Gun Control Issue Debate
The United States is the leader in per-capita gun deaths among all industrial nations. Gun related violence and crime have led to the formation of two distinct groups--those that support tighter gun laws and those that oppose it. Supporters of gun control seek to place more restrictions and limitation on the private ownership of guns, while non-supporters wish to protect the individual right to guns for self-defense and recreational activity. Both arguments are based on a historical, constitutional issue in the ambiguity of the Second Amendment adopted in 1791. Two major court decisions have furthered the continuous debate. In United States vs. Miller, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment relates only to individuals in active, controlled state guards or armies. However, in the landmark case of District of Columbia vs. Heller, the court ruled that it was illegal for the national government to restrict the possession of a loaded gun in the home.
As mentioned above, opposing views regarding gun control have developed over the past century--pro-gun control, anti-gun control (mainly driven by the NRA, National Rifle Association), and a more liberal position attempting to find middle ground between the two. “The Right to Own a Gun is Guaranteed by the Constitution” supports the notion that the Second Amendment decisively delineates the right to private gun ownership. According to this view, the National government has no right to restrict the private ownership of arms, taking into consideration however, that certain limitations (such as mental disability, criminal record, underage, etc.) may be applied. Contrastingly, “The Right to Own a Gun is not Guaranteed by the Constitution” argues that the scope of private gun ownership must be addressed, as it was in United States vs. Miller. Proponents of this argument claim that historically, the Second Amendment was not written to protect the private interests of citizens in bearing arms, but rather to limit the National government’s ability to disarm state militias. Therefore, the Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for certain military purposes, but does not “curtail the Legislature's power to regulate the nonmilitary use and ownership of weapons.” Finally, in “Both Sides of the Gun Debate would Benefit from a Compromise,” the argument for a compromise is made. The dramatically opposing views have only increased polarization on the issue, and “are locked in an antagonistic embrace that creates gridlock on solving the nation's gun problems.” According to this article, people can oppose civilian ownership of machine guns while still supporting hunting and owning guns for self-defense, support background checks on guns on purchases without putting gun companies out of business, and support the registration of guns and proficiency tests for gun owners without making it impossible for lawful citizens to buy guns.