Gun Control in America Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:25:15
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Had Americans in 1787 been told that the federal government could ban¦ firearms¦ it is hard to imagine that the Constitution would have been ratified, these words were used by the National Rifle Association in a court brief where it challenged the most restrictive gun control laws in the country at the time, those is Washington, D. C. (Schwartz, 2008, Individual freedoms section para. 4). Cities, such as Chicago, New York, and the District of Columbia, have held fast to the collective right interpretation of the Second Amendment and enacted laws which support the collective right view (p. ).

While others such as the National Rifle Association (NFA) believe that the individual right to bear arms is stated in the Second Amendment (The Right to Bear Arms, 2008). Gun Control in America: Past, Present, & Future Does the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms apply to you as an American citizen, so that you can protect your family? If you think so, you might be wrong. According to the article Gun Control in World of Sociology (2001), the answer depends on the interpretation of the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.

Throughout the history of America, the twenty-seven words of the Second Amendment have drawn great passion from citizens who support and those who oppose gun control (Schwartz, 2008). Those twenty-seven words which draw such passion are, 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 (The Constitution). Groups or individuals who are proponents of gun control contend that the Second Amendment does not apply to you or me, only to the state in which we live (Gun Control, 2001).

In contrast, groups and individuals who interpret the Second Amendment as applying to individual rights are opposed to gun control (p. 1). No matter on which side of the argument you stand, the Second Amendment has and will continue to draw great passion and emotion from the citizens of the United States. Knowing the amount of passion and emotion that each side exhibits, it is difficult to understand why the Supreme Court has had so little to say regarding to whom it feels the amendment applies (Schwartz, 2008).

The first attempt at federal gun control came in the form of the National Firearms Act of 1934 which concerned the movement of certain firearms, such as the sawed off shot-gun and automatic weapons, across state lines and required registration of said guns with the federal government (Second Amendment, 2002). In the 1939 case brought before the Supreme Court two defendants sought a reversal of their convictions under the National Firearms Act of 1934 for transporting a shot-gun across state lines, based on their right to keep and bear arms stated in the Second Amendment (Right to Bear Arms, 1999).

The Supreme Court weighed in on the side of interpretation that favors the right being applied collectively to states because the ownership of a 12 gauge double barreled sawed-off shot-gun did not preserve the efficiency of a well regulated militia (Right to Bear Arms, 1999). This ruling that the Second Amendment applied to the states remained the law of the land until the morning of June 26, 2008 when Alan Gura won his first case ever in front of the Supreme Court of the United States (Doherty, 2010).

In that case, D. C. v Heller, Dick Heller and his legal team argued that the laws passed in Washington D. C. were effectively a ban on handgun ownership for the private citizen, which was unconstitutional (Schwartz, 2008). This case plus the second Gura Supreme Court victory of McDonald v Chicago has lead the way to ensure that some 300 million people across America are able to practice their Second Amendment right to bear arms (Doherty, 2010). The history of laws which lead to those Supreme Court rulings started with the National Firearms Acts of 1934 which followed the attempted presidential assassination in 1933 of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Gun Control, 2001).

This law regarding firearms, as well as most other laws imposing restrictions on firearms, followed closely after incidents where gun violence was involved (p. 1, para. 2). As stated earlier, The NFA of 1934 restricted the movement of machine guns and sawed-off shot-guns across state lines, required registration of those guns with the federal government and required a two hundred dollar tax on both (p. 1, para. 2). Following the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the murder of Reverend Martin Luther King the Gun Control Acts of 1968 was passed (p. , para. 2).

According to the article Gun Control in World of Sociology (2001), this law set forth very minor safety requirements for imported guns but no such requirements for domestically produced firearms. The Brady Handgun Act of 1993 followed the 1991 shooting of then press secretary for President Ronald Reagan, James Brady (p. 1 para. 3). The Brady Handgun Act of 1993 made some of the most significant changes in handgun law to that date by requiring a five day waiting period in addition to a background screening (p. para. 3).

Going back to the Heller case which was heard by the Supreme Court, Washington, D. C. , though not a state but a federal enclave, did have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation (Schwartz, 2008). The federal enclave had passed a law that required citizens to register all handguns with the city yet the city stopped registering handguns in 1976 (Individual freedom section para. 3). This law, in essence, banned handguns within the boundaries of Washington, D. C (Individual freedom section para. 3).

These laws and other restrictions that D. C. enacted on gun owners, which were established in an effort to protect citizens in a city with more than its fair share of gun crimes, made it a target from those same citizens desiring to exercise their right to self-defense (Individual freedoms section para. 4). In the argument to maintain the current laws, the city stated that fewer guns mean less opportunity for criminals to get hold of them (Individual freedoms section para. ).

Yet, according to the D. C. Metropolitan Police Departments own website there were more guns collected in 2008 (2,534) than in any year prior, back to 2002. According to the D. C. Police website, these guns were collected via various methods including arrests and government amnesty programs. While Alan Gura did win his first case with the Supreme Court in the momentous D. C. v Heller case, there were still plenty of issues left to resolve (Doherty, 2010).

First, the Supreme Court majority opinion by Justice Scalia, addressed only the issue of a law that is effectively a handgun ban (Doherty, 2010). The next issue goes back to D. C. not being a state: The court did not rule as to whether the Second Amendment should apply to the states or just the federal government as they are the authority over the federal enclave of the District of Columbia (Doherty, 2010). The day he won the Heller case, Alan Gura walked out of the courtroom and called Chicago attorney David Sigal to have him file a case, McDonald v Chicago.

McDonald v Chicago would address the issues left open by the Heller victory, as well as others, before the Supreme Court some two years later (Doherty, 2010). Doherty says, just as the laws in D. C. infringed upon the right of its citizens to own firearms so did the laws of Chicago (2010). Winning the McDonald v. Chicago case, Alan Gura reestablished for some 300 million Americans the individual right to bear arms that was spelled out in the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights (Doherty, 2010).

As future generations look back, and today becomes their history, the words of the Second Amendment will most likely continue to bring out extreme emotions on both sides of the gun control issue (Schwartz, 2008). Since for the greater part of the history of America, the words of the Second Amendment have been interpreted as a collective right of the states to have a militia of armed citizens such as the National Guard, it is a major policy change to have the supreme court recognize the individual right as it has since the Heller case (Schwartz, 2008).

According to Doherty, gun control remains constitutionality permissible, and those laws which are not seen as a literal ban on firearms will stand up in court (The Constitution and the City section para. 1). So, does the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms apply to you and me as American citizens? According to the Supreme Court of the United States of America, yes!

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