Gun Control in the U.S
Seemingly, the gun control debate, in the U.S has become a critical social issue. In the past, the debate whether guns should be legalized dominated parliamentary sessions with politicians expressing diverse views over the issue. Human rights agencies and other organized social groups gave their contribution to the issue differently leading to the emergence of two conflicting perceptions on the legalization of guns. Since the emergence of the gun control debate, in 2004 when the 1994 ban on the right to carry concealed guns was enacted, the debate did not attract substantial concern from the U.S citizens; instead, it seemed to be a legal or rather the concern of the politicians and the Judiciary. However, the recent fatal mass shooting in various venues, in the U.S seems to have created an unprecedented public outcry, especially on safety issues. The recent mass shooting at Aurora, Colorado seems to have diverted the perception of the U.S population on the issue, resulting into a widespread call for the legalization of guns to enhance self-defense for the citizens. Owing to the unprecedented resistance to the legalization of guns for public safety, proponents of the debate sought defense in the Second Amendment of the U.S Constitution, which protects the individuals’ rights (Macionis, 2011).
However, the 2012 U.S presidential elections exacerbated the gun control issue, especially after the re-election of President Barack Obama as the president of the United States. President Obama vehemently rejected the legalization of guns to civilians owing to the fatal mass shooting, in which scores lost their lives while others sustained fatal injuries. It is as a result of the Obama’s Administration approach to oppose the legalization of guns that some legislators and human rights agencies have file numerous petitions at the U.S Supreme Court seeking to protect the Second Amendment in the U.S Constitution because; it addresses the issue of the individuals’ rights to own guns.
Therefore, this research will provide an overview on the issue of gun control, especially with regard to the protection of the Second Amendment. It will discuss the provisions of the Second Amendment and the Second Amendment’s Rights Protection Act. Moreover, it will highlight on the reaffirmation of citizen’s right and the victory realized in the protection of the Second Amendment.
Provisions of the Second Amendment
In regard to the Second Amendment, there are distinctive explanations as to the reason why the rights of well-regulated militia and civilians should be allowed to possess guns. The Second Amendment states that the rights of individuals to own guns should not be infringed. It also states that the security of Free States is safe-guarded by a well-regulated militia and, such rights should not be infringed whatsoever.
In general, the Second Amendment protects the rights of individuals in different ways but, there are several fundamental aspects through which the Second Amendment encompasses the right to possess guns by civilians and well-regulated militia.
First, it protects the right of an individual, which existed before the declaration of the American independence. Some of the individual rights, which existed before the creation of the American Government, include the right to self-defense and freedom from violent harm. These were considered to as the most fundamental unalienable rights of the American citizens. However, these provisions were contained in the religious doctrine. For instance, Talmud reinforced the Jewish law by stating, “If someone comes to kill you, arise quickly and kill him” (Stevens, 2001 par. 1). He further states approaches for protecting an individual’s right to self-defense offers significant reference to the Second Amendment. One of the most fundamental doctrines of the Roman Catholic states, “Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow” (Stevens, 2001 par. 1).
Secondly, the Second Amendment uses an explicit language to prohibit infringing of the people’s rights by Federal Governments. As such, it demands the implementation of the right of the individual to self-defense. Stevens (2001) states, “Self-defense is the ultimate right of all individuals to preserve life” (par. 2). He relates the right to self-defense in the Second Amendment with the Bill of Rights in the First Amendment of the U.S Constitution, which prohibits Congress from infringing upon the rights of individual, especially with regard to the fundamental Constitutional freedoms. The language used in these two Amendments explains the essence of the Amendments as the protectors of individual rights.
In regard to the security of Free States, the Second Amendment allows citizens to form militias for the sake of self-defense against the infringement of their rights by the Government. This can be justified by Alexander Hamilton’s expression, “when a government betrays the people by amassing too much power and becoming tyrannical, the people have no choice but to exercise their original right of self-defense — to fight the government” (Stevens, 2001 par. 3).
Second Amendment Rights Protection Act
Recently, different parties who are in favor of the protection of the Second Amendment for public safety have voiced their grievances to the Senate, and the Congress to enact laws, which will protect the Second Amendment, especially with regard to gun control. As a result, several legislators have drafted reliable Acts to address the issue. One of the most recent Acts, which aims at enhancing public safety through protecting the Second Amendment, is The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, which has been drafted by Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin. This Act addresses three fundamental aspects of gun control. First, it requires an extensive background check system to be used to identify all prohibited firearm purchasers. Federal States are ought to ensure genuine procurement of firearms through providing their records to NICS, in which Federal States who fail to comply will be subjected to financial restriction. Secondly, the Act seeks to ensure that there is efficient scrutiny of the sale of firearms to secure individual rights of the law abiding citizens as it is required by the provisions of the Second Amendment. In addition, the Act requires for the establishment of a national commission to deal with mass violence, in the United States. However, the Bill does not restrict gun owners to surrender them nor does it ban lethal weapons such as the machine guns, which hold many rounds of ammunition (Manchin & Toomey, 2013).
Reaffirmation of Citizen’s Right
From a legal perspective, the reaffirmation of citizen’s right to possess firearms for self-defense and recreational purposes has been provided by the Supreme Court’s ruling on the District of Columbia v. Heller case. In this case, aspects such the significance of the laws, which relate to the issue of protecting homesteads as a fundamental requirement of the Second Amendment and infringement of the individual’s right by the State were addressed. It was also deliberated that guns are not supposed to be prohibited in the interest of public safety (Cooper & Navarro, 2009). Therefore, the court’s ruling was done in favor of Heller; thus, reaffirming the citizen’s right.
Victory in Protection of the Second Amendment
It worth noting that the protection of the Second Amendment has realized remarkable outcomes with victory being recorded in various Federal States, in the United States. For instance, the Second Amendment Protection Act was approved by the Kansas House on 14 March, 2013, and this was regarded to as a remarkable victory towards the protection of individual’s right to possess guns for self-defense. Herron (2013) reported, “Kansas is moving forward in protecting the second amendment and nullifying federal attacks on the right to keep and bear arms in the state. HB 2199, The Second Amendment Protection Act, passed the Kansas House today with a 94-29 vote” (par. 1). On the other hand, various agencies have won numerous cases related to gun rights legal struggle. For instance, Second Amendment Foundation won a case in the Seventh Circuit Court, in which the jury declared, “the right to self-defense is ‘broader’ than the right to have a gun in one’s home” (SAF, 2013, par. 3).
In a brief conclusion, it appears explicit that the Second Amendment of the U.S Constitution protects the right of an individual to self-defense. However, there are no legal quotes to declare that law abiding citizens are entitled to possess guns but, the right to self-defense bears its historical roots into the religious doctrine. The approach by some legislators and human rights agencies to protect the Second Amendment can be regarded to as a step in the right constitutional path because; it will ensure that the right for self-defense of the U.S citizens is safe-guarded. Moreover, the tenets of the Second Amendment should be upheld through the legalization of guns for self-defense of the public to curb the rising trends of the mass shooting. This can only be realized if the Second Amendment is protected.
Cooper, K. & Navarro, M. (2009). District of Columbia v. Heller. Retrieved from http://www.whitman.edu/rhetoric/decisions/10-kayla-melissa-gun-rights.htm
Herron, L. (2013). Second Amendment Protection Act Passes Kansas House. Retrieved from http://www.politicalchips.org/profiles/blogs/second-amendment-protection-act-passes-kansas-house
Macionis, J. (2011). Sociology (14th Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall PTR.
Manchin, J. & Toomey, P. (2013). The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act. Retrieved from http://www.toomey.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=965
SAF (2013). Gun Rights Legal Action. Retrieved from http://www.saf.org/
Stevens, R. (2001). The Six Things Americans Should Know About the Second Amendment. Retrieved from http://jpfo.org/filegen-n-z/six-about-2nd.htm
- Quote paper
- Caroline Mutuku (Author), 2018, Gun Control in the U.S., Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/428841