Essay: Gun Control Is One of Today

Pages: 7 (2117 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  Topic: Law - Constitutional Law  ·  Buy This Paper

Gun control is one of today's more divisive political issues, and people on both sides of the issue have stereotypes about the types of people who support and oppose gun control. Moreover, the gun control debate is a relatively recent one, because the lack of available affordable mass-reproduced firearms throughout most of America's history meant that most Americans could not afford to arm themselves, regardless of whether or not they had a protected right to do so. However, the most interesting aspect of the gun control debate is that people on both sides of the issues interpret the Second Amendment in such widely varying ways. Advocates for gun control assert that the Second Amendment does not contain any protection for the individual citizen, but instead only protects the right of the people, as a collective group, to bear arms when it is necessary to do so as part of a militia. "At the most basic level, those opposed to gun control interpret the Second Amendment as pertaining to the rights of individuals, whereas those in favor see it as preserving a group right" (Gun Control, 2001). Given the immense differences between those two positions, it is no wonder that the gun control debate has become so politicized.

However, the reality is that the traditional arguments in favor of and in opposition of gun control are wrong. It seems ludicrous to suggest that the Second Amendment is not a personal right; every other right in the Bill of Rights is a personal right, and there is nothing in the language of the Second Amendment to suggest that it differs from the other amendments. It protects the individual's right to bear arms. However, it is equally ludicrous to suggest that the Second Amendment protects a person's unlimited right to bear arms. The text of the Amendment specifically states that the right to bear arms is so that the citizenry can form a militia. When placed in the context of the Revolutionary War and England's history of keeping firearms from its citizenry so that they could not revolt, this right to bear arms is clearly so that the citizens can oppose governmental tyranny, when and if that becomes necessary. As a result, the right to bear arms should mean that the citizens have the right to yield the entire range of the same type of weaponry the government possesses. However, the Founding Fathers simply could not have envisioned the destructive capabilities of modern weaponry. To allow citizens to wield nuclear weapons, tanks, chemical weapons, and other weapons of mass destruction would be insane, especially in light of the destructive toll that guns have had on U.S. society. One instable person with a nuclear weapon could quite literally destroy millions of people, a situation that the Founding Fathers could not possibly have foreseen; during their time period advanced weaponry consisted of single-shot muskets and revolvers.

Thesis Statement

The Second Amendment of the United States allows U.S. citizens to use the same type of weapons that are available to the government, because the purpose of the Second Amendment is to allow the citizenry to arm themselves against governmental tyranny. Therefore, any type of gun or weapon control violates the Constitution. However, the Founding Fathers could not have envisioned today's modern weaponry. Therefore, the Constitution of the United States should be amended in order to allow for gun control, removing or substantially changing the Second Amendment.

Discussion

Opponents of gun control site the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment and its unequivocal right to bear arms as the reason they want it to be easier for people to access weapons. The Second Amendment states that, "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." (U.S. Const. amend. II). While much is made of the militia qualification, looking through the Federalist papers and other documents, it is clear that the founding fathers believed that the people needed to be able to defend themselves against the government. (See generally, Hamilton, Federalist 28 and Federalist 29). Moreover, history shows that the fact that American government has a standing army does not abrogate the need for Americans to have access to weapons, since a well-armed citizenry allowed citizens during the American Revolution to seize "political control at the grass roots." (Hardy, 1982). Great Britain had a significant standing army at the time of the American Revolution, whose job description included protection of the colonists. Obviously, the Founding Fathers would support the right to stand up to an army that was violating the rights of the citizens.

In fact, some of the most persuasive arguments in favor of gun control stem from the fact that almost all 20th century assassinations and assassination attempts in America have come as the result of gun violence. The assassinations of John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr. were both accomplished because the assassins employed weapons capable of inflicting death at a significant distance; in fact, these assassinations probably would have been impossible without the advances in weaponry after the American Revolution. This fact, alone, is significant. Yes, there were assassinations in the United States before the 20th century. For example, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, with a firearm, in the late 19th century. However, accuracy and distance still remained an issue at that time, and Lincoln's assassin literally got within feet of him before killing him. That made presidential protection a much easier issue, because those charged with the job could keep a protective bubble around their charge. In fact,

"it is worth noting that the current alarming level of gun violence is a recent phenomenon, coinciding with the technological changes that led to mass marketable, cheap handguns in the 1960s -- not a permanent feature of American history, even in the post-Second World War era" (Singh, 1998). This made protecting people increasingly difficult; for example public figures who feared assassination had to choose between personal safety and distancing themselves from their followers, such as the Pope has done with his famous bulletproof-glass enclosed vehicle.

Photo of James Brady (Gun Control, 2001).

Moreover, when one looks at the motives of assassins and potential assassins, it becomes clear that they are not always working to prevent government tyranny. Though one may, and hopefully does, disagree with the politics espoused by the assassins of Kennedy and King, the assassinations seem to have been in response to perceptions that the two figures were acting in a tyrannical manner and were threatening the then-existing fabric of American society. In fact, the men were partially responsible for a tremendous upheaval in the then-existing status quo. Therefore, their deaths certainly seemed justifiable to a number of individuals. Does that mean that the Second Amendment functioned as intended in those cases? What about the case of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan? John Hinckley Jr. was not motivated by political aims, but, instead, was a mentally ill man who tried to kill the President in order to impress a child actress. Would the Second Amendment right to bear arms cover such a scenario? Instead, Hinckley shot and paralyzed James Brady, pictured above, Reagan's press secretary. That is one of the basic problems with a Second Amendment that offers unlimited individual protection for the right to bear arms; one cannot dictate what another person finds tyrannical or ensure that the weapons will only be used in response to a tyrannical government.

In fact, while guns have been used for political assassinations and political rebellions in the United States, the fact is that they are typically used by normal citizens on regular citizens:

The late 1980s and the 1990s saw the rise of gun violence in schools; children brought guns to schools and opened fire on their teachers and classmates with increasing frequency, culminating in the 1998 "Columbine Massacre" in Littleton, Colorado. Two students laced the school with bombs and opened fire on their classmates at lunch time, killing thirteen and injuring twenty-one others before killing themselves (Gun Control, 2001).

Some people took these school massacres as evidence of American violence. However, the reality is that America's level of violent crime does not differ significantly from the levels in most other industrialized Western Nations. What does differ is the level of lethality. Simply put, a person with a gun can inflict more injuries and more serious injuries during an assaultive episode than a person with less advanced weaponry, and Americans have greater access to guns than people in most other nations.

In addition, accidental gun deaths are frequently cited as a reason to support gun control. However, accidental deaths clearly cannot have an impact on constitutional rights. Moreover, gun deaths are hardly the leading cause of death in any age group. The accidental-death argument is an emotional one, because the victims are frequently children. "However, although compared to other types of accidents (especially automobile) the rate of gun accidents has increased, the absolute number of accidental deaths over… [END OF PREVIEW]

Gun Control in NY State Term Paper


For or Against Federal Gun Control Essay


Gun Control Is One of Today Thesis


Gun Control as a Social Problem Research Proposal


Gun Control Is Not Effective Against Criminals Thesis


View 581 other related papers  >>

Cite This Essay:

APA Format

Gun Control Is One of Today.  (2010, May 30).  Retrieved September 15, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/gun-control-one-today/955255

MLA Format

"Gun Control Is One of Today."  30 May 2010.  Web.  15 September 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/gun-control-one-today/955255>.

Chicago Format

"Gun Control Is One of Today."  Essaytown.com.  May 30, 2010.  Accessed September 15, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/gun-control-one-today/955255.