“The2nd Amendment”?1876 A Wellregulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the rightof the people to keep and bear arms , shall not be infringed. The SecondAmendment has been a major issue in American politics since 1876. In questionis the intent of this Amendment. Was it meant to insure that people in generalhave arms for personal service, or was it intended to insure arms for militaryservice The nations powerful gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, holdsthat it means the right to keep and bear arms -any arms.
This privileged rightis given to those 60-65 million people who choose to own guns. The NRA alsobelieves that human character defects cannot be changed by a simple regulationof guns. They argue that problems with firearm ownership cannot be, in any way,associated with criminal violence. The lobbyist give credibility to thisstatement by adding that criminal violence continues to increase in cities likeNew York and Washington DC, even though gun control statutes were put intoaffect. They point out that gun laws would not have stopped most addictedkillers. According tothe NRA, anti-crime measures are the way to conquer urban violence, notanti-gun measures. The hope of most members in the association is to educatepeople about guns.
The association is willing to reveal proper usage of guns tonon-gun owners. They feel that this training could help reduce some of thetragedies involving guns. The issue of gun control has become a dividing linein America. To gun control activists, the issue is about crime and theregulation of the weapons used to commit these crimes. In their opinion, lawabiding citizens should have no need for guns.
In this respect, the bigcontroversy seems shallow . However, to the NRA population, a much deeper issueis in question, the issue is freedom. The members believe that the SecondAmendment is crucial to the maintenances of the democratic process.
From theirpoint of view, people who advocate gun control are ready to disregard aconstitutional right. They believe that, if the Second Amendment is abridged,the First Amendment will be the next to go. The Executive Branch of the FederalGovernment is in a high-profile position on the issue of gun control. During thiscurrent Presidential election season, much rhetoric is being exchanged on theissue.
It would almost appear that one must play to either camp in order toreceive the desired endorsement of the strong political lobby groups. In thecase of Bob Dole, the Republican Presidential candidate, his platform on guncontrol at times are contradictory, but his pattern of voting on gun-relatedissues in the senate seem to follow the characteristic Republican-NRA view ongun control. President Clinton takes a very different stand on gun control. Hiscurrent re-election platform calls for further restrictions on guns and onpeople who buy guns. This characteristic “Democrat” attitude on guncontrol closely follows the view of Handgun Control, Inc., a political lobbygroup dedicated to governmental control and regulation of guns in the UnitedStates.
Gun control and drug control are usually associated with opposite endsof the political spectrum. Presidents Reagan and Bush were eager to pursue thewar on drugs but generally wary of gun control. However, President Clinton hasmade gun control a major goal, while his drug strategy is almost invisible. DuringPresident Clintons administration, the Brady Bill on gun control was passed.This bill was gridlocked in the House for seven years. The Brady Bill (namedfor James Brady, press secretary to President Ronald Reagan, who was seriouslyinjured when he was shot during a 1981 assassination attempt against Reagan)was signed by President Clinton, on November 30, 1993, and took effect in March1994.
This measure imposes a 5-day waiting period for the purchase of handgunsand provides for the creation of a national computer network to check thebackgrounds of gun buyers. The Clinton Administration was also able to pass anassault-style firearms bill that banned the sale and distribution of certaintypes of automatic weapons. The ban, part of a 1994 crime bill, took effectjust months before Republicans gained control of Congress. During the pastyear, President Clintons Administration pushed to get a terrorism bill passedand signed into law. During the whole fight, the President and his alliesinsinuated more than once that opponents of the bill were weak on crime.
Gunlaws tend to be passed in an atmosphere of hysteria that discourages criticalreflection. The Gun Control Act of 1968 was approved soon after theassassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. In fact, on thevery day that Kennedy died, President Johnson issued an emotional appeal toCongress demanding passage of a federal gun-control law. Two dramatic incidentshad helped create a sense of crisis, which Johnson used to his advantage.
President Clinton tried to do something similar after last Decembers shootingson the Long Island Railroad. Indeed, supporters of gun control are usuallyquick to seize upon sensational acts of violence to justify more regulation.The attempted assassination of President Reagan in 1981 ultimately gave us theBrady law, and the Stockton massacre generated assault weapon legislationthroughout the country. According to The Washington Post, thePresident is now quietly working to repeal certain parts of the terror billwhich are clearly unconstitutional. The immigration reform bill (S. 1664),which is now in a conference committee, will be the chosen vehicle for undoingsome of the unconstitutional points in the terror bill. The Clintonadministration, however, has proven to take a hard stand for tougher gunrestriction laws, and if reelected will push harder for more gun control laws.
The President of the United States is responsible for enforcing the legislationpassed by Congress and to enforce the rulings of the Supreme Court. ThePresident is the gatekeeper in the area of National Agendas. The outcome of thePresidential Election this November 5th will determine Administrative agendaand policy on crime, guns, and gun-control into the twenty-first century. TheLegislative branch of the government controls the enactment of laws and thelegislative process. While the president may be in charge of national agendas,it is ultimately up to congress to pass bills into law. When Clinton first cameinto office, Congress was dominated by the Democrat Party. As mentionedearlier, Clinton was able to get the Brady Bill signed into law, as well as getthe ban on assault weapons passed through Congress before the majority of theHouse shifted to favor the Republicans. Laws passed in the States of Floridaand Texas have gone in the opposite direction.
The Right to Carry Laws, weredesigned to reduce violent crime by making personal weapons an equalizerbetween violent criminals and potential victims. The Fort Worth Star Telegramrecently reported that the fears raised about those laws had been provenunfounded, that the feared “Bloodbath” had not come, and never would.And according to the FBIs Uniform Crime Reports, in those states that hadpassed Right To Carry laws, Violent Crime had been reduced. After theCongressional shift took place, the president found it tougher to have hispolitical agenda on gun control carried out. Instead, the Republican congressattempted to reverse some of the laws passed by the previous session ofCongress.
In March of this year, House Republican leaders, fulfilling alongtime promise to the National Rifle Association, voted to repeal the ban onassault-style firearms. Representative Charles Schumer, chief author of the1994 legislation (that banned the weapons), described the expedited schedulingof the vote, announced by House Majority Leader Dick Armey, as “a sneakattack”. The measure had not even been scheduled for action by the RulesCommittee, which must act before a bill goes to the floor. The ban, part of the1994 crime bill, took effect just months before Republicans gained control ofCongress despite active lobbying against it by the NRA.
Overturning it has beenthe associations top legislative priority. The House of Representatives votedto repeal the ban on 19 types of semiautomatic weapons, but President Clintonsaid he would veto the legislation if it gets to his desk. The vote came on abill to remove the ban on weapons like the AK-47 and the Uzi from the 1994crime bill that passed when Democrats controlled Congress. The final vote was239-173. “It is an outrage for the Congress to vote to repeal the assaultweapon ban. Its an IOU to the National Rifle Association,” Vice PresidentAl Gore said at a news briefing. Supporters of the bill said the ban wasineffective and violated the constitutional right of Americans to own guns.Clinton had denounced the bill earlier, saying, “I believe it would bedeeply wrong for Congress to repeal this assault weapon ban.
It doesnt need tobe voted on in the House or the Senate and if it is passed, I will vetoit.” Several House Republican freshmen have been pressuring leaders forthe repeal, which they promised during their 1994 campaigns that created theHouses first Republican majority in 40 years. “Promises made. Promiseskept,” Armey said. The majority leaders spokeswoman, Michele Davis, addedlater: “House Republican leaders are fulfilling a promise made in Januaryof 1995 to Republican and Democratic members who asked for and were told theywould get a vote on repeal sometime in this Congress.” Representative JohnConyers of Michigan, the Judiciary Committees top Democrat, was furious.
“The NRA must consider the Republican Congress the gift that keeps ongiving,” Conyers said. “Last week, the Republicans destroyed theanti-terrorism bill because the NRA didnt like it, and now they want Uzis andAK-47s back in mass production.” Both House Speaker Newt Gingrich, andSenate Majority Leader Bob Dole, who clinched the GOP nomination for presidentTuesday, promised last year to put repeal to a vote.
The terror bombing ofOklahoma Citys federal building and the stalemate with the Clintonadministration over the federal budget helped keep the measure off bothchambers schedules. On March 22,1996 the bipartisan House voted to repeal the Clinton gun ban and get toughwith armed criminals was achieved despite efforts by Administration allies whoresorted to personal attacks. “What we are going to have is a partnershipof strengthening laws against the criminal misuse of firearms, which everyoneagrees is the real problem issue, and eliminating harassment of law-abiding gunowners who are not the problem.
” –House Speaker Newt Gingrich 183Republicans and 56 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives backed upthose words when they voted to repeal the 1994 Clinton gun and magazine ban. Lastyear, Bernie Ward, a prominent Radio Talk Show host on KGO radio out of SanFrancisco said “The Supreme Court has yet to strike down any law affectinggun control” and he is right. The Supreme Court has not heard a caseinvolving gun control since 1934. In that case.
.. a man was to defend his rightto possess a sawed off shotgun. The ruling was such that, since he could notprove that the shotgun was standard military equipment, he had no right topossess it.
Therefore, had it been military equipment, he had the right to ownthe weapon. Sawed off shotguns are banned in the United States as a result. Thesame thinking went into the “Ban” of fully automatic fire arms, suchas the Tompson Sub Machine Gun, which was popular with organized crime during the20s and 30s. Lawmakers did not “ban” the weapon, so much as controlit by making it a requirement to register and obtain a license to own one. As aresult, sales of the Tommy Gun dropped to nothing until World War II when theweapon was used extensively by US forces, and those of other nations. Had theweapon been “banned,” the Supreme Court would undoubtedly haveoverturned the law.
The myth that the sub machine gun was banned, however, haspersisted. In April, 1995 the Supreme Court ruled that gun possession at schoolwas not a federal offense, (U.S. v Lopez, No. 93-1260, April 26, 1995). In thislandmark decision, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that Congress overstepped itsconstitutional authority to intervene in local affairs when it enacted the 1990Gun Free School Zone, a federal law banning possession of a gun within a 1000feet of a school.
Whats at issue here is how much authority Congress canexercise over the states. Since 1930, Congress has relied heavily on a clausein the Constitution giving Congress power to “regulate commerce..
.amongthe several states,” to enact a slew of federal laws formerly left-up tothe states. Congress has only had to show that the activity somehow involvedinterstate commerce to justify making a federal law against it. In the Lopezruling, Chief Justice William Rehnquist called the 1990 Gun-Free School ZoneAct “a criminal statute that by its terms has nothing to do withcommerce or any sort of economic enterprise.” He also stressed thatfederal authority to regulate interstate commerce cannot be used to”obliterate the distinction between what is national and what is local andcreate a completely centralized government.” The outcome of the Lopezruling was that Congress received a strong message from the Supreme Court to curbits practice of broadly interpreting the commerce clause to enact legislationthat can be handled by the states. It is too early to know how or if thisdecision will impact other gun laws, but it is a move that may help to reducethe scope of the federal government. The gun controllers like to argue that thecourts have found no constitutional right of individuals to bear arms.
Thatmerely means that the courts have seldom had occasion to rule on gun controllaws. As The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Courtnotes, one reason for the absence of court rulings on the Second Amendment isthat, for much of American history, there were few regulations concerningfirearms ownership. In June of this year, The United States Supreme Courtagreed to review the Brady Law.
Soon after the law took effect, lawsuits werefiled in federal district courts in seven states. The plaintiffs in those caseswere local sheriffs, whom the law requires to conduct background checks ofhandgun purchasers. Each of the suits alleges that the Brady Law violates the10th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects state andlocal governments from certain types of federal mandates. Within the last year,three circuits of the U.S.
Court Of Appeals have issued rulings. In two cases,the Ninth Circuit and Second Circuit, the courts ruled that the backgroundcheck provision of the law did not violate the 10th Amendment. The FifthCircuit rendered a different decision — striking down the background check asa violation of the 10th Amendment. No court has ever struck down the waitingperiod. “We are confident that the Supreme Court, upon hearing the case,will agree with the decisions made in the Ninth and Second Circuits,” saidSarah Brady, chairperson of Handgun Control, Inc. “We are not surprisedthat the Supreme Court agreed to examine the case given the split in thecircuits. Since going into effect on Feb.
28, 1994, the law has stopped tens ofthousands of prohibited individuals from making over-the-counter handgun purchases.Furthermore, polls have consistently shown more than 90 percent of the Americanpublic supporting the law. As stated earlier, there is little jurisprudence inthe area of gun control by the Supreme Court. Until the Lopez case, which isreally a commerce clause case, not a gun control case, the Supreme Court hadnot heard a gun control issue since the Miller case in 1939. This, however,seems to be changing with the announcement that the Supreme Court will reviewthe Brady Bill Case. The issue of gun control is heating up.
.. soon it will beup to the Supreme Court to decide on the Constitutionality of gun control.Special interest groups have been part of the American political process sinceits beginning and have been viewed ambivalently for more than 200 years. As early as 1787, James Madison warned aboutthe “mischiefs of `factions.
” Beginning in the late 1970s, pressuregroups took on new importance in U.S. politics. In the area of gun-control,political special interest groups are polarized.
There is no middle of the roadgroups, they are either devoutly for or against gun control. On either side ofthe gun control issue are two very prominent, high profile groups, the NRA andHandgun Control, Inc. The NRA (National Rifle Association) strongly opposes anytype of gun regulation. The NRA publishes “fact sheets” and”congressional ratings sheets” to inform their members andnon-members on their views and how their Congressional representative rates inthe area of gun-control laws. In 1992 the organization had about 2,500,000members.
With headquarters and a strong lobby in Washington, D. C., the NRAmobilizes its members through some 14,000 affiliates.
Its activities are botheducational and recreational (educating police firearms instructors, sponsoringshooting competitions, promoting safety) and political (lobbying againstgun-control legislation). Although polls show that the U. S. public favorsgun-control laws, the NRA has so far successfully, if less and less decisively,opposed broad-based legislation.
The NRA has a slogan: “guns dont killpeople, people kill people.” Groups for stricter gun control, such asHandgun Control, Inc. (HCI), argue that guns do kill people. They think that itis the gun that makes people feel they are in the right and have the power totake someones life and control a situation. Handgun Control, Inc. is thenations largest citizens gun control lobbying organization.
HCI, based inWashington, D.C., works to enact stronger federal, state, and local gun controllaws, but does not seek to ban handguns. Founded in 1974, HCI has more than400,000 members nationwide. The Brady Law, which was passed in February 1994,was strongly lobbied for by interest groups such as HCI. These types ofinterest groups are actively working to counteract the NRAs force inWashington.
The NRA, HCI, and other interest groups endorse politicalcandidates to give members a means of knowing where that candidate stands on anissue. This single-issue politics,” creates a political race where manyindividuals and groups support or reject candidates based solely on their viewson particular questions. Interest groups are increasingly supplying the publicwith more and more guidelines on how its members should vote for candidates.The preamble of the United States Constitution clearly states its objective: toestablish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the commondefense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty toourselves and our posterity. The bill of rights is the set of amendments to theconstitution intended to secure these objectives for the individual citizens ofthe United States. The second amendment states: A well-regulated militia, beingnecessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep andbear arms shall not be infringed. This amendment was written in the wake of therevolutionary war, when the ability to raise arms against the imperial forcemade the new republic possible.
Securing the ownership of arms, as a right, wascentral to creating a government that would not infringe on the liberty of itscitizens. The use of arms, however, is the last option reserved when all otherattempts at the preservation of liberty have failed. Today we livein a much different world than that of our founders. The rise of the UnitedStates into world dominance, the shift of population into the cities, and theincrease of drug use and violence have produced great change in our society.Americans once feared the loss of the free state would come from foreigninvasion or political corruption, but now the greatest threat is the violencewe see on the evening news. The increase in violence and murder has sparked thegreatest debate over gun ownership in our nations history. The secondamendment has been reinterpreted by those who feel the mere presents of gunshave led to increased violence. I believe that the threat violence poses topersonal liberty is the best reason to protect gun rights.
We must assume thatthe founders understood the responsibilities that are inherent with gunownership. The exclusion of criminals and the insane had to be seen in theinterest of the republic. These specific decisions are constitutionally theresponsibility of individual states.
The regulations placed on the ownership ofguns fall into two categories. The first set of regulations are penalties anddeterrents for those who should not have guns. Second is the regulations thathelp to protect law abiding gun owners. Guns must be regulated to preventcriminals and others who might use weapons against the good of the state fromattaining weapons legally or illegally. President George Bush indicated thetrue problem in a 1992 speech, when he said, “I am firmly committed tokeeping guns out of criminals hands and keeping criminals off the street.Ultimately, the only gun control that will really work is crime control.”Several reforms are needed in order to decrease the number of criminals inpossession of guns. Mandatory sentences should be established for criminals whoperpetrate crimes using guns and for felons caught with guns.
This regulationwill serve as a deterrent for using guns, and will help keep the armed criminalbehind bars. A minimum sentence for the theft of firearms may help to slow downthe flow of guns into the black market. A waitingperiod or a pre-check system on all gun purchases will help keep ineligiblebuyers from attaining guns legally. The system must be efficient and accuratebefore the cost to taxpayers can be justified. Stricter rules for the licensingof gun dealers will help to limit the number of people with access to newweapons.
Stricter business regulations and an effort to increase compliancewill help to weed out the bad dealers. The most stringent of regulations cannot solve the problem of violence in America. The black market is strong andwill continue to serve the needs of the criminal.
The United States has no hopeof truly improving its social dilemma without a return to values. Until thesituation improves, the lawful citizen must be allowed to protect him/herselfin the spirit of the second amendment. Compliance with simple regulations thatwill help protect the owner and others demonstrates responsibility in gunownership. I feel that gun ownership should be handled in the same fashion ascar ownership. The first step should be thorough training. Mandatory safetyclasses will teach how and when the use of a gun is appropriate. When thetraining is completed, a gun can be registered and a license for use issued.
Despite all the training in the world, accidents still occur. A gun ownerliability policy should be required for anyone who wishes to own or use a gun.This policy would probably become part of a homeowners policy, and could beused as a pre-checking system for the purchase of handguns. This would placethe responsibility of background checks on the insurance companies rather thanthe taxpayer. It would also allow those with a policy to pick out and take homea gun the same day of purchase, eliminating the need for a waiting period. Theinsurance industry is the foremost expert in the prevention of accidents. Theregulations they would place on gun owners would be more effective than any thegovernment bureaucracy could develop for the prevention of accidents. In anysituation, guns should be seen as the last option.
In some cases, however, theuse of deadly force is your only protection. In 1992, firearms were used forself-defense over 82 thousand times. In 63% of these incidents, the victim onlyhad to show the gun to stop the attack. With proper training, a gun is an effectivedeterrent and a lethal defense. Perhaps the people who know the best about guncontrol are police officers. In a 1988 survey of police officers, mostunanimously agreed on mandatory prison sentences, stricter laws on handgunsales, and increased requirements for handgun dealers.
In this same survey,they also agreed that citizens should be allowed guns in their homes for selfprotection. This shows that police officers know they can not protect everyone atonce; at times it falls on the individual to make up their own mind regardingself defense. -M ;,?