Nothing does more to tear our families apart than violent crime, guns, gangs, drugs, and the fear that walks alongside those terrors.
Violent crime and victim rights have become a major concern for most citizens in the United States of America. Statistics indicate adecline in violent crimes in our country and an increase in our national prison population. Released prisoners commit most violentcrimes. Gun control legislation, reform programs, victim rights awareness, and other programs are abundant in our country, but dolittle to alleviate violent crime. In this paper I will try to present the liberal and conservative views on this issue as well as my ownViolent crime is a complex problem and can only be responded to in complex ways.
“Quick fix” solutions to the problem are likely toThere was a decline in crime during the 1990s. Our country enjoyed seven years of declining crime for the period 1991-98, the mostrecent data available. During this period crime declined by 22% and violent crime by 25%. These are welcome developments,particularly following the surge of crime and violence of the late 1980s. This decline occurred during a time when the national prisonpopulation has increased substantially, rising from 789,60 in 1991 to 1,252,830, a 59% rise in just seven years and a 47% increasein the rate of incarceration, taking into account changes in the national population (Mauer 21-24). Many observers have drawn a simple correlation between these two trends.
Putting more offenders in prison caused the reduction incrime. The Sentencing project has just completed a study that examines this issue in great detail and concludes that any suchcorrelation is ambiguous at best. In examining the relationship between incarceration and crime in the 1990s the picture iscomplicated by the seven year period just prior to this, 1984-91. In this period, incarceration also rose substantially, at a rate of65%. Yet crime rates increased during this time as well, by 17% nationally. Thus we see a continuous rise in incarceration forfourteen years, during which crime rose for seven years, then declined for seven years. This does not suggest that incarceration hadno impact on crime, but any such connection is clearly influenced by other factors.
A comparison with other nations is instructive inthis regard. The United States incarcerates its citizens at a greater rate than any other nation and at a rate 5-8 times that of mostother industrialized nations. This differential is in part due to a higher rate of violent crime in the U.
S. and in part to more severecriminal justice policies. The reasons why other industrialized nations have less violent crime than in the U.S. is clearly not becausethey lock up more offenders and thereby reduce crime. We could debate the various factors that contribute to our high level ofviolence but a failure to incarcerate is clearly not one of them (Mauer 21-24). In order to analyze the decline in crime in the 1990s in greater detail the project team examined the relationship betweenimprisonment and crime at the state level from 1991 to 1998. The reason for doing so is that national trends often obscuresubstantial variations among the states in the degree to which imprisonment is utilized as a response to crime.
During the sevenyear period, for example, Texas led the nation with a 144% rise in its rate of incarceration. Maine increased its prison population byjust 2%. The national average increase in the rate of incarceration was 47% (Mauer 21-24). The statistics are significant and they aregratifying. We must be honest, too many families, and too many communities, still live in fear.
Violent crimes may be at their lowestlevels in a generation, but even a single crime is one too many. Even if statistics indicate a decline in violent crime, citizens are still concerned about becoming a victim of a crime. Our childrencannot reach for their dreams if they are ducking for cover. We cannot restore a sense of community and decency if people areafraid to walk in any neighborhood, if they feel they have lost the public spaces that are rightfully theirs. A parent struggles to passon the right values in a culture that practically screams out that chaos and cruelty are cool. A good parent is undermined in trying toteach the great, simple lessons of right and wrong, of the rule of law and responsibility, when a burdened justice system letscriminals off too easy.
The liberals have fought for ages to instill a sense of security and safety to our nation. They are in favor ofenforcing tougher penalties against drug and sex offenders. Liberals are pushing hard to create more gun laws that are written forfamilies, not for gun lobbyists and their apologists. They are working on raising the age for handgun possession from 18 to 21 and topass strict background checks for those who buy guns at gun shows.
Liberals are in favor of enacting stiff, new penalties for adultswho sell guns to minors and to require child-safety locks on guns. Liberals believe we need tougher penalties for gun trafficking andall crimes committed with guns. The Brady Law is one of many laws that the democrats have passed.
Since the Brady waitingperiod law was passed, gun crimes have dropped by 38 percent. The liberals feel that the Brady Law has stopped nearly a quarter ofa million felons and fugitives from buying guns and saved countless lives. (www.algore.
com/guncontrol) The liberals have endorsed a constitutional amendment to expand the rights of crime victims. The amendment would grant victims &their families the right to reasonable notice of court proceedings involving their cases, the right to have a voice in those proceedings,and the right to notice of an offenders release from prison. Conservatives assert that those rights can be ensured without anamendment, and that the measure would violate the civil rights of the accused (New York Times A18). The Liberals and Conservatives have many different views regarding guns. However, both parties do agree on some gun issues. Theyare both in favor of supporting the current ban on assault weapons, prohibiting juveniles from possessing assault weapons andbanning imports of high capacity ammunition clips. Both parties are also in favor of raising the minimum age for possessing ahandgun from age eighteen to twenty one.
(Los Angeles Times C2) The Conservatives are strongly opposed to government mandated registration of guns owned by people who do not break the laws.Conservatives feel their safety and power to protect their families are in jeopardy if the government enforces gun prohibition. Theystrongly support the Second Amendment, the right of “the people” to keep and bare arms. They feel that the Liberals and theirfederal agencies have declared a civil war on law abiding firearm owners. They declare that what the Democrats label as the GunCulture only targets peaceable gun owners. It is a naked attempt to strip the next generation of the Second Amendment to the U.S.Constitution.
(American Hunter 10) To conservatives Gun Culture means our history, our heritage, our future and our freedom.Marion Hammer, 1998 President of the NRA made the following statement about the Liberals definition of gun culture. It is justanother contrived, divisive, polarizing term.
It is an attempt to cast law abiding gun owners in a negative light. They want to portrayguns and gun ownership as sinister and evil. (American Hunter 11) The conservatives defend their gun rights and often argue that gun prohibition will not eliminate violent crime.
The war against gunswas sparked by the terrible murders of school children in Jonesboro, Arkansas and the Columbine High School Shooting.Conservatives conclude that nothing the government could ever propose would have prevented these twisted youths from obtainingthe firearms, stealing a vehicle, stealing ammunition and stealing the lives and futures from their classmates and families. Everyaction they took violated an existing law. No man made law could have prevented this awful violent crime. Conservatives do support many laws that can decrease violent crimes. They have voted for increased penalties for repeat domesticviolence offenders and those who violate protective orders.
The support victim rights by requiring law enforcement officials to notifyvictims of violence upon the offenders release from custody. The want more police officer protection. They support legislation inmaking it a felony to assault police officers and other public servants. They voted for the two strikes and youre out law for sexoffenders. The law removes the “two priors” provision and requires automatic life upon a second sex-related offense. They supportthe abolishment of mandatory release of inmates and increased parolee supervision. (www.
georgebush.com) Conservatives feel state and local authorities are largely responsible for combating violent crime. They believe the federalgovernments role in criminal justice is primarily international and multi-jurisdictional including tough policies against organizedcrime, drug cartels, and international terrorism. In addition to this, they believe the Federal government can do more to improve ourcriminal justice system.
Conservatives are advocates for providing comprehensive juvenile justice reform, tougher sex offender laws,longer sentences for violent repeat offenders, and zero tolerance for drunk driving. (www.georgebush.com) I believe that the best way to protect the innocent is to fully enforce the law and to ensure swift and sure punishment for criminals.Government’s most basic duty is to ensure law and order and keep citizens safe from crime. I strongly support the secondamendment. I think it should be every citizens right to own a gun for hunting or protection provided that they have a license and areeducated about gun safety. I am in favor of laws that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and away from children.
I supportincreasing the number of community police on our streets, and give them the high-tech tools and the training they need to keepcrime down. I am for strengthening the laws against serious criminals. I am strongly for victim rights. I support the Megans Lawrequiring that people should be told if a sex offender lives in their area. (Federal Sentencing Reporter 10).
Statistics indicate that strangers commit only one percent of violent crimes against women (The New American Magazine). I want tobe protected, if I am in this small percentage. When a woman awakens and sees a male stranger crawling through her window andheading toward her bed, he is not a small percentage. He is a 100 percent fiend. But, if she had a pistol under her pillow and knewhow to use it, she could make him a 100 percent corpse, and the world would be a far better place (The New American Magazine).That is my reason for supporting the second amendment. Bibliography:Bibliography Hammer, Marion.
United We Stand, Divided We Fall. American Hunter June 1998 James Dao, New York Times, p. A18 May 3, 2000 Lee, Robert, Gun Report The New American Magazine, November 11, 1996 Mauer, Marc. “Preventing and Fighting Crime, What Works?” FDCH Congressional Testimony, 10/02/2000 Where They Agree: Regarding Guns, Associated Press. Los Angeles Times April 21, 2000 www.
AlGore2000.com/issues/crime. May 16, 1999 www.georgebush.com/crime