Gun control is a relevant and controversial issue. The modern society often searches for excessive rights and limitless possibilities, neglecting the safety and common sense. In the United States, exist of two very different approaches to the use of firearms. There are supporters of its distribution among the civilian population and opponents who believe that the increase in the number of weapons in private hands leads to violence and numerous accidents. Building a prosperous society, it is vitally important to promote measures for restricting the use of firearms and establishing an improved control over those who produce and sell it. The significant part of this study is devoted to exploration of gun control and Coalition to Stop Gun Violence features, strategy and tactics. Firearms use is a relevant issue, which should be researched, because of numerous victims and injures among civil population, and Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is worth to be supported as a leading force in the fight against weapons spread and prevention of gun use’s tragic consequences in America.
Part One. Gun Violence as the Painful American Issue
Acquiring weapons, each person takes a moral responsibility to the society and the state. Unfortunately, a few people think about this seriously.
The Obama administration tries to solve this painful issue for the American society by all possible means. Their intention to tighten gun control is a wise and logical position. In the United States, all types of ammunition and firearms manipulation, manufacturing, sale, possession, and use are regulated by the state and are under the hard control of the local authorities. There is also a system of the federal firearms laws, which may not depend on the general legislation. Weapons policy in the United States is primary based on two polar points of view and supported by two groups: of gun control and human gun rights activists (“Gun Control in the United States” 15).
The gun control question is very difficult. Gun use can be a way to protect and rescue, but also can cause a lot of sufferings and innocent deaths. The weapon is a primary source of violence (Moorhouse and Wanner 109). Usually, its victims are the most vulnerable members of society, such as the elders, children, and women. According to statistics of the media, the number of deaths caused by guns (including accidental deaths, suicides, and murders) between the events in Newtown and December 2013 includes 12042 people, and the most recent estimates of the annual data on the CDC report is 51158 victims in the period between Newtown accident and 2014 (Light, Feeney and Kamp). Thus, since January 2014, the total number of injuries as a result of armed violence has been 17199 persons (“Gun Violence Archive”).
Part Two. Coalition to Stop Gun Violence as the Stronghold for American Society
Reason for the Organization’s Creation
The main reason for the creation of this organization comprises a gradual increase in the level of violence and deaths among the civilian population in peaceful time. Such a powerful organization as the National Rifle Association (NRA or just the Association) had no worthy opponents who could effectively provide gun control and bring all like-minded people together to create secure future. The Coalition became a really powerful force that could accomplish this task.
History of the CSGV
The “project” of the CSGV was created in 1975 by the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society. At that time it was known as the National Coalition to Ban Handguns. It included 30 nonprofit organizations (most of them were labor and religious), which tried to respond to the high level of fatalities and crimes caused by the lack of gun control. In 1989 the organization changed its official name and became the National Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Between 1980s and 1990s the number of its members increased to 44 (Guns in American Society 422).
Today the Coalition consists of more than 100,000 individual members and 48 national organizations, including faith-based, child protection, and health organizations, and initiatives for social justice. Such a variety of like-minded people can work on a social broad front and influence the voters who support similar views. The members of this wide-spread organization believe that the weapon reform was too long in the legislative impasse and the policies were greatly influenced by the NRA and did no attempts to change the system even after numerous tragedies.
This year the CSGV celebrates its 40th anniversary and successfully go on settling the urgent social problems under the wise leadership of such directors as Mike Beard (President Emeritus), Josh Horwitz (Executive Director), Ladd Everitt (Director of Communications), Chelsea White (Director of Development), Lori Haas (Virginia State Director), T. Christian Heyne (Legislative Director) and counsel Kelly Ward (General Counsel) (“About Us”).
Coalition’s Strategy and Tactics to Promote the Agenda
Being the non-profit advocacy organization concerned with the control of firearms in the United States, the CSGV seeks to protect American citizens from armed violence through strategic coordination and advocacy in the field of politics. The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (EFSGV) has been an important part of the organization for many years. It has been campaigning for the reduction of mortality and accidents caused by firearms.
The activists of the Coalition developed a three-stepped strategy to improve the situation and eradicate gun violence.
Firstly, they decided to lead an active political propaganda and said that if members of the NRA may endanger peaceful citizen’s lives and the lives of their loved ones and do not bear any responsibility, the Coalition supporters can convince all the politicians to hear their constituents. This part includes the active use of the social media companies, television, radio, and print advertising containing impartial information about the consequences of the use of firearms.
Secondly, the activists engage in dialogue with the legislators, urging them to become advocates of the reform in the United States. The people who have been affected by armed violence are the key players in lobbying the organization’s interests as well as their own ones.
Thirdly, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is the first organization that raises the question of the prohibition on caring firearms in terms of democratic values. It tries to encourage the members of the NRA to reinterpret the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. Presenting convincing arguments, the CSGV was able to show all the hypocrisy of the NRA as well as its member’s talks about “freedom,” and thus almost drove them to a standstill.
The Coalition provides its social activity through nine tactical issues, proposing to sign appropriate petitions and support its initiatives on the each position.
1. The implementation of wide-spread universal background checks.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) prevented nearly two million of convicted criminals and other dangerous and suspicious persons from acquisition of weapons. The legislation act also has a restrictive effect. Potential buyers have fewer opportunities to get guns, knowing about strengthened control and verification of documents on the spot.
The main problem is the weapons black market. The current federal law demands criminal background checks only for weapons that are sold by official dealers, who keep control over more than half of all arms sales in the United States. However, there is a law loophole that allows people, who do not have the right for gun trade, sell firearms without a license and associated registration documents. In other words, more than third of the sold weapons in the US is passed from hand to hand illegally.
Privately guns are sold through the Internet, newspaper advertisements, at gun shows, or directly from hand to hand in different places. It is a painful problem for many modern countries.
The Coalition supports the initiative to adopt a federal law, which requires the universal background check for all possible sales of firearms (private sales as well). It will help the authorities to prevent domestic violence and accidents caused by actions of mentally ill people and criminals (“Issues”).
2. The struggle against a toxic compound of ideology and firepower promoted by the NRA.
The NRA argues that freedom and security depend on the number of people that can use weapons. Moreover, its supporters believe that 30,000 deaths due to the use of firearms are not the reason for tightening measures and restrictions. The Association’s position is: the more weapons in the private sector, the greater guarantees of security.
The Coalition does not share the view that open access to firearms will protect individual rights of citizens in particular situations when the law is ineffective. Additionally, the public authorities have to reckon with people who can use weapons. According to the Association’s position, citizens have the right to influence the Government by means of hard power.
The Coalition uses the term “insurrectionism,” which is also known as “Second Amendment remedies.” The insurrectionism approach is a part of a broader ideological point of view that rejects the need of establishing a strong government in all possible forms. A special role is ascribed to some individuals who live according to their own ideas about preferred and unacceptable laws. According to the CSGV approach, this philosophy promotes an inevitable death of democratic values and institutions that protect the rights and freedoms of honest Americans.
Coalition opposes gun lobby extremists who do not consider the property rights, access to justice, freedom of information, public security etc., on the way to their goal (“Issues”).
3. To prohibit the sale and use of assault weapons.
The features, which are possessed by assault weapons, were developed for the most effective struggle on battlefields. Ill-considered and weak laws enabled official dealers and shadow traders to extend easily this kind of weapons across America. For decades, criminals quickly learned how to use the advantages of new weapons and unite it with their military capabilities.
In 1994, the federal ban on the distribution and use of assault weapons was adopted by President Bill Clinton and Congress. It included 19 specific models of guns, copies, and possible duplicates of those models. The guns, which had several assault weapons features, were banned as well. Unfortunately, the law was designed for 10 years. In 2004, a formal unsuccessful attempt to resume its force was made. The Coalition advocates for the extension of the law and continues an active fight for the ban on the use of assault weapons (“Issues”).
4. To ban the gun carrying in public places.
The NRA believes that the wearing of a loaded weapons in public places tends to the most responsible and law-abiding citizens. However, the number of crimes indicates quite a polar situation.
In America, there is no constitutional approval for carrying loaded weapons in public places, hiding it. The Second Amendment is not unlimited. It does not give the right to possess various weapons for all sorts of purposes. Especially, this amendment does not give the right to carry any gun and, moreover, use it in such special locations as government buildings and schools.
In contrast to the Association, which promotes the initiative of official carrying of weapons in churches, colleges, airports, transport, restaurants etc., the CSGV strongly supports the opposite idea, trying to secure places of mass gathering, especially of children (“Issues”).
5. To implement microstamping.
The “microstamping” technology makes possible to implement successfully a comprehensive ballistic identification of weapons, like fingerprint identification. It will be possible to find out a maker, a model, and even a serial number of a gun used for shooting. Microscopic prints on private weapons are made using a laser. This allows the police to track every gun and prevent any attempt of its anonymous illegal physical recovery. The microstamping allows to observe movement of weapons and finding its previous users, who could become suspects as well as informants.
In 2007, such a bill was signed by the Governor of California. Later, in 2009, the initiative was supported by the District of Columbia and several other states.
Today, the US government is considering the possibility of the wide application of this approach to the weapons identification. The Coalition approves the promotion of this law by all available and honest means (“Issues”).
6. The countermarketing initiative.
Cities are the significant centers of the arms industry. The local authorities are the largest firearms buyers because of their need to provide protection service with guns. Such a situation gives a reason to believe that the establishing control over the market and dealers is possible through a regulation inside cities. This also will help to reduce the level of violence and cruelty.
A complex collaboration of customers and authorities is able to maintain the system of countermarketing. Obviously, arms manufacturers will be interested in preventing the diversion of illegal firearms and reduce guns shadow sale turns. The CSGV is confident that it is possible to find a compromise between the policies of separate private and state companies for uniting their efforts to work for the government in a favorable context (“Issues”).
7. To prevent an adoption of the “Stand Your Ground” laws.
The laws under the general title “Stand Your Ground” are very dangerous and have a tragic context. They permit the use of firearms if it is necessary to prove one’s point of view, or in a self-defense situation, even if likelihood of getting a physical injury from a rival remains no more than a probability. This approach is criminal in its essence because of its aggressive intentions and not calling for a peaceful solution to conflicts. The alternative to shoot an enemy remains even when it is possible to turn and walk away from a conflict situation. The Coalition explains that the law entitles a person to kill a human, even if this person has provoked a fight but realized the probability of losing it. Such laws symbolize a positive signal to potential killers to take and use weapons anywhere in a public place. It is only important to make sure that no one, who can testify against, has survived in a conflict.
In 2005, the law of “Stand Your Ground” category was passed in Florida at the behest of a NRA representative Marion Hammer. The Coalition intends to resist the promotion of such laws, considering that they are consequences of commercial operations and the need of gun dealers to sell actively their weapons to well-known or fellow customers (“Issues”).
8. To prevent the gun using by the mentally ill persons.
The people with mental disorders are not always seeking help and their disease often progress in a latent form. Nevertheless, they can be extremely dangerous to themselves and the society. The use of firearms by mentally unstable persons can lead to a major tragedy that may be accompanied by numerous victims or a suicide. The CSGV insists on the adoption of the laws that tighten the test for mental stability and make it not possible to restore a license for storage and use of weapons, which was lost because of deterioration of health (“Issues”).
9. To revise a special protection for the gun industry.
Low-conscious attitude of arms dealers to sales of guns caused numerous of victims and injuries. Today the arms industry is well protected. However, it would be fair to say that the social indifference of those people who spread weapons and their unwillingness to help in reducing the level of violence is the reason that guns often falls into wrong hands. Sellers and manufacturers should take all possible measures to prevent illicit firearms trafficking.
The NRA, which represents the armory industry, tries to resist the legislative process and to prevent the adoption of the new laws of toughening responsibility of producers and dealers. In contrast to the Association, the CSGV is committed to strengthening authorities’ oversight of both the gun industry’s and market’s participation in the turnover of weapons (“Issues”).
Part Three. Gun Freedom Is the Way to the Secure Future
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence deserves unequivocal support because it is a stronghold for everyone who resists the violence of weapons.
The primary principle and its main strategic goal are to provide for all honest citizens the right to live in the society free from firearms. The Coalition not only makes possible to imagine a better future for ourselves and our children but it also is doing everything possible to achieve this noble goal. The protection of the Americans from the gun spread is a natural desire of its members. Among the main reasons one can list the followings. Private use of firearms increases aggression in relationships between people and causes a number of crimes and murders.
Firearm is a serious tool and thus, it should be used cautiously. It is not enough to test and give permission for a citizen to purchase a gun, thus a strict control and testing at all levels are needed. The international legal framework does not correspond to a society excessively using firearms. For this reason, it is necessary to improve legislation on the state level.
Supporting the aspirations and goals of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence all conscious citizens make their contribution to creating the better and secure future.
Gun control plays a very important role in the life of the American society. Choosing safety and well-being, every person must remember that there is no place for violence and murder in such a prosperous life. Weapons should be used for protection only. The state, organizations, and separate individuals should work together and fight for the elimination of violence, caused by busing a weapon, in the society. Our research has proved that Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is an excellent example of such coordinated cooperation. We explored that it is not just an organization, but an influential force that is formed by different non-profit unions and private law-defenders. Celebrating its 40th anniversary under the wise leadership of such professionals as M. Beard, J. Horwitz, L. Everitt, and others, the CSGV successfully continue the lasting struggle for social peace and security by soft measures only. We believe that everyone can make a valuable contribution in support of a common cause! The main thing is not to remain indifferent and join actively or passively to those who promote the legislative process with a view of making fundamental changes in the USA life.