What You Should Know
The U.S constitution encompasses many amendments but one, in particular, appears to be a sensitive matter to many Americans. The second amendment has created considerable controversy given the language used to determine its true intentions.
The right to bear arms has also been a touchy topic alongside a variety of occurrences happening in the United States, including the phenomenon of school shootings. RSnake's interview with gun range owner Grant Shaw explores the circumstances in the United States around gun control, media portrayals of guns, and the dangers that the second amendment poses to citizens.
Before jumping into the state of gun control in the U.S., it's important to understand the second amendment in greater detail.
What Is The Second Amendment
In simplest terms, the second amendment is the right of U.S. citizens to bear firearms. This amendment protects and keeps this right in place for Americans and has for hundreds of years.
The Second Amendment states that “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." As short as this amendment might be, its history is long.
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms and was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the Bill of Rights.
The amendment was created in response to the concern that the new federal government would disarm the people to deprive them of their liberties. The right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right that predates the Constitution and is enshrined in the English Bill of Rights of 1689.
In the United States, the right to bear arms is often seen as a cornerstone of the country’s founding principles and as a key component of the American way of life.
The amendment has been the subject of intense debate over the years, with gun rights advocates arguing that it is necessary to protect people from tyranny and gun control advocates arguing that it is a leading cause of gun violence in the United States.
Grant Shaw speaks briefly on the history of the second amendment. He explains to RSnake that "when this country was founded, it's what our Founding Fathers had in mind to not only put meat on the table but also to prevent tyranny."
It is one of the shortest and oldest codified amendments in the Bill of Rights and guarantees that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Influence of Laws In The U.S.A
The rule of law is the foundation of American society.
It is the principle that no one is above the law, that everyone is equal before the law, and that the government must govern according to the law. It is one of the defining differences between a democracy and a democratically elected republic.
The rule of law is essential to the protection of individual rights, the stability of society, and the proper functioning of government. People aren’t voted into jails unless they meet a minimum legal bar of prosecution based on existing ratified law.
As such, some laws proceed with great success, yet others are met with obstacles and protests, often failing. Many factors contribute to the success or failure of a law. One reason is that the United States is large and diverse, with different states and regions having different priorities and approaches to lawmaking.
In RSnake's interview with Salient Strategies, they discussed the state of lobbying and law-making in Texas versus other states. They explained the situations and backroom deals vary from state to state and are sometimes heavily dependent on the success of a law.
Another reason is that the political system in the United States is complex, with multiple levels of government and a variety of interest groups all vying for influence. This can make it difficult to enact comprehensive and effective legislation. Not to mention the courts in the United States, play a significant role in shaping and interpreting the law, and they can often strike down laws that they deem to be unconstitutional.
Some laws perform better than others due to the way they are written, the enforcement mechanisms in place, and the support of the public. Specific to the second amendment, the language used to write this amendment has been widely disputed from multiple angles. This speaks to the necessity of having clearly written laws.
Well-written laws tend to be clear and concise, making them easier to understand and follow. They also tend to have strong enforcement mechanisms, such as penalties for violators, which deter people from breaking the law. Finally, laws that have the support of the public are more likely to be successful, as people are more likely to obey laws that they agree with.
It is worth mentioning though, that some words evolve in common parlance. For instance, “well-regulated” today means limited, whereas at the time, it meant kept in working order. It is the difference between saying the militia should be very limited and the militia should be kept in good working order, and that is no small point of debate.
In the United States, gun control is a highly controversial topic.
While Americans have the right to keep and bear arms, gun violence is a concerning problem in the United States, and there is a growing movement for stricter gun control measures. More Americans than ever before perished by suicide or homicide at the hands of a gun in 2020 alone, totaling more than 45,000.
Regardless, gun control has become an extremely politicized issue, some believe guns should be disbanded while others hold with the second amendment.
Law enforcement officials and legislators have been urging tougher gun control measures in response to several mass shootings and a steady increase in gun crime throughout the US. There are many different policy proposals for gun control, but the most common ones involve background checks, bans on certain types of weapons, and limits on magazine capacity.
Background checks are currently required for all gun sales in the United States, but some loopholes allow people to purchase guns without undergoing a check. For example, private sales between individuals are not subject to background checks. Today we have some gun laws, but as Grant Shaw explains, decades ago there was barely gun control.
Shaw says that back in "the 30s, you had the proliferation of the tommy gun, for example, which could be you could purchase it $20 from a hardware store, with no background check, no age requirement, you know, no requirements in general."
The tommy gun is another name for the Thompson sub-machine gun – a two handed fully automated .45 rifle, which was widely used during the second world war, and became the mast-head signature weapon of organized crime during the 20’s during the prohibition.
As such, the figure for gun ownership in the U.S. isn't small as Pew Center Research reports "Four-in-ten U.S. adults say they live in a household with a gun, including 30% who say they own one." Nevertheless, there are always two sides to a story and when it comes to gun control, there are for and against.
Gun control advocates contend that militias were the intended audience for the Second Amendment. There would be less gun violence if more laws were passed. Gun control advocates assert that limitations on guns have always been in place and that most Americans, including those who own guns, support more restrictions on guns. The definition of a militia is also poorly understood by today’s standards.
The unorganized militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
On the flip side, according to supporters, the Second Amendment safeguards a person's right to possess firearms. More so, weapons are necessary for self-defense against dangers ranging from invading foreign forces to local criminals. Additionally, they assert that having a gun deters crime rather than encouraging it.
Another important factor to note about gun control in the U.S. is the people making the decisions.
Many times, legislators and policy-makers that are trying to regulate gun laws, may not have an adequate background or knowledge of firearms to be driving change. It is not simply enough to have basic knowledge of firearms.
Being cognizant of the true statistics, media portrayals, and affected populations by firearms is vital in making acute changes to how guns are handled in the United States.
How the Media Portrays Guns
Speaking of encouragement, it seems like every action movie that is released these days is encouraged to use of attention-grabbing guns.
Grant Shaw tells RSnake that "there's a tendency to glamorize firearms and the light in which they're painted". Think John Wick, Scarface, and Bond, James Bond. This is such a unique paradox in contrast to how guns and firearms are shown in the news media.
Guns in the United States are routinely portrayed in a negative light by the news media. This is often done to push for stricter gun control measures.
While this framing tactic may prove to be useful in advocating for gun laws, this portrayal can be misleading. For example, the media often focuses on mass shootings, which are relatively rare events, as mass shootings only account for "0.2% of firearm deaths in the U.S. each year."
According to a Special Report from U.S. Department of Justice, in the U.S. illegally obtained guns are used in the majority of homicides. Additionally, to a lesser extent, they're borrowed or purchased from a friend or family, and 9-13% is obtained legally from a store.
While guns aren't defensive tools to be used lightly, this gives a false impression that guns are more dangerous than they actually are. Guns are used far more often for self-defense than for crime. The media also tends to downplay the fact that gun ownership is relatively common in the United States.
In reality, most gun owners are responsible and law-abiding citizens. Owning a gun is rooted deeply within American culture about "45 per cent of U.S. households had at least one gun in their possession", keeping them around in case a threat looms, be it local, federal or international threats.
Stats on Gun Crime
In terms of statistics, stats on gun crime in the United States can be skewed based on media portrayal.
The media focuses on stories that are shocking and generate a lot of clicks, which means that the stories that make it to the public often present a distorted view of reality. Grant Shaw touches on this in the interview with RSnake, who mentions that like in movies, guns are often portrayed in a nefarious frame.
Grant Shaw says that statistics can be blown up, especially in the case of assault weapons, most people think guns. But in reality, it could be with knives or fists, but the figures often don't account for the specifics on a macro level.
In addition, the way that statistics are reported can also create a misleading impression. For example, when gun crime is reported as a percentage of all crime, it can appear to be much higher than it actually is.
When discussing an increase in mass shootings, it is important to consider the statistics and change in definition by the FBI.
Any single attack in a public area that resulted in four or more fatalities was considered a mass shooting prior to 2013. Prior to 2012, data collected on mass shootings showed the common number of fatalities around 4 victims. However, it was around this time that the definition and data collection methods around mass shootings changed.
In contrast, Statista reports that "since 2013, the source defines a mass shooting as any single attack in a public place with three or more fatalities, in line with the definition by the FBI."
Danger to Children: School Shootings
Guns and school shootings have been a problem in the United States for many years.
There have been several school shootings where students have been killed or injured by someone who has brought a gun into the school. Columbine High School, Virginia Tech High School, and Sandy Hook Elementary are some of the most horrific school shootings to occur in America. In most cases, the shooter has been a student at the school.
School shootings have increased in recent years, and there is no easy solution to the problem. "School shootings in 2020-21 soared to the highest number in two decades", according to a study mentioned in The Washington Post.
Some people believe that stricter gun laws would help to prevent school shootings. Others believe that school shootings are a result of other problems, such as mental health issues, and that gun law would not make a difference.
Whatever the cause of school shootings, they are a tragedy that no one wants to see happen. It is important to find ways to prevent them from happening in the future. This is absolutely a bi-partisan issue in that regard, and from that springs a wealth of possibilities that should be explored.
In 2015, there were 13,286 deaths due to firearms in the US, and that number has been increasing in recent years. This number predominantly includes suicides, gang shootings and domestic violence crime. Education about guns and firearms is important because it can help to prevent these deaths.
Education about guns can help people to understand how to use them safely. It can also help people to understand the risks associated with guns and to make informed decisions about whether to own a gun.
Education about guns is especially important for children and young people, who are at the highest risk of being involved in a gun-related incident.
In addition to preventing deaths, education about guns can also help to reduce the number of injuries caused by firearms. In 2015, there were over 85,000 non-fatal gun injuries in the US. Many of these injuries could have been prevented with proper education about gun safety.
Education about guns is important because it can save lives. It can also help to reduce the number of people who are injured by guns each year.
Automatic, Semi-automatic & Bump Stocks
Grant Shaw and RSnake discuss the difference between different types of firearms. There are three types of firearms: automatic, semi-automatic, and bump stocks.
Automatic firearms are also known as machine guns. They fire continuously when the trigger is depressed and have a mechanism that reloads the chamber automatically. A semi-automatic firearm requires the shooter to pull the trigger for each shot.
The chamber then reloads automatically, but the trigger must be released and pulled again for the next shot.
A bump fire stock allows a semi-automatic rifle to fire more rapidly, by using the recoil of the firearm to "bump" the trigger against the shooter's finger.
Donald Trump asked the ATF to treat bump stocks as automatic weapons and therefore imposed a ban that would require tax stamps to own after the Las Vegas mass shooting that used bump stocks to purportedly increase the rate of fire.
Firearms safety is an important subject to understand, especially in the United States where guns are so prevalent. Around 4.6 million children live in homes with at least one gun, and one in three families own a gun.
That’s a lot of kids who could potentially find and use a gun without understanding the risks.
Guns have been in the United States for over 200 years, and it doesn't look like they're going anywhere anytime soon. This is why proper education about gun violence, gun laws, and firearms is so important.
Grant Shaw's talk with RSnake revealed interesting insights on gun ownership and gun control in America, check out the episode to hear more.