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Should the United States have greater gun control like many other countries of the world?




VotesAnswer
35Yes
17No
9Undecided
5Other


UserComment
guillem
posted 9-Jun-2000 6:22am  
Yes.
jjg
posted 9-Jun-2000 9:57am  
No.
ILJ
posted 9-Jun-2000 10:19am  
Greater gun control, yes. Whether we should do it like many other countries of the world, I'm not sure.
Andyroo
(reply to ILJ) posted 9-Jun-2000 11:20am  
What do you mean by that?
Oscar
posted 9-Jun-2000 11:52am  
Sure. Why not?
ILJ
(reply to Andyroo) posted 9-Jun-2000 1:30pm  
The question asks if the US should have greater gun control like many other countries of the world. I think we should have greater gun control. I'm not sure if we should implement it in the same manner other countries have, because I'm not familiar with what other countries have done. It's like asking if we should punish criminals more severely like Afganistan does. I want to punish criminals, but I sure don't want to do it like Afganistan does.
Beachy
(reply to ILJ) posted 9-Jun-2000 1:53pm  
Take the example of the UK. We have a complete ban on all firearms (except for farmers' shotguns and other essential hunting guns.) I think this is excessive relative to the gun-crime rate we had previously. Not that I'm interested in guns myself, but I like the idea of a US style constitution of rights - and not the situation in the UK where the government can simply make changes like that without a referendum. I think the situation here is too restrictive on personal freedom. Having said that, from what I've heard, firearms are ridiculously easily accessable in the US; surely greater checks and waiting periods would be advisable, as well as laws to decrease accessability of weaponry to people without a specific reason to own it...
Zang
posted 9-Jun-2000 5:49pm  
I am Canadian. I think it would be somewhat presumptuous of me to state an opinion. I can see both sides of the argument pretty much equally anyway.
cody
posted 9-Jun-2000 8:37pm  
BTW, all this nonsense about other countries having stronger gun control than the us is getting ridiculous. There is basically no gun control ont he entire continent of africa. Same For asia. Eastern europe... The only places with gun control are the former british empire countries (England, Ireland, Canada, Australia). And some fascist western and northern european countries.
king_of_cups
posted 9-Jun-2000 8:52pm  
Criminals do not obey existing laws, why make more?
msgman
(reply to cody) posted 10-Jun-2000 7:49am  
Nearly all European countries have much stronger gun control than the US. So do most Asian countries.
mandy
posted 10-Jun-2000 3:41pm  
No.
SueBee Survey Central Subscriber
posted 10-Jun-2000 7:30pm  
No, thank you.
SueBee Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to Beachy) posted 10-Jun-2000 7:34pm  
How long has the firearms ban been in effect in England, do you know?
msgman
(reply to SueBee) posted 11-Jun-2000 8:16am  
There has never been a general right to own a gun in the UK. You have to have a licence, and a licence can be revoked for many reasons. Owning an unlicenced gun is considered a serious offence.

A few years ago, the rules for licencing were tightened up as a result of the Dunblane massacre, when a gunman shot several children in a primary school. It's now illegal to keep any kind of handgun at home - you can still own the gun, but it has to be stored at a gun club where only you can access it. The only guns that can generally still be held at home are shotguns for hunting purposes only. There are exceptions to the rules - it's possible to get a handgun licence for personal protection if you really need it - but they're very hard to come by.

Incidentally, the comments about criminals not obeying laws, so why should the obey gun laws, are somewhat misplaced. For a start, merely carrying a gun is usually a criminal offence, so if the police spot someone with a gun they'll stop them straight away - this prevents a lot of gun-related crime before it even happens. Also, the biggest source of illegal guns is theft from legal owners, so by reducing the amount of guns available you restrict the supply to criminals. It's almost impossible to illegally import a gun into the UK on a personal level (one of the benefits of being an island  * smile * ), and even big criminal gangs or terrorist groups like the IRA find it difficult.

There is absolutely no doubt that restricting gun ownership reduces gun-related crime (particularly gun-assisted robbery and murder). This has been shown by studies in many countries, including the US. The real question is simply whether or not the reduction in crime is worth the reduction in individual liberty.
Beachy
(reply to SueBee) posted 11-Jun-2000 9:41am  
Well, it was the Dunblane massacre that set everything in motion, around 5 years ago. I don't remember exactly when the full ban came into effect. They banned different types of guns one after the other. Much as I think this massacre was a terrible thing to happen however, I don't think a single incident is a significant reason to ban something, any more than the Hillsbourough disaster would be a good reason to ban football.
Enheduanna Survey Central Subscriber
posted 11-Jun-2000 9:41am  
See now, I just think the UK's laws on owning guns sound so reasonable! It's too bad we have that whole "right to bear arms" clause in the US Constitution, because I think the UK has it right. Imagine if instead of "guns" you said "ebola virus" or some other destructive thing. Guns probably kill more people than the ebola virus does, so why not require that they be limited to certain facilities and purposes?
msgman
(reply to Beachy) posted 11-Jun-2000 9:52am  
Actually, they did ban something as a result of the Hillsborough disaster - they banned standing areas in sports stadiums. That's analogous to banning handguns as a result of Dunblane. The equivalent of banning football in response to Hillsborough would have been to ban schools in response to Dunblane.
daver
(reply to msgman) posted 11-Jun-2000 9:53am  
According to the Home Office, the number of violent crimes committed with a gun increased in the year following the 1997 ban (1999 data are not yet available). I guess someone forgot to tell the criminals that guns were banned.
msgman
(reply to daver) posted 11-Jun-2000 9:59am  
The number of gun-related crimes has been on a general upward trend for several years. The response to Dunblane isn't likely to have affected that in the short term, because most of the guns that would have been used in the years immediately following would already have been in circulation. Also, as the amount of gun-related crime in the UK is pretty low anyway, it can vary quite a lot from one year to the next without necessarily being statistically significant.

As it happens, I'm not convinced either that the handgun ban was really necessary, and I don't think it will significantly reduce the amount of gun-related crime in general (most of which is committed with shotguns, which are still legal). What matters is whether it prevents a repeat of Dunblane, and that's something that only time will tell.
dab Survey Qualifier
(reply to msgman) posted 11-Jun-2000 10:28am  
The loss of liberty, while important, is not the only question surrounding gun restrictions. While such restrictions may reduce gun crimes (certainly there's empirical evidence showing otherwise), they seem to increase other crimes. Compare the incidences of assault and rape in the US, Canada, and England for instance.
SueBee Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to msgman) posted 11-Jun-2000 1:49pm  
& Beachy --Thanks for the info. I always assumed the ban had been in effect for a long time in England. I tend to think it's a bit late here in the US since there are already so many guns floating around. It would also be difficult to police illegal importation since the US borders are so large. What we don't need is to add a Gun War to the Drug War.

I really think education is the key. The saddest thing is accidental death of children because their parents are too stupid to lock up the guns properly.
msgman
(reply to dab) posted 11-Jun-2000 3:36pm  
I'm not quite sure what you're referring to, as the US (I don't know about Canada) has a higher incidence of rape and assault than the UK anyway.

Of course, as most gun-related homicides are actually "domestic", that is, committed by one family member on another, it's reasonable to assume that removing the gun doesn't remove the cause of the crime - it just changes it from a lethal argument into a non-lethal argument. So, where with a gun a fight would end in a shooting and a death, without a gun it's just an assault. So reducing guns does increase the number of assaults in that sense, but that's a positive thing in this context - you can recover from a beating, but you tend not to recover from a shooting.
dab Survey Qualifier
(reply to msgman) posted 11-Jun-2000 8:34pm  
The last time I got into this debate on Survey Central I was hammered by the "murder is so much less in other industrial countries than in the US" so I decided I wanted to check that out. If you carefully pick the countries, then it's true. If you cast your net a little wider, the US is in the middle of the pack. Along the way, using UN data which I have no idea if it's any good, I noticed that while the US had a high homicide rate using the selected countries approach, many of those same countries, including Canada and the UK, were higher in assault and rape.

If you want to follow up on the numbers, here's that earlier survey which has a link to the web site where I got my data.

daver
(reply to dab) posted 11-Jun-2000 9:46pm  
Last I checked, the US was worse than the UK for murder and rape. For every other violent crime (and crime against persons in general), the UK was worse. If you have different numbers, please share them.
DEXTER
posted 11-Jun-2000 10:45pm  
The fact is we have really good gun control right now, the laws are on the books, they are just not enforced. Over 170,000 people were denied purchase of guns, thousands were convicted felons, when you fill out the form it tells you if you lie or if you are a felon, you can go to jail for 10 to 15 years-Just ask Clinton how many were charged, convicted, etc. --none!! We do not need more laws we need more enforcement of the ones we have!! If you are for taking guns away please put a sign in your front yard that says "I DO NOT OWN FIREARMS" You won't because a theif will be there very quickly-what is to deter him? In the US lots of people have the firearms and that keeps the crime rate down-Statistics show any state that has the "right to carry a conceled wheapon" law the crime rate goes down!!
msgman
(reply to dab) posted 12-Jun-2000 4:05am  
The figures you quoted in that survey are meaningless, because different countries have different definitions of "crime". For example, the UK doesn't have the distinction between "misdemeanours" and "felonies" that the US has. Also, crime is always higher in cities than in rural areas, and the UK has a much higher proportion of the population living in cities than the US.
romkey Survey Central Gold Subscriber
(reply to msgman) posted 12-Jun-2000 9:19am  
I'm not really sure how it follows that the numbers are meaningless because the UK has more people in urban areas. The number of people affected by the crimes is still the same. It feels as though you're saying "your argument is invalid because it disagrees with my belief".
msgman
(reply to romkey) posted 12-Jun-2000 10:41am  
No, it's meaningless because you're not comparing like with like. To get an idea of whether a specific factor (eg, gun control) affects crime figures you have to first define "crime", and then make sure that you are comparing equivalent settings. For example, there is very little crime in the outback of Australia! And crime figures aren't just lower in rural areas because there are fewer people to be the victims or perpetrators, it's significantly lower on a per-capita basis. (In other words, not only do rural areas have fewer people, but the people that are there are generally more law-abiding). In any country, cities have a higher crime rate than rural areas, so a country that is more urbanised will tend to have higher per-capita crime figures than a more rural one.
daver
(reply to msgman) posted 12-Jun-2000 11:39am  
Are you familiar with the International Crime Victimization Surveys? They're probably your best bet if you want to compare crime statistics internationally.
If you're looking for correlations between gun laws and gun crime, the US is a great place to look. 51 separate sets of guns laws (ranging from essentially no controls to outright bans) and crime that varies by two orders of magnitude between those 51 jurisdictions provide a wealth of data. There's at least one study that goes one level finer, comparing gun laws and gun crimes for the 3000-odd counties over the course of 15 years.
msgman
(reply to daver) posted 12-Jun-2000 12:10pm  
I'm aware of them, rather than familiar with them. They're probably the only consistent source of valid comparisons between countries, but they suffer from small samples and poor response rates compared to national statistics, so the figures aren't always reliable.

Incidentally, I've just found a fascinating website which details a comparison between the US and the UK, at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/html/cjusew96/contents.htm - among other things, this supports claims that murders and rapes are much more common in the US than the UK, while other crimes such as assault are pretty much equally common in both countries. It also shows that gun-related crime is much more common in the US than the UK. Here's a direct quote from the survey:

Firearms are more often involved in violent crimes in the United States than in England. According to 1996 police statistics, firearms were used in 68% of U.S. murders but 7% of English murders, and 41% of U.S. robberies but 5% of English robberies.

Note that this is from a US government website, so it's unlikely to be biased in favour of the UK figures. As the report also states that:

serious crime rates are not generally higher in the United States than England

it seems clear that the big difference in the murder rate is primarily due to the easy availability of guns in the US compared to the UK.
dab Survey Qualifier
(reply to msgman) posted 12-Jun-2000 1:08pm  
If these numbers are meaningless, there's no point in comparing different countries at all. I would agree that it's difficult though, which is why I thought the UN might be a reasonable source of numbers that were at least somewhat comparable. If you have a better source, I'd like to know about it.

Anyway, it looks like I misremembered from my previous investigation into this. Either that or the numbers have changed since 1986. I tried to find the stats I used previously and couldn't. I did find the numbers from The Fifth United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (1990 - 1994) which had the data conveniently in a MS Excel spreadsheet format.

Anyway, as of 1994, England and Wales had lower rates of rape and assault then the US (though assault wasn't that much lower). Canada was still worse (twice the rate of assault and three times for rape). I apologize for any confusion or disparagement.
daver
(reply to msgman) posted 12-Jun-2000 2:19pm  
If you discount every US murder involving a gun, the US still has a much higher murder rate than the UK. Similarly, if the UK had sufficient additional gun murders to make the percentage of murders using a gun the same as the US, the UK would still have a much lower murder rate than the US. I don't know of a plausible mechanism whereby availability of guns somehow makes Americans murder each other with something other than a gun so much more frequently than the British do. Any suggestions?
As I mentioned previously, the US is very far from homogeneous in terms of homicides and gun laws yet this is usually conveniently overlooked in international comparisons. Instead, the gun availability of North Dakota or Vermont and the murder rate of New York or California is taken as representative of the whole country.
Incidentally, I think you should take another read of that study. Assault rates in the UK (well, England and Wales; Scotland keeps her own statistics) are more than double that of the US, hardly what I would call "equally common".
msgman
(reply to daver) posted 13-Jun-2000 4:35am  
I don't have any direct suggestions as to why the US non-gun murder rate is also hugher than the UK non-gun murder rate, although I suspect that removing the gun-related murders would bring the two figures to within reporting limits. Differences in definitions and data collection methods mean that figures can only be compared within very broad bands.

The difference in the assault figures is within reporting limits, and in any case it depends on which figures you use - UK police figures show that the UK has fewer assaults than the US, while victim survey figures show that the UK has more. I think that reflects differences in police methodology between the UK and the US rather than a statistically significant difference in the real figures. Clear-up and conviction rates are also generally lower in the UK than the US, which indicates that maybe UK police are less effective overall than their US counterparts. (I have some thoughts as to why this may be the case, but that's probably irrrelevant to the question of gun control).
Anon1969
posted 13-Jun-2000 10:49pm  
The fact that you are allowed to own, touch, see or operate a gun in this country, even before you are allowed to vote, is quite astonishing. I think the "school shootings", which we have seen over the past few years, support my comment. In Florida, most recently, a teenager decided to shoot and kill his teacher... I guess the kid had a tough day in school, and probably was to lazy to do his homework.

I have teenagers living next-door. What law is provided to keep me and my family safe, from my neighbor-hood kids shooting us? No law is provided! I could walk out my front door tomorrow and be facing a gun, in the hands of my 12 year old next-door neighbor.
Analog
(reply to Anon1969) posted 14-Jun-2000 12:58am  
It is illegal for your neighbors to shoot you unless you are attacking them. I think you are exaggerating when you say ``no law'' is in place to protect you. The threat of punishment may not be effective in protecting you, but it is there.
dab Survey Qualifier
(reply to Anon1969) posted 14-Jun-2000 10:18am  
In a way you're right that there's no law to protect you. You are expected to protect yourself if you decide you want protection. The law and the people who enforce that law are there to protect society by punishing lawbreakers after the fact. The courts repeatedly come to this conclusion every time someone tries to sue the police for failing to protect them. At first it seems shocking but further thought reveals that there is no other option. Certainly nothing better.
Jemmy
posted 1-Jul-2000 4:56pm  
Guns are evil, they promote violence... cody, I know, I know, violence is acceptable in a few situations, but you know what I mean.
unbridled
posted 4-Jul-2000 5:32pm  
Ownership and possession of firearms is an entitlement of all free people. The government has no right to restrict in anyway the sale, manufacturing, distribution, transportation or possession of firearms. If you want security from potential violence you can always choose to live in a country that subordinates freedom to choose to group security.
msgman
(reply to unbridled) posted 5-Jul-2000 5:23am  
I presume that means there were no free people at all until firearms were invented, huh?
kirst
posted 6-Jul-2000 9:06pm  
Yes! (don't ask me how to implement it, though)
kirst
(reply to cody) posted 6-Jul-2000 9:09pm  
Actually, cody, most Asian countries do not allow guns (except for police and certain other security like armed truck workers). Most of the Asian countries are very safe. Typically the ones that aren't have guns such as the Philippines.
unbridled
posted 8-Jul-2000 3:50pm  
msg...Man has had weapons since he first organized in groups and set off to conquer nature..
cody
(reply to kirst) posted 8-Jul-2000 4:45pm  
It is my understanding that the only country with gun control in asia is japan. Many of the mainland countries dont even prosecute rape and kidnapping.... so even if they have laws against guns, they are not enforced.
kirst
(reply to cody) posted 9-Jul-2000 12:26am  
What do you mean "mainland" countries? To us, the mainland refers to China only. There are no guns in Hong Kong, Thailand, & Singapore, for example. There is a lot less violence here due to the absence of guns. It's a lot harder to kill someone with a chopper (knife) than it is to pull a trigger.
msgman
(reply to unbridled) posted 9-Jul-2000 8:30am  
The survey isn't about weapons in general, it's about guns. While there may well be a general right to possess weapons of some sort, that doesn't mean there is a right to possess any particular weapon. I think we'd agree, for example, that it's OK to own a baton (truncheon), but not to own a nuclear bomb. Both are weapons, but they are different in degree. The question is, do guns fall within the category of weapons that we should allow people to own? Some people would answer "yes", while others would answer "no", but that's a matter of practicality and politics (societal safety v individual choice), not fundamental rights.
dsysko
posted 12-Jul-2000 11:42am  
We already have thousands of laws attepting gun control, but the only thing they succeed in is to keep guns out of the hands of honest non-violent people who would otherwise defend their families. Creating more gun laws would only further this stupidity, and would give criminals even more security that the person whom they are accosting is unarmed. I heard somewhere that the British no-gun society has more muggings and personal assaults than the US by a large margin. Does someone have any real numbers?
msgman
(reply to dsysko) posted 13-Jul-2000 11:14am  
You heard wrong. See the links and stats quoted earlier by dab, daver and myself.

Basically, the UK does not have more muggings and personal assaults than the US by a large margin. Depending on which surveys you check, some show that the UK has more, while others show that the US has more - the differences are mostly due to definitions and reporting systems.

Oddly enough, one type of crime that is significantly higher in the UK than the US is car theft. But this is the sort of thing that can't be deterred by guns anyway, as it almost always happens when the owner of the car is not present.
Maarten
posted 18-Jul-2000 12:53pm  
Absolutely.
TwistedIvory
posted 25-Jul-2000 12:12am  
Such as what policies?
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