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Guns Should Not Be Owned by Individuals, Essay Example

Pages: 4

Words: 998

Essay

The recent shooting at the movie theater in Colorado has revived the gun control debate. The opponents and the supporters of gun control have come up with different explanations regarding the causes of the incident. The opponents mostly have put the blame on the shooter himself while the supporters have cited weak gun control laws and easy availability of assault weapons as a major contributor towards the incident. The opponents of the gun control laws often claim that the constitution has granted them the right to possess firearms. The opponents fail to realize that one of the goals of the U.S. constitution is to maximize the overall welfare of the society and the government has a duty to provide security to its citizens against threats to their lives and property.

The opponents of the gun control laws argue that the Second Amendment explicitly grants them the right to bear arms as it states, “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.” (Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School). The opponents also argue that people kill people and not guns because guns do not have conscience. The opponents also suggest that the solution to crimes is more effective implementation of applicable laws and not ban on gun ownership because those who want to commit crime, will always find a way somehow.

The opponents of the gun control law do not take into account the circumstances that prevailed at the time when Second Amendment was passed and they also give far more weight to its wording than its spirit. In old times, the government didn’t have as advanced public security infrastructure as it has now, thus, guns were meant to help citizens feel safe. In addition, the right to own guns in the Second Amendment is not absolute as the opponents often imply. In the case District of Columbia vs. Heller, the federal appeals court agreed that the Second Amendment does grant an individual the right to keep and bear arms but this doesn’t suggest that the government is absolutely barred from regulating the use and ownership of pistols (White). This means that the government can take steps to pass stricter gun laws if it does have a legitimate public interest and the statistics do provide support. U.S. has the highest private gun ownership rate of any country in the world and not surprisingly, the country also has the highest homicide rate from guns in the world.

The opponents argue that guns do not kill but people kill but they ignore the fact that guns increase the probability of a crime. If we agree with the opponents’ argument then citizens should also have the right to own more advanced weapons since putting them in private hands will not threaten public security. The Bill of Rights was designed to protect the American public (Hallquist) and if guns have become a major threat to the safety of the citizens, then government has an ethical responsibility to limit gun ownership. More than 47,000 people died by firearms between 2006 and 2010 or more than 9,000 per year (McLaughlin). We have come a long way since the passage of Second Amendment and instead of being fixed at the exact wording of the amendment, we should analyze the Second Amendment in a historical context.

The opponents also suggest that instead of ban on gun ownership, the problem should be dealt with stricter regulations and more effective implementation by the relevant agencies/organizations. The recent shooting in Colorado has exposed the shortcomings of this suggestion because background checks are not always reliable. Even if there were stricter laws and the government was doing a good job of implementing them, recent Colorado incident could not have been avoided. This is because the shooter James Holmes purchased all the weapons and ammunitions legally and had a clean background with the exception of a single traffic ticket (McLaughlin). The shooters in both the Arizona tragedy involving Gabrielle Giffords as well as Colorado tragedy had psychological issues and these individuals are not the only ones with psychological disabilities in America. We have to realize that there are all kinds of people and some of them are at a high risk of engaging in violence. Thus, the best solution to minimize the occurrences of such incidents is not more regulation but more difficult access to guns and other arms. Communities are lot safer than they were at the time of the passage of the Second Amendment and the security infrastructure is much more advanced now. Thus, the emphasis should be on the intent of the Second Amendment and not on the exact wording.

The right to own arms continues to be a controversial issue in America. The critics believe that the Second Amendment gives them the right to own arms and the blame in any tragedy should be on the offender and not on the weapon since weapons are just a tool. The opponents also suggest stricter laws to minimize abuse of gun ownership rights. The supporters of ban on gun ownership claim that Second Amendment reflects the circumstances of the times when it was passed and things have changed a lot since then. Moreover, the government does a good job of providing security which eliminates any need for private citizens to own guns. In addition, the laws will always have loopholes as the Colorado’s tragedy demonstrates and there will always be individuals who are at high risk of violence. Thus, the best strategy is to restrict gun ownership rather than dealing with the issue through more regulations.

References

Hallquist, Daniel. A Look on Both Sides of Gun Control. 22 November 2006. 1 August 2012 <http://voices.yahoo.com/a-look-both-sides-gun-control-116093.html>.

Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School. Amendment II. 1 August 2012 <http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/second_amendment>.

McLaughlin, Erin. Movie Theater Shooting Prompts Gun Control Debate. 21 July 2012. 1 August 2012 <http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/07/movie-theater-shooting-prompts-gun-control-debate/>.

White, Deborah. Pros & Cons of Gun Ownership & Use Laws for Individuals. 1 August 2012 <http://usliberals.about.com/od/patriotactcivilrights/i/ProConGunLaws.htm>.

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