By Tyler Tolbert
Every year, 2.5 million homes are broken into in the United States according to the FBI. That is one home every 13 seconds. People are in the home being burglarized thirty percent of the time. The average response time for police in the United States from call to police presence is 10 minutes. What does all this mean? What are we supposed to do within those 10 minutes? We need guns to protect ourselves and our right to property. We need guns to uphold the 5th amendment. The Second Amendment needs to be upheld to protect the ourselves, and our families during those 10 minutes.
The right to bear arms is deeply rooted in who we are as a nation. If the government begins to further regulate and degrade the Second Amendment, what is stopping them from doing the same to any other amendment or fundamental of this nation? Degrading the right to bear arms is actually affecting multiple amendments from the Bill of Rights. This would ultimately rock the foundation of this nation as a whole. Sure further regulation on guns sounds like a good idea on paper, but not when it lessens the effectiveness of the 2nd and 5th amendments. Many of these enhanced regulations will also have a large economic impact on a relatively strong industry that employs thousands of people. These regulations often call for an end to gun shows and the gun trade not through the government. Most of the illegal firearms are located in the black market, so these moves are only going to draw more people into non-traceable and dangerous weapons. A concerned resident of a loose gun law state, Florida, wrote an article for the Palm Beach Post that stated, “you can buy and sell an unlimited number of guns in Florida without any government oversight. If you’re a licensed firearms dealer, federal law requires you to perform background checks on buyers and maintain records of all gun sales. But “private” sellers can sell guns to “private” buyers in Florida without any exchange of paperwork, or background checks” (Cerabino). This article is very well written and does a good job of expressing the concerns of many Florida residents, but the gun laws in Florida are non-restrictive and have been backed up and supported by the Constitution. This story deals with a home with 96 firearms which is completely legal in the state. Nothing was done wrong by the citizen, but he was robbed of all his guns. He is now being seen as a criminal by many other citizens who claim that there are more restrictions on car sales than gun sales. The main issue with the opposition to this man in Florida is the fact that the Constitution does not protect the infringement of car sales. It does, however, protect the rights of citizens to possess firearms in a legal manner.
Many opponents of the Second Amendment and those that lobby for stricter gun laws seem to hinge their beliefs on two recurring points. The first of which being the argument that the firearms we have today are not protected because an assault weapon or semi-automatic weapon is not a musket. This argument quickly falls apart when you start applying this logic to other parts of the Constitution such as free speech. If modern age items and technologies are not subject to protection under the Constitution, who’s to say that we don’t have free speech when it comes to social media. If guns are taken away because the types of guns we have now were not around back then, what is stopping someone from arresting another person after hate filled rants on social media? Since technology is constantly making progress in many different forms, what makes that a valid reason to go directly against the explicitly stated right to bear arms from the Second Amendment. In the landmark case of District of Columbia V. Heller, the government resolved a longstanding issue in Washington D.C. that did exactly this. The law in question was the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975. This law strictly prohibited handguns because they were not around when the Constitution was formed. In this case, the Supreme Court struck down the law and found it unconstitutional in a 5-4 decision. The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gave the majority opinion in this landmark case regarding strict regulations and enhanced gun control. The Supreme Court’s understood job is to interpret the Constitution and then rule on challenging and difficult cases based on what is said and interpreted in the foundation of our nation. Justice Scalia was considered by many to be one of the greatest minds to the conservative cause in the modern era. In the opinion he wrote, “Respondent argues that it protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.” The opposing views in this case interpreted the Second amendment in a way that only supported the use of firearms in the military and not for self-defense, but since the majority ruled that citizens of the United States are guaranteed the right to possess firearms by the Constitution and now the Supreme Court.
The enhanced regulations called for such as the ones in Washington D.C that led to the Heller case, will only further separate the divide and drive the gun owners to new extremes. In fact, laws such as these have already caused many states to take a step away from gun control reform due to the feelings of excessive federal overreach. After analyzing an article by the Alaska Law Review, nine states, such as Kansas, Montana, and Alaska, have now decided to totally overthrow any existing federal gun laws in some form or another. These laws often allow any type of firearm as long as it remains in the state. This includes firearms, attachments, and ammunition. These states have decided that the right to bear arms given to us by the Second Amendment needs to be taken literally. Scholars are beginning to see a startling fact that the harder the Federal Government pushes for stricter gun laws, the looser the laws will become state by state. One such example of a new state law is the AFFA. The AFFA has no restrictions as long as the firearms are kept in the state. According to this article, “the assertion that the federal gun laws regulating intrastate gun manufacturing, sale, and possession—which the AFFA seeks to nullify—are outside of Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce because the activity in question is entirely local” (Hill 127). The law is perfectly legal because it only deals with state mandates which nullifies the national sanctions on guns due to the fact that this was passed in a local setting. This law was passed and only further separated the two very strong headed sides of this issue. This information was shocking to me. I realized that the federal government is seeing backlash from overstepping its boundaries, but the media doesn’t like to portray this aspect of the debate. The media is mostly short and concise headlines that need to be shocking to attract viewers. This type of coverage on such a sensitive issue as this can be extremely dangerous for the country as a whole. The divide is only getting larger which leads to more extremes out of either side.
On the other end of the spectrum from Alaska, Maryland has some of the most stringent gun laws and regulations in the nation. These laws have only put their own citizens they have vowed to protect in danger. The criminals still have guns, but the citizens can’t therefore they are unable to defend themselves. The state of Maryland is known as the free state, yet they have some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. A Maryland citizen and writer for the Washington Times, Bernard Morningstar wrote in an article, “Instead of making a legal resident who applies for a carry permit prove that he has a good reason for wanting the permit, the government should have to provide good reasons why that person should be denied. Not everyone should be granted a permit to carry a gun, nor should everyone be granted a driver’s license” (Morningstar). Through the writings of a citizen of the state, it is easy to tell that they are tired of being oppressed and denied a Constitutionally guaranteed right. It is almost impossible to prove that you need a firearm in Maryland. The state denies thousands of people firearm permits that would be granted in a number of other states such as Georgia or Alabama. The police are here to protect us but realistically, they end up responding. When someone is being held at gunpoint, there is no way an officer will know and magically show up. The officers are often a reaction and not a protection. When a criminal shows up and you are not able to defend yourself, the police will come, but it will probably be too late. The argument that only police need to have guns falls apart in my opinion when you think realistically about the way crime works. The sad truth is that police are not all knowing. We rely on them for protection, but they are not always there. A firearm however, can always be there and delay and save your life in the critical seconds until the officer arrives to defuse the situation. One opposing argument and article by Christopher Duerringer began to contradict itself and it often merged into a support of looser gun regulations. Duerringer wrote, “took attention away from the murder implement and onto the murderer. Heston seems to be suggesting that, even if we could roll back the clock on the technology of violence and eliminate every gun on earth, we would have earned no real advantage since evil people would still commit evil, violent acts with other implements” (189). This argument and tone of the whole article crumbled when it began to fall into the ever so common “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” In this commonly used argument, it can be twisted and used to support either side. The opposition to guns sees this as a way to justify that we do not need guns and they will not be missed if they were taken away. On the other hand, people who support guns use this quote to say that taking away guns will not stop the murders because gun triggers don’t point at other people and pull the trigger all on themselves.
Overall, the issue over gun rights will not and cannot be solved in a simple paper. This controversial issue will affect anyone and everyone in this nation. Some call the need for arms under the claims of self-defense and the defense of their loved ones. Other view them as items simply used for pain and crime. The media uses quick and catchy lines like “guns don’t kill people, people do” to try to help, but this ultimately ends up deepening the divide between the two sides. This paper is not here to solve the issue of gun control, but it is decoding the issue according to the Constitution. The Supreme Court has ruled that guns are Constitutionally guaranteed. Our right to bear arms is guaranteed in the foundation of our nation, and if we take away the Second Amendment, there is no way to tell what the impact will be on all of the other amendments in the Bill of Rights. Restricting guns also opens the argument up to things such as freedom of speech on social media. How can we expect to eliminate the Second Amendment without a viable argument to abolish all other amendments? If the Second Amendment is taken away or further restricted, what will keep our Constitution strong and our nation together? Gun ownership is a fundamental right deeply rooted in our Constitution and should not be infringed upon.
Cerabino, Frank. “In Florida, why are car sales more regulated than gun sales?.” Palm Beach Post, The (FL) 05 Oct. 2015: Newspaper Source. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
Duerringer, Christopher M., and Z. S. Justus. “Tropes In The Rhetoric Of Gun Rights: A Pragma-Dialectic Analysis.” Argumentation & Advocacy 52.3 (2016): 181-198. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.
Hill, John. “North To The Future Of The Right To Bear Arms: Analyzing The Alaska Firearms Freedom Act And Applying Firearm Localism To Alaska.” Alaska Law Review33.1 (2016): 125-155. Academic Search Complete. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.
Morningstar, Bernard. “Bearing Arms A Right, Not A Privilege.” Washington Times, The (DC) (2014): 2. Regional Business News. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.