Decisions made on gun laws and no court cases really challenged the interpretation of the amendment. The major shift in national dialogue about gun control emerged in 2008. For the first time in United States history the Supreme Court ruled an individual’s right to bear arms with little to no grey areas in it’s meaning. The Heller vs. The District of Columbia case was a landmark that established the root of one of the major issues in America today. Dick Heller was a police officer that argued that the capitals ban on handguns was unconstitutional and strangely enough the court agreed. It ruled that the second amendment wasn’t connected to militias and that individuals had the right to bear arms or else it’d be an infringement. Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion in District of Columbia vs. Heller was, “The decision should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and governments building or laws imposing conditions and qualification on the commercial sale of arms” (Greenhouse, 2008). A following case supported the decision of the 2008 ruling. The McDonalds vs. Chicago case in 2010 found that second amendment rights could not or should not be regulated by state governments. These two cases emphasized individual rights to bear arms and focused less on the regulated militia.
Back when the constitution was created guns were extremely different, I mean you had to use a lid to cover the powder in a gun that would provide the power to launch a bullet and that lid had to be moved by hand. The views of the courts have evolved over time and so has the technical advancements of existing guns. Some believe that an armed citizen is safer others believe that more guns directly lead to more violence. Which brings us to the prominent controversy, should guns be banned completely or are guns necessary to the Citizens of the nation? Now that we’ve covered a bit of the historical basics, let’s talk about the two opposing sides of this generations political dispute.
Pro-Banning Gun Law activist believe that the United States has a problem with gun violence. The mass media tends to talk about it and accentuate it after mass shootings but it’s much larger and complicated than those debates allow. Will the outlaw of gun usage in the United States fix the issue? Well let’s talk about. According to anti-gun individuals, it seems as though someone’s right to own a weapon is more important than someone’s right to go to school safely. It’s almost a circular logic, people think that handguns are meant for personal defense but what are you really defending yourself from? People with other guns? So basically, you need a gun because they have gun. Yet for some reason people tend to forget, a gun has one purpose and one purpose only, to kill. As stated in a 1999 Harvard study, “Americans feel less safe as more people in their community begin to carry guns” (White, 2018). We’re living in a society gripped by fear because someone is able to go get lethal weapons and days later kill wherever they please. It’s gotten to the point where the “active shooter” phenomenon has become pervasive, seemingly something that is absolutely rare in the rest of the world. Pro-Gun conservatives like to focus on the idea that mental health is the issue but that’s not always the case. For instance, no one likes to acknowledge that not even Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter, could have raised an eyebrow with a mental health professional before murdering 58 people (Stephens, 2017). Before 2011 mass shootings occurred on average every 6 months but since then only about 2 months go by between the shootings (Lopez, 2018). There were 133 mass shootings in public populated areas between 2000 and 2014, putting America at the highest rate of mass shooting compared to other countries by a lot (Lopez, 2018). Recently, mass shootings have become the new reality tv show of the country, it seems as though every month for some reason a new incident is televised and extremely advertised. Quite ironic if you ask me, the way media influences people’s attention on solely one topic to distract them from other real-world issues. It’s safe to say America has a very unique relationship with guns and despite the constant promotion of gun violence nothing ever seems to change it becomes a repetitive cycle. No amount of outrage or mourning towards these frequent mass shooting help influence the prevention of the next horror. But let’s focus the attention on less publicly exposed statistics affected by the Second Amendment and Gun rights. Mass shootings get all the attention because they are the most indiscriminate but there are other gun issues that motivate Pro-Ban activists. Just about 92 people are killed with guns on a daily basis but it comes down to these few factors: homicides, suicides, mass shootings, accidental shootings, police shootings and undetermined shootings (Lopez, 2018). Many victims of nearly daily homicides aren’t often shown on national television. Pro-gun activists don’t believe suicide is a part of the issue but unfortunately it is. Being that suicide attempts often times stem from temporary crisis the vast majority of individuals who survive it don’t end up dying due to suicide but it’s almost virtually impossible to get that second chance with gun suicides. The U.S. has the highest suicide rate in international comparison and a high percentage of those suicides use guns (Lopez, 2018). The number of gun deaths in America exceed the number of Americans killed by aids, drugs, wars and terrorism combined (Lopez, 2018). Now, it’s not that there is more crime in the United States it’s just that crime is more lethal. We are the only country in the developed world that has the type of gun violence that we have a year.
It’s evident that America doesn’t have a gun problem it has several of them. Individuals have gone from agreeing to gun laws and its fundamental right for self-defense to completely appalled by it. People are dying and children are dying because we can’t even agree on what the Second Amendment even means. We are arguing about the language in this 27 worded phrase, the world has changed dramatically since then let’s not rely on a document written with a feather and decaying somewhere. The Interpretation has been handed down for many years we can make those words mean anything we want to going forward. In a report for New York Times Bret Stephens mentions, “Repealing the Amendment may seem like a political Mission Impossible today, but in the era of same-sex marriage it’s worth recalling that most great causes begin as improbable ones”. But that’s just one side of the story, there’s always a second. Does banning guns really sound like the right way to go?
One of the fathers of the bill of rights, George Mason, once said, “I ask sir what is the militia? It is the whole people…” (Pennacchia, 2018). Opponents of the right to own guns will automatically gravitate toward the words “regulated militia” without any context of the actual meaning in the 18th century. It’s almost like an attempt to twist and change the words of the Second Amendment to fit their political wants. We live in a pop culture dominant society and unfortunately, many Americans form political opinions based off these mass media commentary, especially younger generations. The reality of it is, nobody wants to be labeled a monster for their political opinion, therefore, it’s a lot easier to make up your mind based off societies ideals as opposed to actually researching and figuring out the issues on your own. Banning guns for less killings is like banning water for less drownings. Pro-gun law activist believe that prohibiting anything is never the right way to go, much less in an era where guns are such a controversial topic and there seems to be no middle ground. A full repeal of the Second Amendment is virtually impossible considering you need 38 states to agree to that (Pavlich, 2018). However, it doesn’t mean states can’t limit gun laws so much that its essentially outlawed. Which, in turn, would be taking away from people’s natural born given rights of the Bill of Rights. The right to self-defense is universal it’s not a privilege. Those against the Second Amendment believe that with the removal of Guns tragedy will be avoidable but no one likes to look at the fact that guns are not the problem, people are.
Mental illness does indeed play a role in gun violence but statistically there’s not much relation (Metzl, & MacLeish, 2015). It’s more of a person psychological turmoil, violent tendencies and broken homes. If an individual’s psychological health isn’t there for whatever the source may be, many threatening behaviors can arise. Someone in pursuit to harm others will not be stopped whether guns are accessible or not. People love to blame the object when in reality it’s the misuse of an individual with the object in attempts to express their emotions and deliberately inflict pain on others. Much of the highly criticized and trending mass shooting phenomena could have been prevented. For instance, the parkland shooting. Nikolas Cruz had premeditated his murders publicly yet people fail acknowledge red alarm behaviors nor do they intervene on them. Pro-Gun law activist believe it’s disingenuous to refrain from focusing on the psychological relation to gun incidents. Taking away guns will not solve the issue as to why people are picking up these guns and shooting others. Gun laws are a right because they’re a necessity, we live in a world where danger is everywhere, it’s not a go lucky go happy society. Everyone wants to live in this mental state of world peace and sunshine but the unfortunate truth is that tyranny will always flourish especially when people grow apathetic (NRA, 2017). If you’re unable to adequately protect yourself from threats, you’ve lost a right. It’s better to have a gun and not use it than to need a gun and not have it.
Laws that seriously limit access to handguns will encourage criminals to have, carry, and use more lethal weapons (Lafollette, 2018). Chicago Illinois has had some of the strictest gun laws in America enacted and it’s currently more than twice as likely for you to be killed in.