The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual writer, not of All Saints’ Episcopal School as an institution.
As a nation, when it comes to gun control, we are split. Whatever your position may be, there is an argument that stronger regulations need to be enforced when it comes to who should be able to purchase a firearm and how easily someone is able to do so.
It is no secret that gun regulation is currently a colossal problem in our world today. Weeks cannot go by without hearing about a new, heartbreaking story regarding yet another mass shooting. Even with precautions such as gun permits and safety training, guns are still getting into the hands of criminals and terrorists.
An article in The New Yorker stated, “Forty percent of the guns purchased in the United States are bought from private sellers at gun shows, or through other private exchanges, such as classified ads, which fall under what is known as the ‘gun-show loophole’ and are thus unregulated.” The United States leads the world in civilian gun ownership, with over 300 million privately-owned guns, which means around 120 million firearms have been purchased without regulation in the United States.
Part of fixing the regulation issue is the importance of background checks. When it comes to background checks there is a “default proceed” rule which allows firearms dealers who have initiated a background check to go forward with their sale if they have not been notified within three business days that the sale would violate federal or state laws. In 2012, this allowed for nearly 4000 unpermitted gun purchasers to buy guns. And even when background checks are thoroughly completed, they do not include checking whether mental illness is present with these potential firearm owners.
Another argument for looser gun control is the right of civilians to protect themselves. However, of the more than 29 million violent crimes committed between 2007 and 2011, less than one percent of victims defended themselves by either firing a gun or threatening to fire a gun. According to a CBS News article, “The review of 2010 World Health Organization data also revealed that despite having a similar rate of nonlethal crimes as those countries, the United States has a much higher rate of deadly violence, mostly due to the higher rate of gun-related murders.”
The most fundamental and basic argument many gun enthusiasts present is that they have the right to bear their own arms on the grounds of the Second Amendment. What many people do not know, however, is that this was not how the Second Amendment was originally intended. The Second Amendment 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.” Former Supreme Court member, John Paul Stevens, wrote in his book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, “Federal judges uniformly understood that the right [to bear arms] protected by the text was limited in two ways: first, it applied only to keeping and bearing arms for military purposes…”
According to Stevens, “the authors of the Second Amendment were primarily concerned about the threat that a national standing army posed to the sovereignty of the states—as opposed to homeowners’ anxiety about violent felons.” With that being said, as society grows and evolves, can the interpretation of the Second Amendment grow and evolve with it, or should we choose to understand it in the manner in which it was originally intended?
Based on the the overwhelming number of unregulated gun purchases and lack of proper background checks, it is my opinion that something needs to be done about the current state of gun control in the United States. With more regulation, we can make sure that less criminals are able to purchase firearms, and thus protect the American people.