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Gun control - Essay Example

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The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says that citizens have the right to bear arms in order to establish a well-maintained militia. The “right to bear arms” is in many ways a uniquely American concept. Nations such as Great Britain were once guaranteed the right to bear arms for purposes of self-defense, but these have been severely curtailed in recent years…
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The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United s says that citizens have the right to bear arms in order to establish a well-maintained militia. The “right to bear arms” is in many ways a uniquely American concept. Nations such as Great Britain were once guaranteed the right to bear arms for purposes of self-defense, but these have been severely curtailed in recent years. America is one of the few nations on earth that still guarantees easy access to guns for nearly all citizens. This fact is at the heart of a national debate that rages primarily during election years. There are many different opinions about what it means to have the “right to bear arms.” Does this mean unfettered access to any sort of gun? Should there be restrictions on gun purchasing and gun ownership? If there are restrictions, how should they be enforced and how restrictive should they be? These questions are at the heart of the debate over gun ownership and gun control. The two sides are most commonly referred to as advocates of gun control v. advocates of gun rights. Both sides of this debate appeal to statistics to make their point. Gun control advocates point to the raw number of individuals killed and injured by guns each year in America. Nearly 100,000 people are injured or killed by guns each year (Brady, 2011). The majority of these injuries and deaths are the result of violent crime. Others are the result of accidents. This number of deaths and injuries makes America the capital of gun violence death and injury among wealthy, democratic societies. The argument gun control advocates make for restrictive regulations is based on this high number of deaths and injuries. They argue that fewer guns in the hands of individuals would result in fewer gun deaths. Gun rights advocates counter this argument by stating that gun ownership actually discourages all sorts of crimes. One study concludes that gun ownership prevented 162,000 possible homicides (Agresti, 2010). The basis for this claim is a survey that was conducted with nearly 5.000 families in the United States. On of the questions they were asked concerned the prevention of crime in the home with a weapon. .5% of the households surveyed said that they had been involved in an incident where they are sure someone would have been killed by an intruder or other aggressor if they would not have had a gun available for self-defense. This is an interesting statistic, but is questioned by many because the relatively small sample size of 5,000 is being used to represent the entire population of the United States which was approximately 307 million at the time the survey was taken. Another tactic that both sides of this debate use is an appeal to the constitutional validity of the concept of bearing arms. The only two notable restrictions the federal government has ever taken to curtailing gun rights occurred in the 1930’s and the 1960’s. This legislation established the regulation of guns that would not typically be used for militia purposes, such as sawed-off shotguns and automatic weapons. Following in this path, many local and municipal governments began to adopt local and regional laws that regulated the use and ownership of more commonly owned guns such as shotguns, rifles and handguns. In Washington DC, the city government established gun control laws that were based on the premise that if you weren’t a part of a local militia, then you shouldn’t have guns. The Second Amendment stated that the purpose of bearing arms was for the arming of local militias. If there was no local militia, then owning guns could legally be prohibited or highly regulated. The DC city council began to pass laws stating that guns could not be kept loaded in the house, that carrying firearms in the city was illegal and that guns must be partly disassembled when kept in a home. Many guns rights groups disagreed. They read the constitution as stating that all citizens, whether they were a part of a militia or not had the right to own and carry guns. Recent court decisions have backed the gun rights groups. The first big decision came in 2007 when a federal court ruled that citizens had the right to own handguns even if they were not a part of a militia (NBC, 2007). Next came legislation from congress that removed even more of the restrictions regarding hand gun ownership, the right to carry a sidearm in public and the right to keep a loaded gun in a residence (Marimow, 2010). Battling with statistics and interpretations of the Constitution, both sides of this battle have lots of ammunition to use against the other. Gun ownership continues to be a contentious question, but for now, the courts and Congress seem to be siding with the gun rights groups. Work Cited Agresti, James D. "Gun Control." Just Facts. 30 Feb. 2010. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. . "Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence : Gun Violence." Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence : Home. 30 Jan. 2011. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. . Marimow, Ann E. "Bills Take New Aim at D.C. Gun Control." Washington Post: Breaking News, World, US, DC News & Analysis. 28 Apr. 2010. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. . News, NBC. "Court Overturns D.C. Handgun Ban - US News - Life - Msnbc.com." Msnbc.com - Breaking News, Science and Tech News, World News, US News, Local News- Msnbc.com. 29 June 2007. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. . Read More
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