Gun control may have attained some of its objectives. The credit for that goes to the Brady bill, implementation of which necessitated background checks for all non licensed individuals seeking to obtain a firearm. Since its enactment in 1994 through 2000, nearly 30 million background checks were performed out of which 689,000 people were denied a license, which amounts to an overall 2.3% denial rate. These denials have helped keep the guns out of the reach of felons, as reported by the FBI’s official statement of reasons published by the Department of Justice. The total number of required background checks declined by 11% from 8.6 million in 1999 to 7.7 million in 2000. Of total checks from October 1999 to September 2000, the total number of denials was 2.0% (153,000).
Over 59% of denials occurred because the applicant was a felon or was under felony indictment in this period where as in the last fiscal year it was 72%. The amount of deaths decreased significantly in the1990’s but post 2000, the rate of decrease has leveled off (Krouse, 2002). As per the Department of Justice data, handguns constitute the majority of these fatalities which constitutes the preferred choice of concealed weapon for most offenders.
Since firearms contribute as the major reason for homicide and criminal assault, part of the decrease in their availability can be attributed to the overall decrease in crime. According to a rough estimate of the availability of handguns in the country, as evidenced by the domestic production of handguns, shows that the production of handguns slowed down in the early years of the 21st century but it is increasing again (Department of Justice, 2007). Given the approval ratings of the Brady checks however, handgun ownership can be said to have remained steady in the past decade (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008).
While figures may suggest a positive decline, the concern is more likely one because of an unprecedented level of recent violence seen in schools at the hands of students and young offenders. This is the primary reason the gun control activists are still advocating stricter rules in this regard since seemingly such people have far too easy an access to weapons. Incidents such as the Columbine Massacre in April, 1999, the Virginia Tech Massacre in April 2007, and other incidents such as the one that took place at Binghamton, New York, on April 3, when a Vietnamese immigrant shot and killed 13 people at an immigration center before committing suicide gain enough press to incite fear into the hearts and minds of the general public. Where as in the case of students, experts blame such phenomena on violent video games and poor parenting but in essence each student had easy access to the weapons in question. Statistically such events are extremely rare but the media hype that surrounds them instantly broadcasts the horror of guns to the general public which demands action. Quite reasonably, gun control advocates support the issuance of trigger locks on all guns and the application of the Brady bill to gun shows, which have developed into a formidable loophole in the bill since gun shows are not federally administered.
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