Legislative, Judicial, and Regulatory Effects on the
Second Amendment and an Armed Citizenry Hugh S. Bonnar Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University MGMT 533 – Federal Regulations, Ethics, and The Legal System
Regulatory Effects - 1
The debate over the meaning of the Second Amendment and how restrictive gun control can be has been raging for at least the last 15-20 years, and has been waged effectively by the National Rifle Association and its politically active membership. The pro-gun lobby has sought to ease controls with the belief that it is an individual right to own a weapon and provide for self-defense. The anti-gun lobby has waged a campaign to have restrictive gun control as the norm in the country with the belief that gun ownership is not an individual right, and has fought to have incremental laws passed that gradually chip away at the ability to own a gun. The weapons used to fight this campaign have been statutory, judicial, and administrative.
Regulatory Effects - 2
The Second Amendment 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” (Bill of Rights, 1791). Within the Bill of Rights, the term “people” is construed to mean the individual. The term “militia” within the Second Amendment refers to a sub-category of the “people;” those who were male, able bodied, and within a certain age range (United States v. Miller, 1939).
In 1994, there were over 230 million guns in private hands in the United States, with over 80 million of them being handguns (Kleck, 1997, p. 8). Efforts to ban guns would result in the seizure of guns from a large percentage of law-abiding citizens. The political consequences are that any politician who votes for gun control must face a large number of gun owning voters in the next election. In his book My Life, former President Clinton (2004) stated that, “On November 8, we got the living daylights beat out of us, losing eight Senate seats and fifty-four House seats, the largest defeat for our party since 1946…..The NRA had a great night. They beat both Speaker Tom Foley and Jack Brooks, two of the ablest members of Congress, who had warned me this would happen….” (p. 629-630). The anti-gun side often uses phrases with a militaristic undertone such as ‘assault weapon’ or ‘military style weapon’ to convey something so out of the ordinary that there is no question it should be banned. In fact, it has been unlawful to own a weapon capable of automatic fire without government approval since the National Firearms Act (NPR, 2008).
The beginning of modern gun control in the United States can be traced back to The Sullivan Act of 1911, named after mob boss and New York state senator Tim Sullivan. This law required that all citizens possess a permit to own a weapon small enough to be concealed. As Regulatory Effects - 3
with more recent gun control legislation, this law was preceded by several high profile incidents. Cramer (2011) relates the killing of a socially and politically connected author, and the attempted killing of New York City Mayor William Gaynor (p. 47) as events that precede the passing of this law, and follows up by stating that within 12 months of the passage of this law, New York City’s murder rate went up 18% ( p. 50). This law is still in existence and continues to restrict a citizen’s right to self-defense.
In the immediate wake of the Tucson shooting in 2011 that killed six and wounded thirteen people, there was a renewed push for new gun control measures. The Violence Policy Center’s Kristen Rand stated, “In the wake of these kind of incidents, the trick is to move quickly” (Isikoff, 2011). Rather than go to...
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