Americans are faced with an ever-growing problem of violence. Illegal weapons have been involved in many horrible crimes such as the recent Columbine High School tragedy and many gang drive-by shootings. One cannot ignore the damage that these criminals are doing to our society, and we must take actions to stop these horrors. However, the effort by some misguided individuals to eliminate the legal ownership of firearms does not address the real problem at hand, and simply disarms the innocent law-abiding citizens who are most in need of a form of self-defense.

Today's gun control activists are a slightly different breed. They claim that gun violence in this country has gotten to a point where something must be done to stop it. They would like to see criminals disarmed, and they want the random violence to stop. I agree with their opinion. However, they are going about it in the wrong way. While claiming that they want to take guns out of the hands of criminals, they work to pass legislation that would take the guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens instead. For this reason the efforts at gun control do not address the real problem of crime.

The most recent efforts of the gun control lobby have been to claim that certain types of guns and ammunition are inherently evil. They assign emotional catch phrases such as "assault weapons" and "cop killer bullets" to broad categories of firearms and ammunition in the hopes that people will believe that some guns have an evil nature. Most people who are unfamiliar with firearms do not fully understand what these phrases mean, and they accept the terms being used without question. What people do not often understand is that the term "assault weapon" has been defined to include all semi- automatic rifles, and "cop killer" has been defined to include any bullet that can penetrate police bulletproof vests. It comes as a surprise to most people that a large number of simple hunting rifles can do both. Does ownership of one of these weapons cause people to become mass murderers? It does not, and one must not fall into the trap of blaming the sword for the hand that wields it.

The act of making it illegal to own firearms does little to prevent criminals from getting guns. These laws only restrict people who respect the law itself, the people who would only use firearms for legal purposes anyway. And when one gives people the right to defend themselves, we find that criminals start looking for other victims out of fear that they will become the victims themselves. People must work to reduce crime in America, but they should look at the problem realistically, and develop plans that would be effective. It is obvious that gun control laws are neither realistic, nor effective in reducing crime. Therefore, we must direct our efforts toward controlling crime, not controlling legal ownership of firearms.

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