Gun ownership rights and gun control is a common topic in American politics. For decades, the issue of guns among the people of the United States has been causing heated debates around the country. This is because there has never been a proper consensus between the firearms regulation bodies and gun rights activists. The two groups tend to always disagree on the impacts of firearms to the public as well as the interpretation of the laws of gun control. Every time America experiences a case of gun violence, the public begins to talk about the issue of gun control (Spitzer). One group believes that Americans need to own guns for their safety while the other group feels like there should be tougher restrictions regarding gun ownership. Many of the regulation activists have argued that thorough background checks should be conducted before one is allowed to own a gun. On the other hand, gun rights activists assert that everyone needs to feel a sense of security and a minor mistake in someone’s past should not be used to deny one the sense of security that comes with owning a gun.
A majority of Americans, however, support some policy proposals regarding gun control. This includes gun background checks and restricted sale of guns to people with mental illnesses. Still, there exists different views regarding this, for example, between gun owners versus non-owners, Republicans versus Democrats as well as residents from different regions: urban, rural and the suburbs. According to the Pew Research Centre, 52% of Americans advocate for more strict laws on gun control than there already is currently, 30% say the current laws are okay while 18% say that the laws should be made less strict (Parker, Igielnik, Oliphant, & Brown). There is also the argument about who should own guns and who should not. Americans also differ on which type of guns should be owned by civilians. The majority, however, support the ban on assault-style firearms as well as that of high capacity magazines. There are also disagreements about places that people should carry their guns. A majority of Americans oppose the carrying of concealed guns without a permit. They, however, advocate for policy proposals that will make it easy for the people to purchase and carry their guns easily. A significant number also favor the creation of a federal database for tracking gun sales and ownership.
James Madison, the author of the United States Bill of Rights, classifies the right of owning and keeping a weapon as fundamental. The US Supreme Court in the District of Colombia also affirmed this. Indeed, the right to possession of weapons is justified by the primary self-defense law of nature, which cannot be taken away by any human-made law (Dizard 177). The possession of weapons by the public also prevents the government from becoming tyrannical. However, the government has the responsibility of maintaining order and ensuring the protection of all of its citizens. The government, therefore, has the right to exercise gun control on its people to prevent them from harming each other. The most important idea here is to have a balance between the government’s right to maintain order and the citizens’ right to weapon ownership. This balance can be established through fair policies. Logically, it is not appropriate to allow gun ownership to a person who is likely to hurt others for no good reason, for example, a mentally disturbed individual. Some people may argue that this amounts to denying such individuals their primary natural right to self-defense, but it is clearly for the greater good. It is also not reasonable to allow people to own powerful weapons that could cause more harm than good. A balance between all these factors would, therefore, be a working solution.
- Dizard, Jan E., Robert Muth, and Stephen P. Andrews, eds. Guns in America: a reader. NYU Press, 1999.
- Parker, Kim, et al. “5. Views on gun policy.” Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project, 22 June 2017, www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/06/22/views-on-gun-policy/.
- Spitzer, Robert J. Politics of gun control. Routledge, 2015.