The Second Amendment states, “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.” The debate over this is whether this clause was intended for only the militia or regular citizens as well. Gun right advocates prefer to focus on the second part “right of the people” and ignore the first “well-regulated militia.” The “well-regulated militia” was added for a reason, and I think it was not just a suggestion.
To understand what the amendment meant to convey, we need to look at the historical context that in which it was written. The founding fathers believed that freedom without regulation could only lead to anarchy. They thought if a group of citizens were given guns then they could quickly become a mob and that was not what is considered a well-regulated militia. A law in 1786 even prohibited the storage of any loaded gun in any building in Boston.
Until the 1980s, there was no such thing as the “individual rights” theory of the Second Amendment. This changed when right-wing think-tanks started an effort to rewrite the amendment’s history. This was not initially well received; former Supreme Court chief justice Warren Burger called the idea that an individual should be allowed to bear arms “one of the greatest pieces of fraud on the American public by special-interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.” The revisionism did win in 2008 when the Supreme Court broke away from 70 years of established jurisprudence and stated that the Second Amendment does protect an individual’s right to have guns in their home for self-defense.
I do believe that American citizens should have the right to carry arms. The way the conditions are these days, citizens should have the ability to protect themselves, but it should not be easy to obtain a firearm. There needs to be more gun control enacted by the government to prevent unnecessary deaths.
Guns are one of the leading causes of death by homicide and suicide. Between 2009 and 2013, Guns were the cause of 66.6 percent of all homicides, 52.2 percent of all suicides. Having stricter gun laws would make it harder for people to acquire guns, which may result in the reduction of deaths caused by guns.
Incidents like the Orlando nightclub shooting that happened on June 12, 2016, where 50 people were killed and 53 injured at a gay nightclub by a single shooter. The shooter, Omar Mateen, had been previously investigated for terrorist ties by the Federal Bureau of Investigation but was still able to purchase a gun easily. Incidents like Cedric Anderson who walked into a classroom and open fired, resulting in the death of three people, earlier this year. These events are the reason why it should be more difficult for American citizens to acquire guns.
Studies have shown that gun control does work. The largest study, done by Julian Santaella-Tenorio, Magdalena Cerdá, Andrés Villaveces and Sandro Galea, looks at 130 studies done on gun control in the past year over 10 countries. The study concluded that a major legislative overhaul is needed to make a significant amount of change. It also found that restricting peoples access to guns and their ability to purchase guns is associated with a reduction in deaths caused by firearms.
For example, in Australia, they implemented gun control in 1996 after a mass shooting by one gunman in Tasmania. This has helped bring down the rate of death by guns in Australia. It decreased from 0.54 to 0.15 per 100,000 people. The number of murders has also gone down from 311 to 238 per year even though the population has increased and in this, the rate of death by firearms has decreased from 98 percent to 35 percent. There have also been no mass shootings since the gun control laws have been implemented.
Gun control has worked for other nations, and it is about time America starts applying it. How many incidents like the Orlando night club shooting will it take for us to realize that we need to change our gun laws? How many school shootings will it take for us to realize that there is a problem in the system that needs to be fixed? It should be harder for people to obtain firearms.