There has been a constant debate over gun rights in the United States over several decades, but perhaps never with so much passion over the issue on both sides. This is likely due to the fact that there have been so many gun deaths each year, with the United States far surpassing any other nation in the world in relation to gun ownership and deaths by firearms. This paper will discuss the debate, taking the position that it is important to maintain the Second Amendment rights that were granted in the Constitution, and that any diminishment of those rights would be in violation of what the Founding Fathers intended.
The right to defend one is an essential human right, and this was clearly what was intended when the Second Amendment was written. In order to prevent American citizens from being threatened by an out-of-control government, it is important for people to be able to have means of protecting themselves against this type of tyranny. In addition, many of the people who choose to own guns use them for hunting, and surely the argument can be made that this is a time old tradition that should never be prohibited as it is a source of food for some people and a recreation and sport for others.
The need to protect oneself from other people with guns has been demonstrated again and again in some of the mass shootings that have occurred in recent years. The Columbine shootings, the shootings in the Aurora movie theater, and the Newtown, Connecticut killings certainly illustrate the fact that in all of those situations, the amount of carnage might have been reduced or even eliminated if someone had been carrying a gun. The result of those incidents has been that many public places as well as schools have at least some staff armed in order to prevent these catastrophic events by intervening at the earliest point possible.
The argument against the Second Amendment involves the threats to the public safety that are inevitable when so many citizens have easy access to guns. The laws about gun ownership vary from state to state, but in general it is possible for almost anyone in the United States to obtain a gun, even if that person is on the terror watch list or has had a history of mental illness. Although people who have committed serious crimes are supposedly prevented from buying firearms, private sales and loopholes at gun shows have made it possible for virtually anyone who wants a gun to get one. Hence, the unbelievably high numbers of gun deaths in the United States which have made the issue an embarrassment and a shame for this country. If sensible gun laws were passed, there would be limitations on the number of magazines that were available for purchase, a ban on automatic weapons, mandatory background checks, and other sensible laws that would still make people have access to the guns that they feel that they need for hunting and self protection. Otherwise, inevitably guns will be used to kill people unnecessarily, such as in the recent cases of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, two unarmed young African-American men who were shot and killed by a person who claimed that he was acting in self-defense. Having a gun at one’s disposal simply makes other less deadly options moot because it is so easy to pull out a gun and shoot.
Essentially, I believe that it is important to support the Second Amendment because it has always been one of the many foundations on which our Republic is based. It is a legitimate use of firearms for self-defense as well as hunting, and although this country certainly has far too many gun deaths, some of them could have been prevented if people present on the scene were armed as well. Taking away the rights to own guns represents a serious threat to the concept of freedom and liberty that the Founding Fathers articulated.