And Other Nonsensical Rhetoric
The intent and historical relevance of the Second Amendment should be carefully considered against modern day situations and circumstances surrounding gun violence. Whether you believe the Second Amendment gives unequivocal rights to individuals to bear arms or that it only pertains to states militia and firearms should be tightly regulated by the government, reasonable measures should be taken to minimize the harm caused by guns. With both sides of the argument pointing to the Second Amendment as a tool to further their causes, a closer examination of this much-debated amendment is crucial to determine its historical relevance and its modern day implications. Nevertheless, an individuals right to own guns should always be weighed against the collective good of society. This can be accomplished by seeking a balance between freedom and reasonable regulations.
Why did the framers of the Constitution feel the need to include an amendment addressing the militia and the right of the people to keep and bear arms? Robert Shalhope, Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma asserts, “The Founding Fathers were influenced by the fact that the entire body of republican philosophy known to them was based on English and classical history, which taught that popular possession of arms was vital to the preservation of liberty and a republican form of government.” There were fears that the standing army, provided for by the Constitution, would seriously threaten the liberty of the people in times of peace if there were no checks in place to prevent this from happening. Arguments for and against the ratification of the constitution were never about the need to control arms; rather the opposite was true with both Federalist and Antifederalist agreeing that the ultimate check on tyrannical government was an armed population. The need to include an amendment addressing the rights of the militia and the people to keep and bear arms was a natural response to preserve their hard won liberty and to protect themselves from tyranny in all its forms.
If it is true that the Second Amendment was included to prevent a supposed danger, the tyranny of an oppressive government, then what present-day dangers could an armed population prevent? The National Rifle Association says plenty. Aside from the fear of despotism, the fear of being killed by a gun-wielding madman while you are shopping at the mall or relaxing at home or driving in your car has fueled the cause for pro-gun factions. Some might think that these fears validate the need for more restrictive gun control measures but the fact is criminal intent will find a way to commit crime no matter the restrictions. Look at violent criminals in our top security prisons. Even under 24-hour surveillance in lockdown conditions, inmates still find ways to make lethal weapons. The NRA believes restricting gun use by law-abiding citizen puts society at a higher risk of gun violence because it removes the ability of self-defense. Take for example the Gun-Free Zone policy of many public universities and shopping malls such as Virginia Tech and the Westroads Mall in Omaha Nebraska. Both places were scenes of horrific terror and mass murder by the hands of an armed sociopath. In both places, the opportunity for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves was taken away by Gun Free Zone laws. The consequences of this infringement of “the right of the people to keep and bears arms” is exactly what the Second Amendment hoped to avoid. If the Second Amendment was concerned enough about the loss of freedom to allow its citizens to keep and bear arms as a deterrent against tyrannical government, then it bears to reason that the Founding Fathers would have no objection to the right of the people to keep and bear arms for the sake of defending life. After all, “the right of self-defense is the first law of nature” (Blackstone)....