Justice Guns SEP09

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Essay discussing justice beliefs by advocates of gun control and anit-gun control advocates.
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  J Turner 1Jack Turner CONF 502Professor Alpher September 21, 2009 “Guns in the hands of decent, law – abiding citizens is a good thing. In myopinion, you can’t have too many kindsof those guns.” –  Virginia CitizensDefense League Member Phillip VanCleave ((Kunkle, Craig, 2007). “Every man must decide whether hewill walk in the light of creative altruismor in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” – Martin Luther King, jr.(1963). Justice and Gun Control: You Can’t Have It Both Ways, But We DoOn June 10, 2009 James Von Brunn walks into the Holocaust Museum inWashington DC and fatally wounds an African-American guard with a .22 caliber rifle.He subsequently is wounded by other museum guards and currently sits in jail waiting for a mental competency exam (Wilber, 2009). Three months later, Delonte West, a localWashington DC area resident and guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers, is stopped for atraffic violation and arrested for carrying two concealed, loaded handguns ( a Berretta9mm and a .357 Magnum) (Zapotosky, 2009). While Von Brunn’s behavior is described by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Waid as a “suicide mission,” West’s father says thathis son has been “looking behind his back and protecting himself” from certainindividuals (Wilber, 2009). Both men’s actions are tied together by perceptions of justiceand our nation’s gun control laws.Interesting opening…This essay argues that beliefs about justice and gun ownership is a deeply personal issue in this country, and that individual perceptions of what is just and unjustabout gun control is based mostly on personal experience. As reported by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1996, the problem is that one political side thinksmore controls on gun sales is needed to reduce crime and violence, while the other   J Turner 2 political side believes less restriction is needed (Blendon, Young, & Hemenway). Thisessay focuses on individual beliefs and values pertaining to justice and guns in the UnitedStates because the author’s research has found no other more consistent factor regardinggun control in our population.Extensive research by journalist David Krajicek shows almost equally dividedopinions and beliefs about the influence of guns and gun control on crime, homicide, andsuicide. Some studies suggest that people who watch crime shows regularly tend toadvocate less control of gun buying and ownership because they think guns are necessaryfor self-protection against criminal violations and assault. Other studies indicate a preference for more gun control by people who read the daily news instead of watching iton television (2003).In the academic world, from sociologists and criminologists to political scienceand public health researchers, opinions about gun control and its affects are also dividedThis trend may indicate that personal experience with guns and gun violence, includingmedia exposure, is the primary foundation for beliefs about gun control.. It appears thateven scholars are not immune to emotional reactions when it applies to figuring out thefairness of gun laws and interpreting second amendment rights (Krajicek, 2003).Good points here—good place to tie it into basic human needs, even us dry scholars aren’timmune to feelings of security lost…Cultural perspective is also a factor to consider. Geert Hofstede has describedAmerican culture as individualistic, as compared to other cultures, such as the Japanese,who are collective in naturefor future papers (since this was before the culture andidentity readings), be cautious here when characterizing an entire people by a dynamic  J Turner 3like this… while there’s real power in it, there’s also an opening for counter-argumentattack…. From Hofstede’s viewpoint, Americans’ dichotomous relationship to guns mayresult from our belief in, and valuing of, individual freedom and identity more than thecollective values of group identity and cohesion (1980). As a people, we are concernedand respectful of individual choice: We may have a tolerance for a certain amount of extremely destructive personal choices because of this preference.There’s a point to bring in critical theory of Burton… that definitions of “security” as a need may not bewhat we immediately assume them to be. Security of an individualist self-conceptiontends to trump “physical security” here…On April 16, 2007, Cho Seung-Hui, a Virginia Tech student, chained the doors toa classroom building and systematically began taking the lives of faculty members and Virginia Tech students. He killed 32 people and himself ( Hauser, C (2007). His actions brought great grief and distress to 32 families of slain victims and great shame andconfusion to his own family. According to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act'of 1993, Seung-Hui’s psychiatric diagnosis in 2005 should have prevented his ability topurchase any firearms (Library of Congress, 1993).In a strange twist, a Virginia Tech student group that advocates the right to carry aconcealed weapon on campus invited Eric Thompson, the gun dealer who sold one gun toSeung-Hui, to speak on campus. Thompson also sold two guns to   Steven Kazmierczak,who killed five people at Northern Illinois University on February 14, 2008. The eventwas kept quiet out of respect for the Virginia Tech victims, but the message from the gundealer was clear: Even though all people should not be allowed to own guns, “prohibiting people’s desire to protect themselves is wrong” (Smith, L, 2008).Good points—right  J Turner 4now, hanging out there on their own… make sure you provide a bridge between the previous section and this to show how and why you’re headed here…VA Tech students organized a “lie-in” protest for stricter gun control laws, onApril 16, 2008. An equal number of the people killed, 32, laid down on the campus incommemoration for the dead. The lie – also supported changing the “gun show loophole”law that allows gun sales at gun shows without the Brady Bill criminal background check (Esposito, 2008). “People talking about [lie-ins] are “talking a lot about these victims' familiesthemselves - Abigail Spangler, founder of ProtestEasyGuns.com   (Esposito,2008). If just one of those [VA Tech] students had been armed in that building, therewould have been a much better chance that somebody would have stopped themadman.   - Phillip Van Cleave, Virginia Citizens Defense League. It appears that extreme emotions drive opinions about gun control.Good point, and a place to add in that concepts of justice cannot truly be divorced from emotion—there’s no suchthing as “pure” justice, etc… that’s where it seems you’re going  When someone you love iskilled in a calculated act of extreme gun violence, the way you deal with the loss and pain probably defines your political stance. Your perception of just resolutions regarding gunviolence and the fairness laws to protect the innocent will be affected as well. At thesame time, gun control critics worry that their ability to defend themselves, their families,and their homes against criminal aggression is already being overly restricted. The ebband flow of public opinion, the focus of the media, and political decisions by societal
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