An ethical approach to gun control using utilitarianism

Subject: Law
Type: Synthesis Essay
Pages: 2
Word count: 602
Topics: Gun Control, Ethics, Utilitarianism
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The matter of gun control continues to be one of the most divisive issues in the US. It is exacerbated by the heated difference held by opposing sides of the gun control argument. Reports contain a record of four or more people being shot dead in mass shooting incidents which continue to make headlines in news items. Further reports show that about 114,994 citizens lose their lives every year in gun-related killings (Jones and Stone 167). The risk of gun killings stretches from murders to accidents, assaults, suicide attempts and suicides as well as police intervention and brutality. Therefore, the primary intent of this essay is to examine the moral discipline that can be applied in the gun control matter so as to impact the community positively.

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In the USA today, more and more guns continue to find their way into the community whereby even under-age children carry guns to school. One of the latest school shooting incidents is the Santa Fe High School incident in Texas, where eight students were shot dead alongside two teachers. Additionally, another eighteen people got wounded in the horrific incident. Such cases are exacerbated by the weak gun control policies and the increased amounts of guns in the community. The community continues to suffer while the government spends vast amounts on issues that can otherwise be corrected using simpler ways that impact the community positively.

The Utilitarianism approach advocates for doing things to maximize utility where utility defines satisfaction of people. In this way, the society is encouraged to take actions that will not only bestow benefits and comfort on them but also on others in the community (Freiman 57). For instance, shooting others in public brings disutility to the society and hence is against the utilitarian principle. Nonetheless, this is not the case as it brings pain and agony to people. Although some actions might bring satisfaction to one individual as a person would be after completing shooting, it does not fit the requirements of Utilitarianism in the society. If people, in this case, would consider the happiness of the entire community, it would not require the government to enforce gun control policies as the citizens realize negative effects and loss in utility that result from mass shooting.

At the same time, Principle of Utility or the greatest-happiness principle could significantly impact the ethical practice of gun control. It further explains that one must always act in a manner that produces the most profound happiness among all people (Astashov and Petrov 8). In this manner, the approach places responsibility on the individual to consider the consequences of their actions. In this case, therefore, the person will examine whether shooting others will be happy or not. If the act does not result in happiness for all, then it should not be executed.

Bentham’s Felicific Calculus is an algorithm that attempts to attach degrees of pain and pleasure on actions (Heinegg 560). In this approach, Felicific looks at the action and considers its consequences. Using the approach actions in which pain outweighs pleasure should be avoided. For instance, shooting others causes discomfort and should be avoided.

In conclusion, Utilitarianism encourages the good of all people involved whereby the principle of utility presses responsibility on the people to do what is correct as it is the only thing that brings happiness. In using the Felicific approach, it becomes possible to measure pain and pleasure whereby only deeds that promote long-term happiness should be encouraged. In applying the Utilitarianism approach, the society could be healed from the menace of gun-related killings.

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  1. Astashov, Dmitry, and Aleksander Petrov. “The Principle of Utility in the View Of J. Bentham”. Bulletin of the South Ural State University Series “Law”, vol 16, no. 1, 2016, pp. 7-11. FSAEIHE South Ural State University (National Research University), doi: 10.14529/law160101. Accessed 12 July 2018.
  2. Freiman, Christopher. “Utilitarianism and Public Justification.” Journal of Social Philosophy, vol 44, no. 3, 2013, pp. 250-269. Wiley, doi:10.1111/josp.12033. Accessed 12 July 2018.
  3. Heinegg, Peter. “Felicific Caritas, Practicalagape.” Crosscurrents, vol 65, no. 4, 2015, pp. 559-561. Wiley, doi:10.1111/cros.12162. Accessed 12 July 2018.
  4. Jones, Michael A., and George W. Stone. “The U.S. Gun-Control Paradox: Gun Buyer Response to Congressional Gun-Control Initiatives.” Journal of Business & Economics Research (JBER), vol 13, no. 4, 2015, p. 167. Clute Institute, doi:10.19030/jber.v13i4.9449. Accessed 12 July 2018.
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