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.