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The United States is a huge country, with an enormous amount of murders committed by firearms every year. In Canada, the number of murders committed by guns is a lot lower, and the same goes for Europe.
In this essay I’m going to compare USA, Canada and different countries in Europe (mainly Norway) when it comes to rules about gun control, the difference in people’s attitudes towards guns and number of murders committed by firearms every year. I will end it with some of my own opinions on the results, and a conclusion with what I think can be done to lower the number of deaths caused by firearms.
In USA you can buy a gun almost everywhere. In “Bowling for Columbine”, we see Michael Moore go in to a bank, open an account, and receive a free shotgun.
In some states, like Texas, you don’t need a permit to purchase rifles, shotguns or hand weapons. You don’t have to register your gun, and you don’t need a licence. You don’t even need permit to carry rifles and shotguns. You only need that for hand weapons. Of course, there are some states that are a little bit stricter, like New York. There you’ll need a permit to purchase and to carry handguns. You also have to register your hand weapon, and you’ll need a license too. When it comes to rifles and shotguns, the rules are the same as they are in Texas.
If you want to buy a gun in Canada you’ll first have to pass the Canadian firearms safety test with or without a course forehand, and then you’ll have to obtain a license. Registration of all firearms is required in Canada, and there is no permit to carry handguns, except in a few specific circumstances like use in target practice or competition, and in certain jobs like money transportation.
In Norway, not even cops are allowed to carry guns on a normal day at work. To get a gun you have to take a course, and pass a test, the same as in Canada. You’ll also need a license. You have to register your gun, and keep it locked in, unloaded with the safety on. Ammunition has to be kept separately.
In The United States, especially south in the country, people love their guns. The country has a population of 281 million people and 200 million guns, of which 65 million are handguns. In 2002, firearms killed 28,663 people in America, which is an extremely high number, but on the other hand, America has an extremely big population. Therefore, you have to see the big picture, which this diagram shows perfectly.
So, why is the death rate so much higher in the USA compared to these other countries? It’s a hard question to answer, and I don’t think anyone really knows. People blame the hard music, violent games and movies, etc. I will stick to Michael Moore’s explanation, fear. Americans are a lot more afraid then people in Canada, or various countries in Europe, perhaps with good reason. The USA has many enemies all around the world.
Terrorists threaten to attack the country almost on a daily basis, and incidents like September 11, are still on the mind of every American. While the number of deaths in the USA have fallen by 20 %, the news cover violence 600 % more now, than before.
It’s also very easy to get a gun in America. In some states, like Texas, almost everybody over the age of 18 can buy a gun in any normal store. Firearms is an ordinary thing in America, while in other countries, like Norway it’s a bit more rare, and many people look at guns as accessories to criminals.
USA has a very violent and war filled past, but so does many other countries, like Germany, Japan, France and Great Britain. However, I still think that the country’s past has a lot to do with how things are today. There’s a difference between USA and these countries.
While other counties have a violent past when it comes to war and similar things, America has both a violent past and present. The country still goes to war and still bombs countries in the Middle East.
The big question in all this is of course, how do we stop the killing? How do we lower the number of deaths caused by firearms every year? In countries like Norway, where the rules are very strict, all I think can be done is to raise the penalty for murder. 21 prison years (one year = 9 months) is nothing for murder, and when they in addition can get out after half the time if they act well. They won’t serve more than 8 years in prison all together. In my opinion, a human life is worth much more than that!
In countries like America, the entire culture has to change. People cannot love their guns as much as they do in America. It should be illegal to carry firearms; all guns should be registered, and kept locked in with ammo separately concealed.
It should also be harder to get hold of a firearm. When they hand out guns in a bank, you know that something is seriously wrong!