Gun Control Regulation
The year 2012 was a horrific year for mass shootings in the United States. Americans were shocked by an April spree at a religious school in Oakland that killed seven, the brutal theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, in July that killed 12, the Sikh Temple massacre in Wisconsin in August that claimed six lives, the September Minneapolis sign-plant slaughter of five, and most recently, the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that took the lives of 26 students and teachers. Cases like these have prompted the Obama Administration as well as the entire nation to reconsider what laws and restrictions need to be placed with regard to gun access and control without interfering with the constitutional rights of citizens.
It is a known fact that America was produced into a nation based on the ideologies of freedom and democracy; with the constitution as the heart of its central government. The basic rights of citizens stated in the amendments are not only unambiguous but also eminently conserved by the Judicial System and Supreme Courts, which makes it a crucial challenge to modify, despite having national catastrophes that leave the government questioning their responsibilities with regard to public safety. Guns are a huge presence on the American landscape, no doubt. With an estimated 300 million firearms privately owned in the U.S., we practically have a weapon for every citizen. In 1994, President Clinton signed a ten year assault weapons ban into law but industries continued to manufacture civilian versions of military rifles. According to author Paul Berrett, “The prohibition actually helped transform what had been a marginal product for most manufacturers into a gun-rights poster child, celebrated by the National Rifle Association and sought after by a much bigger share of the gun-buying public.” Since the ban’s expiration in 2004, no other administration sought to enforce any regulation on assault weapons up until now. Berrett continues to state that, “…in the wake of the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., President Obama and congressional Democrats are calling for a renewed ban on assault weapons. Proponents of the legislation vow they will do a better job this time [with promises of] no loopholes. [But] skepticism is [still] warranted.” During a recent interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, President Obama stated that public opinion is a crucial component of this debate. Based on that statement, CNN conducted a poll on whether or not owning guns should be restricted. Thirteen percent of people said there should be no restrictions, seventy percent said there should be some restrictions, and fifteen percent said guns should overall be illegal. But simply asking American’s for their opinion is not how our system works. Whatever vicissitudes are sought out, it will have to hold up in the Supreme Court.
Cases regarding the protection of the right to bear arms have been scrutinized in the past through numerous Supreme Court rulings. In 2001, “The District of Columbia enacted regulations making it a crime to possess usable unregistered firearms even in the home while, at the same time, prohibiting the registration of handguns” (Nieto). However, during the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller case, in a 5-4 decision the Court held that the Second Amendment does in fact protect an individual’s right to gun ownership and thereby determined that the District of Columbia's ban on handguns was unconstitutional. This decision was considered a win for gun right advocates after the meaning of the second amendment was modified to protect an individual’s right to possess a firearm “unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home” (Scalia). The case that followed this was the 2010 McDonald v. City of Chicago ruling that elaborated on the Heller case by protecting second amendment...
References: Viewpoints In Context. Web. 13 Jan. 2013.
Barrett, P. M. (2012). What We Can Do About Guns. Bloomberg Businessweek, (4310), 39-42.
Garrett, M. (2012). Three Simple Steps Obama Can Take on Gun Control. National Journal.
Shear, M. D. (2013, January 11). Gun control group urges expanded background checks [Newsgroup post]. Retrieved from New York Times website: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/12/us/politics/gun-control-group-urges-expanded-background-checks.html
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