Effective Legal Weed vs. Gun Control
Two news-capturing events have happened within a month of each other. One devastatingly tragic, while the other, depending on one's point of view is worth celebrating, or yet another tragedy.
On December 6, 2012, the 502 Initiative in Washington State went into action, causing a huge ripple in America, many believing it to be a good thing, while others remain convinced it is a step toward a doomed world.
On December 14, 2012, the horrific incident which left 26 people dead, 20 of which were innocent children, happened in a Connecticut elementary school. Millions of us mourn this devastating loss of life, and our hearts reach out to those families who lost loved ones during this ghastly time.
Both of these events, though unrelated except through sheer happenstance of being within days of one another, are unrelated except for one thing:
They both bring up the issue of American Rights.
The American Rights
When creating the constitution, our Founding Fathers wanted to create a utopia, a government which allowed its people to be free. They wanted to prevent the harsh tyranny from which they had fled in England. There was no longer to be a monarchy, but instead a democracy, allowing every one to vote (though at that time, "every one" meant a land owning, white male - though thankfully we have evolved past that as a country).
Part of the constitution had Amendments, the first ten known as the Bill of Rights:
- The Right to Assembly (Freedom of Speech)
- The Right to Bear Arms
- The Right to protection from quartering Troops
- The Right to Protection from Unreasonable Search and Seizure
- The Right to Provisions during Prosecution
- The Right to a Speedy Trial
- The Right to a Jury
- The Right to Protection from Cruel and Unusual Punishment and/or excessive Bail
- The Rule of Construction under Constitution
- The Right for Individual States to have their own Rights
There are two of these rights which are currently under question: The Right to Bear Arms, and States' Rights.
Listings of Shootings in 2012
- Reports Of Mass Shooting In Fresno, California
A mass shooting reportedly rattled the premises of the Apple Valley Farms plant in Fresno, Calif., on Tuesday morning. Fox News has reported that at least eight people have been shot
- Man fires some 50 shots at Calif. mall parking lot - Yahoo! News
From Yahoo! News: A man was arrested Saturday after firing about 50 shots in the parking lot of a Southern California shopping mall, prompting a lockdown of stores crowded with holiday shoppers.
- Ala. police kill suspects after separate shootings - Yahoo! News
From Yahoo! News: Police in Alabama say a SWAT team shot dead a man wielding an assault rifle following a chase touched off by a triple killing, hours after a separate weekend shooting at a hospital in the state.
The Second Amendment
The Second Amendment was written with the protection of American Citizens in mind. It meant that each individual had the right to have their own arms, meaning guns.
It is commonly interpreted as an individual's right to protect themselves, and thus, carry a gun. This allows for protection of burglary, threat from another individual, or protecting another person from a dangerous situation.
This, however, is not quite right.
The Second Amendment was written for militia purposes. It was meant to be for citizens to be able to rise up against their government or others which threatened their freedoms.
Within the year of 2012, in America, there have been several mass shootings - five people were killed in a health spa in Georgia in February; there was a shooting the same month in Tennessee in a night club, leaving 20 injured; the day after there was a high school shooting in Ohio; there was a shooting at a funeral home which left 12 injured and two dead; in April, a man executed seven people in his former school in Oakland; there of course was the "Batman Incident" on the movie's opening day in; in August a gunman shot six people in a temple in Wisconsin; on Election day there was a shooting in which another six people were shot in California; as mentioned before, in December a man entered an elementary school in Connecticut and killed 26 people, most of which were children; the day following the Connecticut shootings, a man in California fires 50 shots into a mall parking lot, leaving many holiday shoppers locked in stores for safety; the same day, police killed a man who had shot and killed three in Alabama. This is just to list a few.
All these horrific incidents leads to one question: should we reconsider the Second Amendment?
Should We Revoke the Right To Bear Arms?
Homicides by Weapon
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
- Global Study on Homicide
"The UNODC 2011 Global Study on Homicide brings together global, regional, national and subnational homicide data in one publication. It is hoped that the data and analysis of the most violent crime against the person will assist global efforts..."
The Gun Debate
The country seems divided: Ban the guns vs. Ban the loonies toting the guns.
Many agree that it isn't the gun which kills people, it's the individual which pulls the trigger. However, the debate is whether or not these acts of violence could have been prevented had guns not been around.
In the United Kingdom, guns are not legal for citizens to have. As a result, one is twice as likely to be confronted with a knife in Briton than confronted with a gun in the US. This could be down to many factors - the obvious being that guns are illegal in the UK; one does not need a permit to own a knife in the UK; knives can come in many shapes and forms for many different purposes, allowing many different locations to carry them for different occasions (a butcher's knife, a cleaver, a skinning knife, a pocket knife, etc). That being said, does that mean that we are safer in the US if we are half as likely to be confronted with a gun?
Not at all!
Though, by restricting the ability to acquire a fire arm in the US, it will increase its value on the black market, but will not stop people from obtaining them. In 2008, it was estimated that there were nearly 100 million unregistered guns in the United States, creating a near total of 300 million guns circulating. It is also approximated that each year 1.5-2 million guns are made.
The licensing process is different per state, however, there rarely - if ever - is a mental evaluation in order to own a gun. Should this be the case?
The United States has the second highest rate of gun-related homicides in the Western World, beaten only by Mexico. When looking at the statistics of weapons used in homicides in the US, handguns beat knives and blunt objects by at least double every year from 1976-2004.
An argument commonly voiced is that there isn't enough firearm education, that gun-related incidents might be prevented if there was more support and comfort around them. The counter argument to this is that might be the case for accidental gun-related incidents, but those who have multiple shots aimed at other people seem to have the concept and comfort down, or at least, don't feel the need for gun safety.
Tightening the gun laws, and the means of accessing a licence for a gun, may not make a difference either. After all, as stated before, there's an estimated 100 million unregistered guns in circulation as of 2008, so will stricter gun codes cease this?
The United States has a higher homicide rate than anywhere in Europe (with the exception of five or six Eastern Europe countries bordering Russia), and even more than all the African countries outlining the northern coast, China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand (See Global Study on Homicide link).
Most likely, with this evidence, it would provide a safer environment for Americans should the Right to Bear Arms be eliminated.
The biggest question is: Is that American?
Information regarding I-502
The Tenth Amendment
The Tenth Amendment is about States' Rights, the ability for States to create their own laws which will serve their economy best. The theory behind State law and Federal law, is that it should only be a federal law if it would be a crime against the American Government (thus making the crime a felony).
On November 6, 2012, Colorado and Washington State voted for marijuana to be legalized, to be on par with alcohol (See Information on I-502 Links for more details). In Washington it means that the state will provide license for people to acquire in order to grow, process and sell marijuana in designated locations at a regulated retail outlet with regulated products. In Colorado, an individual may grow up to six plants for personal use, but a licence would be required to grow more.
The regulations on marijuana plants would mean safety for users. It would ensure the product would not be laced with anything, which can be common when buying from the black market. Sometimes it is laced with cocaine, PCP, or worse. Buying it legally will also ensure the customer can get their money's worth, will have a guaranteed standard, and the taxation of the product will go toward the state for its enhancement.
However, marijuana is illegal on a federal level. The debate has carried on for a month and a half: do we enforce the federal law, or support the tenth Amendment?
Should States' Rights be case by case?
The Marijuana Debate
The history of marijuana goes back thousands of years. It has been used as a sacred herb, it has been given as gifts between monarchs and leaders of nations. It has been buried with gold, and in America it has it's own interesting and very important history.
When America was first established, and George Washington was declared our first president, it was mandatory for land owners to grow hemp. During this time, hemp was used for clothing, paper, rope, sails, food, medicine, oil, and so on. In fact, the Constitution was written on hemp paper. It was one of the number one crops next to tobacco, and had even replaced cotton.
In the mid 19th century, it began to be used in the US as a medicine, treating everything from labor pains to rheumatism. In 1896, when the first engine was created by Rudolph Diesel, his idea was that it would be run off vegetable oils and seed oils, primarily hemp seed oil. WIthin a long and complicated line of rich and important investors (such as Ford, Andrew Mellon, and Du Pont Petrochemical Company), the idea was smudged by Petrochemists, that is, those wanting to make money off petroleum. By the 1930's, the Federal government sought to disgrace this useful plant's reputation by portraying it in a harmful light: that of an addictive and highly dangerous drug.
Over time it became more commonly used as a drug, and it's useful purposes somewhat buried by those who lack the passion for the plant. However, over the last several decades, it has been gaining support, being remembered as something medicinal and useful, and not another harmful drug. It has even been put to the test by some as a treatment for cancer.
Within the last decade, several states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes only. This means that one must obtain a "Green Card" in order to legally grow, buy, and possess marijuana. The card states that the possessor has a medical condition which can be aided by the use of cannabis.
This is a State's Right.
However, marijuana is illegal on a federal level, which means that in some cases, many medical marijuana dispensaries have been shut down by federal agents, though there are debates as to whether or not there was more to each case than just business casing (such as money laundering and other illegal acts going on behind the scenes).
There are two heated and (one the surface) unrelated debates: Support the federal government and throw away this against-the-grain initiative that Washington State has, thus ignoring the Tenth Amendment; Keep a strong hold on the Second Amendment, for it is our Right and Freedom.
Why are we so willing to discard one Amendment belonging to our honored Bill of Rights, but keep another, especially when one has been proven medicinally while the other puts us at the higher end of a worldly homicidal rate?
The difference is that one is preventing a new freedom while the other is preserving a freedom which is being threatened to be taken away. America has already been accustomed to having the Right to protect themselves.
Have we lost sight of what is important?
A country, the world, a State, a town, an individual - all have the same path: to evolve. The only constant in the Universe is inconsistency, meaning that everything is ever-changing. What was true in the 1500's is not true today, what was true in the 1700's may not be true to day, what was not true in the 1930's may be true today, and what we knew yesterday might be an ancient notion today.
In order to be a great country, it must evolve with the times.
There are some notions which suggest that these massive gun-related tragedies may have been planted events, aimed to scare us into taking away these freedoms, much like the theories on 9/11 which eventually lead to the passing of the the National Defense Authorization Act (this said that the US government has the right to detain any one for any reason for as long as necessary if there is suspect of terrorist activity - including hoarding food (having at least a 7 day supply of food on a person's property), protesting actions of the government, and more). This bill in itself took away Amendment 1, 4, 5, 6, and 8 of the Bill of Rights. To preserve what is left of the Bill of Rights, surely the second and tenth amendments should be supported.
The United States of America is about the freedom to chose. If one is in support of the Right to Bear Arms, then they should be able to chose to have a gun, as long as they are willing to wield it responsibly and safely. If our state has voted in a law which works well for them and is not a threat to the federal Government or a danger to the public, then there is no reason why it's Right should not be upheld as stated in the Constitution.
Our Rights are slowly being taken away from us, in a crafty manner which leaves many of us non-the-wiser. It is our right to defend our country by standing up for our rights. What that means to you, I cannot say. The purpose of this article is not to sway a person either way on either issue. It is merely to help consider what it means when we become heated about an issue, what it means for our country as a whole. Will it mean our country, state, town, or inner self will move forward in the journey of life, or will it be a step backward and to the darkness?
- The Importance of the Second Amendment
- How Marijuana Became Illegal
- Barack Obama: Statement of Administration Policy: S. 1867 - National Defense Authorization Act for F
The American Presidency Project contains the most comprehensive collection of resources pertaining to the study of the President of the United States. Compiled by John Woolley and Gerhard Peters