Americans are faced with an ever-growing problem of violence. Our streets have become a battleground where the elderly are beaten for their social security checks, where terrified women are viciously attacked and raped, where teen-age gangsters shoot it out for a patch of turf to sell their illegal drugs, and where innocent children are caught daily in the crossfire of drive-by shootings. We 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 sentiments. 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. Criminals will always find ways to get guns. In this country we have criminalized the use, possession, sale, and transportation of many kinds of narcotics, but it's still easy for someone to take a ride and purchase the drugs of their choice at street corner vendors. Firearms and ammunition would be just as easy for these black-market entrepreneurs to deliver to their customers. Today, criminals often carry illegal weapons, including sawed-off shotguns, machine guns, and homemade zip-guns, clearly showing their disregard for the current laws which make these items illegal. And when they are caught, the courts regularly dismiss these lesser weapons charges when prosecuting for the more serious charges that are being committed with the weapons.

The most recent efforts of the gun control lobby has 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 type two body armor. 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 we must not fall into the trap of blaming the sword for the hand that wields it. So I've shown that 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 we give 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. We must work to reduce crime in America, but we 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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