Gun Control Essay, Research Paper
Constitutional Law Gun Control Paper Gun control is undoubtedly an issue that most Americans have been exposed to. In 1989, guns killed 11,832 Americans. The National Rifle Association (NRA) members believe that it is their constitutional right to own guns, stating that guns are not the root of the crime problem in the United States. Gun control activists like the members of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) argue that guns are responsible for the majority of violent crimes that take place. They wish to instill many types of bans and waiting periods on firearms, making it nearly impossible to obtain a handgun. In fact, in 1993 the Brady Bill, which mandates a waiting period on buying firearms, was passed. Their arguments range from protecting children to saying that guns are diseases, but when one looks at the facts, though, the arguments of gun control advocates seem irrelevant and it becomes clear that guns should not be controlled. The Supreme Court has been very careful in limiting the rights of individuals to carry firearms. They have also been debating about weather the framers intended the Second Amendment to apply to individuals, or to state militias. In U S v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 (1875) the court ruled that laws could be passed regarding gun control. The court said ?The right they?re specified is that of ‘bearing arms for a lawful purpose.’ This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed; but this, as has been seen, means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress. This is one of the amendments that has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government, leaving the people to look for their protection against any violation by their fellow-citizens of the rights it recognizes, to what is called, in The City of New York v. Miln, 11 Pet. 139, the ‘powers which relate to merely municipal legislation, or what was, perhaps, more properly called internal police,’ ‘not surrendered or restrained’ by the Constitution of the United States? (FindLaw). This case laid the groundwork for future gun control legislation. The court again ruled that it could limit the right to bear arms in Cases v. United States, 131 F. 2d 916, 922 (1st Cir. 1942), cert. denied, 319 U.S. 770 (1943). The court, upholding a similar provision of the Federal Firearms Act, said: ”Apparently, then, under the Second Amendment, the federal government can limit the keeping and bearing of arms by a single individual as well as by a group of individuals, but it cannot prohibit the possession or use of any weapon which has any reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia” (FindLaw). Through all of this, the court always emphasized that it must be careful not to infringe on the rights granted under the second amendment. The debate still rages on to this day over weather or not the second amendment applies to individuals or not. Gun ownership by private citizens is protected under the second Amendment. It 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. The forefathers of our country meant for the people to own and use firearms, and any law or control on that right would be unconstitutional. Gun control activists essentially believe the Second Amendment guarantees only to its militia the right of arms, but the Gun control proponents have yet to identify even a single quote from one of the founders to support their claim (Silver 78). The Second Amendment supports gun owners, and hard evidence that it does otherwise is nonexistent. I feel that the founding fathers believed it necessary for private citizens to possess firearms not only to protect themselves, but also to prevent the government from tyrannizing them. It is a popular quote in the NRA that the second amendment holds up the first. I believe that this is true. In Germany in the 1930?s, as people who did not support Hitler and his Nationalist Party were speaking out against him, Hitler took action to pass legislature to ban private ownership of firearms. Hitler said “The most foolish mistake we could possible make would be to allow the subjected people to carry arms?? (Whitley). Following this, the now defenseless people that did not support Hitler were imprisoned, and millions of Jews and others were executed. If they had been armed, possibly they could have defended themselves. In America our rights are guaranteed because the government knows that the people have the ability to revolt. The founders intended for this, noting that if the constitution was no longer viable; it should be ripped up and redone. If Americans no longer had the right to bear arms, we would truly be the governed and not the governing. Noah Webster said, ?Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword because the whole body of the people are armed (Whitley). I agree with this statement, and would equate it to mean no guns, no freedom. Gun control advocates have been lobbying for many years for the passage of the Brady Bill, which called for a mandatory waiting period for all national firearm sales. Ironically, the passage of this bill in 1993 has done nothing to reduce crime; in fact violence has risen still since the passage of the bill. This bill, which was made out to be more than it really is by its supporters, has become the prime distinction in most American?s minds with gun control. A waiting period did not help the present situation at all, and similar measures are almost certainly going to assume the same fate. There are some members of the Senate, led by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that while supporting the second amendment, are proposing common sense measures to attempt to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, children, and the mentally incompetent without infringing on the rights of law abiding citizens. It is this type of antigun control that I support. McCain supports background checks and waiting periods, but does not want to penalize the law-abiding citizens that any gun control measure should be aimed to protect (McCain). Private ownership of firearms is not a public health hazard. Gun control activists argue otherwise, but to put guns in the same category as influenza and pneumonia is absurd. The Advocates state that guns are a public health issue and almost deadlier than automobiles to the public. The fact is that more Americans die yearly from pneumonia and influenza than in all homicides and suicides, even non-gun related, combined. Many people listen to doctors, who reason that guns are pathogens. The definition of a pathogen is an object that causes disease when introduced to a pathogen-free environment (AMA). There are 200 million privately owned guns in America, and only an utterly tiny fraction of them are used in crimes. According to the definition, guns are not pathogens and not a public health hazard. The presence of a gun, specifically a handgun, is beneficial to a civilian in the event of a robbery or intrusion, because the victim would be able to use the gun for defense. The gun control activists are right- there is too much crime in the United States. Instead of attempting to reduce the amount of firearms in circulation, this energy and money should be diverted into anti-crime applications. Many law-abiding citizens own handguns and other firearms that they use for their own protection, probably because the amount of crime present troubles them and drives them to purchase a gun for self-defense. As David E. Newton shows, between the years of 1937 and 1963, gun ownership in the United States increased by 250 percent. In that same period, the number of homicides decreased by 35. 7 percent (Newton 40). Guns are clearly not the problem. I feel that the liberal media affects the way the public perceives guns and gun control. People think that guns kill and maim innocents, but affect no good for their owners. The liberal media seems to magnify every time a gun is used to harm an innocent person. My question is why don?t we hear about when a woman uses her gun to shoot and kill an intruder whom would have raped and killed her? Or the man that defends his family by shooting the person that breaks into his home? Why won?t the media report these occurrences? The problem with most gun control measures is that gun violence depends not so much on the number of guns as to who owns them. As an anti gun control slogan states, if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns (Bernards 54). This is true, stating that if the circulation of firearms was limited to only officials, meaning that private citizens would not have guns, then only criminals would have firearms (illegally of course) and the public could not defend themselves. Most of the criminals who commit violent crimes with guns did not obtain their guns legally. Toughening up gun control laws is not going to reduce crime. Another liberal argument against guns is using their children as the reason for gun control. The liberals will say, ?Do you want your child to be killed with a gun?? That question is absurd. That is like asking if you want you child hit by a bus. Without guns however, how will we be able to protect our families from the criminals that will illegally possess guns? Gun control activists say that waiting periods will reduce the number of criminals who obtain firearms, but the NRA says that waiting periods are ineffective. They argue that if a criminal?s mind were set on committing a crime, a waiting period would merely become another obstacle. Even if a background check were to take place during the waiting period, and the criminal was denied the sale of a gun, a weapon could easily be obtained elsewhere: stolen, bought illegally, or another weapon could be used. The point is that a criminal with the premeditation to act out a crime is going to do so, whether a waiting period is present or not. Guns stored at home are not great dangers to innocent people like children, despite what the public thinks. The slogan of the National Rifle Association says it the best, guns don?t kill, people do (NRA). Children who are properly taught gun-safety measures are less likely to be involved in gun-related accidents or with crime. If an adult in the household has access to a firearm, such a child?s life could actually be saved if an intrusion were to take place. As David B. Kopel states, Gun control Advocates are hammering at the issue of children and guns as never before in the hope that it will be easier to enact gun controls aimed at adults in an atmosphere of panic about children (Kopel 38). Mr. Kopel is Director of the Second Amendment Project at the Independence Institute. Children are not in any danger that cannot be prevented with the correct educative measures. The ban on Assault weapons will not help reduce gun violence. Despite the scary-looking, military-style features, the assault weapons are no more lethal than hundreds of legal firearms. First of all, the definition of an assault weapon is not distinct and under the national ban no one knows what an assault weapon is and what a regular firearm is. (NRA) Giving the name assault weapon is similar to giving red vehicles with speedometers that go beyond one hundred miles per hour the name death cars because these are said to be the favored vehicles of drunk and reckless drivers. Assault weapons are or were surprisingly attributed to less than one quarter of one percent of violent crimes in New Jersey. A police officer has a better chance of encountering a wild bear from the local zoo than confronting an assault weapon. But the liberal media makes this a priority, ignoring the facts. Gun control should not take place. The constitution prohibits it, common sense when it comes to protection invalidates it, many statistics prove it, and any reasonable person when confronted with the facts will disagree with it. Guns are not health hazards, a danger to children, nor preventable with hassling bills and restrictions. The many differences in types of guns do not give reason to ban these guns called Assault Weapons. The second amendment should end the argument to the whole gun control debate, and maybe in a few years another analysis of it will. Or maybe gun control activists, instead of trying to prevent the ownership of guns, which deter crime, should focus their energy and effort towards the root of the crime problem- the criminals. Works Cited American Medical Association ?Medical Glossary? http://www.ama-assn.org/insight/gen_hlth/glossary/glos_p.htm Bernards, Neal. Gun Control. San Diego: Lucent Books, Inc, 1991. Findlaw.com U.S. Constitution: Second Amendment http://caselaw.findlaw.com/data/Constitution/amendment02/ Kopel, David B. Gun Play. Reason Magazine. Los Angeles: Reason Inc, 1993. McCain, John ?McCain 2000? http://www.mccain2000.com Newton, David E. Gun Control: An Issue for the Nineties. Hillside: Enslow Publishers, 1992. National Rifle Association Press Releases and Policy Reports http://www.nra.org Roleff, Tamara L. Gun Control, Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997. Whitley, John ?John Whitley?s Gun Control Quotes Page.? http://www.spc.uchicago.edu/users/jwhit/personal.guns.html Viewed 15 Feb. 2000.
American Medical Association ?Medical Glossary? http://www.ama-assn.org/insight/gen_hlth/glossary/glos_p.htm Bernards, Neal. Gun Control. San Diego: Lucent Books, Inc, 1991. Findlaw.com U.S. Constitution: Second Amendment http://caselaw.findlaw.com/data/Constitution/amendment02/ Kopel, David B. Gun Play. Reason Magazine. Los Angeles: Reason Inc, 1993. McCain, John ?McCain 2000? http://www.mccain2000.com Newton, David E. Gun Control: An Issue for the Nineties. Hillside: Enslow Publishers, 1992. National Rifle Association Press Releases and Policy Reports http://www.nra.org Roleff, Tamara L. Gun Control, Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997. Whitley, John ?John Whitley?s Gun Control Quotes Page.? http://www.spc.uchicago.edu/users/jwhit/personal.guns.html Viewed 15 Feb. 2000.