11th September, 2012
The allowance of guns in the United States is an issue that divides people greatly. The recent Empire State shooting on 24th August is a prime example of how America’s right to bear arms can be abused, begging the question, should Americans be allowed to own guns?
The problem is the owning and usage of guns is now ingrained in American culture, from as far back as the birth of the United States.
“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.” – The Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights (1789)
The majority of Americans believe it is their ‘right’ to bear arms, because it is written into the Bill of Rights. Nearly three out of four Americans – 73% – believe the Second Amendment spells out an individual right to own a firearm, and it is their right to use it to protect themselves if necessary. A greater number of Americans will argue that just because a minority of people are irresponsible with guns, why should the majority not be allowed to own guns? Indeed, the individuals right to defend oneself defines a free state. Many Americans believe people will use guns illegally against them if they become prohibited anyway. Criminals, or people that want to own guns illegally, will always find a way to do so.
Therefore, it seems to me that the issue is not people owning guns: its how people use them. There are many cases where the right to bear arms in the USA has actually saved people’s lives. It is fair to argue that people should have the right to bear arms, as long as it’s done responsibly. If a person is responsible about owning and carrying a gun, then it is a legitimate means of self-protection. A quote from Robert Bennett encapsulates this idea, ‘We should not blame a gun itself for any crime or any acts of violence, any more than we can blame a pen for misspelling a word.’
I believe the right to bear arms should exist in the USA. To be honest, I don’t think prohibiting guns would make much difference to the gun problems that already exist in the USA: gun ownership is already so ingrained in American culture. However, the biggest issue is that many Americans are not responsible gun owners. For example, they do not lock them up safely, or handle them like the deadly mechanisms that they are.
At the time the Bill of Rights was written, criminal violence was not the same problem it is today. Guns were used more often to hunt for dinner than defend your land. Today, guns should still be allowed to protect your person and property, but each person should be limited in how many guns they own, the type of guns they own, and the amount of ammunition that can be purchased. Gun laws should be in place so that there is a more comprehensive check on people buying guns, for example a mental health assessment, and a check of one’s criminal record. Any person not working in law enforcement should be restricted to owning a very low number of guns.
Culture is a potent factor in this debate. Outlawing the right to bear arms would do very little in actually changing the gun culture that exists in the USA. America needs stricter regulation of guns, and the people that own them. The right to bear arms needs to be protected, but so does society against gun violence.