The Controversy of Gun Control
Gun control is a hot button issue that boils over whenever acts of gun violence occur. Citizens, lawmakers and gun lobbyists have been debating the issue of gun control for more than a century, and there has yet to be a definitive answer. Proponents of gun control don’t believe that state and federal gun control acts do enough, and gun rights advocates believe that the laws go too far.
Opponents of gun control laws argue that Americans have the right to bear arms. They say that gun control laws would prevent individuals from defending themselves and their property lawfully. They also support the rights of hunters, sport shooters and recreational gunmen. One of the most common laws that these groups cite is the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This 27-word passage includes the famous phrase “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The fundamental argument that gun control opponents make is that the right to own and use weapons is an undeniable personal freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.
Proponents of gun control believe that stronger laws can prevent the needless loss of life. Even individuals who support gun rights acknowledge that certain people should not be permitted to own guns. Current gun control laws prevent criminals, mentally ill individuals and children from owning guns. Unfortunately, there have been instances where young people and deranged gunmen have acquired weapons and used them to commit mass murders. Law reviews from the 1970s cite America’s high rate of gun-related crimes compared to other industrial countries as a driving factor behind gun control legislation. Statistics like this prompted New York City to successfully reduce its crime rates by putting gun control laws into action.
The gun control debate has been a hot topic since the turn of the 20th century. At the time, people were already saying that guns weren’t the essential tools that they were for the early settlers. Plus, machine guns and new technology made historic legislators reconsider the scope of gun control laws. In 1939, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Second Amendment did not permit private gun ownership. Summaries of the ruling focus on the lesser known first part of the Second Amendment, which says that a well-regulated militia is necessary for the security of a free state. Therefore, the people have a right to bear weapons presumably for a militia or the National Guard. This decision was upheld until 2008 when courts ruled that the Constitution did protect an individual’s right to bear arms. In the 21st century, the gun control debate is hotter than ever.
Guns, weapon technology, gun ownership and even gun control laws can have unexpected consequences. The creation of a national gun registry would create privacy issues, and the use of outdated or unclear gun control laws can result in the loss of life. Unfortunately, a perfect gun control solution hasn’t been created. There isn’t a way to know if gun control will make the nation safer or more dangerous until we try. If America can’t adopt stronger gun control laws, maybe Americans can adopt safer ways to use their guns.