In the exploration of the current controversy over the Second Amendment given the recent debates that have sparked from the many school and neighborhood shootings, it becomes evident that there are a diverse number of positions on the subject. These positions represent the fundamental issue that underlies the effects that this type of legislation would have as well as the way in which it is informed. Their differences arise due to important factors that contribute to their existence. This existence pertains to how the basis for gun control should be established.
The issue is that, while it is important to maintain the safety of students in schools, it is not necessarily clear how gun control would help to stem these occurrences from happening. While making it more difficult to obtain guns makes it more difficult for people who plan out these killings to do so, it also makes it more difficult for people who sincerely want to protect themselves and their families to do so. It is a fact that the right to bear arms is a fundamental right that is guaranteed by the government, therefore, it is understandable why this would be a controversy.
The fundamental problem surround this controversy relates to the difference between those who interpret the constitution as favoring individual rights, and those who interpret it as favoring state’s rights. While, in a system in which state rights are favored, the rights of the constitution extend the protection of arms to the states, a system that favors individual rights would extend this right to all people. This is the basic framework that surrounds the controversy.
Although this problem has been addressed by the courts, those at the highest levels have been unable to cover the issue in its entirety. “The Heller and McDonald decisions resolved important questions about the right to keep and bear arms, and at first blush they appeared to swing momentum decisively toward gun rights and away from gun control efforts. At the same time, the Supreme Court’s decisions left vital questions unanswered.” (Rostron, 705) This has been due to the broad implications that the subject could potentially have on how the fundamental rights of individuals are viewed within the country, as well as how their positions are in relation to that of the states in which they live.
The decision by the court in this case allowed the presentation for arguments considering gun measures and the rights of the individual to have them in order to protect themselves. “In that 5-4 decision, the Court held for the first time that the Second Amendment protects the individual right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to keep a handgun in the home for self-defense.” (Law Center 1) This case set a precedent for the legal ownership of firearms on an individual basis.
This led to those on both sides present their arguments in the wake of the decision. At this point, there were various lobby efforts to pass legislation that would allow for the repeal of the registration process for gun ownership. “The court brushed aside the gun lobby’s argument that the registration system was invalid because it would be circumvented by criminals. Stating that the argument made “little sense” and would “invalidate any and all gun laws,”” (Law Center 2) In this sense, it seems that the courts have taken the stance of moderation in consideration of this issue. While allowing for ownership, they also wish to present a standard for registration that helps to prevent these types of events from occurring.
The arguments concerning the second amendment are fundamentally rooted in an issue that goes back to the early years of the country. This issue is concerning the roles of states and their authority to intervene in the lives of their citizens. The second amendment can be seen to represent the source of this divide. This is because the issue stems from how the language of this amendment is interpreted in a legal context. In a sense, how the words of the amendment are meant to convey the rights that it sets out are an important point in this debate.
In particular the first and second clause of the second amendment reflect the sources for two very different arguments. These arguments are essentially rooted in the interpretation of which of these holds the definitive answer to how the right to have firearms is reflected by the author’s intentions. “The Amendment’s first clause is the prime directive and the Amendment guarantees each state the collective right to maintain a militia of citizen-soldiers despite the Constitution’s unified federal system of national defense.” (Fluck 1) By this definition, it seems that the clause displays the rights of collective state affiliated organizations to maintain these firearms. However, the next clause seems to be at odds with this idea.
The second clause of the amendment seems to indicate that, rather than the state having authority, it lies with the individual. “The Amendment’s second clause is the prime directive and the Amendment secures each individual’s right to keep and bear arms.” (Fluck 1) This presents the argument that is made by proponents of individual gun right ownership. These proponents intend to make the argument that this clause supersedes the previous in important, and therefore displays the true intent of the second amendment.
The availability of firearms is difficult to control. While passing restrictions may prevent many individuals from obtaining these firearms, many would be able to obtain them illegally in any case. Younger individuals who perform these acts would perhaps be able to obtain them from their parents. If they are planning on pursuing their ideas to the death, then they would perhaps not be inclined to stay away from stealing or other illegal measures in order to obtain what they need.
The problem with these arguments is that they ignore the metrics of the actual benefits of preventing a substantial amount of these situations from occurring. In this case, it becomes evident that imposing some limitations upon the ability of individuals to obtain firearms would be a viable practice with the effect of limiting the ability for people to obtain them illegally. In this case, it seems that a moderate position would probably be the most efficient. Through the implementation of moderate gun control, perhaps the issues could be alleviated without the need to fully repeal rights of gun ownership for everybody.
The opposition to this argument would seem to be the general consensus that limiting and restricting legislation itself is an affront to gun control. This is the position that gun rights should not only be maintained, but progressively enforced by the citizens of the country. In this sense, it becomes evident that the importance lies on the intent to submit to standards of responsibility in regards to gun control. The legislation that presents the intent to do so is that which would be inevitably flawed and overbearing in its need to control people, or micromanage, from a perspective of authority.
These arguments that have been expanded due to the violent events that have been occurring in schools across the nation have prevented the establishment of potential recommendations. In essence, it is in how a person interprets the second amendment that determines their stance on this issue. The presentation of the issues as those that provide a fundamental rift within the context of the amendment. The amendment, however, is difficult to target as a specific source for either argument, as the wording is presented in the sense that it will inevitably be contested.
The amendment is essentially a commitment to the property of the individual and their rights. However, it is worded in a way that provides clarity. “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.” (Second Amendment) This is the essential argument that has been centered on this controversy. Through the consideration of both arguments, it becomes evident that there is a deeper rift between the opposing sides. This can, effectively be eliminated through the legal process. In the end, a more fundamental understanding of the issue can help to satisfy the arguments on either side.
The problems that have been reflected in the events that have taken place throughout these various shootings are evident in the systemic implications that they provoke within the social framework of society. In this sense, they are not only the ideas that are presented within the context of the courts, but those that are presented within the modes of everyday life as well. Through the implementation of a more individual set of standards for these issues, which take advantage of basic human rights, there are many comprehensible solutions that can, at length be promoted.
Fluck, Jeff. D.C. V. Heller: The Supreme Court Decides a Second Amendment
Halbrook, Stephen P. The Independent Institute. Oakland. 2008
Our Constitution. The Second Amendment. 1791.
Rostron, Allen. Justice Breyer’s Triumph in the Third Battle over the Second
Amendment. The George Washington Law Review. 2011.
Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Recent Developments in Second Amendment
Waldman, Michael. The Second Amendment: A Biography. Brennen Center for Justice.
Simon and Schuster. 2014.