The Right to Bear Arms

The Right to Bear Arms

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Gun control has been a controversial issue for many years. A vast majority of citizens believe that if gun control is strictly enforced it would quickly reduce the threat of crime. Many innocent people feel they have the right to bear arms for protection, or even just the pleasure of hunting. Americans have a constitutional right to own hand guns and stricter laws and licensing will not affectively save lives.

The second amendment states “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The Founding Fathers included this in the Bill of Rights because they feared the Federal Government might oppress the population if the people did not have the means to defend themselves as a nation or individuals.

“We established however some, although not all its (self-government) important principles. The

constitutions of most of our states assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they

exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent; (as in

electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in

all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or may they act by representatives, freely and

equally chosen that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed” (Jefferson).

It is believed that The Founding Fathers thought that the society benefited from guns being in the hands of the people. This way all citizens were able to defend themselves at all times.

The government has passed many laws regarding the ownership and use of firearms. Currently the federal law states the following: The use of any firearm in a violent or drug trafficking crime is punishable by law. A person who wishes to purchase a firearm must be 18 years of age to purchase a rifle or shot gun and a person must be 21 years of age to purchase a hand gun. Regarding travel, notwithstanding any state or local law, a person shall be entitled to transport a firearm from any place where they may lawfully possess and transport such firearm if the firearm is unloaded and in the trunk.

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In vehicles without a trunk, the unloaded firearm shall be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console (Federal Gun Laws). There are many other laws regarding ammunition, dealers of firearms, antique firearms, sales between individuals which state, that a person without a federal firearm license may not sell a firearm to another individual (Federal Gun Laws). Although there are gun laws for every possible issue or situation, there are still some that believe the second amendment should not exist and others that believe it is a very beneficial amendment.

The rational given for most modern gun control legislation is “Crime Control.” The Brady Bill is one example. The Brady Bill is named after James Brady, who was shot by John Hinckley during an assassination attempt on President Regan in 1981. Supporters of the Brady Bill used that incident to gain support for their gun control legislation, claiming it would reduce crime and save lives. The fact is that the background check and waiting period included in the Brady Bill would not have prevented John Hinckley from legally purchasing the handgun used in the incident. Records show that “a police background was run on Hinckley four days before he purchased the revolver he used to shoot President Reagan and Jim Brady. The check shoed he had no felony convictions in any jurisdiction. Neither had Hinckley any public record of mental illness” (“Guns” 51).

An even greater shortcoming of the Brady Bill is that is only affects legal transaction. By definition, a criminal is someone who breaks the law. Criminals have many ways to obtain weapons without going through the process mandated by the Brady Bill, which states that anyone wanting to purchase a firearm must wait five days for a background check to be completed. Two obvious examples are theft and black market purchases. According to studies “only one firearm of every six used in crime is obtained legally” (Thomas). Since the passage of the Brady Bill, only four felons have been apprehended trying to purchase a firearm (National Institute of Justice).

The Brady Bill is not effective in fighting crime, but is does affect crime victims. The five-day waiting period during which the police conduct the background check is also supposed to serve as a “cooling off” period to prevent crimes of passion. Fortunately, this five-day wait is waived in states like Virginia which have an instant background check system in place. The following article is an example of how waiting periods affect the victims of crime:

Marine Cpl. Rayna Ross of Woodridge, Virginia, might be dead if a waiting period had been in effect. Instead, the instant check system in place in Virginia allowed her to purchase a firearm and defend her life against a former boyfriend three days after she purchased the pistol. The man, a marine under orders to stay away from Ross because of previous assaults and threats, broke through a door and rushed in her bedroom with a bayonet. Ross fired twice, mortally wounding him. The shooting was ruled to be a case of self- defense. (Armed Citizen)

Violence in America seems to go back and forth from better to worse all the time. One day crime rates are up and then the next they are down and America is becoming safer. In 2005, 11,346 persons were killed by firearm violence 477,040 persons were victims of a crime committed with a firearm. (National Institute of Justice) Surprisingly, a lot of gun violence in America is related to self defense. Between 1987 and 1990 it was found that guns were used in defense during a crime incident 64,615 times annually. This equates to two times out of 1,000 incidents (0.2%) that occurred in this time frame. For violent crimes (assault, robbery and rape) guns were used 0.83% of the time in self-defense. In 20% of the self defense incidents, the guns were used by police officers (Wikipedia).

Statistics show that people who are attacked by a criminal are safer if they use a weapon
to resist their attacker than if they do not resist. In addition, those who resist with a gun
are less likely to be injured than those who use a less effective weapon, such as a knife
(Quigley 14). Resisting crime with a gun does not always mean shooting the criminal.
Statistics show that in true life instances of self-defense with firearms, firing the gun was
necessary only one third to one half of the time (13), the rest of the time the mere
presence of a gun was enough to scare away the attacker.

Gun violence will never go away; Americans will be dealing with gun crimes for a long time to come. Americans must try to remember the facts. The Founding Fathers of this country won freedom with firearms. After they won independence the Founding Fathers included the right to keep and bear arms in the Constitution to ensure that the freedom they fought for would last. Throughout the history of this country firearms have been used to defend that freedom from both foreign
aggressors and from violent criminal aggressors. (Quigley) Americans own and use firearms for
many reasons, such as; hunting, organized sports competitions, informal recreational uses,
and for protection. If Americans no longer have the constitutional right to bear arms because of stricter gun laws, this will not save lives.

Works Cited

"Armed Citizen." American Rifleman (1993).

"Federal Gun Laws." 2008. National Rifle Association of America. 2 October 2008


"Guns, Bias and the Evening News." American Rifleman (2005): 50-51.

Jefferson, Thomas. "Memorial Edition." Lipsome and Berg. L , 1824.

National Institute of Justice. 16 June 2008. 28 September 2008

Quigley, Paxton. Armed and Female . New York: St. Martins, 2001.

Thomas, Andrew Peyton. Crime and the Sacking of America: The roots of chaos. Washington: 1994.

Wikipedia. January 2008. 27 September 2008

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