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The Right to Bear Arms

by Christian Klaus on April 10, 2012

Christian Klaus

One of the most debated issues in the United States is whether or not its citizens should be allowed to possess firearms. It is a topic over which people are quick to argue vehemently against, and that others argue equally as passionately in favor of. Those arguing against frequently do so because they entertain an idealized notion that the illegalization of firearms will resolve problems for which it is not responsible. In addition, they may be unaware of the multitude of problems that the passing of anti- gun legislation would actually incur. Making firearm ownership illegal would not only violate a constitutional right and do little or nothing to inhibit the excess of problems for which the second amendment is blamed, but would also cause a variety of new problems to arise as well.

"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." One of the prevailing arguments in denouncing the second amendment as justification for citizen ownership of firearms is that the conditions under which the amendment was written no longer exist. I would disagree and assert that firearm ownership is an integral and necessary element of the checks and balances between the people and their government, and will remain so for the duration of this nationŐs existence. Regardless, the second amendment does not state that guns may be owned solely for the purpose of forming a militia. It does state, however, that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Unlike almost all other amendments, the second contains within itself the specific instruction that this right is not to be violated or infringed upon. If the United States government were to amend it, then it would establish a precedent that would convey an impression of the Constitution no longer holding power.

Even if anti- gun legislation were implemented, it would hardly have the effect that anti- gun lobbyists claim. A focal point of the anti- gun argument is that approximately 1.7 children are killed per day by guns, and that if the prohibition of firearms could save the life of even 1 child then the law would be worth it. Guns however, prevent 2.5 million crimes every year, or 6,849 every day (Kleck and Gertz 164). Of those 6,849 crimes, 1,100 are attempted murders, a number that far outweighs the 1.7 children killed per day (Smith). This is generally responded to with the assertion that if guns were made illegal, then children would not be killed by them and there would be no need to protect yourself with one. But, 83.33% of gun possessing felons obtained their firearms illegally without a weapons ban, a fact that renders such a law almost entirely ineffective (Wright). In addition, 74% of all violent crime in the United States does not involve a gun at all, which demonstrates a remaining need for self protection (FBI Uniform Crime Reports).

The United States is often compared to other nations which have outlawed firearm ownership and have less firearms related fatalities as proof that this approach is effective. However, the United States in comparison to Japan, which the U.S. is most frequently compared to in this regard, has a murder rate twice as high per 100,000 people committed with weapons other than firearms (United Nations).

Anti- gun advocates also frequently fail to realize the consequences of such a law in other areas of our nationŐs society. The Pittman Robertson Act of 1937 was a law enacted by Congress which places an excise tax on all firearms and ammunition (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this tax annually generates over $150 million, which in combination with the $50 million in proceeds from hunting and fishing licenses makes up 75% of the annual income for all 50 state conservation agencies (NRA- ILA). Banning firearms would eliminate virtually all funding other than that of fishing licenses and the additional 25%. Those in opposition counter by saying that without hunting there is no need for wildlife conservation. In actuality, legal hunting is responsible for 0% of unsustainable wildlife destruction whereas habitat loss is responsible for between 80%- 90% (Avery). For clarification, this means that legal hunting of native game species should not decrease their population from year to year. Regulations are designed so that the number legally allowed to be killed does not exceed the number expected to be born and reach adulthood the following year, and is therefore referred to as sustainable. Habitat destruction results in unsustainable deaths and decreasing population size.

Hunting also produces an additional annual $300 million for conservation through hunting clubs (NRA- ILA). Hunting contributes over $30 billion to the economy each year and supports over a million jobs (NSSF). And every year hunters donate hundreds of thousands of pounds of meat to those without food through programs such as Hunters for the Hungry (Hunters for the Hungry). All of which, without guns would not be possible.

The absence of guns would cause negative effects to reverberate through society. Whether you accept that or not, you must acknowledge that it is a right provided by the original framework of this nation. It is a right supported by fact and reason, and a defining aspect of the ideology intended by the founders of this country. If that is something that you cannot understand or accept, then you simply do not belong in the United States.

Avery, Alex A. "UN Misses the Forest for the Trees." Hudson Institute. May 22, 2002.Hudson Institute. October 26, 2005.

"Crime Index of Offenses Reported." FBI Uniform Crime Reports. 1997. Federal Bureau of Investigation. October 26, 2005.

"Crimes recorded in criminal (police) statistics, by type of crime including attempt to commit crime." The Seventh United Nations Survey on Crime Trends and the Operations of Criminal Justice Systems. 1999. United Nations. October 26, 2005.

"Hunting." National Shooting Sports Foundation. 2005. National Shooting Sports Foundation. October 26, 2005.

Kleck, Gary and Marc Gertz. "Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self- Defense With a Gun." The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. Northwestern University School of Law. 86.1 (1995) 164.

Pittman- Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act. January 24, 2002. U.S. Senate. October 26,2005.

"2004- 2005 Proves to be a Record Year." Hunters For The Hungry. 2005. Hunters For The Hungry. October 26, 2005.

Smith, Guy. "Crime and Guns." Gun Facts. 2002. Ibid. October 26, 2005.

"Violent Crime." FBI Uniform Crime Reports. 2004. Federal Bureau of Investigation.October 26, 2005.

"Wildlife and Society." NRA- ILA Hunting Facts. March 2, 2004. NRA Institute for Legislative Action. October 26, 2005.