Professor Anthony Biduck
December 7, 2009
Armed or Dangerous
What were they thinking? For over two centuries, there has been a longstanding debate over our forefathers’ intent for incorporating the second amendment into the Bill of Rights: did they wish to protect the individual’s right to own firearms, or did they want to ensure states’ rights to arm themselves with a militia? Those who believe the former argue against gun control laws, believing more regulations place law-abiding citizens at the mercy of criminals. Advocates for gun control contend that fewer legal guns mean less that are at risk of reaching the wrong hands.
Part I: Thesis
The American Declaration of Independence was a statement of people’s rights, a definition of what government is and from whom its powers are derived. When Thomas Jefferson wrote, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” he and his compatriots were stating their belief that we all have rights with which we are born, not given by government. The government to which they had been subjected did not recognize those rights, so as they ended all ties with England, they felt it was necessary to document them to ensure they were protected.
At the time our nation was formed, communities lived in fear of attacks from “bandits, Indians, and even troops from other states” (Constitutional Topic, 2008.) As a result, the majority of state constitutions included a provision for maintaining their own militia. Some even “required men of age to own a gun and supplies, including powder and bullets” (Constitutional Topic, 2008.) At the start of the American Revolution, colonists’ homes were taken over by British soldiers and their firearms were confiscated to prevent the possibility of those individuals taking up arms against England. The fourth amendment of the United States Constitution addressed seizure of... [continues]
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