Neutral Gun Control Debate based on Constitution
So I pulled out my Gun!
Please don’t take away my bazooka; it has feelings too. Although that phrase sounds trivial, the issue behind it has been much more than serious over the past 250 years. Gun control is the idea that people should be restricted from the right of owning guns. However, there is not just one or two sides to the issue. The Founding Father’s vagueness in describing gun control in the Constitution has led towards many different interpretations of what they actually meant. The biggest concern when dealing with this issue is the interpretation of the second amendment in the Bill of Rights. It says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” (Cohen 1). Three sides to gun control that have ample evidence, specifically their interpretation of the second amendment, to support their claims include: the Liberal view for gun control, which describes that the outdated militia has little relevance to today's issues, the Conservative view against gun control, which defends the notion of self defense, and the in-between view, which states that guns should be available only to members of the current active militia.
The Liberal view for gun control base their opinion on the fact that the militia is an outdated, temporary system that does not apply to our current government. The definition of a militia is “described in the American Dictionary of the English Language (1828): ‘The militia of a country are the able bodied men organized into companies, regiments and brigades, with officers of all grades, and required by law to attend military exercises on certain days only, but at other times left to pursue their usual occupations.” (Doyle 23)This definition sheds light on the fact that the militia is not separate from the government. Rather, they are a back-up military force of self-armed citizens that were subject to a duty of military service with the state. This is further proven with the Militia Act of 1792, which requires “each able-bodied male between 18 and 45 to enroll in the militia and to equip himself with a good musket or firelock, and sufficient...powder.” (Doyle 23) Two arguments can be formed from these two passages. One is that the militia has a duty to the government rather than an unalienable right to own guns, and the second is that this idea of a militia is very outdated. A key group of descriptive words in the second amendment that defend this idea is ‘well regulated’. The founding fathers did not include those two words for no reason. It assumes that the government is going to be responsible for watching over the group with the guns. Many battles were actually won for the American Revolution because of the Militia Act of 1792. However, the close of the eighteenth century signified that militias were not only impractical, but virtually obsolete. Up until the Civil war, less than 10% of the population owned working weapons (Spitzer 30). This is evidence that the militia was a temporary group only used to fight in the American Revolution.
The Conservative view against gun control states that the founding fathers wrote the second amendment in order to protect the right of every citizen to own guns for the main reason of self defense, which is what the founders originally intended for every American citizen. Militia, as used in the second amendment and according to pro gun opinion, does not refer to an army or even soldiers. Instead, it refers to “ordinary citizens who, by ordinary law, had guns in their homes.” (Doyle 13) Because this law affected everyday persons who participated in the militia, it is evident that it applied to everyday persons. The reason for this was simply self-defense. The second amendment was enacted so that Americans could defend against the British or any other governmental and dictatorial force (Stell 1). The conservative view holds tight to the idea that if the people cannot defend themselves, they will have little power and influence over what the authorities can do to them. Pro gun activists believe that this is the reason why the founding fathers worded it as “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”. If the framers of the constitution wanted to redirect the right to the states ability to regulate militias, as the liberal view suggests, then it would have been worded more like “A well regulated militia...of a free state, the power of the States to form and control militias shall not be limited.” (Richman 1). Since it was not written more closely to how Richman worded it, it means that the second amendment was intended to apply to the individual right of self defense by allowing gun ownership. Some people argue that allowing the right to purchase and own guns gives the availability of guns to terrorists. However, it provides an “armed citizenry that could provide an important layer in the defense against terror” (Henderson 5). This terrorists access to guns but gives any citizen the ability to pull out a gun on them. Since terrorists are going to collect guns via the black market anyway, pro gun people believe that we are safer giving everyone the right to own guns.Owning guns in America is not a privilege; it is a right guaranteed by the second amendment and it is verified by the wording that the founding fathers used.
The in-between side believes that the right to own guns only belongs to the organized militia, which was legally renamed the National Guard. In this view, the group of citizens that owns weapons are owned and operated by the government. This side concentrates on the words “well regulated” in the second amendment. In-between people believe that guns should be available for citizens as long as they are monitored and regulated by the government (Cohen 1). Every single citizen should not have the right to own and operate a gun. Guns are extremely dangerous and are a huge cause of purposeful and accidental deaths each year. The National Defense Act, created in 1916, ensured this idea that the active militia, now called the National Guard, “would be organized under the same method as the ‘Regular Army’...and also placed state Guards under federal guidelines” (Spitzer 31). This was made to update the old militia system, seeing that the specifics such as the gun requirements were intended for the time period when the second amendment was written. The in-between people believe the second amendment grants the priveledge of gun ownership to a regulated group of citizens, now called the National Guard. Understanding the second amendment with this context makes it easy to understand that owning a gun is only allowed for the citizens who participate in the National Guard.
Check out the 60s!
- How the 1960s changed America
America changed immensely in the 1960s. From MLK, to JFK, to the advancement of technology, to the carefree hippies, America has been changed by the 1960s, or rather, the people and events in it.
The three different views of gun ownership because of irrelevance, rights, or militias all have pros and cons to their reasoning. If we are looking solely on what the founders meant in the second amendment, the words ‘well regulated’ cannot be overlooked. Although the second amendment states that bearing arms is a right of the people, it must be regulated. This means that the government needs to be overlooking the ownership and usage of the guns and the citizens who use them. Guns, after all, are extremely dangerous, and a citizen who does not know how to properly operate one can be a serious threat to the community. Governmental oversight would virtually eliminate this from happening because of training and background checks.
Cohen, Jeff. "Gun Control, the NRA and the Second Amendment." Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR). 1 Feb. 2000. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. <http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2587>.
Doyle, Kelly. Is Gun Ownership a Right? Detroit: Greenhaven, 2005. Print.
Henderson, Harry. Gun Control. New York: Facts On File, 2005. Print.
Richman, Sheldon. "What the Second Amendment Means." Welcome to The Future of Freedom Foundation. The Future of Freedom Foundation, Oct. 1995. Web. 24 Oct. 2011. <http://www.fff.org/freedom/1095e.asp>.
Spitzer, Robert J. The Right to Bear Arms: Rights and Liberties under the Law. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2001. Print.
Stell, Lance K. "Gun Control and the Regulation of Fundamental Rights." Criminal Justice Ethics 20.1 (2001): 28. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 24 Oct. 2011.
Lastly but not leastly :)
If you liked this, share it with someone! Another thing, this was a project for my college; I got a 90 on it with most of the minus points being Works Cited things. I don't really have a strong view on the issue, so I wouldn't be very effective in debates. However, you can still post your reactions to it in the comment section! I love comments!
I actually posted it b/c other people could potentially benefit from it. If not for just knowledge, then for an example of writing a paper. I've discovered that as long as your are clear, specific, and logical (in how you approach the paper), it usually ends up being pretty good.
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