Ashton Harris – Gun Control
Gun Control. The right to bear arms has been a fundamental right in the United States since its founding. When the founding fathers were writing the constitution, this notion was expressed in the second amendment. This in itself shows the importance of the right. The first amendment brings the citizens protection to their speech, which is considered a fundamental human right by most. Following freedom of speech is the right to bear arms, rightfully placing itself as the second amendment of the constitution. Advancements in the gun industry in the last century have caused some Americans to reconsider this right. The second amendment was deemed necessary for one to protect themselves by the Framers, considering that they lived in a period of war and uncertainty. In a modern society, a peaceful neighborhood is something taken for granted, yet common in just about every nook of the country. While most violent crimes have been on a consistent decrease over the last couple of decades, mass shooting seem to be stuck at a constant rate. Citizens are under the impression that mass media might be the causes of mass shooting ideologies spreading. Others think that the United States mental health services need to be reformed to better accommodate those who are suffering. Whether it be because of bullying or depression, programs to assist those who are struggling in teenage years have not yet barred the mass shooting rate. Many Americans refuse to compromise on their gun rights since they believe it is a fundamental right to their freedom, whereas other Americans are willing to sacrifice their rights for peace of mind and public safety. This introduces the conflict of sacrificing the means of safety, firearms, for an overall safer society. Even though it is a fundamental right, the consistent rate of mass shootings in the United States has led some citizen to consider giving up the right to bear arms, while some Americans are trying to hold onto this right and protect it at any cost.
The constitution contains everything that the Framers thought was necessary for a free country. For some, firearms are a major part of United States culture. Many have grown up in households where families took their kin hunting at young ages. In the last couple of decades though, these rights have been threatened due to mass media coverage of shootings. Instead of remembering the victims, the news constantly speaks about the killers. While many are curious as to why these crimes happen, glorifying and providing 24/7 coverage to the murderer can negatively impact others. This coverage may lead one to think that they would gain fame from committing a violent act. One of the most notable ones was the Columbine High School shooting. Two high school boys, who expressed characteristics of mental illness, setup multiple bombs at their school and the proceeded to go on an hour long shooting spree, before taking their own lives. This was a landmark event for the United States. Students and families across the country found themselves terrified in their hometowns, unsure if the same actions may happen to them. The individuals involved managed to get their firearms at a gun show, which do not perform background checks on purchasers. The lack of background checks has made some citizens outraged about gun control. It allows for a breeding ground where ignorance allows for gun sales to felons and mentally ill individuals. Salesmen have the right to deny a sale to somebody, but greed for capital leads to neglecting moral duties. Legislature has been introduced to block gun shows, and since then, they have been made out to be a “loop-hole” for those trying to illegally purchase firearms. Teenage years are some of the most enduring, mentally and physically. From the first relationships, to getting on the football team, there always seems to be a lot on the line. At such a young age, some believe that teenagers shouldn’t be able to buy firearms. Many parents are familiar with this irrationality amongst teenagers, which gives the parents an understanding of other teenagers underdeveloped, yet quick witted, actions. Most state level laws allow for any individual to purchase a long-rifle at any age as long as it is a private sale. For example, in the state of Louisiana, a 15 year old could legally buy an AR-15 rifle as long as it is privately sold, which means the person selling it is not a federally licensed firearms salesperson. Teenagers generally have little to no concept of the real world, and giving them the ability to readily end anything by using a firearm leads to unbearable consequences. People are also more likely to suffer from depression and other mental diseases in their teenage years, which gives them a false perception of the world around them. It is not always possible to catch everyone who suffers from mental illness. Some are too scared to come forward with their issues, whereas others fly under the radar. These atrocious crimes could be brought to an end if firearms were banned.
Gun owners are slowly losing gun control rights and are beginning to grow fearful of the future of gun rights in America. Recently in 2008, the Supreme Court heard the case of Heller v. Washington D.C., a case that essentially discussed whether or not it was legal to keep a firearm in one’s home. Citizens of the District of Columbia challenged the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975. This acts made it illegal to own pistols, automatic firearms, and high-capacity semi-automatic firearms. This was the first time that the Supreme Court would carefully examine what the second amendment outlines and decided what the Framers intended. Heller won, but barely, with five to four votes from the Supreme Court. This could have permanently extinguished gun rights in America if it had gone the other way. If one of the justices had decided otherwise, firearms could very well be illegal in the United States. The Presidential election has also caused agony for gun owners. With the death of Justice Scalia, there is an open position in the Supreme Court. One individual, as seen in the Heller case, could dramatically change gun culture in the United States. The United States Senate has blocked President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland from being nominated for the position. The Senate, which has a Republican majority, has been holding out as long as it can, in hopes of a Republican president in office, come January 20th, 2017. This has caused outrage amongst democrats, knowing that it is being intentionally blocked. Considering the democratic party did not win the presidential election, some gun owners feel at peace for the next four years in regards to their gun rights. The next president has the ability to elect a highly conservative Justice to the Supreme Court which would cause overturn of many anti-gun laws. Many gun organizations, such as the National Rifle Association (NRA), have pointed towards the thought that gun control in the US would not be effective. In Australia for example, when firearms were outright banned, their violent crime rate increased. Although their firearm related crimes decreased drastically, that statistic is offset by the violent crime increase. US gun rights organizations claim that banning firearms will only take guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, whereas criminals will continue to use them. Also in the United States, there is well over 300,000,000 firearms, and the confiscation of all of those is not a very feasible goal. The NRA often fights statistics from other nations that show once firearms are banned, that firearm related crimes decline. While this is true, violent crimes themselves begin to rise after a firearms bans. Some people believe that there will never be a perfect world, and that inhumane attacks on society are bound to happen. Whether firearms are legal or not, those who want to commit crimes and massacres will attain the means to do so. Citizens need to retain their rights to firearms, while the government does its job to help prevent deranged individuals from obtaining them.
The citizens of the United States have been presented with the ability to turn over their rights to self defense as a measure of increasing public safety. While firearm related crimes will decrease, there would need to be an increase in police presence and training to prevent a rise in violent crimes. At the same time, constitutional carry could be introduced in all US states. The concept is that it would be legal for citizens to conceal a firearm on their person, without a permit from their state. Both situations present difficulties, should the police be in control of preventing all crime, or do we trust the average citizen to do right when carrying a firearm. Firearms are legal in the United States and it seems as if it is going to stay. Violent crimes continue to decrease every year and society is slowly progressing towards a more peaceful stance. If mass shootings continue at the same continuous rate, the United States is going to need a serious reevaluate of its mental health services and the firearms policies.
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