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Abstract: The American Constitution has given United States residents the right to bear arms. This right is a natural right that should be provided to every person on the planet. In this essay, I will discuss the reasons why this right should be afforded to every American. This issue is a hot topic right now among political commentators. There is a challenge on several fronts because this fundamental freedom is being challenged by the fact that the United Nations is looking to fight terrorism and, to them, that involves the prohibition of gun ownership. While there are fair arguments to support the idea that guns should be outlawed, there are more reasons for guns to remain sanctioned throughout the United States. I will address the arguments in support of gun prohibition and refute them under the basis that guns are needed to protect Americans, and without this right, there will be utter chaos throughout the country.
Gun rights in America have been at the center of debate for decades, and this is because the discussion hits close to homes for so many United States residents. According to research at the University of Chicago, approximately 200 to 250 firearms are in private circulation throughout the country, (Cook, 2009). The same research indicates that one in every four Americans owned a gun in 2009. In this essay, I will outline current gun ownership climate in America, before providing the reasons why many are encouraging stricter gun control laws. An analysis of the reasons supporting guns will then be outlined. Guns are an important part of the safety of Americans, but many think the risks outweigh the benefits. While some people are killed by registered firearms, there is also a large number of people who benefit from the protection that is provided by owning a gun – this isn’t only in being able to defend oneself when a perpetrating is on their property – it’s also in the deterrence of potential criminals, supporters say.
While we have already learned that nearly a quarter of all Americans own a gun, let’s gain a deeper understanding of the scale of gun use in American. Understanding this use will shed light on the value Americans put on owning a firearm. While gun owners are a major part of the debate, those who don’t own a gun are also affected by laws that could control their use. “Recent survey data suggests that about forty per cent of males, about ten per cent of females, and about thirty-five per cent of all adults do not own any guns,” (Cook, 2009). However, the same research states that guns are becoming less common in homes. This is no surprise, as the quality of home alarm systems has increased rapidly, leading those who are concerned with their safety to find solace in the protection of companies that offer this type of security.
Those who support laws banning guns often say they lead to unnecessary violence. For example, there is a “Brady Campaign” that is aimed at passing and enforcing federal gun laws, public policies and regulations in a grassroots activism effort. The Campaign aims to elect politicians that support gun laws, while increasing the awareness about violence related to gun use. “Through our Million Mom March and Brady Chapters, we work locally to educate people about the dangers of guns, honor victims of gun violence, and pass sensible gun laws, believing that all Americans, especially children, have the right to live free from the threat of gun violence,” (Kosson, 2012). What this campaign group doesn’t consider is the many lives that are saved because of guns, not to mention the number of people who are deterred from becoming criminals because they know that the person in the house that they may rob might shoot them in self defense.
Not only are there practical reasons to allow someone to own guns, there is also the consideration that the American Constitution says United States residents have the right to bear arms. It is contained in the Second Amendment. The Amendment states that people are allowed to have their gun rights protected against even the threat of government to take control over their arms. As long as the Second Amendment exists, the federal government has no authority to take away the right to bear arms, as long as the person with the guns is not been restricted because of their past. The Constitution places the same amount of protection on the guns as it does on a person’s right to free speech.
Some people might say that the Second Amendment is a remnant of a time when the American culture was much different, and there shouldn’t be any weight given to the right. However, I argue that if the right still exists, there hasn’t been a concentrated effort from current politicians to get rid of the right. That means that the Second Amendment is still relevant today. “While most courts continue to interpret the Second Amendment as a collective right, academic scholarship is more divided,” (Cornell, 2004). For the courts to say it is a right, means that it will take a lot of effort to create gun control laws in America. It also tells me that some very intelligent people consider the Second Amendment relevant to today’s United States culture.
But there is a real threat to this freedom. The United Nations is currently looking to restrict the rights with the Arms Trade Treaty. The concern surrounding this treaty is causing major anxiety. The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has said that the treaty will be robust and legally binding and it will have an impact on millions of people who are involved in not only armed conflict and repression, but also on the transfer of arms. This is in an attempt to prevent these arms from becoming owned by terrorists. It should be noted that the U.N. is playing a major role in this decision, despite the fact that they have recently been found guilty of providing bombs and guns to the Bashar Assad regime, a terrorist group that is slaughtering thousands of Syrians. It makes absolutely no sense to allow Iran even to be a member of the U.N., let alone to make a decision on gun rules. “It’s tempting to dismiss the treaty – and the outrageous involvement of Iran – as just another U.N. absurdity,” (Cole, 2012). The reason this is such a big deal to America is that civilian arms and ammunition is included in the definition of what the U.N. seeks to get rid of.
The U.S. and Russia eventually caused the treaty to be defeated and human rights advocates said the U.S. was responsible for the defeat. But shortly after, the Colorado slaughter put the topic back onto the agenda at the White House. However, 50 senators sent a letter addressed to Barack Obama, saying they would vote in opposition of the ratification of the treaty if it doesn’t allow law-abiding Americans with the right to own guns. However, the Huffington Post quoted Suzanne Trimel, Amnesty International spokeswoman, who said, “Basically, what they’re saying is that the arms trade treaty will have some impact on domestic, Second Amendment gun rights. And that is just false, completely false,” (Rosalsky, 2012).
According to the Economist, gun control is too late, anyway. “There are too many guns out there, and an individual right to bear arms is now entrenched in constitutional law,” (Gun Control, 2012). This quote is absolutely right. Whether or not the Economist actually agrees that guns should be a right in America doesn’t matter, because it is too late to take out of the American culture what defines it. People have this freedom for a reason, just as they have the right to self defense. Without gun rights, people are at risk of being taken advantage of by those who find firearms through illicit means. Taking away gun rights is like equipping an army with butter knives, because the enemy could be coming to the doorstep, and the enemy is equipped with firearms. The Colorado slaughter and similar crimes have nothing to do with gun laws because the guns used in that act wasn’t legal, anyway. There are standards that have to be met in regulating which types of firearms are permissible, but to discredit every firearm based on cases involving guns that aren’t legal is comparing apples and oranges.
It is more important now than ever to define whether the Second Amendment is as valid today as it was when the Constitution was written. Without reaffirming the commitment to protecting the right to bear arms, the United States isn’t making clear to the United Nations and everyone else what the U.S. stance is on gun ownership. While anti-terrorism laws are extremely important, and they are broadening and becoming more refined each year, they need to be carried out without sacrificing one of the most basic freedoms in the United States today.
Cole, T. (2012, July 16). U.N. Arms Treaty Puts U.S. Gun Rights in Jeopardy. United States
Cook, P. Ludwig, J., and Smaha, A. (2009, February). Gun Control After Heller: Threats and
Sideshows from a Social Welfare Perspective. The University of Chicago.
Cornell, S., DeDino, N. (2004). A Well Regulated Right: The Early American Origins of Gun
Control. The Fordham Law School Institutional Repository.
Gun Control Too Late. (2012, July 21). The Economist. Retrieved from
Political Advocacy Groups. (2012, Aug., 17). University of Washington.
Rosalsky, G., Hersh, J. (July 27, 2012). U.N. Arms Trade Treaty Fails On U.S. Opposition After
False NRA Gun Rights Threat. Huffington Post.