Guns are used for protection against mayhem when the unexpected happens. As the citizens of the United States of America, the amendments are there to protect the freedom of the people. The second amendment protects the right of each individual to keep, and bear arms, and to defend our property, and most importantly ourselves. In James Q. Wilson’s New York Times article, “Just Take Away Their Guns,” Wilson argues that restraining people from legally purchasing firearms do not have any effect on the illegal use of guns, and reducing the amount of people who are illegally carrying one. He adequately reasons how the eradication of illegal guns on the streets should be the main focus regarding toughening American gun control regulations, which are the most frequently debated topic in America. Wilson claims that frisks and stops will eliminate illegal guns, and not multiplying the forms one fills to purchase a gun. James Q. Wilson targeted legally gun owners as his audience, uses logos and ethos to his rhetorical approach, and an effective, but could have had an overall stronger argument.
Law abiding citizens such as legally gun owners are the intended audience in his topic, because of the, “legal restraints on the lawful purchase of guns” (p.124). To eliminate illegal use of guns there must a compromise between the government, and the citizens of rightfully legal gun owners. Toughening gun control legislation will have little effect on the illegal use of guns, which essentially decrease the amount of citizens buying guns. Wilson claims that roughly 200 million guns are owned by law abiding citizens, although, these guns are not the ones that are generally used for illegal and unlawful acts. Illegal uses of guns are usually obtainable through stolen, borrowed, or privately purchased that are used for gang related activities, burglaries, and or violent crimes. Wilson then makes a point that an increase in gun control regulations would take a big hit on none other than those law abiding citizens.
The main purpose of owning these guns is for self-defense and to protect their loved ones, and properties. Collins Professor of Management and Public Policy at the University of California, James Q Wilson noted that, “Many cities suffer from a shortage of officers” is the exact reason why the citizens of the United States of America cannot reply on the government officials, such as the law enforcement to protect the people, and their properties (p.125). Even if the gun control legislation successfully reduce the amount of lawful citizens to own guns. How will the government reduce the amount of people who are illegally owning guns in the present as well as the future? Wilson stated in his story that, “The average police officer will make no weapons arrests and confiscate no guns during any given year”
Which will result in more illegal guns out on the streets than the law abiding citizens with registered guns (p.125). That will definitely strikes fear into the people’s mind knowing they can’t protect themselves, and quite frankly, not enough police officers to protect each, and every individual people in America at any given point of time. Law abiding guns owners are the intended target audience because Wilson’s claim is “legal restraints on the lawful purchase of guns will have little effect on the illegal use of guns” (p.124).
James Q. Wilson strengthens his argument through the use ethos and logos to elaborate and emphasizes his thesis and claims of “Our goal should not be the disarming of law-abiding citizens. It should be to reduce the number of people who carry guns unlawfully, especially in places- on streets, in taverns- . . . “(p.124). The use of ethos helps Wilson to reinforce his claims and establishes credibility in his essay by using the fourth amendment of the constitution, Mark Moore, who is a professor of public policy at Harvard University, Gary Kleck, who is a criminologist at Florida State University, and The National Rifle Association to back up his argument. The use of ethos is effective in this essay for this topic, because the topic requires valid examples, statements, and statistics to anchor Wilson’s claims of gun control legislation, and the reduction of illegal guns on the streets. James Q. Wilson points out; “The Fourth Amendment to the constitution bans ‘unreasonable searches and seizure.’”(p.125).
The amendment caused, “ample law-enforcement personnel worry about having their cases thrown out for constitutional reasons or being accused of police harassment” which results in shortage of police officers throughout cities in America (p.125). Harvard University is one of the top colleges in America, and with Mark Moore, a professor of public policy at Harvard University stated, “found that most weapons arrests were made because of a citizen complained, not because the police were out looking for gun.”(p.125). Wilson uses a professor from Harvard University is an exponential clever way of supporting his claim for the gun control legislation, and making his argument even more effective. Gary Kleck is a credible guy, because of his career as a criminologist at Florida State University, and he, “has estimated that every year, guns are used- that is, displayed or fired- for defensive purposes more than a million times, not counting their use by the police”(p.124).
This statement by Gary Kleck supported Wilson’s examples of guns that are used to defend ourselves, and our properties, and as well as the law enforcement usage of guns to protect the country. Finally, Wilson uses a quote from The National Rifle Association and its allies that, “’guns don’t kill people, people kill people’” to emphasize the importance of, “urge the government to punish more severely people who use guns to commit crimes” instead of worrying too much about how to ban guns from law abiding citizens (p.126).
James Q. Wilson uses logos for logical argument about gun control legislation, and its restraint on guns purchase that fails to have great effect on the illegal use of guns. Most people would argued that less guns mean less violence, but what they don’t know is that most crimes committed by guns are illegal that was stolen, borrowed, or bought from the black market. Wilson uses logos in his essay with organized structure along with a clear and concise thesis created an effective argument that is easily understood and followed by his target audience that generated a well-planned essay. Wilson backed up his argument by giving facts such as, “In 1992 the police arrested about 240,000 people for illegally possessing or carry weapon. “This is only about one-fourth as many as were arrested for public drunkenness” (p.125).
That number is considered low if it is divided by every state in America. Considering these illegal gun holders are protected under the fourth amendment of unreasonable searches and seizures, which most of them probably got away with. “The reasonable –suspicion test is much less stringent than the probable cause standard the police must meet in order to make an arrest . . . more than just a hunch; it must be supported with facts include someone acting in a way that leads an experienced officer to conclude criminal activity . . . someone fleeing at the approach . . . a person who fits a drug courier profile; a motorist stopped for a traffic violation who has a suspicious bulge in his pocket . . . Supreme Court has also upheld frisking people on probation or parole” (125). A criminal who know how to use the law to their advantage could potentially get away for their crimes and wrongdoings, and it puts the people in danger by knowing these illegal gun users might not go to jail, but set freed on parole and/or probation. Wilson used logos to rationalize appeal to the reader by stating facts and statistics to prove his claim and blended it with ethos to establish credibility for his argument.
James Q. Wilson effectively presents his argument in a persuasive approach that uses different techniques such as ethos, logos, and organization. Wilson makes his ideas easy to follow by making the flow more sinuous which results in the contribution of the cohesiveness of his overall argument. The structure is clearly well planned and constructed that consisted of claims followed by statistics, counterclaims, and rebuttals. Even though Wilson made his argument effective, he concluded his counterclaim with frisks and stops made by police officers by patting down individual that seems suspicious. “Innocent people will be stopped. Young black and Hispanic men will probably be stopped more often than older while Anglo males or women of any race” (p.127) However, When Wilson made this point; he alludes to the idea of racial profiling, and he loses credibility by such reasoning.
James Q. Wilson argument in this essay presents claims that were debatable in an informative way, and his thesis suggested solutions to the central problem regarding gun control legislation, and its legal restraints on lawful purchase of guns. Through the use of many techniques, Wilson created a well-organized and effective argument. However, had he addressed the issue of racial profiling with evidence, then he could have had an improved and sturdier effective argument.
Wilson, James Q. “Just Take Away Their Guns.” Current Issues and Enduring Questions. By Sylvan Barnet and Hugo Bedau. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011. 124-27. Print.
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