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Gun Control in America Today

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Gun Control in America Today

Gun Control in America Today

Mark Van Holstyn

Intermediate Composition

Mrs. Gunnink

10 January 2003

Gun Control in America Today

During the Vietnam War, more than twice as many Americans were killed with firearms in the U.S. than died in combat. Today, firearms are used in approximately 65% of the 11,000 homicides a year. Suicides are carried out via a gun 57% of the 16,600 a year (“GunCite” 49). These statistics pose the question, “Would there be that many fewer deaths if guns were banned altogether? Or would these deaths occur just the same but by other means?” Studies on both a local and a national level have shown that the majority of murders are committed by those with previous criminal records. The “crimes of passion” are not very common; rather, most murders are planned and therefore would occur no matter what weapon is to be used (“GunCite” 49). However, controlling the guns in America is still an issue that needs to be addressed. Banning guns completely is not what should be done, however; if the government controls guns by other means, then crime will be reduced yet many Americans will still have them to use in recreation and in self defense.

The Second Amendment of the Bill of Right 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.“ This statement has been interpreted two very different ways over the years. The Americans that favor strict gun control have come to the conclusion that this amendment guarantees the right of the states to own firearms. They believe the forefathers of the Constitution wanted to guarantee every state the right to keep and bear firearms, in order to defend against the federal government, should it try to possess too much power. The “well regulated militia,” they say, refers to state troops using state-supplied firearms, such as the National Guard or the Naval Militia. They believe that the Second Amendment was just another part of the checks and balances built into the American government. One strength this viewpoint has is that while the Supreme Court has never made a direct ruling on how to interpret the Second Amendment, it has never stuck down any gun-control law as being unconstitutional under the Second Amendment (Beard and Rand 224).

Americans that are against gun control interpret this amendment in a very different manner. While they do not dispute that every state has the right to keep and bear firearms, they believe that the Second Amendment‘s purpose is to guarantee

the individuals right to keep and bear firearms. All of the amendments in the Bill of Rights protect individual rights, why should the Second Amendment be different (“GunCite” 2)? Also, when drafting the Second Amendment, the words “for the common defense” were taken out, showing a more individual intent (Cooper 169). The statement “the right of the people” clearly shows that the forefathers of the constitution intended for the private ownership of firearms. Their interpretation of the “well regulated militia” is that of citizens being soldiers. These “soldiers” should be everyday men with the ability to resist the federal government should it become too powerful (National Rifle Association 218). According to Stephen Halbrook, it would be inconceivable that the framers of the Second Amendment would have tolerated that a free person required permission from the state or federal government to own and bear firearms. Also, it would be even more ridiculous should a free person be imprisoned for not aksing (220). If this right was to be taken away, what would be next? In reality, the Second Amendment was intended to guarantee both the states right and the individuals right to keep and bear firearms. While having this right might breed certain costs, such as the crimes committed with these very firearms, restricting of private ownership of firearms would be even more costly (Halbrook 220).

There are over 20,000 laws in place today to try and control firearms. The laws that have the most effect are the federal laws. The first federal law pertaining to firearms was the National Firearms Act, which Congress passed in 1934. This law called for a $200 excise tax on fully automatic weapons and short-barreled rifles and shotguns. Also, this law required all of the said weapons to be registered with the federal

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