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Should handguns be banned.

NEWS FACT: In 1976, the city of Washington, D.C., sought to counter an alarming murder rate by banning the private ownership of handguns. Last fall, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Dick Heller, a D.C. security guard. Heller had filed a lawsuit claiming that the ban violated his Second Amendment rights (see p. 6).

For many Americans, handguns symbolize violence. According to FBI statistics, they are used in more than 75 percent of firearm-related murders. Law-enforcement officials across the country say that handguns are especially dangerous because they are easy to get and conceal. With so many guns, they say, it is also easy for a simple argument to blow up into a shooting.

Opponents of D.C.'s law protest that a high crime rate is the very reason people should be able to own handguns. Dick Heller, who is licensed to carry a gun in his job guarding federal buildings, says that he needs one to be safe in the dangerous neighborhood where he lives. "I can protect [federal workers], but at the end of the day they say, 'Turn in your gun, you can't protect your home.'"

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What Do You Think?

Should handguns be outlawed in the U.S.?

YES Peter Nickles, the Attorney General of Washington, D.C., is convinced that the city's handgun ban has "saved many lives." He believes that strict gun control is necessary in a densely populated area like the District of Columbia. "There is no question in my mind that the level of violence in our neighborhoods would increase if people were allowed to carry handguns," he tells JS.

Kelsey Christian, 12, thinks that "people should have the right to protect themselves." But handguns are trouble, says the seventh-grader at St. Mary's Catholic School in Mansfield, Massachusetts. "You can't trust everyone with a gun, because they can be irresponsible."

Iriana Balbian, 13, is an eighth-grader at Darwin Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois. "People shouldn't have guns [at all], even if it is violating the Second Amendment," she says. "it could be dangerous to be carrying around weapons."

NO Not all police officers agree about gun control. "Anybody who is law-abiding and responsible and passes the state rules" has the right to have a handgun, one New York City detective tells JS. "Generally, people who carry guns are responsible people," he says. "They don't want to hurt anybody, and it's for their personal protection."

Many opponents of strict gun-control laws believe that these rules don't stop crime. Brooks Reavill, 13, holds this point of view. "If there are no handguns, then those gun users will 'upgrade' to higher-powered rifles," says the eighth-grader at Talcott Mountain Academy in Avon, Connecticut.

"People fear for their safety," says Eugene Agnew, 12, a seventh-grader at Humboldt Junior High School in Humboldt, Tennessee. "They don't know what's going to happen in the future. If someone breaks into your house, you should have a way to protect yourself."
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Title Annotation:Debate
Publication:Junior Scholastic
Date:Mar 10, 2008
Words:499
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