The Freedom to Bear Arms
Gun control is a very controversial issue among society at present. Many feel guns are the cause of a great amount of crime. This has been an especially popular topic recently in lieu of the shooting at Columbine and other high schools across the country. Are these crimes reason to take away our freedom to bear arms? I do not believe so. The average person uses guns mainly as a means of protection. If limitations are placed on guns, they will only stop the average American from obtaining a gun. The real criminals out there will still be able to obtain guns through the black market. Every American should have the right to protect them self.
The second amendment to the constitution of the United States 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.”1 This amendment enforced a practice that had been occurring in America for years. When the constitution was forming, there was not a large standing army. Many inhabitants were minutemen, who needed a gun to help protect society; this is why the militia was mentioned in the amendment. The militia clause is merely a rationale for preserving the right.1 Even if today’s well-regulated militia were the National Guard, the Second Amendment still protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.
Many people feel this amendment should be changed, or more restrictions should be placed on people who want to purchase guns. Some believe that guns hurt more than they help, even though statistics prove otherwise. I feel that guns are not as big of a threat to society as people are lead to believe, mainly by the media. Fatal gun accidents declined by almost sixty percent from 1975 to 1995, even though the number of guns per capita increased by almost forty percent.2 The cart below shows that a number of crimes have started decreasing, even though sales in guns has increased. Recently, the media has shown many incidents of shootings in schools. This is nothing new, as the media makes it out to be. Schools have had trouble with crime for many years. Years ago metal detectors were installed in schools across the nation to stop violence in schools. These detectors were placed because there was a problem in the past. Crime related to guns has, in fact, gone down. The reality does not correspond to the perception created by the media. In 1992, 55 killings occurred in America’s schools. In 1997 it was down to 25.3.2
Source: Data points from Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control, Walter de Gruyter, Inc., New York 1997, and FBI Uniform Crime Reports. (Handgun homicide rate became available in 1966.)
Guns are a deadly weapon, and should be used with caution. This is why there are gun control laws. The methods of gun control at present consist of the government restricting the ability of individual citizens to purchase weapons. The different types of gun control vary from waiting periods between when you purchase the gun and when you actually get it, background checks so that high-risk people can’t purchase guns through legal channels, and completely banning certain types of guns. There are countless ways for criminals to avoid these government regulations, causing them to only render the ability of innocent citizens protecting their home and family’s ability to purchase guns. The “waiting period” method of gun control is basically a two-step process. The first step in the procedure is that the person wanting a gun goes to his local shop to place the initial order. Then, he must wait one to two weeks while the government performs a small background check for past criminal activities, disorderly conduct, or lack of mental/emotional stability.3 During this time, if the purchaser of the gun wanted the gun for impulse reasons, it is hoped that they will not still want to cause harm after a couple weeks. Unfortunately, underage buyers and other delinquents can purchase mass quantities of weapons through “dummy buyers” that have clean backgrounds.4 There are over 200 million registered guns in circulation4. Many unregistered guns are owned by murderers, rapists, and thieves.
Another practiced technique of preventing dangerous firearms from killing honest people is to ban an entire type of weapon. The AK-47 is a commonly used example of that. Criminals still have limited access to the weapon through underground channels, also these banned weapons are so powerful that there is really is not practical purpose for them in the average home. This can easily be adverted by the common criminal who knows anything about the way guns are assembled. A semi-automatic machine gun can be converted into a fully automatic gun with a little handcraft. A shotgun can become a bloody powerful weapon by sawing-off the tip of it.4 Obviously, new methods of gun control are needed to produce desired results. If we continue to monitor the sale of firearms, then we can watch where the guns end up and make better gun control laws.
The greater issue here is the violence culture in America today. Many people today resort to violence when they are angered and they do not know any other means to express themselves. That is something that needs to be worked on, more than controlling the possession of guns. It takes a person to shoot another person; a gun doesn’t just get up and shoot someone. If guns are easily available, then the chance of a person using the gun to hurt others is greater. That is why there is gun control. But the act of shooting was done by the person, not by the inanimate object, the gun. People need to understand the value of life and the danger of a gun. Unless the violence culture in America is changed, all the regulations and laws against guns will be of no use.
In1989, Chinese civilians were mowed down by their Communist government in Tien An Mein Square.5 The brave Chinese students fought tanks with rocks and soldiers with their fists.5 The bloodshed in China raised a good point, without weapons to protect ourselves, what if something similar were to happen here. Although we are a democracy, as more freedoms are taken away, we move farther and farther away from the very idea of America. The history of mankind has many examples of what happens when the state becomes too powerful and there is no check on it by an armed population.5 It is impossible for the government to control the sales of gun through the black market, which provides these dangerous weapons to murders and drug dealers. Shouldn’t it be the government’s duty to allow the average law abiding citizen to protect them self.
Bieber, James D. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms. http://www.yaf.com/philosophy.html
Gun Accidents. http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcgvacci.html. 2/13/2000.
Illinois State Firearm Laws. http://nraila.org/research/19990716-BillofRightsCivilRights-015.html. September 1997.
Larson, Erik. “The Story of a Gun”, The Atlantic Monthly. January 1993.
Origional Intent and Purpose of the Second Amendment. http://www.guncite.com/gc2ndpur.html, 1/12/2000.
Schools and Gun Violence. http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcgvscho.html. 6/13/199
Second Amendment Stuff. http://secondamendmentstuff.com/. 1/16/2000