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The Danger to Bear Arms

An essay on the second amendment and gun control.

            According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2008 report, 16, 272 homicides were committed in the United States. Of those homicides, 67 percent were committed with the aid of firearms (qtd. in Agresti and Smith).  An overwhelming amount of death and violence was clearly enacted with the use of a gun. Among the violence committed with guns were high profile shooting sprees such as the tragedy in Tucson and the Virginia Tech Massacre which occurred because unstable individuals had access to firearms. Our Founding Fathers wanted the liberty to bear arms in order to protect American citizens. However, in a modern America where this right has endangered Americans, it is imperative that firearms should be controlled to a greater extent than gun laws do today.

            Many English colonists came to America for religious freedom. These colonists enjoyed fairly lax enforcement of rules and taxes by their British rulers during the period of salutary neglect. When the British government enforced harsh new taxes and regulations afterwards, such as the Stamp Act and Townshend Acts, the beginnings of the American Revolution stirred. The rebellion against the autocratic government caused leaders and key figures of the Revolution to focus on freedoms and protections for the colonists. This essentially laid the foundation of the new nation, the United States.

After declaring independence and forming a constitution for the new sovereign nation, the Founding Fathers passed ten amendments known as the Bill of Rights. Perhaps the most controversial of the amendments is the second amendment: the right to bear arms. At the time it seemed natural to give Americans the freedom to defend themselves with a gun. America was a fledgling nation with a rag tag militia. New ideas such as natural rights and democracy were being put to the test in the new government. What the Founding Fathers did not foresee in the midst of forming a country founded upon democracy and freedom was the impending danger of the right to bear arms.

            The thought of a firearm capable of shooting 31 rounds consecutively from just one hand would not have crossed the minds of the people ratifying the second amendment in the Bill of Rights. Firearm technology in the eighteenth century clearly pales in comparison to today. While a person in the time of the Revolution had to reload his musket after a single shot, a person today can fire at least a dozen times more with a handgun before reloading. Obviously this means many more people can be shot in a period of time with a modern handgun compared to a musket from Revolutionary America. It is clear that 30-34 percent of adults in the United States who are gun owners can do this (qtd. in Agresti and Smith).  This is where the danger of the right to bear arms comes from.

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