuring the protection of the law abiding citizens. According toJudge Antonin Scalia, the Second Amendment to the United StatesConstitution is not a limited right.

Anotherruling to the same effect was witnessed in 2010 during the McDonaldv. City of Chicago decision. The judges incorporated the Bill ofHuman Rights in their decision and declared that indeed it wasnecessary for individuals to be granted permission to won and beararms since it was a way of ensuring their security (Krouse &ampLibrary of Congress, 2012). One significant rulingthat has not been made by the Supreme Court relates to the rights ofindividuals to carry guns for self-defense purposes.

Eligible Persons

Despitethe Second Amendment of the United States’ constitution declaringthe right to keep and bear a firearm and subsequent Supreme Courtrulings affirming the same, not all individuals qualify to own a gun(National Rifle Association &amp Institute for Legislative Action,2014). The United States government through the relevant regulatoryauthority has developed a set of conditions that one must meet beforethey are eligible to own a firearm in the United States. For one, anindividual must be a citizen of the United States of America (Krouse&amp Library of Congress, 2012). Moreover, theymust be permanent resident aliens and non-immigrants aliens that havebeen admitted to the United States. The admission might be in theform of lawful hunting and related sports activities. Fornon-immigrant aliens, various exceptions are made. First, they mustbe in possession of a valid hunting license as authorized by theUnited States. Secondly, exceptions are given to officialrepresentatives of foreign administrations that are accredited by theUnited States (Michel, 2012). In such circumstances, the governmentagent may also be en route from another nation in which theindividual is authorized. The third condition that may warrant anexception is when the foreign visitor has been designated by theUnited States Department of State (Krouse &amp Library ofCongress, 2012). Law enforcement officers fromfriendly nations entering the United States for on official dutiesare also allowed to carry their firearms in the United States.

Federal Gun Laws

Variousfederal gun laws have been passed for the purpose of determiningindividuals that are allowed to own and bear firearms. However, therules are contained in acts that cover a broad range of topics on thesame. The National Firearms Act of 1934 includes information on thetaxes for manufacturers and the registration of Title II weapons(Krouse &amp Library of Congress, 2012).The firearms that fall under that category include the followingsilencers, machine guns, heavy weapons, disguised or improvisedfirearms, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, and explosive ordnance(Michel, 2012). There are various licensing requirements contained inthe Federal Firearms Act of 1938. The rules relate to the activitiesof manufacturers and importers. According to this federal law,convicted felons are not granted the Federal Firearm License (FFL).The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act was passed in 1968,and it outlawed trading in handguns between states as well increasingthe minimum age of handgun owners (Michel, 2012).

Inaddition to stopping the interstate transfer of handguns, legislationwas passed to control the interstate commerce (Michel, 2012). The GunControl Act of 1968 (GCA) on the other hand, set the rules to befollowed by states with regards to the use and transfer of firearms.In this case, only licensed manufacturers, dealers, and importerswere allowed to engage in the interstate transfer of firearms (Krouse&amp Library of Congress, 2012). The FirearmOwners Protection Act of 1986 was an upgrade on the Gun Control Actthat had been passed in 1968. According to the legislation, it wasillegal to sell automatic firearms to civilians without the approvalof the ATF. The Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 related to themanufacturing contents of the guns. It made it a crime to engage inthe manufacture, delivery, and transfer of weapons that had metalcontent less than 3.7 oz (Michel, 2012). The Gun-Free School Zone Actof 1990 was necessitated by a substantial increase in the number ofgun-related crimes in most institutions across the United States. Itprohibited unauthorized individuals from being in possession offirearms within school zones (Krouse &amp Library ofCongress, 2012).

Backgroundchecks are considered to be essential in determining the eligibilityof a firearm holder (Michel, 2012). This process ensures that peoplewith criminal pasts as well as individuals that are mentally unstableare not allowed to own guns. Moreover, people that are considered tohave made questionable judgments are also prohibited from owning guns(Michel, 2012). The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993demands for background checks to be conducted on the purchasers offirearms. Two primary decision-making variables according to thelegislation are the venue and the seller. The seller is required bylaw to do extensive background checks on the clients to determinewhether they are a threat to others (Krouse &amp Library ofCongress, 2012).

FederalAssault Weapons Ban was established in 1994 and was aimed at banningthe use of semiautomatic weapons in addition to the large capacityammunition feeding devices. However, the law lasted for 20 years andexpired in 2004 (Krouse &amp Library of Congress, 2012).In 2005, Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (2005) protectedmanufacturers and licensed dealers from being held accountable shouldtheir crimes be used to commit crime due to negligence. It,therefore, reduces the level of liability on the manufacturers in thelong run (Michel, 2012). The legislations have all been aimed atensuring that the safety of the citizens of the United States isgiven utmost importance over the long term (National RifleAssociation &amp Institute for Legislative Action, 2014).

State Gun Laws

Despitethe existence of the federal gun laws, various states in the UnitedStates have developed in their specific rules regarding the use offirearms (National Rifle Association &amp Institute for LegislativeAction, 2014). According to the Alabama State constitutionalprovisions, each has a right to bear arms as a means of defendingthemselves (National Rifle Association &amp Institute forLegislative Action, 2014). In instances where any forms ofrestrictions are to be initiated, extensive scrutiny is encouraged(National Rifle Association &amp Institute for Legislative Action,2014). Additionally, the state’s laws have indicated that noindividual should be compelled by the international treaties toviolate their rights to bear arms in self-defense (National RifleAssociation &amp Institute for Legislative Action, 2014). Thisshould be the case if the international treaty goes the Constitutionof the United States (National Rifle Association &amp Institute forLegislative Action, 2014).

TheAlaska gun laws provide for the creation of a registered militia incase the security of individuals is compromised (National RifleAssociation &amp Institute for Legislative Action, 2014). Suchassociations are allowed to own guns to be used in self-defense(National Rifle Association &amp Institute for Legislative Action,2014). On the other hand, Arizona State’s gun laws indicate thatthe right of individuals to own guns shall not be impaired (NationalRifle Association &amp Institute for Legislative Action, 2014).However, this does not involve the employment of armed men forsecurity purposes (National Rifle Association &amp Institute forLegislative Action, 2014). The gun laws in Connecticut give the rightto all citizens to keep and bear arms to facilitate the protection ofboth the state and its inhabitants (National Rifle Association &ampInstitute for Legislative Action, 2014).

TheState of Florida provides an extensive set of laws regarding the useof guns. In this case, the rights of individuals to hold weapons willnot be infringed beyond the regulations provided by law (NationalRifle Association &amp Institute for Legislative Action, 2014).Additionally, three days are set aside for the date of purchasing ahandgun and its delivery. These days exclude legal holidays andweekends (National Rifle Association &amp Institute for LegislativeAction, 2014). However, those with permits for concealed weapons arenot to be subjected to such requirements (National Rifle Association&amp Institute for Legislative Action, 2014).

Accordingto Kansas’ gun laws, the primary aim of bearing an arm is forself-defense and safety. However, standing armies during times oftranquility are considered to be dangerous (National RifleAssociation &amp Institute for Legislative Action, 2014). Accordingto Article 2, Section 4 of the New York Civil Rights Law, the rightsof individuals to bear firearms cannot be infringed as well as it isa well-regulated militia with the aim of ensuring the security of thestate (National Rifle Association &amp Institute for LegislativeAction, 2014). Article 1, section 23 of the Texas Gun Laws declaresthat all citizens have a right to bear arms as long as they are forlegal defense (National Rifle Association &amp Institute forLegislative Action, 2014). However, the legislature has the power toregulate the wearing of firearms (National Rifle Association &ampInstitute for Legislative Action, 2014).


Tocomplete the research efficiently, it will be necessary to identifyreliable sources with an extensive background on the topic ofdiscussion. The methodology process will not only determine thesources of information in this case but other factors such as theinclusion criteria and the analysis of data to obtain the mostdesirable outcomes. The validity of the sources of information is anessential component of the research process since it eliminates biasand not well-researched information. The study will only usesecondary sources of information.

Inclusion Criteria

Variousforms of sources will be utilized in this research paper. They willrange from federal government websites to State sources.Additionally, articles from experts with an in-depth knowledge of thegun laws and second amendment history will also be integrated intothe study. Journals from reputable institutions will also be used inthe research paper since they provide alternative arguments to thosethat have been provided by other sources. The paper will also usesources that are five years old. Thus is to ensure that redundantinformation is not included in the study. The greatest contributorsto this research survey will be the government. For instance, theNational Rifle Association (NRA) provides extensive information onthe State Gun Laws and the steps that have been taken by each of theregional regulatory authorities to enhance the safety of theresidents. Personal opinions on the issue of gun violence will not beincluded in the study since they might not be based on facts. Inaddition to this, sources that are considered to be more than fiveyears are also not included in the study. However, personal opinionsfrom experts in the security field are to be included if they arebacked by reputable publishers and articles.


Theresults have been based on secondary information from varioussources. According to research conducted in 2011, 47% of Americanhomes were established to won at least one gun. Of the surveyedhouseholds, 62% reported that indeed they had more than one gun. TheFederal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) said that 12,664 murders werecommitted in the United States in 2011. Out of these, 67% involvedfirearms. Handguns were the most used in this case (49%). Theanalysis has also indicated that the United States is the most armednation with the citizens to gun ratio being significantly higher thanother countries across the globe.

The gun-ownership surveys conducted by variousentities showed provided the basis of results in the paper. Theyincluded Uniform Crime Report (UCR), the Federal Bureau ofInvestigation (FBI), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Thefollowing states were found to have the lowest rates of gunownership: Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey,Massachusetts, California, Florida, Illinois, Hawaii, and Maryland.Interestingly, though, these areas had the least instances offirearm-related crime thereby going against the highly propagated“More Guns, Less Crime” assumption.

Onthe other hand, the surveys identified the states with the highestgun-ownership cases. These included North Dakota, Idaho, SouthDakota, Arkansas, Wyoming, Arizona, Montana, West Virginia,Mississippi, and Alabama. These areas had massively elevated rates ofcrime. For instance, the rates of firearm assault were 6.8 timeshigher, with firearms homicides records indicating a 2.8 rise. Thelevels of homicides were also twice the number of such incidences inthe less gun ownership states. From the outcomes, it is evident thatownership of firearms does not deter strangers from engaging incriminal activities. As a result, an increase in the number of gunsincreases the likelihood of violent death.


Defilippis, E. &amp Hughes, D. (2015). NewStudy Is Latest to Find That Higher Rates of Gun Ownership Lead toHigher Rates of Violent Crime. The Trace. Retrieved from

Gerbis, N. (2015). Do countries with stricter gun laws really haveless crime or fewer homicides? Culture. Retrieved from

Perry, M. (2015). Gun-Homicide Rate Decreased as Gun OwnershipIncreased. Retrieved from

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Siegel, L. J. (2012).&nbspCriminology. Belmont, Calif:Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

National Rifle Association &amp Institute for Legislative Action(2014). State Gun Laws. Retrieved from

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Lott, J. R. (2010).&nbspMore guns, less crime: Understandingcrime and gun-control laws. Chicago: University of ChicagoPress.Bottom of Form

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Krouse, W. J., &amp Library of Congress. (2012).&nbspGun controllegislation. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service.

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Michel, C. D. (2012).&nbspCalifornia gun laws: A guide to stateand federal firearm regulations. Long Beach, CA: ColdawPublishing.

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