What Role Should the Government Play in Gun Control?

Topics: Gun politics in the United States, Firearm, Gun politics Pages: 6 (1846 words) Published: March 1, 2002
What Role Should The Government Play in Gun Control?

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.

Gun control is a real issue with Americans today. Many people have different opinions about how to handle our growing dilemma concerning guns. There are those who believe we should ban guns altogether and those who believe we should not ban or restrict the people's right to own guns at all. Both sides have valid arguments, but neither side seems to know how to compromise because of their very different opinions. I personally believe guns should be banned. However, those against gun control have very good arguments.

The Second Amendment was written because of the colonists' fear of an all-powerful central government taking over, but there are many interpretations of how the Second Amendment reads. The court has never found the Second Amendment to clash with the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process clause which states that, "No state shall...deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" (McClenaghan 522). This gave each state the right to set up their own rules and regulations, which I believe, is one reason why we have the problems that we do.

There have been four major cases heard by the Supreme Court which found that the fire-arm control laws are constitutional; United States v. Cruikshank (1986), Presser v. Illinois (1886), Miller v. Texas (1894), and the United States v. Miller (1939) (Strahinich 41). United States v. Miller was the most important. It supported a section of the National Firearms Act of 1934, basically stating that it is a crime to ship sawed off shotguns, machine guns, or silencers across state lines unless registered with the Treasury Department (McClenaghan 522).

The United States already has more than twenty thousand gun laws, but they do not seem to be making an impact. The first American gun control laws were written before the Revolutionary War. The most effective and more recent laws have been the Gun Control Act of 1986 and the Brady Law. The Gun Control Act of 1986 has a lot of impact on our rights concerning firearms today. It requires federal licensing and inspection of dealers with new and stricter guidelines. It restricted the sale of ammunition and firearms between states and completely banned importing "Saturday night specials." Citizens could no longer own "destructive devices" such as bazookas and machine guns (Strahinich 51). This mainly attempts to prohibit high risk groups from obtaining firearms. The Gun Control Act of 1986 created new and greater penalties for using firearms to commit federal crimes. The Brady Law of 1994 required a buyer to wait at least five days before receiving a handgun, therefore giving the seller adequate time to do a background check. The opposition argues that since there are over two million handguns in circulation today it would be nearly impossible for every single buyer to be checked. Those gun control believe that neither the Brady Act nor the Gun Control Act of 1986 are strong enough. It's revision in 1998 expanded required waiting periods on handguns, to requiring waiting periods on all firearms (Netzley 32). Some have suggested limiting guns and ammunition. Virginia Governor Doug Wilder proposed limiting gun purchases to one per person per month (Roleff 65). However, in 1982 Kennesaw, Georgia created an ordinance that required every head of household to own a gun and ammunition (Strahinich 48). Washington DC has the country's most extreme gun law. It states that "No civilian may buy or carry a handgun, nor may any gun be kept assembled or loaded in one's home for self defense." Yet, Washington has one of the highest homicide rates in the United States (Roleff 47). It is my belief that no single state can accurately decide what is best for the...

Cited: Dolan, Edward, Margaret Scariano. Guns in the United States. New York, New York: Moffa Press, Incorporated, 1994. pp.. 29-30, 55.
Lott, J.R. More Guns Less Crime. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1998. pp.. 1-2.
McClenaghan, William. American Government. Needham, Massachusetts: Prentice Hall, 1993. pp.. 489, 522.
Netzley, P.D. Issues in Crime. Sandiego, California: Lucent Books Inc., 2000. pp.. 32
Roleff, T.L. ed. Gun Control, Opposing Viewpoints. Sandiego, California: Greenhaven Press Inc., 1997. pp.. 22-23, 25, 45, 47, 65-67, 76, 85, 117, 142.
Strahinich, Helen. Guns in America. United States: Walker Publishing Company, 1992. pp.. 41, 48, 51.
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