January 29, 2016
Gun Control in the 21st Century
What is the relevance and future of the Second Amendment?
Guns are a fundamental part of America. Without guns, the first revolutionaries would have been unable to beat back the British forces that sought to impose rule on the new founded nation. Because of the need for firearms for simple survival during the early days of the country’s founding, the right to bear arms was written into the Constitution as a fundamental right of being an American. Over the centuries since, the need for firearms and the culture of guns has diminished considerably, yet there has been a resurgence in the awareness of the right to bear arms. In an era in which the paradox of seeking to reduce violence exists along with the phenomenal growth of gun ownership, three questions are apparent. First, what is spurring the interest in guns? Secondly, what is being done by Federal, State, and Local authorities to strike the right balance between constitutionality and common sense? Lastly, what is the trend for the future of gun control in the United States? Can guns and people sensibly coexist?
What has brought about the current explosion of gun purchasing and ownership? Some would say that the doomsday mentality of the post 9/11 America has had the effect of inspiring an inherent distrust of the government and a loss of faith in the government’s ability to protect its citizens. Depictions of mass shootings in the media cause individuals to feel the need to take advantage of the Second Amendment and arm themselves as if that will provide protection from those sorts of incidences. Paramilitary weapons, previously unattainable by regular citizens, now permeate the nation. Due to the sunset of federal assault weapons legislation, assault style weapons are becoming more and more common in modern society, due to their availability. (1) What sense does it make to own a weapon that is capable of firing thirty, fifty, even one hundred high powered rounds? The simple answer from the Gun Lobby is “because we are guaranteed the right” under the Second Amendment. Gun right advocates have a far more powerful lobby and infrastructure than those who support stricter legislation. (2) Because of the prevalence of gun shows, firearms stores, shooting ranges and other firearms related activities, gun enthusiasts are very united and vocal in their support of gun ownership rights. On the other hand, gun control advocacy groups are more loosely organized and do not possess the same strength of organizational advantages. (3)
So, one may ask, what is the government doing to curtail the seemingly uncontrolled expansion of high-powered and high capacity weapons into society? On a Federal level, it seems very little. In the early part of the twentieth century, strong efforts were made to inhibit gun ownership, mostly at the State level. In 1934, the Federal government the National Firearms Act was passed, followed by the...