The Right to Own Guns
As American citizens, we have more rights and freedoms than any other group of people in the world. The founders of this country established these freedoms because they had previously lived in countries where the people did not have as many rights. One of these rights is stated in the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which proclaims “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” But over the years various laws and regulations have infringed upon this right. The reasons for these laws are to get the guns that cause crime and injuries off the streets. But most of these laws have only prevented the common citizen from acquiring a firearm. There should be some regulation with regard to who can own a gun, but we need to ensure that this regulation is done in a fair and practical manner.
The best argument for the protection of the right to possess arms is the Second Amendment. The purpose of the amendment, and the entire Constitution, is to establish certain rights that cannot be abolished or changed by our government. But the wording of the amendment has been a source of debate. The main argument is that the amendment only provides for a militia, and that the “right to keep and bear arms” is referring to militia members only. But the amendment also states that it is the right of “the people” to keep and bear arms. But is “the people” referring to only the militia or to all citizens in general? In 1990 that question was answered in the Supreme Court case U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez (Cramer 171). This case was about a man who had committed a crime while in Mexico. The man argued that his constitutional rights had been violated. But the court ruled that since he was outside the United States when the crime was committed, he was not protected. During the case, the question of what the “right of the people” meant in the Constitution (Cramer 171). The court decided that “’ the people’ protected by the Fourth Amendment , and by the First and Second Amendments, and to whom rights and powers are reserved in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, refers to a class of persons who are part of a national community… (Cramer 172).” This decision clearly shows that the right to keep and bear arms is not exclusive to the militia, but applies to all United States citizens.
Another argument is that the Second Amendment does not prohibit national and state governments from passing laws that regulate or even ban the selling of certain guns. But the amendment states that that the right to keep guns “shall not be infringed.” This would imply that any action that would eliminate guns or that would restrict ownership to a very small section of the population would be unconstitutional. But there are numerous states (California, Maryland, New York, Connecticut…) that have banned certain types of guns, including “assault weapons” and handguns. These types of laws do not just limit who can purchase a...