Gun Control and the Second Amendment

The Constitution of the United States permits the right of its citizens to bear arms (Cottrol & Viator, 2012). The formulation of the Second Amendment lacked any constraints and that is why currently there are laws limiting the concept of gun ownership. The main purpose of gun control is supported by the platform of public safety but this has been highly disputed by individuals that think that possession of firearms has to be banned. Nonetheless, such arguments have been outweighed by the fact that ownership limitation rights may become a danger to an individual’s personal freedom. Therefore, this paper will focus on how gun control is supported by the second amendment in terms of its relevancy, the role of the constitution, its impact on people’s lives, and finally offer suggestions on the changes that can be made on it.

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The Second Amendment is considered as a touchstone for most people that are familiar with the American society and its strong affinity for firearms (Caplan, 2013). However, atrocities such as the Orlando mass shooting inevitably settle on how the Second Amendment effectively hinders the adoption of appropriate gun control measures. It is essential to note that the significance of the Second Amendment relies more on its symbolism especially for supporters of gun ownership. Furthermore, the Amendment is considered as a reminder of the United States relationship with guns which runs back to the colonial heritage; this has developed a popular and strong mythology that surrounds this legacy.

Out of the ten amendments in the United States Constitution, the Second Amendment is the one that has been the most publicly contentious. The increase of mass shooting atrocities has led to more concerning issues about the Amendment and it has made the topic of gun control even more popular. Since ratification of the Amendment, American citizens have argued over its interpretation and meaning. One side translates it to mean that it offers collective rights while the opposing side perceives it as a platform that provides individual rights (Cottrol & Viator, 2012).  The collective thinkers assume that the Amendment offers every state with the right to train and maintain militia units that could provide protection against the oppressive federal government. It is argued that a well-regulated militia means that there is a right to possess firearms but only for organized groups (Johnson, 2014).

For many years now there has been a heated debate regarding whether or not gun control is an appropriate solution for the US. As a result, two distinct sides have emerged: one in favor of gun control and the other against any form of gun control. In recent years, pro-gun control proponents have argued that the numerous school shootings were largely due to the county’s minimal gun control. While to many this appears like a reasonable argument, in reality it is a serious case of over generalization, since there are many other factors that contribute to tragic events such as school shootings. On the other hand, those opposed to gun control argue that gun control legislations would infringe on the Second Amendment of the US that permits citizen to possess firearms (Rabb, 2015). So which side is right? Ideally, neither side is entirely correct; however, when all facts are considered it is clear that gun control is not the best solution for the US, mainly because guns are not the problem people are and people choose to own guns for self-defense reasons.

Several experts have said that unless problems associated with interpersonal hatred are solved, it may matter very little how much guns are controlled. The fact of the matter is people are the problem not guns. Pro-gun control people argue that if stricter gun control laws are introduced the level of crime and murders will significantly fall (Caplan, 2013). However, until problems such as unemployment and hatred are solved, killings and crime will always exist. Those with ill intentions and criminals will always find an illegal way to acquire guns. In other countries with stricter gun laws such as Mexico, studies have indicated that crime is significantly higher in these countries. Until a solution can be found to deal with individuals who commit crimes, strict gun laws will do very little to remedy the situation. This is because a gun does not kill anybody, but the person behind the gun pulling the trigger.

A common argument fronted by advocates of gun control is that firearms carry out two-thirds of homicides. Nonetheless, even with strict gun control, homicides would never end because of human nature. Criminals and murderers would simply turn to other weapons such as axes, knives or clubs. If a person is determined enough to kill virtually anything can be used as a weapon. Similarly, gun control laws would also not help decrease crime rates. In fact, research has shown that gun control have the opposite effect (Cottrol & Viator, 2012). In 1967, New York City banned shotguns and rifles and after a while crime rates significantly rose. Similarly, Washington DC banned handguns in 1976 and soon afterwards the crime rate tripled, which proves that gun control is not a good idea.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “A country cannot preserve its liberty if its leaders are not regularly reminded that people preserve the resistance spirit…..let them possess arms” (Johnson, 2014). Gun control would imply that the citizens are giving up on the rights protected under the Second Amendments. Gun control may not be the best solution for the US. First off, criminals need to be dealt with, and not law abiding citizens because guns do not kill, people do. Until criminals are adequately dealt with, it will matter little whether guns are restricted. Restricting guns also takes away a major form of self-defense putting the lives of many people at risk. As such, by no means is restricting guns a good solution.

There is a philosophical connection between gun control and the Second Amendment since it was first founded in the early republic. The conception of arms bearing was bound to a larger context of collective self-defense within the well-regulated society that is governed by law. Protecting the right to bear and keep arms is not similar to forbidding all the regulations on the right. It is still possible to protect the right while regulating where, when, and what types of guns should be permitted. In special cases, it is possible to regulate who has the permission to obtain gun by imposing specific restrictions on them; for instance, mentally ill, felons, as well as known terrorists are not allowed to use or keep arms (Johnson, 2014).

Seemingly, it is clear that the founding fathers as well as their contemporaries within the individual states assumed that to maintain the freedom, the most essential element was that every person in America needed the right to bear and keep arms so that they could defend themselves (Caplan, 2013). Some individuals have raised concerns over the Second Amendment in terms of how it has promoted militia but this does not have any evidence. Gun control and the Second Amendment have adversely affected the society especially since the increase of criminal activities within America. For instance, drug-related burglaries, murders and thefts have increased in the United States and this has led to more people and businesses deciding to arm themselves so that they can protect their properties, businesses and families (Cottrol & Viator, 2012).

Evidently, gun ownership minimizes incidences of murder and all the other crimes (Johnson, 2014). Moreover, criminals are less likely to victimize others because they know that there is a high probability that they are armed and have the ability to competently use the weapon. With this in mind, criminals are discouraged from committing any crimes because they know that the victim may turn out to be a dangerous threat to their lives, this means that they would become the victim instead of the perpetrator. Each day 80 United States citizens die because of gunshots and more than 120 are wounded (Rabb, 2015). However, gun advocates claim that guns do not kill but rather people kill people. The truth of the matter is that individuals with guns murder people in a surprisingly efficient manner as an act of self-defense.

It is evident that the Second Amendment has to be changed by adding a clause that would ensure that the ownership of guns will not be used for illegal, terrorist, or hate crime purposes (Rabb, 2015). For instance, the Amendment should ensure that even though people are allowed to possess guns, they should be able to determine and have knowledge of situations that they should be used. Furthermore, the kind of guns that they possess should be controlled in a stricter manner where military type guns should not be sold to civilians unless they work in the military or police force. It is essential to note that the significance of the Second Amendment relies more on its symbolism especially for supporters of gun ownership. Furthermore, the Amendment is considered as a reminder of the United States relationship with guns which runs back to the colonial heritage; this has developed a popular and strong mythology that surrounds this legacy.

Every right should have the utmost protection and defense whenever regulations are placed into consideration. The right to defend oneself through the Second Amendment and natural law deserves the sense of consideration with regards to regulations. However, this does not mean that legislation should not be passed or proposed on gun ownership. The formulation of this amendment lacked any constraints and that is why currently there are laws limiting the concept of gun ownership. The main purpose of gun control is supported by the platform of public safety but this has been highly disputed by individuals that think that possession of firearms has to be banned. Nonetheless, such arguments have been outweighed by the fact that ownership limitation rights may become a danger to an individual’s personal freedom.

 

References

Caplan, D. I. (2013). Restoring The Balance – The Second Amendment Revisited. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 5, 1, 31-53.

Cottrol, R. J., & Viator, J. E. (2012). Gun Control and the Constitution: Sources and Explorations on the Second Amendment. The American Journal of Legal History, 39, 2, 245.

Johnson, N. J. (2014). A Second Amendment Moment: The Constitutional Politics of Gun Control. Brooklyn Law Review, 71, 2, 715-796.

Rabb, J. H. (2015). Second Amendment – Past imperfect: The dark history of gun control. Guns & Ammo, 26.