Everytime you read the newspaper or turn on the TV to watch the news, you hear about gun related violence. Not only war, suicide and gang related shooting, but also six-year old boys killing their classmates in school. On Tuesday, February 29, 2000 a six-year old boy shot his classmate, of the same age, to death. The two children had gotten into a fight the previous day. The boy had brought a gun from home to frighten her, but accidentely fired it. One single shot was fired inside the classroom at Buell Elementary School, in Mount Morris Township, Michigan, that morning.
Since 1996, there have been 30 major school shootings around the world, 20 of which occurred in the U.S. Most recently, on November 9 this year, a 15 year old shot and killed an assistant principal and seriously wounded two other administrators at Campbell County High School, Jacksboro, Tenneesse, (infoplease.com).
Although violent crimes have declined heavily during the last decade, 1,272,374 cases of murder, robbery, and aggrevated assaults involving firearms were committed last year. Out of these, 16,137 were murder (The U.S. Department of Justice). In 2000, the U.S. had the highest firearm murder rate per capita of all developed countries in the world (Nation Master). These numbers are terrifying and indeed alarming.
Gun control is truly an important issue, but it is also extremely complex and controversial. Who shall we blame for the steadily increasing rate of gun violence, and what shall we do in order to get the issue under control? Is it Marilyn Manson's music or Charlton Heston's fault, or can it ever be that simple to pinpoint a huge societal issue like this?
The Second Amendment
The Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution says: "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."
A lot of conflicts have risen under this constitutional right since it can be interpreted in two very different ways. The groups and organizations that are advocates of strict gun control laws believe that The Second Amendment were created strictly to guarantee the states, not individuals, the right to possess firearms. They consider this yet another part of the checks and balances a right for the states to protect themselves against the Federal Government if it should try to exercise too much power.
They also claim that the words "a well regulated militia" aims at the state troops each state enforced at the time the Constitution was instituted. Todays equivalence, the National Guard, does no longer supply itself with weapons, but get its guns subsidized by the Government. Therefore, the anti-gun groups claim that the Second Amendment, in reality, does not fill any purpose except for its historical importance nowadays (The Brady Campaign).
This standpoint has a major strength seen from a constitutional aspect. The Supreme Court has never really taken a stand about how the Second Amendment shall be interpreted, but in the United States vs. Miller case from 1939, the Supreme Court appointed that the possession of a short-barelled shotgun was not protected by the rights from the Second Amendment, since they did not consider it to be "ordinary military equipment" that could "contribute to the common defense." Never since has any gun control law been considered unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (Volokh).
The other side of the debate, the adherents of less or none gun control, strictly claim that the Second Amendment was created mainly to give individuals the right to keep and bear firearms for the purpose of protecting themselves. They do not oppose that the states also are given the privilege to possess firearms, but claim, as mentioned before, that the right of the individuals is its main purpose. The "well regulated militia" has been interpreted as an armed population, who's...
Cited: NRA, The Second Amendment Fact Sheet, May 3, 2005,
Department of Justice, Whether the Second Amendment Secures an Individual Right, August 24, 2004, http://www.usdoj.gov/olc/secondamendment2.pdf
Wikipedia, Militia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militia#United_States
Vernick, Jon S. & Hepburn, Lisa M., The Brookings Institution, Twenty Thousand Gun-Control Laws?, December 2002, http://www.brookings.edu/es/urban/publications/gunbook4.pdf
Bardwell, James O., FAQ on National Firearms Act Weapons, 1994-2001,
NRA, Sundering Rights in San Francisco, August 23, 2005, http://www.nraila.org/Issues/Articles/Read.aspx?ID=175
Please join StudyMode to read the full document