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Guns Don't Kill People, People Kill People and Other Nonsensical Rhetoric

Essay by   •  April 30, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,985 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,464 Views

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Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People

And Other Nonsensical Rhetoric

The intent and historical relevance of the Second Amendment should be carefully considered against modern day situations and circumstances surrounding gun violence. Whether you believe the Second Amendment gives unequivocal rights to individuals to bear arms or that it only pertains to states militia and firearms should be tightly regulated by the government, reasonable measures should be taken to minimize the harm caused by guns. With both sides of the argument pointing to the Second Amendment as a tool to further their causes, a closer examination of this much-debated amendment is crucial to determine its historical relevance and its modern day implications. Nevertheless, an individuals right to own guns should always be weighed against the collective good of society. This can be accomplished by seeking a balance between freedom and reasonable regulations.

Why did the framers of the Constitution feel the need to include an amendment addressing the militia and the right of the people to keep and bear arms? Robert Shalhope, Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma asserts, “The Founding Fathers were influenced by the fact that the entire body of republican philosophy known to them was based on English and classical history, which taught that popular possession of arms was vital to the preservation of liberty and a republican form of government.” There were fears that the standing army, provided for by the Constitution, would seriously threaten the liberty of the people in times of peace if there were no checks in place to prevent this from happening. Arguments for and against the ratification of the constitution were never about the need to control arms; rather the opposite was true with both Federalist and Antifederalist agreeing that the ultimate check on tyrannical government was an armed population. The need to include an amendment addressing the rights of the militia and the people to keep and bear arms was a natural response to preserve their hard won liberty and to protect themselves from tyranny in all its forms.

If it is true that the Second Amendment was included to prevent a supposed danger, the tyranny of an oppressive government, then what present-day dangers could an armed population prevent? The National Rifle Association says plenty. Aside from the fear of despotism, the fear of being killed by a gun-wielding madman while you are shopping at the mall or relaxing at home or driving in your car has fueled the cause for pro-gun factions. Some might think that these fears validate the need for more restrictive gun control measures but the fact is criminal intent will find a way to commit crime no matter the restrictions. Look at violent criminals in our top security prisons. Even under 24-hour surveillance in lockdown conditions, inmates still find ways to make lethal weapons. The NRA believes restricting gun use by law-abiding citizen puts society at a higher risk of gun violence because it removes the ability of self-defense.

Take for example the Gun-Free Zone policy of many public universities and shopping malls such as Virginia Tech and the Westroads Mall in Omaha Nebraska. Both places were scenes of horrific terror and mass murder by the hands of an armed sociopath. In both places, the opportunity for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves was taken away by Gun Free Zone laws. The consequences of this infringement of “the right of the people to keep and bears arms” is exactly what the Second Amendment hoped to avoid. If the Second Amendment was concerned enough about the loss of freedom to allow its citizens to keep and bear arms as a deterrent against tyrannical government, then it bears to reason that the Founding Fathers would have no objection to the right of the people to keep and bear arms for the sake of defending life. After all, “the right of self-defense is the first law of nature” (Blackstone). Executive Vice President of the NRA Wayne LaPierre believes that Gun Free Zone laws are ignorant, dangerous and create a false sense of security for people and believes, “All that a вЂ?gun free zone’ law can do is disarm law abiding citizens.” As a result, gun control measures end up regulating only those people concerned with living within the law and not the criminal element.

Even so, many people feel uncomfortable with the idea of going about their daily lives, knowing that anyone among them may be carrying a gun. It conjures up images of over zealous trigger-happy citizens causing more harm than help. Many believe that using a gun for self-defense is more likely to result in injury or death to the victim or innocent bystanders than to stop a crime or criminal. Florida State University criminologist, Gary Kleck, asserts the opposite is true.

After studying data from the Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey, Kleck surmised, “The most effective form of self-protection is use of a gun. For robbery the self-protection measures with the lowest loss rates were among victims attacking the offender with a gun, and victims threatening the offender with a gun.” (Kleck). Furthermore, Kleck maintains that accidental shootings of innocent bystanders is rare with less than two percent of defensive gun use resulting in fatality. With accidental firearm deaths, coming in seventh place behind other accidental deaths such as motor vehicles, falls, poisonings, drowning, fires, and choking, then why is there such an aggressive push to ban or further restrict gun ownership?

Leading the fight to prevent gun violence is The Brady Campaign, a non-partisan, grassroots organization. Consider these sobering facts in agreement with their objective to reduce gun violence by restricting the availability of guns. The rate of firearm deaths of under fourteen-year olds is twelve times higher in the U.S. than in twenty-five other industrialized countries combined (CDC). The presence of a gun in the home makes it six times more likely that an abused woman would be murdered than other abused women, twenty-two times more likely to be used in an unintentional shooting, seven times more likely to be used for a criminal assault or homicide, and eleven times more likely to be used for an attempted or completed suicide than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense (Kellerman). For these reasons and more the Brady Campaign strongly supports anti-gun legislation.

The Brady Campaign’s position on gun control stems from the belief that the Second Amendment protects only a right to keep and bear arms as it relates to a well-regulated militia. Most gun-control advocates have adopted

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