The gun rights debate is one of the most controversial political topics of our time. Growing differences on gun rights highlight the cultural polarization in our nation.
Conservatives overwhelmingly support the rights of individual citizens to own firearms for sporting purposes as well as self defense. Liberals tend to favor strict forms of gun control. Some liberal politicians have called for repealing the Second Amendment.
State laws on guns show regional differences of opinions on gun control
Several states have passed gun legislation in one form or another. More liberal states have passed strict gun control laws including gun registration. Some conservative states have passed Constitutional Carry laws removing requirements for licensing for concealed carry.
The gun rights debate is one of the more controversial issues in American politics. Pro Second Amendment groups and those wanting stricter gun control laws spend millions of dollars each election cycle. Politicians make promises to either support or oppose gun control measures.
The Gun Rights Debate and the American Revolution
Americans have a long history of gun ownership dating back to colonial times. The Revolutionary War would not have been successful without an armed citizenry.
In his paper titled “How the British Gun Control Program Precipitated the American Revolution,” Kopel claims that various gun control policies by the British following the Boston Tea Party, including a ban on firearm and gunpowder importation, tells us not only the purpose of the Second Amendment, but its relevance within the context of today’s gun control debate.
“The ideology underlying all forms of American resistance to British usurpations and infringements was explicitly premised on the right of self-defense of all inalienable rights,” Kopel writes. “From the self-defense foundation was constructed a political theory in which the people were the masters and government the servant, so that the people have the right to remove a disobedient servant. The philosophy was not novel, but was directly derived from political and legal philosophers such as John Locke, Hugo Grotius, and Edward Coke.”
The Constitutional right to own firearms is well established under many court decisions such as Heller vs DC. Gun rights could be expanded further by the Supreme Court in cases it is scheduled to decide this year.
The history of gun control laws
Gun control legislation began in 1792 with the Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment. There was virtually no federal action on gun control until 1934 National Firearms Act.
Time Magazine published a timeline of the various gun control laws enacted by the federal government.
But with the right of gun ownership enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, gun regulations remain a thorny issue in the U.S. Throughout history, there have been several laws and Supreme Court cases that have shaped the Second Amendment.
Gun control has roots in racism with various groups passing laws limiting access to guns and other weapons. Some states passed forms of gun control to limit the ability of former slaves to protect themselves.
Founding Fathers on the gun control debate.
The Founding Fathers had fought a war against an oppressive government. They knew the importance of the right of the people to own guns.
Writings and speeches by the Founding Fathers leave no doubt to what the intent of the Second Amendment is. President James Madison stated, “Americans need never fear their government because of the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation.”
President Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Constitution stated, “A government afraid of its citizens is a democracy; citizens afraid of government is tyranny…In questions of power, then let no more be said of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution”
The Second Amendment comes with great responsibility. Our freedoms are only as secure as the citizens that protect them. It is important for everyone to have a basic understanding of firearms.