Gun Control Controversy
The right to bear arms is an inherent right accorded to every citizen of the United States. In the Second Amendment, it was clearly stated as “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.” (“Gun Politics in the United States”). Anti-gun control advocates frequently use this statute to forward their cause and their objections against gun control. However, various interpretations of the Second Amendment had muddled the controversy. Gun rights advocates that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of every citizen to bear arms. Contravening opinions view the Second Amendment as applicable not to individual gun owners and are regulated by law enforcement agencies.
The issue became more heated at the passage of the 1968 Gun Control Act that turned it into a national debate. The ongoing debate was taken up at the House of Congress with the Democrats and Republicans taking either side of the issue. Traditionally, the Democrats would favor the enactment of gun control laws while Republicans see no point in continuing with the gun control. The Democrats would argue that unregulated gun ownership contributed to the increasing violence in the country while Republicans uphold the Bill of Rights provision of the right to bear arms and that gun control was not the solution to resolve violent crime but stricter enforcement of the law was imperative (Edel 112). The different states are also polarized regarding the issue of gun control. A staunch advocate for the gun control law is James Brady who was critically wounded during an assassination attempt on President Reagan. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is a long-time proponent for anti-gun control movements. Gun control debates have polarized the nation. Thus, there is a need to find a compromise between the two warring camps.
Both sides presented valid arguments on gun control. The advocates for the enactment and continued restriction on firearms supported the argument that guns are lethal, the fewer people owning or having access to them, the safer for the American public. They also connected their argument to the number of people maimed or killed accidentally or intentionally. Gun ownership inevitably results to tragic circumstances. They considered that the sport of shooting projected a negative image. It encouraged the creation of a culture of violence. It was in the interest of the majority that they would insist on imposing control on gun ownership. Gun ownership eventually endangered the owners in the event of a crime. No amount of reasoning would justify the taking of a life just to protect property. Moreover, knowing that their targets carried or owned firearms, it would encourage criminals to carry firearms as well. Finally, the advocates of gun control believed that incidents of suicide would rise if access to firearms were not restricted (“Gun Control”)
The right to bear arms is the main argument of the groups opposing gun control. They argued that restricting firearms would not reduce the incidence of crime in the country. It was people who inflicted harm on other people and not the firearms per se. The firearms used in the commission of crimes were not registered or illegal so it was pointless to pursue restrictions. Gun owners used their firearms for sports and recreation. In addition, responsible gun owners used firearms for defense and self-preservation. Finally, gun ownership is a right granted to citizens in the Second Amendment. With the citizens armed and able to use them appropriately, the country is prepared in any event of aggression or invasion (“Gun Control”).
The issue inevitably polarized the country. It was difficult to find a compromise between the opposing groups. Sarah Waldrop in her article Gun Control: Compromise Will Help Solve the Current Weapon Problem had some suggestions to diffuse the tension between the pros and cons of gun control. She suggested that both sides must not take the hard line stance to the issues. All the arguments of both parties were valid. When gun control took effect, the different states created their own state laws regarding arms restriction. This resulted in gun control disparity among the states. In some states, it was easy to acquire guns compared to others. This laxity allowed criminals to purchase or gain access to weapons. A uniform law must be in effect across all states. Responsible gun ownership and mandatory storage requirements were also suggested. Finally, there is no need for the enactment of more gun laws. The key to successful regulation is in the enforcement of the law. Waldrop observed that there is a gap between implementing and enforcing the law.
UCLA professor Eugene Volokh believed that both sides had valid arguments about gun control. He suggested that instead of focusing on the gun issue, the citizens could be more proactive in preventing heinous crimes or mass shootings. To avoid a repeat of the Columbine situation, tighter school security must be enforced. To prevent more violence, the media must stop sensationalizing criminal activities (Anonymous 17).
Braman and Kahan observed that the gun control debate has polarized the nation because the inability of both parties to truly comprehend what the controversy was about and what is the best procedure to undertake to resolve the issue (38). To resolve the problem moderate citizens must not only consider the consequential elements of gun restriction but also include the cultural value the problem. Moreover, a democratic and deliberative process must be observed so that all parties concerned would be able to internalize how the law affects each side (p.606-607).
ConclusionThe advocates believed gun control is important to prevent more violence in American society while the opponents believed that the right to bear arms is guaranteed by the constitution. Although their arguments appeared to be on each extreme end of the spectrum, achieving a compromise is possible but it may take awhile before it becomes plausible. There are many paths towards achieving a win-win situation for both parties. The most important thing is for both sides to stop their heated debate and reflect on the arguments presented. Since all the arguments from the adherents and opponents of gun control are valid, a compromise is workable. The question is how much would each side be willing to surrender their hardliner stance in order to meet halfway? What are their common grounds so they may breach the standoff?
Works CitedBraman, Donald and Kahan, Dan M. Overcoming The Fear Of Guns, The Fear Of Gun Control, And The Fear Of Cultural Politics: Constructing a Better Gun Debate” Emory Law Journal; 55.4 (2006): 569-607.
Edel, Wilbur. Gun Control: Threat to Liberty or Defense against Anarchy? Praeger. Westport, CT. 1995.
“Gun Control” idebate.org 31 January 2007 <http://www.idebate.org/debatabase/topic_details.php?topicID=33>
“Gun Politics in the United States” wikipedia.org 31 January 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_the_United_States>
Waldrop, Sarah. “Gun Control: Compromise Will Help Solve the Current Weapon Problem” thedailyaztec.com 31 January 2007 <http://media.www.thedailyaztec.com/media/storage/paper741/news/2006/05/10/Opinion/Gun-Control.Compromise.Will.Help.Solve.The.Current.Weapon.Problem-1923894.shtml?sourcedomain=www.thedailyaztec.com&MIIHost=media.collegepublisher.com>