The Second Amendment – Firearm Legislation
How it works
Americans are being murdered at unprecedented rates and little action has been attempted to prevent similar events from reoccurring. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ninety-six Americans die by firearms every day (The Editorial Board). Ninety-six lives end because of a bullet. It is unethical and immoral for that many people to perish, and for there to be little change made. Unfortunately, legislators can not just simply change firearm laws due to the long-standing and well-respected second amendment.
The 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’ (Strasser). The vagueness of the statement leaves room for interpretation, but the laws are supportive of the idea that it is a right for an American citizen to bear arms. Therefore, any citizen can have access to any firearm with little to no restrictions. Firearm legislation in the United States must be reformed because the current laws do not do enough to protect American lives. Firearm legislation must be reformed for it is outdated considering that the second amendment was created over two hundred years ago. The current laws do not do enough to protect American lives from the modern threats of the 21st Century.
In a society where gun violence is prevalent, it is near effortless to legally obtain a firearm considering that a person is over the age of 21. “In 2014, 21,101 people under the age of 21 were shot by guns. 3,265 died from those gunshot wounds.” (Gifford Law Center). This means that even though access to firearms for persons under the age of 21 is limited, the restrictions simply do not accomplish the goal of preventing an immature citizen from participating in dangerous acts. “Gun laws vary significantly based on the state. Eight states, including California and Rhode Island, impose waiting periods for the purchase of some or all firearms” (Kate Taylor and Mary Hanbury). While in, “In Virginia, you can buy a semi-automatic gun ‘in 15 minutes'(Kate Taylor and Mary Hanbury). The differences in Firearm legislation in the United States results in the death of American citizens. Background checks on people who purchase firearms are nearly non-existent. The current restrictions do not prevent the purchases of firearms by people who should not have access to them.
“On an average day, 96 Americans die by firearms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” (The Editorial Board). Everyday ninety-six people are killed due to of gun violence. From those who fall victim to daily gun violence, two-hundred and forty-six people are shot and fortunately survived. Unfortunately, not only are adult American citizens being shot, but children are also being attacked. Eight minors die per day and thirty nine children and teens are shot but survive (The Brady Campaign). From the eight children that are killed daily, four are murdered, three commit suicide, and one is killed unintentionally (The Brady Campaign). As for the thirty-nine children that are shot, thirty-one of those are attacked, one survives a suicide attempt, and seven are shot unintentionally (The Brady Campaign).
Of the ninety-six Americans that die by firearms every day, two-thirds of them are from suicides (The Editorial Board). This alone is enough evidence to show that people who commit suicide with a firearm should not have access to those types of weapon. In 2004, Scott Thompson a municipal police officer with a small department in Maine witnessed a devastating but real event.
Thompson said “I was sent to a call where an 18-year-old boy had apparently shot himself. I arrived to a very distraught and panicked father, and his son lying on the bathroom floor taking his very last breaths. I tried lifesaving measures while the father stood behind me.” This teenager would have not been allowed to access this type of machinery if there were mental health evaluations. If a mental health evaluation could possibly prevent just a few deaths, it would be worth implementing into the system.
One of the reasons so many people are being killed is because of the advanced technology of today’s weapons. In 1791 a musket or hunting rifle or rudimentary handgun was used as a mean for hunting, self-protection and military combat. Although in 2018, firearm technology has been vastly upgraded in the time since the amendment was ratified. Weapons that were used for hunting and self-protection are monumentally different than those used for military combat.
A modern weapon like the Colt AR-15 has a muzzle velocity of 3,200 feet-per-second and the muzzle velocity of a Glock 18 is only 1,230 feet-per-second (Military Factory). While the weapons that were available in the late 1700s like the muskets could not cause nearly as much damage as those that are current. According to Hugh T. Harrington, a “muzzle of the musket at a velocity of 1000 fps it immediately begins to drop due to the force of gravity. At 25 yards it drops only one inch but at 50 yards it drops over 4 inches. At 75 yards it drops 10 inches and at 100 yards it drops over 18 inches.” This makes the firearm extremely inaccurate and far less dangerous than the modern weapons of today, thus, creating the possibility of more violence and fatalities. With the new technological advances in today’s society, it is easy to take a life with firearm without even blinking twice.
As previously stated, firearms are technologically superior to the weapons that were available in the 1700s. Scott Thompson says “I would bet that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison as they drafted the Bill of Rights didn’t think we would be able to make guns in 3-D printers.” Considering that 3D printers are a new innovation, those type of weapons were not a factor at the time. Disputes not being acknowledged in the second amendment, there are still laws to prevent mishaps with 3D printed firearms. A federal law called the Undetectable Firearms Act makes illegal any guns that don’t go off in pass-through metal detectors (Hafner). That means that 3-D printed gun are illegal, but there are no regulations and procedures to check for those weapons. This is yet another example to show that the Second Amendment is outdated and needs to be revised. The current amendment has no consideration for the growth of firearm technology.
Another factor that the second amendment did not consider was mental illness. Mental illness and mental health are relatively new to the United States government. It was not until 1946 when Harry Truman legally recognized mental health. The “National Mental Health Act, which created the National Institute of Mental Health and allocated government funds towards research into the causes of and treatments for mental illness” (Unite for Sight). If there was research on mental health when the second amendment was constructed, it may have been concluded that the people that suffer from those alignments should not have access to firearms, especially military grade weapons.
Not only is the second amendment outdated, but it also is not interpreted in a correct manner. The first four terms in the amendment are “a well regulated Militia” (Strasser). Despite the fact that the second amendment says that firearms must be “well regulated,” there is no regulation at all. The term regulate means to “to control or direct by a rule, principle, method” (Dictionary.com). The United States government does not have a exact number on how many firearms are in circulation. It is not possible to control firearms if there is a lack of precise and detailed information. Without this information, the amendment has already been broken. An American citizen can just simply walk into a store that sells firearms and then is able to purchase a firearm within minutes. No part of this process can be considered well regulated.
The second amendment does specify what type of activities a firearm can be used for. The weapons are not just for self-protection and hunting. In 2015, The National Firearms Survey found the following results for firearm ownership: Hunting – 40%, Collecting – 34%, and Sporting Use – 28% (Yamane). This data suggest that a sole purpose for owning a firearm is to use it for leisure and recreation, not for self protection. The second amendment supports the rights of firearms and their for it should not be infringed. Although, firearms “began as tools of necessity in the colonies and on the frontier” (Yamane). When the amendment was constructed the only use for these weapons were to protect oneself, the free state, and to hunt.
The current laws in the United States do not account for the daily tragedies that occur and that can be easily prevented with firearm control. There is no reason to continue to use the same system that results in the death of American citizens. If the second amendment is updated for the current available firearms, United States Citizens will be safer.
As with many controversial topics, there are two sides to an issue. The side that supports the right to bear arms are known as Pro-Gun and the other side, who advocates on behalf of gun legislation is known as Pro-Gun Control. If Pro-Gun Control legislations go through Congress and is implemented into society, the lives of thousands will be spared.
- “Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.” Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence |, www.bradycampaign.org/key-gun-violence-statistics.
- Cornell, Saul; Cornell, Emma. American Journal of Public Health. Jul2018, Vol. 108 Issue 7, p867-868. 2p. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2018.304501.
This academic journal focuses on the balance between personal liberty and public safety in the United States in regards to the Second Amendment. The journal provides information about why and how the laws were interpreted in the Anglo-American Law Roots. Angelo-Americans were settlers who migrated throughout the United States and the laws they brought with them. In this journal, The Modern American Law is also explained by showing how the two sides of the gun control debate look at the second amendment.
For my essay, this focuses on the interpretation of the second amendment. The information will be used because modern gun control relies on how the second amendment is interpreted by the judicial branch. If the amendment is still interpreted similar to how it was when the Anglo-Americans used it, it is obvious that change is needed.
- Filindra, Alexandra, and Noah Kaplan. “Testing Theories of Gun Policy Preferences Among Blacks, Latinos, and Whites in America*.” Social Science Quarterly, vol. 98, no. 2, 2017, pp. 413–428., doi:10.1111/ssqu.12418.
This academic journal provides information about how Blacks, Latinos, and Whites respond to different types of gun legislation. Individual groups perceive what gun control should mean for themselves and what it should be for other groups.
For my essay, I am using this academic journal because if the information is analyzed a plan with the average answers from Blacks, Latinos, and Whites can be made to please all three ethnicities. If Americans can agree on a method or strategy for gun control, it may be possible to reform the second amendment if citizens are in favor of the change. This journal is substantial because most media polls are inaccurate due to the one-sided group that takes the polls but in this journal, it is different. It highlights and separates based on race, not political opinions or affiliations.
- Hafner, Josh. “What Is a 3D Printed Gun, and How Is It Legal? Your Questions, Answered.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 2 Aug. 2018,www.usatoday.com/story/tech/nation-now/2018/08/01/3-d-guns-how-3-d-printed-gun-parts-made-and-how-theyre-legal/879349002/.
- Harrington, Hugh T. “The Inaccuracy of Muskets.” Journal of the American Revolution, 28 Aug. 2016, allthingsliberty.com/2013/07/the-inaccuracy-of-muskets/.
This article presents information about firearms in the 1700s and how they fail to kill consistently. One factor is that the roundball that exits the chamber is extremely slow which allows for a loss in velocity. With the loss in velocity, gravity begins to take control of the roundball and pull it closer to the ground.
For my essay, I am using this article because it allows for a comparison between the weapons of the 1700s and the weapons of the 21st Century. The inaccuracy of the musket creates a huge margin for error which results in fewer fatalities. The weapons that are used today are made to easily kill. The second amendment was created when weapons were not nearly as dangerous as they are now.
- Lewis, J. Scott. International Social Science Review. 2018, Vol. 94 Issue 2, preceding p1-23. 25p.
This academic journal focuses National Study in the U.S. from 2009-2015, that relates to gun control strictness to mass murders in the United States. The journal includes media. polls involving gun control laws and locates statistics about gun control at the states level and the outcome of the state laws strictness.
For my essay, I am using this academic journal because it presents information that pertains to how gun control effects mass murders. If at the states level laws are preventing further gun violence, it gives a reason to why the second amendment should be revised.
- “Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess.” Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, lawcenter.giffords.org/gun-laws/policy-areas/who-can-have-a-gun/minimum-age/#key-elements.
- “On an Average Day, 96 Americans Die By Firearms.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 11 June 2018, www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/06/10/opinion/editorials/gun-violence-pulse-orlando.html.
This article focuses on the ever real threat of gun violence in the United States and how it is related to mass shootings. The article tells that mass shooting are a huge issue the United States, but everyday gun violence in the problem that people are neglecting to fix. For my essay, I am using this article because of the quote “On an average day, 96 Americans die by firearms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” This quote alone provides an element of shock to a reader. This source is valuable because it does not only focus on the severity of mass shootings but gun violence in general.
- “Regulate.” Dictionary.com, Dictionary.com, www.dictionary.com/browse/regulate.
- “Unite For Sight.” Introduction to Poverty, www.uniteforsight.org/mental-health/module2.
- Yamane, D. (2017, June 16). The sociology of U.S. gun culture. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/soc4.12497