Gun Control in the United States of America


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     Gun Control in the United States of America is a topic that has had some criticism and support by many citizens. The critical people of this topic believe that the guns do not kill people, it is the people that kill people. The supporters of this topic believe that guns lead to violence and a feeling of power over others. They also believe that if guns were eliminated from the public, then violence and death would decrease heavily in this country. These two opposing views leave the federal government open to a decision on whether or not to abolish one of our Constitutional rights, or to keep allowing people the right to own a gun.

     There have been many Supreme Court cases that have been gun-related. These cases have led to what is now the policy of the United States on owning a gun. For example, in the Supreme Court Case Printz v. United States, the question was that if a gun dealership doing background check on whoever wanted to buy a gun was constitutional or not. This background check would include the Brady Form, which contained the name, address, date of birth, and a sworn statement that the person was not a convicted felon or had a mental illness. The dealer must also check the identity of the buyer by some form of identification. Once the CLEO is checked, the dealer has a five-day period to check on the background to see if it would violate the law to sell to this potential buyer. A sheriff Jay Printz took this to the Supreme Court saying that this was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled that the CLEO’s were unconstitutional, but the rest of the Brady Act was not found to be unconstitutional. In the Supreme Court case United States v. Miller, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of a lower court’s dismissal of two men who violated the National Firearm Act. Jack Miller and Frank Layton were arrested for carrying a 12-gauge shotgun from Oklahoma to Arkansas. In the Western Arkansas District Court, the lawyers for the men claimed that the National Firearm Act violated the Second Amendment right of bearing arms. The lower court agreed with the lawyers and the two men were dismissed of charges. The Supreme Court argued the decision over after the men were freed. The men were not retried during the argument, however.

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The Supreme Court found that the National Firearm Act did not violate the Second Amendment in any way. The Supreme Court case United States v. Lopez also showed a position on gun control. A 12th grade high school student was charged with state law of bringing a gun into his high school. Those charges were dropped the next day and he was charged under federal law for violating the Gun-Free School Zones Act. Lopez moved to have charges dropped because Congress overstepped their bounds by making this law. The court found him guilty dismissing his move. He appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals with the same notion that Congress did not have the right to make the Gun-Free School Zones Act. The circuit court agreed with him and reversed the decision of the district court. The Supreme Court was questioning whether or not Congress could pass this act. They ruled that Congress exceeded their boundary by passing this act. The Supreme Court has made many decisions on the interpretation of the Second Amendment, which leaves the right to bear arms where it is in the present day.

     The United States was founded with ten essential rights, known as the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment reads “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.” There have been many smaller court cases involving the interpretation of this amendment, but the Supreme Court has not made a firm decision on the interpretation. There are mainly three ways this amendment has been interpreted: some believe it gives individuals the personal right to bear arms, others believe that bearing arms is subordinate to ensuring public safety, and others tend to believe that it allows people to keep a militia that is not a federally-controlled army. Throughout the nation’s history, the Supreme Court has made numerous decisions based on this amendment. The Supreme Court basically believes that an individual has the right to own a gun if it ahs to do with a formed militia. If the gun is for no militia use, there is no reason to carry it on a person. The Second Amendment is one of the most controversial amendments from the Constitution, but there still has not been a final decision on its meaning. The amendment itself is the only amendment that contains a preamble to it, which causes more confusion.

     Congress has made many laws that keep the ownership of guns under control. They have gotten this power from the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. This gives them power to regulate commerce between states and foreign countries. The National Firearms Act was passed in 1934. It banned the public from owning machine guns or sawed off shotguns. There was also taxes put on manufacturing and distribution. Also, a registration was required with the purchase of a gun. In 1938, the Federal Firearms Act was passed. This act did many things to control the ownership of guns. It regulated transportation of guns across state lines, outlawed transportation of stolen guns, and outlawed sending guns to fugitives or convicted felons. In 1968, the passing of the Gun Control Act amended the National Firearms Act and repealed the Federal Firearms Act. The Gun Control Act made licensing a need, changed the buying requirements, and changed the policy of the importation of guns from other countries. This act was replaced by the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act in 1986. This act added some new restrictions and made older ones different. However, it did decrease on the requirements of the 1968 act. This act also banned machine guns from being sold to the public. In 1988, the Undetectable Firearms Act was passed. This required the look-alike toy guns have a bright orange piece on the barrel of the gun. This act was passed as a result to 19 different police shootings of children with look-alike toy guns. In 1990, Congress passed the Gun-Free School Zone Act. This outlawed the possession by anyone of guns on school zones. However, this law was repealed because it was found that Congress could not make a law like this. In 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was passed. This proscribed a five-day waiting period for purchasing a gun. It also created a computerized background check. The law enforcement officials had to do a background check on whoever was going to buy a gun. However, this part of the act was repealed in the Supreme Court case Printz v. United States in 1997.

     To this present day, the gun control issue still stands as a very heated and controversial topic. In order to purchase a gun, you must fill out a Brady Form, which tells the name, address, date of birth, and a declaration of a person that he/she is not a convicted felon or suffers a mental illness. There is a five-day waiting period so the dealer can do a background check on the person. If the person passes these, then the gun must be registered with the police department of that area. In the future, there are many possibilities of what can happen. One concept that could occur is that personal gun ownership is abolished. For an extent of time after this would be passed, there would be a few guns circulating within the criminals, but eventually they would be gone. Crime would not decrease. The only factor that would decrease would be the number of deaths caused by guns. Vancouver, Canada and Seattle, Washington have a somewhat similar crime rate. However, the number of gun-related deaths is much higher in Seattle because of the availability of guns. Another concept that could occur is that the gun laws could stay as they are. This is a somewhat stable way of keeping control over guns. The guns must be registered, and guns will not be sold to anyone who is not stable enough to handle a gun. The pro side of the riddance of the personal ownership of guns would be that there would not be near as many deaths. The crime rate would not fluctuate much, but the number of deaths would drop. The con side is that there would be no personal protection for an individual.

     Gun control has been a topic of controversy since the early years of the United States of America. There are those who believe it is wrong to own a gun for personal use, and those who believe that it is a right that should be left granted to the citizens of the United States. The Supreme Court has not made a definite interpretation of this amendment, but it relies on an assumption that it tells a gun is allowed for a person for a militia not funded by the federal government. Until the Supreme Court makes a final and definite interpretation of the Second Amendment, there will be an ongoing heated controversy over the necessity of guns in the American public.



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