My Stance On Guns And The Second Amendment
There are differing opinions about the Second Amendment flood society, but why would one side oppose something that benefits the country? The people of the United States of America have the right to defend themselves, as presented in the U.S Constitution. However, when situations arise, few people exercise this right due to many of them not having a firearm in possession at the time it is needed. The Second Amendment, found in the United State’s Bill of Rights, guarantees that the government cannot infringe upon citizens’ ability to bear arms. Yet, in today’s society, several states have been limiting this amendment and forcing citizens to abide by laws that violate their constitutional rights. Guns are more than a tool for killing, they provide citizens with a form of protection that is immediately available rather than waiting for help to arrive. If the Second Amendment continues to be blamed for violence and discouraged in its use, the people of the United States may one day be left defenseless. A collection of studies, surveys, and government statistics prove that the Second Amendment enables citizens to protect themselves and others, resist a tyrannical government and lower the overall crime in the country. They may seem like a weapon of war; they may have the power to take a life, but they also have the power to save one.
The Second Amendment was ratified in 1791 by congress and reads “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” (US Const. amend. II). After the United States declared its independence from Great Britain, groups of men, referred to as a militia, would form together for the sole purpose of protecting “…communities, towns, colonies, and eventually states…” (Onion et al., 2019). The Second Amendment was proposed by James Madison just after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, and his goal was to empower state militias; it was meant to satisfy the Federalists and Anti-federalists since both agreed that the government should not have the power to disarm its citizens (Onion et al., 2019). He said that the Bill of Rights was “…calculated to secure the personal rights of the people” (Labunski, 2006 pg 212). The Second Amendment has a historical significance that is still loud and clear in today’s society.
Humans have an instinct to preserve life, and in a situation where that life or another is threatened most people call 911 in the hopes that they will arrive in time to provide aid. Emergency services have saved countless lives, but they physically cannot be at every crime scene the moment it occurs. Although the statistics can vary, the average response time for a serious crime can be as low as three minutes to about ten minutes; within that three-minute window, many lives can be lost (Fritz, 2020). All violent crimes have at least one victim, sometimes more, so why not encourage citizens to exercise their Second Amendment right and arm themselves as the police do? On average, 2.3 lives are lost in mass shootings that were stopped by a citizen as opposed to 14.3 lives lost when stopped by a police officer (King, 2012). Citizens are able to react to a situation faster since they are already present. For example, Oscar Stewart, an army veteran, heard the sounds of gunfire in the synagogue in Poway, California, and instead of running, he pulled out his firearm and confronted the shooter (Newberry, 2019). In the aftermath, only one person perished, because Stewart’s bravery and preparedness subdued the criminal and saved many lives. In 2015, an Uber driver, with a concealed carry permit, noticed a man begin shooting into the crowd of people in Logan Square; he shot the man and waited for the police to arrive (Ziezulewicz, 2015). These heroes acted as an authority figure and took the opportunity to use their gun as a tool to save lives, just as the police do. In a study done by the FBI, it was found that “…permit holders were successful between 87% and 89% of the time that they intervened (CPRC, 2019). With reference to the previous statistic, if more citizens had firearms, and chose to intervene when a violent crime was being committed, numerous lives could potentially be saved. Guns can be used as a tool to protect, as demonstrated by countless heroes and the police force, so if more firearms were put into the hands of law-abiding citizens, how many more lives could be saved?
Firearms are notorious for their ability to enable a user to kill, but as previously demonstrated, they can also be used in life-threatening situations. The question is whether more firearms in the hands of citizens have a significant impact on the crime rates in the country or not. A study conducted by The National Academies’ Institute of Medicine and National Research Council estimated that “…defensive gun uses by victims… rang[es] from about 500,000 to more than 3 million” (2013 pg 15). It is difficult to pinpoint exactly how many lives are saved as a result of defensive firearms use, but it is known that crime is drastically reduced in areas with high gun ownership. In 1982, Kennesaw, Georgia passed a law encouraging the ownership of at least one firearm per household. Over five years, the crime rate dropped by 79% and was sustained for the next thirty years (Baker, 2013). The United States is the only country that has the “right to bear and keep arms,” so if the Second Amendment does indeed have positive effects on crime then crime rates should be lower than that of other countries with more gun restrictions. In the early 1990s, a gun ban law was enforced in Britain and Wales, and as a result, their violent crime involving guns greatly decreased; however, their overall rate of violent crime increased significantly and is now almost double that of the U.S. (Daniels, 2015). Many states today are trying to regulate the Second Amendment by implementing restrictions on a citizen’s right to bear arms, and these states have experienced, an increase in murder, robbery, assault, violent crime, rape, and auto theft (Smith, 2020). Overall violent crimes in the United States could decrease if the exercise of the Second Amendment was encouraged and protected as it was intended by the Framers of the U.S. Constitution.
Although firearms are typically recognized for either preventing or committing crimes, there is also another significant aspect that the Second Amendment protects the people from: a tyrannical government. After the experience with Great Britain, the Framers strived to create such an amendment as a safeguard in the case that a tyrannical government should arise once again. In 1803, future U.S. Court District Judge St. George Tucker believed that the Second Amendment was the “‘true palladium of liberty’” (Charles, 2020). Patrick J. Charles, a historian, says “…the Second Amendment also provided state governments with what Luther Martin (1744/48–1826) described as the “last coup de grace” that would enable the states “‘to thwart and oppose the general government’” (Charles, 2020). A “well regulated Militia” was intended “…to provide for the defense of the nation, to provide a well-trained and disciplined force to check federal tyranny, and to bring constitutional balance by distributing the power of the sword equally among the people, the states, and the federal government” (Charles, 2020). The Framers of the Constitution felt it was important to give this power to the citizens, otherwise, they would have not included it in the Constitution with such emphasis. There was once a man named Adolf Hitler who said “To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens,” and that man went on to do just that; he conquered multiple countries and ended the lives of millions (Royde-Smith and Hughes 2020). In 1970, Uganda implemented gun control, and from 1971-1979, 300,000 Christians were unable to defend themselves from extermination (Dean, 2018). The claim is not that the U.S. is going to abolish the Second Amendment and exterminate its citizens, but rather a reminder that the Second Amendment must be protected, because it is a safeguard that grants the citizens the ability to resist tyranny and stand against their government if the need should arise.
A firearm is just a tool; it does not have a mind of its own nor does it pull the trigger. An overwhelming number of people oppose the Second Amendment claiming it only brings more violence and needs to be abolished. They claim that guns are to blame for a large number of deaths in the United States and advocate for the removal of these “…weapons of war that have no place in civilian society” (Center for American Progress, 2019). According to a study done by the CDC, there were a total of 39,740 deaths by firearms, of which 24,432 of them were suicides; the majority of deaths by firearms are self-inflicted and not caused by another person (2018). Also, according to the National Criminalization Survey conducted by the Bureau of Justice, when a gun is used in self-defense, 91.1% of the time a shot is not fired; therefore, there is less violence because of a firearm’s presence (Smith, 2020). Some argue that “The Second Amendment is why we can’t go to school, or work, or a house of worship…or pretty much any public gathering without fear of getting shot to death” (Mystal, 2019). Of course, getting “shot to death” is not desirable, but what advocates opposing the Second Amendment fail to realize is that ever since 1950-2019, 94% of all mass shootings took place in a gun-free zone (Lott, 2020). The solution is not to deem a place of gathering as “gun-free” because a shooter is going to target a place that they know will not have anyone there to stop them. Instead, discourage a criminal by arming the citizens and allowing firearms into places that would normally be targeted. The issue concerning high rates of violent crime is not that law-abiding citizens are exercising their Second Amendment right, but that not enough citizens are. The “right to bear Arms” is being deemed the culprit when in reality, it is one of the only powers allowing citizens to protect what is important to them.
All around the world there is violent crime that ravages the lives and safety of people in and out of their homes, and the Framers of the Constitution attempted to address this future problem through the implementation of the Second Amendment. They wanted to enable their citizens to have the option to protect themselves and those around them. It was also important to them that the citizens have the power to stand against their government if it becomes tyrannical. Throughout the years, it can be seen through statistics and studies that the exercise of this right has saved countless lives, kept the country in check, and reduced rates of crime. Some argue that the country would become safer if the Second Amendment was no longer a part of the Constitution, however taking the guns from law-abiding citizens will only fuel the flames. The Second Amendment was drafted by the Framers, and it was meant to empower the citizens to prevent a tyrannical government, protect people, and create a safer country. This amendment has been around for hundreds of years and was intended to remain for years to come.
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