The US Gun Laws Debate

What is the law on gun control in the US?


This is a simple question, but one which has a complicated answer. The law on gun ownership varies from state to state in the US. Some states allow only the possession of firearms in one’s own home. Others allow the possession of firearms and their being carried in public, but their concealment is forbidden. Therefore, in some states carrying a hidden weapon is illegal but owning that weapon is legal. There are also states where carrying concealed weapons is legal. A licence is needed in order to legally possess a gun in any state.


What is the gun control debate about?


This month the US state of Illinois became the last state which permits ‘concealed carry’ – carrying hidden firearms in public. The US gun laws have become the focus of media attention and political debate due to recent gun massacres in the US. The December massacre at a Connecticut primary school and July cinema shooting during a Batman film release caused a public outcry against US gun laws and global media coverage. The argument for gun rights centres on the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. The Second Amendment is the part of the constitution which gives US citizens the right to own and carry weapons. Many Americans, particularly members of the NRA (National Rifle Association), therefore see the possession and bearing of arms as a constitutional right necessary to their freedom and safety. Gun control advocates counter this position by suggesting that guns make the US a more dangerous place, citing recent massacres involving guns as evidence. Some also argue that the Second Amendment was appropriate to the period when it was written, but is not suitable for the modern world.


Why was the Second Amendment written?


The Second Amendment was written so that US citizens would have the right to arm themselves. This right was important at the time for many reasons. It was considered essential for the citizen’s duty to fight in defence of the state. The right to bear arms also allowed people to defend themselves in the inhospitable environment which was colonial America and the early United States.


Should the Second Amendment be repealed?


Some gun control advocates and other interested parties argue that the Second Amendment should be repealed or revised. They argue that the modern US citizen does not benefit from the right to bear arms. Defence of the state is now carried out by professional soldiers, armed by the state, unlike colonial America and the early US, when armed militia took part in conflicts. Gun control proponents also suggest that if the US today is as dangerous as it was when the Second Amendment was written, it is due to the legality of guns coupled with problems in society. Therefore, weapons are no longer required for personal protection.


Recent developments in the gun laws debate…


There have recently been two shocking developments in the US, the release of the 3D printable gun and possible threats made against President Barack Obama. It has been confirmed that a letter sent to President Obama, ‘similar’ to poisoned letters sent to the New York City Mayor, was intercepted. Poisoned letters to Mayor Bloomberg referred to his support for gun control reforms. It is yet to be seen how these developments will affect the gun control debate, but expect us to continue to post and respond to your comments on the US Gun laws debate.


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Joe Malpas


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