Is Gun Ownership a Right?
Are gun control advocates seeking to take away Second Amendment rights?
The Second Amendment of the U.S., which contains the phrase “the right to bear arms,” is often quoted as protection for Americans to own and use guns. Consequently, those who may want to regulate or restrict gun ownership are viewed as attacking a basic American right, guaranteed in the Constitution.
What did the founding fathers mean when they said the right to bear arms? The sentiment originated with their belief in a citizen militia as a defense against tyranny, and their distrust of standing armies. The primary justification for the 2nd Amendment was creating a provision that would prevent the nation from requiring a standing army. Moreover, in their writings, figures such as Hamilton constantly referred to it as a “well-regulated militia,” but they weren’t concerned about an individual’s right to bear arms. The well-regulated aspect of their militias actually included several restrictions about who would be allowed to own firearms and join the militias. A few of the people that the founding fathers did NOT want to own weapons included free black Americans, slaves, and Native Americans, according to historical writings and records.
In the 1700’s no one could have predicted the shift from agrarian to urban communities, the density of the population, food production in which sources of meat would be mass produced and prepared, and the rise of jobs, professions and lifestyles that would never require the use of a gun.
Also, they did not foresee the development of a large standing army to defend the country, or the rise of a police force dedicated to protecting citizens and preserving law and order. These changes in circumstances require us to look at the Second Amendment phrasing with more than a literal interpretation.
Is there really a problem with gun violence in America? Each year, more than 70,000 Americans are injured by guns. Almost 40,000 Americans are killed by gun violence. There are upwards of 370 mass shootings in American each year – a little more than one a day. The American gun homicide rate is 25 times higher than that of other high income nations.
So, yes, the facts support the statement that gun violence in America is a far more serious threat to citizens than it is in other countries.
Will stricter laws reduce incidents of gun violence? Again, other countries that have introduced gun buy-back programs, stricter gun laws and higher standards for training for gun owners have seen gun violence plummet. In contrast, in America one out of five guns are purchased over the Internet or at gun shows with no qualifications or training required of the purchaser.
The proliferation of murders, suicides, and mass shootings in America today keeps the debate over gun control passionate on both sides. Especially controversial is the availability of assault rifles which were created for military action, not recreational use.
Why do people need guns today? Beyond recreation, the primary argument is for personal security. If gun controls are tightened, then only criminal actors will have firearms, and people will be unable to protect themselves from crime. However, research shows that an armed home is NOT a safer home. Instead, guns in the home have been repeatedly linked to an increased risk for homicide and suicide. Homes that owned guns for self-defense, had 70 percent increased odds of being murdered at home.
Homes with guns present are tied to a nearly fivefold increase in the odds of suicide, are four times more likely to experience an accidental shooting, seven times more likely to be used in assault or homicide, and 11 times more likely to be used in a suicide than they were to be used for self-defense (Scientific America).
In part because of this research, Congress acted to forbid the Centers for Disease Control from using its funding to advocate or promote gun control. The firearm research stopped.
Here’s a tragic real-life example. The mother of the Sandy Hook shooter had an extensive collection of guns in her home. Her son lived alone in the basement enjoying violent video games. The day he went on his rampage, killing six-year-old children and their teachers at their school, he first shot and killed his mother, using a gun from her collection.
After the Sandy Hook shooting, President Obama signed an executive order requesting that the CDC spend $10 million on gun violence research; however Congress did not appropriate the funds.
So, what is the solution given these conflicting views about guns? To find out, and learn more about this issue and others that affect us all, listen to the Magenta Nation podcast here.
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