The Right To Keep And Bear Arms
Thursday, 19 August, 1996
"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, Article II).
This seemingly simple phrase is probably the source of more debate and argument than any other single sentence in American history. The argument is not black or white, pro or con. Rather, it encompasses many shades of gray. At the one end of the spectrum you have the National Rifle Association (NRA) which currently views any type of gun control as an infraction against the Second Amendment of the Constitution ("What is the NRA" 1). At the other end of the spectrum you have groups like the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) and Handgun Control, Inc. seek to make most firearms accessible only to law enforcement and the military ("CSGV" 1). In the middle there are organizations such as the American Firearms Association, who seek compromise regarding our rights (Lissabet, "Return" 2). Some organizations that one would expect to participate in this debate are noticeably quiet. One such group is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In "The ACLU on Gun Control", the national ACLU policy is neutrality (1).
All factions in this debate have some merit, some more than others. All use a mixture of facts, figures, and emotions to express their views. I will be presenting some of their history, their views, and how they make their cases.
The NRA is perhaps the most well known of the participants. They were formed after the Civil War, in 1871, as an organization dedicated to the rifle marksmanship of the state Militias. This was due to Union Army's lack of marksmanship. Following World War II, many returning veterans joined the ranks of the NRA. They endured their share of military life and over time the NRA's mission was changed to that of a sportsman's organization. This did not last long.
Following the assassination...
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