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To begin, author James Q. Wilson compares the public’s stance on gun control and the government’s stance. During the time of publication, 1994, president Bill Clinton and the public advocated for stricter gun control laws in hopes of reducing crimes resulting in gun violence. Although they both support gun control the president believes it will work while the public does not. From here the topic of our essay begins as James Q. Wilson begins to support the public’s perception of gun control.
Using logical reasoning, with credible evidence to support, Mr. Wilson uses deductive reasoning in his critical analysis of tougher gun control which then leads to his own beliefs on how the government should approach the problem of gun violence.
First, the author puts into perspective the unreasonable ideology that supporting gun control entails. Presenting us immediately the statistic of “some 200 million guns in private ownership, about one third of them handguns. Only about 2 percent of the latter are employed to commit crimes”(Wilson 125).
This is important to state because the reader can now understand the minimal effect gun control will provide. This statistic alone makes it difficult to comprehend the positive impact that tighter gun laws will provide. A general gun control is not enough to reach that two percent, because of this we have to side with the author on this point.
Continuing further, a natural train of thought is how do we construct tighter gun control without diminishing the public’s ability to protect themselves.
This topic is usually very derisive anytime the topic of gun control introduced with opponents of gun control heavily invested with the ability to protect themselves. Here the author uses another statistic from a household survey by a criminologist at Florida State University stating that “…every year, guns are used – that is, displayed or fired – for defensive purposes more than a million times…”(Wilson 126). From this statistic alone he, along with the reader, can logically conclude that guns are more good than bad. So how do we determine better gun control that pinpoints the two percent while allowing the public to aptly defend themselves?
Consequentially, new laws have been made to target the two percent but are in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The problem that lies is in either quantity of police officers or the stigma of police harassment. The Fourth Amendment “bans ‘unreasonable searches and seizures’”(Wilson 126) which makes it hard for police officers to employ stop and frisk tactics without crossing the line. From the examples given there are only a certain set of rules that can legally allow a stop and frisk which explains he then explains most police officers do not. Because of these limiting factors Wilson provides this statement from Harvard University professor Mark Moore “most weapon arrests were made because a citizen complained, not because the police were out looking for guns.”(Wilson 126). Wilson counters that these factors can be avoided by providing ample training and a list of parolees on their beat. Here is a fallacy because there is only so many times a police officer can perform a stop and frisk on a parolee without it resulting in harassment. Same can be said with ample training as many instances of legal stop and frisks were deemed to be harassment as well. In my opinion, there is a fine line in deeming what is constitutional and harassment that might be too small to reasonably target the two percent.
Furthermore, targeting the two percent is even harder with the argument of self defense. Here Wilson argues that assailants are less successful in crimes when victims are able to defend themselves. With the ability to properly protect oneself from robberies the likelihood that would be assailants will attack with a victim present is reduced. Wilson once again relays credible information to the reader, in regards to self defense from the National Crime Survey, by using facts as his selling point. Appealing logically to the reader with the evidence provided presents a strong opinion that is hard to refute. Assuming that their is pro gun control readers out there, arguing against his points, how do you counter this argument with convincing evidence from the author. What measures can we possibly take without negatively impacting the ability to protect oneself and ridding all illegal weapons without committing harassment? Lucky for us Wilson presents a counter of sorts.
Moreover, deciding what can be considered viable steps towards the right direction isn’t based on gun control at all, according to Wilson. Although proponents of gun control will also argue that stricter punishments for gun related crimes this comes at a price per the author. He argues that the “…tougher the prospective sentence the less likely it is to be imposed…”(Wilson 127). He continues with more generalized statements, this time with no evidence, in support of his opinion. I consider this to be another fallacy from Wilson because it comes off as unsupported theories rather than conclusive facts from a credible source. As a result, I believe that there is an argument that can be made to implement harsher punishments to gun related crimes. It makes sense, in my opinion, that the general public, which includes would be assailants, would be deterred away from such crimes in fear of the outcome. Thus far, Wilson has opposed every argument for gun control and offers a different way to provide safety to the general public. An ill-advised and undiscovered scientific solution that detects metal from longer ranges than a standard metal detector. This yet to be conceived invention with “…reasonable grounds for a pat down.”(Wilson 128) This idea exposes Wilson’s inability to unbiasedly argue against gun regulations which hampers his argument in the end.
In conclusion, “Just Take Away Their Guns” is mostly an informative essay on public perception of gun control and the minimal affect the government can do to tighten gun laws. Throughout this essay he gives us a cause and effect type summaries of separate fixes proponents of gun control have introduced which includes regulating guns, employing police department interference, and judicial law changes. Although each point has enough merit behind to reasonably consider the author employs enough logical reasoning to sway the reader to his opinion through the use of credible sources and information.
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