Gun Control: Is It Constitutional Essay, Research Paper
The Second Amendment to the Constitution 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,” and the definition of gun control is; government regulation of possession and use of firearms by private citizens. At first sight this seems like a contradiction in terms, but before any opinions are formed, let’s look at both sides of the issue.
This amendment has been around since 1791, and there has been gun control almost as long as it’s been around. In the old west, guns were outlawed in many towns, to prevent any gunplay from breaking out. The “gun culture,” modern gun enthusiasts, is made up of convenience store workers, executives, sportsmen club members, and leaders of important conservation organizations in the country. This “gun culture” is what makes up the NRA. The National Rifle Association, which started out in 1871 to promote shooting proficiency and gun safety transformed in the 1960’s and 1970’s into an advocate of the Second Amendment and an opponent of those who propose the prohibition of guns which followed political assassinations and high rates of gun violence. The NRA which now has more than 2.8 million members is arguably the most formidable single-issue lobbying organization in the history of American Democracy. Even Presidents Reagan and Bush are members, and Nixon, Eisenhower, and Kennedy were members.
Handgun Control Inc., one of the largest proponents of gun control, has a membership of one million. It was founded in the 1970’s by Pete Shields after his son was killed by a man with a handgun. Presently in charge of the organization Is Sarah Brady, wife of James Brady, who was permanently disabled in the attempted assassination of President Reagan. The members of Handgun Control Inc. Wish to restrict or even ban the ownership of handguns. They believe that if handgun control laws were stricter and enforced more, the crime rates involving handguns would fall. However the question on many other peoples’ minds is what if these criminals keep obtaining handguns through illegal means such as the black market. These laws would not apply in such a case, which happens to be how many criminals get their handguns, considering according to existing laws, they probably can’t legally buy them anyway.
There are about 70 million handguns in the United States, and 99 percent of handgun owners are honest citizens. Why do these people feel the need to own a handgun?
One main reason is heritage. For as long as this country has been around, there have been gun owners, to defend themselves from Indians and bandits, to hunt for food, and also to defend themselves from a tyrannical government.
Until the end of the 1800’s, most police forces in eastern and Midwestern urban areas didn’t even carry guns. Americans distrusted a standing armed police force and a professional army.
In 1911, the Sullivan Law-the most significant gun control legislation of the next half century-was passed in New York State. The most important legislation regulating firearms passed to date was the Gun Control Act of 1968 which outlawed the importation of military surplus weapons and small short-barreled foreign handguns, referred to as “Saturday Night Specials.” It also prohibited interstate retailing of guns.
New York City’s major newspapers condemned taking a stand against gun control, and made it look like one was advocating crime, barbarism, and ethnic violence. Through these efforts, the Sullivan Law passed the state Legislature with little opposition. The law was pivotal for the gun control debate’s future for many reasons:
For the first time a state made a serious commitment to regulate
A permit was required to purchase, own, or carry a handgun.
Handgun control was linked to crime control.
In October 1992, a crowd of 150 neo-Nazis and “Christian” patriots gathered in Estes Park, Colorado, a resort town about two hours from Denver near the Rocky Mountain National Park. They assembled here to voice their opinions on gun control and the militia movement. This little meeting was organized by Pete Peters, member of Identity, a religious group which believes that Northern Europeans are descendants of the Hebrews; that our government is in the hands of the satanic Jews; and that black people were created before Adam and are less than human. These “religious” people are stockpiling weapons, food, and other supplies in preparation for Armageddon, a race war in the United States.
Many other groups were represented at this meeting, such as the Aryan Nations, CAUSE (Canada, Australia, United States, South Africa, and Europe, wherever the kindred people are found), Gun Owners of America, and many state militias. These groups joined together for many purposes, the main one being, to talk about their right to “keep and bear arms.” Larry Pratt, Executive director of the GOA, criticized the NRA for only fighting for recreational gun use such as hunting, and not for militias and other organizations also. The new board of directors, however may change that. They are taking a more agressive approach. This 76 member board includes Robert K. Brown, publisher of Soldier of Fortune; former Arizona state senator Wayne Stump; filmmaker John Milius, who directed Red Dawn and Conan the Barbarian; rocker Ted Nugent; and black activist Roy Innis. When asked if any of the board members are militiamen, T.J. Johnston said, “There are members of the board who take whatever measures necessary to defend themselves. If it involves joining a militia…” His voice trailed off. The NRA officially, however does not support the militia movement or discourage it for that matter. Until November 1994, the NRA didn’t even have a real policy on the militia. In a crowded auditorium in Phoenix, Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president stated, “There is not, nor has there ever been any room at the NRA for anyone who supports-or even fantasizes about-terrorism, sedition, insurrection, treason, conspiracy or any other unlawful activity. Period! End of story!” Even though Lapierre believes this, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, Tanya Metaksa does not. She has given awards to and has had dinners with militiamen. This makes you wonder what the NRA’s real policy on gun control is.
In the last 28 years, all gun control laws have shared the same basic characteristic: They outlaw or restrict an activity that is not inherently wrong in order to prevent harm before it occurs.
These laws all created crimes in order to stop other crimes. English law distinguished between crimes which were malum in se, morally wrong, such as murder, robbery, or rape, and those which were malum prohibitum, wrong because a law said so.
There isn’t anything wrong with buying a firearm across state lines, buying one without a background check, going into a school or post office with one, or owning an assault weapon. Doing any of the above mentioned things is not immoral.
Buying, owning, or carrying a handgun doesn’t hurt anyone. Until a person commits a crime, he/she is free to choose what he/she wants to do.
The above mentioned actions have been declared wrong. This is done to prevent the wrong people from getting firearms, to prevent a crime before it occurs. This makes sense. Punish people before they get a chance to commit a crime.
The only problem with this is that it incriminates all firearm purchasers, guilty until proven innocent. Who’s to say that a criminal will follow these laws when he is planning on breaking others further down the road.
Banning guns in School zones and Government buildings baffles me. Why just these places? Why not all public establishments? Does this say that the government is more worried about it’s employees and kids than anyone else in this country?
Drugs have been completely banned in this country, with the exception of prescriptions, and use still continues. In fact, the drug industry is doing very well. People who receive more than $10,000 cash must report it to the authorities, and landlords must take action against dealers if they are discovered. Should store managers be prohibited from selling groceries and other products to these druggies? Should they be completely shunned from society?
The same goes for guns. Even if guns were completely banned from the U.S.A., people would still find a way to get them. Criminals would get guns. They would have their way, and there would be nothing we could do about it. We would have no way to defend ourselves.
Here is a letter from American Hunter magazine:
Recently moving from Wyoming to Alaska, I became aware of another provision in the Brady Law. Since taking handguns through Canada is Prohibited, I arranged to ship them via licensed dealers (at $10 per gun for both dealers my three pistols cost $60, plus shipping charges). Upon arrival, I was surprised to learn that I had to wait five days and submit to a background check to obtain guns I have owned for years. How ridiculous!
A woman in Florence, South Carolina’s son was receiving death threats. A man showed up at her house and demanded to see her son. He was shot shortly after he kicked her door down. No charges were filed. An elderly Detroit, Michigan couple’s house was broken into two times. The first time, the perpetrator got away with $100. He wasn’t so lucky the second. The 72-year-old husband shot him in the head, killing him. No charges here either. A man from rural Marshal, Minnesota saw a suspicious man going from car to car and house to house looking for unlocked doors. When he got to the above mentioned’s house, he found a 12-ga pointed at his head. This sight was enough to send him running into a nearby cornfield.
What do these stories all have in common? They all have to do with guns and gun rights. The letter at the beginning shows the unfairness in some gun control laws. The stories following the letter all show that people still have some gun rights.
In conclusion I would like to leave you with a few questions, and some of my own opinions. What is gun control to you? To me, it is the unconstitutional regulation and banning of guns to try to keep the crime rates in this country down. Does it work. I believe some gun laws are okay and they may work to some extent, but I assure you not the extent which was intended. As for most of these laws such as the Brady Law, I believe that it truly serves no purpose. It is only there to make our lawmaking bodies and those of us who are too naive to see the truth feel better. Do you really think that the Brady Law keeps handguns out of the hands of criminals? Who’s to say they don’t get their guns illegally anyway? How is this going to stop, or even retard their criminal activities? “What can you I do about this,” you ask. You can call or wright your congressman, sign petitions, attend town or county meetings, anything you can think of to voice your opinions. Now I leave you with this closing statement. Gun control has been around for many years now. Have any of the laws helped curb crime rates? I don’t think so. Do you? Think about it.
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Fulgham, Tom. “The Armed Citizen.” American Hunter. November/December 1996: P. 8.
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