With the rash of mass shootings that are frighteningly rising in America’s schools and streets, the issue of gun control has once again been thrust into the societal limelight. The fact that “loose guns” are finding their way to nefarious elements is an issue that is being debated in society as well as in legislatures. And in any debate, there are two sides that are aggressively seeking to gain the “upper hand” in presenting their cases to the public, and ultimately, sway public opinion enough to influence the manner that laws are drafted. One of these sides seek to sway the public to seek stringent controls and measures to regulate the sale and possession of firearms; the other desires to aggressively point out that the ownership and possession of firearms is a right that is listed and protected by no less than the United States Constitution.
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
Founded in 1974, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence seeks to protect the general public from the threat of bloodshed from the use of guns by way of study, critical engagement and efficacious policy support and promotion. The group is composed of child safety promoters, public health experts, social justice groups, and others working in collaboration with the end goal of decreasing the frequency of gun related violent events. The group believes that the issue of gun control has been mired too long in legislative stagnation. More specifically, CSGV believes that the legislative arm of government has long been under the sway, by its own volition, of the National Rifle Association (NRA). As such, the primary message of the CSGV is that the “no accountability era” of gun ownership must be halted. If the legislators that have been kowtowing to the wishes of the NRA, and this will endanger the lives of ordinary Americans, then the CSGV will mount an aggressive campaign against these legislators for the voters to know their stand on gun control and the endangerment that the public is exposed to because of the kowtowing of the legislators to the NRA.
Among the issues that are being heatedly debated in America is the lax nature of “background checks” for potential gun buyers. The group estimates that 4 out of 10 firearm purchases in the United States are done without any verification on the identity of the buyer. This allows criminals, the criminally insane and other parties unbridled access to guns in the market. According to the group, the era of “no accountability” should be jettisoned and all gun purchases in the United States must be integrated with a verification process (Coalition to Stop Gun Violence 1).
Second Amendment Foundation
In comparison to the staunch opposition of the earlier group to unrestricted access to firearms, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) is committed to advocating for an improved comprehension of the Constitutional traditions to own and possess guns in a private capacity. To this objective, the Foundation promotes the conduct of numerous legal as well as legal education and action agendas with the goal improving the level of knowledge and understanding of the public on the issue of gun control. With regards to the issue of “background checks” for potential gun owners and buyers, there is a controversial measure being proffered that can help in appeasing gun control advocates pushing for aggressive background checks and those that are supporting for less interference from the government on the issue.
Alan Gottlieb, who heads the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and also the head of the Second Amendment Foundation, states that the groups are amenable to support a bill that will introduce wider background checks for potential gun buyers if lawmakers will end support for the creation of an “unofficial database” of gun owners in Washington state. What is significant in this instance is that the Citizens Committee has not actively supported a legislative proposal espousing “background checks” in years. Gottlieb’s compromise is for the state officials and not the Federal government to be the lead agency in conducting the background verification processes (Rosenthal 1).
The group has been also active in Federal gun ownership and possession cases. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the SAF joined ranks with the NRA in a legal motion seeking to halt the seizing of firearms by the police in New Orleans. The SAF and the NRA moved against the confiscation policy imposed by city officials. In the end, the SAF position prevailed, with the United States District Court for Louisiana’s Eastern District ruling that the police being implemented in confiscating the firearms of New Orleans residents in violation of the Constitution and ruled that the policy be stopped immediately.
In the same year, the SAF again collaborated with the NRA in challenging the initiative of authorities in San Francisco to prohibit gun ownership by its citizens. The proposal, “Proposition H,” was approved by more than 57 percent of the voters in the city. However, the proposal was overturned by the San Francisco Superior Court and was later upheld by the appellate courts (Garrett 1).
All people have the right to live in a society free from violence, any violence, which can be inflicted against them. This implies that the state has the obligation to recognize the right to secure themselves and those around them. However, the state also has a right to safeguard the right of others in the community to live in safety. In this light, the balance must be struck to ensure two sets of rights; one, to ensure that the rights of those that wish to purchase guns be protected, and two that those that want to live free from the threat of gun violence be ensured as well.
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence “Universal Background Checks.” <http://csgv.org/about-us/
Garrett, Ben “Profile: Second Amendment Foundation: gun rights groups carries legal battles to the opposition.” <http://civilliberty.about.com/od/guncontrol/a/Second-Amendment-Foundation.htm
Rosenthal, Brian M (2013, February 19 “Gun-rights groups negotiate with lawmakers on background checks.” Seattle Times Local News <http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020389406_backgroundcheckxml.html
Second Amendment Foundation “Mission Statement” <http://www.saf.org/?page_id=10