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Gun Control in the United States, Essay Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1585

Essay

Gun control in the United States has become an incredibly popular area of debate.  Citing statistics pertaining to crime, the context or the absolute nature of the Second Amendment, and other places to leverage an argument, there are plenty of “radical” positions that are taken on the matter.  For some people, it is all or nothing, though the situation is much more complex than the simple right to bear arms.  All must take a look at the dynamics of the situation in order to make a sound and sensible decision in terms of control.

In regards to the regulations of purchasing firearms in the United States, it is clear that standards need to be tightened.   After all, there are plenty of situations that have not resulted well, when guns end up where they should not.  Furthermore, Kleck and Hogan have undermined the belief that gun ownership has a strong link to homicidal behavior, citing an “unstable relationship” at best (1994).  This does not necessarily mean that people do not have the right to bear arms, though.  In order to enhance the safety of its citizens, though, the United States must look toward regulating the acquisition of firearms, which is something that must incur to uphold the integrity of the nation’s safety and the right to bear and keep arms.

The Constitutional Right to Bear Arms

In the debate of gun control and purchasing firearms, perhaps the most common point of the argument is that of keeping and bearing arms.  There seems to be no pause to these sorts of conversations, arguing for or against keeping and bearing arms.  However, according to Cottrol, there is more disagreement and less understanding than any other issue in the United States Constitution.  Clearly, the Second Amendment itself is a point where many lose track, which creates further problems in the gun control debate.

The Bill of Rights contains the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, explaining that people have the right to keep and bear arms (Constitution of the United States).  Within the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, this is an important right that is protected by both items.  Inevitably, this is a pivotal point to discuss if any argument for gun control can be considered.  The individual right must be understood further, due to the gross misunderstanding of the topic.

Critics

What is the other side of the debate?  The topic of the militia is a crucial one, due to the language in the Second Amendment.  Others take a more direct approach, simply denying that a person doesn’t have the right to keep and bear arms.  However, they fail to take in the Second Amendment, which clearly accommodates for such a right.  While its extend will be explored later, some basis of the Second Amendment must be accepted to understand its presence.

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has clarified on these types of matters that are brought up by critics.  Present in the Emerson decision, there is a precedent set forth in the individual’s right to keep and bear arms.  According to Uviller, this is a Constitutional right that is clearly relevant, based on the Supreme Court’s decision (2002).

Thankfully, the Supreme Court also clarified matters related to the “militia” verbiage.  According to Spitzer (2008), the statement from the United States Court of Appeals should be noted:

There are numerous instances of the phrase “bear arms” being used to describe a civilian’s carrying of arms.  Early constitutional provisions or declarations of rights in at least some ten different states speak of the right of the “people” “to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state,” or equivalent words, thus indisputably reflecting that under common usage “bear arms” was in no sense restricted to bearing arms in military service.

From this, it is clear that individuals have the right to keep and bear arms.  While the reference to militia may come as a natural objection, it is simply not relevant in the overall discussion.  With this, the discussion can move on with these items in mind and with the knowledge of peoples’ rights firmly in place.

Regulating Firearms

However, the right to keep and bear firearms is not an absolute right, which is a vital part of this debate on gun control.  The Supreme Court has firmly clarified this area as well, which is an inextricable part of the gun control discussion.  One notable statement was made by Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia.  In 2008, he explicitly stated that this right – to keep and bear firearms, present in the Second Amendment – is not unlimited, and it is clearly linked to a number of other regulations and prohibitions present in other rulings.  Thus, regulating firearms cannot be dismissed on the grounds of the Second Amendment – the other radical side of the conversation – based on this clarification.

Regulation without Undermining the Right to Bear Arms

While critics to gun rights may attack the constitutional nature of the right to bear arms, as previously seen, this is not where the focus should be placed.  As seen in the previous supporting facts, there is a right for individuals to keep and bear arms.  While this is not absolute, it is present in the United States.

Thus the focus should be driven away from this point.  The essence of the problem is found in the regulation of firearms.  While eliminating people’s rights to keep and bear firearms may do something to the safety of individuals in the United States, this is not the answer, as this right is protected by the United States Constitution.  The answer is seen in regulating the purchasing of firearms in the United States.

Further Methods of Regulation Purchases of Firearms

The heart of the matter is found in regulating the purchases of firearms.  In the United States, individuals have the basic, but not unlimited, right to keep and bear firearms.  However, in addressing the dangerous nature of firearms in the hands of many citizens, we must look for better regulations in selling such items.

It is clear that more rules need to be in place for obtaining firearms.  The current rules that are in place for purchasing firearms in the United States are beneficial, such as registering a weapon and other rules.  However, we must identify further methods to ensure that firearms aren’t placed in the wrong hands.  Perhaps lawmakers can, for instance, make it more difficult for individuals with a criminal record to obtain firearms legally.  Certainly such individuals should not be able to obtain firearms without a number of objectives met to ensure safety in the community.

Further protection should be targeted for families.  It is unfortunate to see the cases where children get their hands on firearms in the home.  Such costs to improve the safety of children and family exceed financial costs in regulatory and other interventions that could be imposed (Cook and Ludwig).  Stricter regulations could educate and ensure that precautions are taken in the homes across the United States.

Regulations should thus comprehensively identify changes from all aspect of the purchasing of firearms.  Not only should it be more comprehensive for those obtaining firearms, but in subsequent actions as well, such as informing and following up with consumers regarding safety methods for storing firearms.

Conclusion

The debate is too greatly centered on whether individuals actually have the right to keep and bear arms.  As seen in this analysis, it is clear that individuals do have this right.  The Supreme Court has ruled on this matter, identifying this right and rejecting the limiting scope of the militia that critics tend to bring up in such debates.  Clearly we cannot attempt to undermine this fundamental right in our desire to improve safety.

We should spend time identifying further and more comprehensive regulations to the purchasing of firearms in the United States.  We cannot let firearms enter the hands of individuals who have demonstrated less-than-desirable behavior, nor can firearms enter homes that aren’t safe for children. Whether it is education, stricter regulations, or preferably both of these matters, experts and lawmakers must come together to ensure that firearms are being owned as safely as possible.  This is an important step in safeguarding both the constitutional right to bear arms and the individuals across America.

Overall, the subject of gun control is difficult.  While some feel that eliminating the ability for individuals to carry firearms would solve problems, that is not necessarily the case, and it is certainly not constitutional.  However, absolute rights for the ability to carry firearms are not constitutional as well.  Recognizing this middle ground is key for the advancement of gun control-related talks.  By taking a responsible step towards gun control, involving stricter methods of legally obtaining a gun, the nation can concentrate on protecting citizens and children against guns, which has been supported by experts.  In this case, a radical stance is not to be taken on either side.  It is with the middle ground that any real progress can be made to make gun control a safer area for all citizens.

References

Constitution of the United States. “U.S. Constitution – Amendment 2.” U.S. Constitution Online. Retrieved from http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_Am2.html

Cottrol, Robert (1994). Gun Control and the Constitution: Sources and Explorations on the Second Amendment. New York: Taylor & Francis.

Kleck, H. & Hogan, M. (1999). A National Case-control Study of Homicide Offending and Gun Ownership, 46(2), 275-293.

Philip, J. P. & Jens, L. (2002).  The Costs of Gun Violence against Children, The Future of Children, 12(2), 86-99.

Spitzer, Robert (2008). The Politics of Gun Control. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.

Uviller, Richard (2002). The Militia and the Right to Arms. Chapel Hill, NC: Duke University Press.

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