The Second Amendment: Hindrance or Help to Gun Control
Professor Kim Richard Nossal
18 March 2013
Word Count: 2408
In light of the recent tragedies in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut, which involved gun violence and resulted in deaths of many people, gun control has been on the forefront of political debates in the United States. Many of these debates call to the Second Amendment as either being a hindrance to the implementation of stricter laws or as reason to simply enforce the already existing laws, leading many to question whether the American government should rely on a two hundred year old document to influence modern day policies. The Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights in the United States of America (USA) restricts development in gun control due to its ambiguous wording, creating controversies and debates surrounding the fundamental rights that are embedded in the right to bear and keep arms, and consequently, allowing for a dissensus in the need for a stricter gun control. The original wording and context of the Second Amendment will be examined in regards to its intent, along with the various interpretations that exist today, in order to sufficiently deem the amount of scrutiny that must be used in relation to gun control. Also the arguments surrounding the increase in laws restricting gun ownership and usage, as well as the contrasting view for the enforcement of the laws already in existence will be explored. In December of 1791, the American Congress ratified the United States Constitution due inefficiency of the Articles of Confederation over the ten years priors. This ratification led to the creation of the Second Amendment that states the direct right of American citizens have to “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” (U.S. Const. amend. II). This right was embedded in the long lasting fear that the United States would soon mould itself into a nation like Britain, should the government be given too much power: Mid-eighteenth-century American colonists were ever more wary of the growing British military presence in their midst. The lessons of English and European history were not lost on the Colonials who, by their very nature, were prone to be independent of thought and suspicious of the British monarchy and military (Lamy 2007, 219).
Great Britain had restricted the creation of self-standing armies in order to avoid a revolution (Lamy 2007, 219). But the United States of America were a collection of very separate and different states, which despite the wish to join, had no desire to be controlled, therefore wanting the right to create a militia should an issue arise. Thus as a precautionary action against an oppressive government, the Second Amendment was added into the Constitution. Other arguments stemmed from the confrontation between Mrs. Barrett, the wife of a captain during the American Revolution, and a militiaman seeking to flee the battle. Mrs. Barrett insisted the soldier could not take the gun with him, a representation of the collective’s movement and view, to which he replied, “Yes, I shall”, expressing his individualist rights (Churchill 2007, 139). At that time and during the years that followed, the amendment was upheld in its complete form as many of the states had created their own militias to protect themselves against other states. Furthermore the Second Amendment proved its worth during the Civil War, when the militias of each individual state became the army of those who had emancipated from the American government. Thus, the Second Amendment was justified as imperative to the United States of America and was viewed as effectively protecting the rights of the people and the state. However the aforementioned context was relevant two hundred years ago, and over...