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Neutral Gun Control Debate based on Constitution

Updated on March 27, 2012

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of the second amendment, to support their claims include: the Liberal view for gun control, which describes that the outdated militia has little relevance to today's issues, the Conservative view against gun control, which defends the notion of self defense, and the in-between view,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The Liberal view for gun control base their opinion on the fact that the militia is an outdated, temporary system that does not apply to our current government.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.

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.

Works Cited

Cohen, Jeff. "Gun Control, the NRA and the Second Amendment." Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR). 1 Feb. 2000. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. <>.

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. <>.

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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    • Leland Johnson profile image

      Leland Johnson 

      17 months ago from Midland MI

      Chase- well written article. I would add for consideration the idea that the National Guard and Reservist military serve as a defacto militia. Continued success. Very well presented points. Keep up the good work.

    • Spldrong profile image


      6 years ago

      “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.”

      --- I believe there are 2 separate statements, related but still separate. At any point a Militia could be assembled from citizens and their personal arms and ammo.

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      "I won't get into whether it's good or bad to have guns but the laws should be based on whether it's creating more violence or less."

      Guns are all but banned in Mexico, so only criminals have guns. As a result, violence in mexico is far higher than it is here in the heavily armed US.

      "Unarmed" Scotland was named most violent nation on Earth by the UN:

      When a criminal thinks his victim may be armed, like here in the US, he is far less likely to attack. Criminals don't want to die either!

    • Jack Burton profile image

      Jack Burton 

      7 years ago from The Midwest

      Mike, I am so happy to finally find a kindred soul who agrees with me. The 1st, the 4th, the 5th and the 8th Amendments were all written in a different era long before terrorists had the means to blow up entire cities.

      We just can't have these outdated amendments detailing things such as freedom of religion, freedom from star chambers and freedom from torture keeping us from protecting our country.

      Again, thank you for being so forward minded on this issue and being willing to stand up and counted on as one of those who gladly will throw away the shackles of the Bill of Rights so we can actually defend our country without worrying about those pesky freedom ideas.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I don't get the obsession with the second amendment and what the founding fathers had in mine. First of all they were living in a different era and second of all they weren't gods. They could have made wrong decisions. I won't get into whether it's good or bad to have guns but the laws should be based on whether it's creating more violence or less. At one point women were banned from voting but eventually we realized it was wrong. Everything else as well should not be accepted as if god stated it but take it for what it is and evaluate it.

    • Larry Fields profile image

      Larry Fields 

      7 years ago from Northern California

      Voted up. Good job, chasemillis. I appreciate your homework effort.

      Nitpick Larry has a couple of small points. From the hub,

      "Many battles were actually won for the American Revolution because of the Militia Act of 1792."

      Actually, the American Revolution was over long before 1792. The limitations of the Articles of Confederation were a different ball of wax.

      And Will, thanks for including swords and knives, in addition to firearms. However you forgot to mention pikes! :-)

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      "OK, I have no issue, what is your beef?"

      What beef?

      I've been involved in this for years, and I'm just setting the record straight.

    • Credence2 profile image


      7 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Then if what you say is true, then I have no problem with you and your gun-owners rights. OK, I have no issue, what is your beef? My point again being there are no absolutes as to how the 2nd amendment applies, and it is still good. You just cannot do whatever you want. It is good to see that you do make a distinction between munitions and personal arms, that is reassuring.

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      "Do you want 16 year old kids walking into WalMart and buying a gun? We experienced just such access by minors to firearms in the Columbine tragedy a few years ago."

      No, they got an adult to buy those guns, and she is in prison for doing that. It is already illegal to sell guns to minors, and has been for years and years.

      In addition, background checks have been the law for years.

      Waiting periods were tried and deemed useless, since the crime rate did not decrease at all.

      Hand grenades, explosives, and nuclear bombs are munitions, not personal arms, and are already illegal.

      You really need to learn more about this. Most of what you want has already been done.

    • Credence2 profile image


      7 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      No, Will, in a inperfect world, you cannot stop criminals, but you can deter them and their activity. Do you want 16 year old kids walking into WalMart and buying a gun? We experienced just such access by minors to firearms in the Columbine tragedy a few years ago.

      Conservatives have the same arguments drawing line in the sand; either we make guns as available to people as soda pop or we make it impossible for a private citizen to obtain one. The truth, common sense position has to be in the middle, does it not? Regulations are necessary, depending on what they intend to regulate.

      Common sense says that

      1. Guns are not to be sold to minors

      2. Background checks on the person for disqualifying prior criminal activity

      3. A waiting period between sale and the taking in possession.

      4. Certain weapons create a danger and are not justfied in the public arena. Do you think that you should have access to hand granades and C-4 because of the 2nd Amendment?

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      What gun regulation would actually stop a criminal? If a regulation won't do that, it's nothing but a useless harassment of law-abiding gun owners.

    • Credence2 profile image


      7 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Chasemills, Oddly enough, I subscribe to the conservative's point of view regarding the second amendment. The need for self protection is a valid point. The problem with the right is their failure to recognize that just as true with the 1st amendment, the provisions of the second amendment are not absolute. Where is the line drawn, are you allowed to hold a bazooka, maybe even a nuclear device. Conservatives say that guns should be easier obtained than my McRib sandwich from Mcdonalds. Public safety also come into play. I want background checks, delay between desire to purchase and the sale. I won't go so far as speak of registration as conservatives are paranoid about agents of the government knowing that they have a gun. But, I will be damned if they are allowed to proliferate like the thistles in the wind without any sort of control.

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you for your honesty. I've been involved for years, so if I can assist you, just ask.

      It's a good Hub!

    • chasemillis profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      I honestly haven't done enough research on it to come up with a definitive answer. You make a good point though

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      When the Founding Fathers wisely chose the term 'arms', it covered everything, from swords to clubs, to knives, to guns. We have a right to arm ourselves with whatever is available, including guns.

      No one will argue that the Second Amendment is concisely written, but the militia clause is not restrictive. It merely explains one reason (of many) that the Founding Fathers chose to include the right to arms in the enumerated and protected rights. We must remember that the right to keep and bear arms was widely recognized as an inalienable right.

      As far as regulations go, reasonable regulations are always allowed, like not yelling fire in a crowded theater regulates free speech. In the same manner, children and felons are not allowed to keep and bear arms, as obvious and reasonable, regulations.

      I would suggest you read the Heller decision. It answers all your questions.

    • chasemillis profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      True, a lot of what the Founder's "meant" has to be "inferred". That's the problem. We can look at the Federalist Papers to get an idea of what they truly intended, but we have no definitive, proof without a doubt that the Founding Fathers intended it to be.

      It is a right; it should just be regulated.

      Bearing arms means to bear firearms, which are essentially guns. So idk what point you are trying to make there. Also, when talking about the two clauses in the middle of the second amendment, you have to wonder why the Founding Fathers included the militia clause "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of the state, the right..."

      If you look at it from an English, grammatical, point of view, why would the clause about ppl owning guns not refer back to militia (especially when the second one refers back to the militia clause). It is just odd to have two items to "not be infringed", especially if there is NOT an "and" in the third clause. This is a little confusing, but what I'm basically saying is that the right of the people to own guns is for the militia.

      I can explain it a little better but it's pretty late right now

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      The Second Amendment recognizes a preexisting right of the people to keep and bear arms. There is actually no mention of guns.

      The Bill of Rights restricts government, not the people, and each amendment contains a restrictive clause on government. The restrictive clause in the Second Amendment is this:

      ...the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed (by government).

      All this was settled in the Heller decision...the Second protects an individual right, just like all the other amendments.


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