History of Gun Control in America

History of gun control in the US

Submission No 1: Issues Overview

Over the years, the gun control issue in America has merited great concerns not only for the federal government but also for the state and the local governments. Being a country with an approximate of 270,000,000 guns, the highest number of guns per capita, the American pervasive gun culture is rooted in its colonial history and the American constitution, precisely the Second Amendment. This amendment states that “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to bear and keep Arms, shall not be infringed” (The U.S Constitution). Thus, over several decades, the term gun control has been used to refer to every action taken through legislation to regulate the purchase, sale as well as the use of guns and other forms of firearms by individual American Citizens (Procon.org). This has thus, brought about both social and political debates over the ideology of how much gun control is appropriate for the wellbeing of the citizens. Currently, issues revolving around the gun control debate are a composition of three major debate points which include; a legal, sociological and an ethical dimension. From the legal point of view, the debate questions the interpretation of the Second Amendment of the American Constitution regarding the ownership of guns by individual citizens. On the other hand, the sociological approach to the gun control debate revolves around the efficacy of gun control laws regarding the reduction of violent crimes, while the ethical debating point of view weighs the right to bear arms against the civilian protection and crime reduction (EBSCO Host).

Today, the debate over the legibility of the laws regulating the possession of guns by the American citizens has thus invited the opinions of both the proponents and the opponents of the gun control laws. Therefore, those that propose for more gun control laws argue that the Second Amendment of the U.S Constitution which prohibits the infringement of the right of the people to bear and keep firearms was intended for militias so as to reduce gun violence. On the contrary, opponents of the gun control laws have it that the Second Amendment allows individual citizens to bear arms as a self-defense measure intended to protect the citizens from criminals, brutal police officers, and foreign invaders, among others. This, in essence, means that the argument by the opponents has it that the right for citizens to own guns is to a more advantage than a disadvantage as it deters crime rather than causing offenses.

Gun control issues

In America, however, gun control laws is not an emerging issue as it traces back to the colonial and the revolutionary America. In the American Colonial Era, guns were as common as they are today. However, during this time, American Citizens owned guns for self-defense and later used them as weapons during the American Revolutionary War. During this time, colonies’ gun control laws were imposed with several of them requiring every head of the household to own guns or related firearms (Smith). For instance, a law such as the 1643, Connecticut Law among other colonies’ laws, required that at least one adult man in every household should carry a gun during public meetings such as church services. This particular law was imposed so as to prevent theft of the guns and other related firearms from unattended homes and also to act as protective tools against attack by Native Americans. Additionally, another law such as the 1743 South Carolina law allowed civilians to own guns so as to safeguard themselves against the rebellion of the Black people and the slaves. However, although citizens were allowed to own guns during the colonial era, there were several gun control laws which, like in the modern day today, included the banning of the ownership and the sale of guns to American Natives and the slaves.

In America today, nonetheless, issues surrounding the gun control debate are as a result of huge mass shootings with the latest being the June 12, 2016, fatal shooting of 49 civilians at a nightclub in Florida (Gurciullo and Novak). This, like any other shooting, has called for both the political and the social opinions of the American citizens with the proponents of the gun control pushing for more control rules to be imposed so as to prevent the occurrence of these mass shootings. However, despite the tragedies which are as a result of the many mass killings, the opponents of the gun control laws argue that there is no amount of legislation that can be imposed so as to prevent these mass shootings.

Precisely, these opponents of the gun laws have raised issues that have accused the proponents of the law of using a tragedy as a means to further a lost cause. Additionally, several other recent mass shootings which include school shootings continue to push the gun control rule even further into the public eye. Consequently, government agencies such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) and The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence have become some of the most renowned institutions that lobby the government on either approach of the issue. Also, these two groups have become the most influential organizations that hold the greatest influence over many organization on matters pertaining the gun control laws in America.

Strictest gun laws by state

 Submission No 2: Federal Policies

America has a long history of laws relating to gun control.  A good number of these legislations have been challenged in court. The government has set up different agencies and regulations that specifically deal with gun control. There is an existing tug of war between the federal laws and the state laws. There are also many opinions of people who are for or against stricter gun control. The United States is seen as a country that loves and is fascinated by guns. The gun culture in America is defined by several key court cases, laws at the federal level, and the opinions of society as well as the studies done by gun control experts.

There are numerous court cases relating to the second amendment and, specifically, gun control. One of the first cases in America relating to gun control was United States vs. Cruikshank. This case took place in 1875. It’s also described as one of the worst Supreme Court cases in American history. There was a group of freed African Americans who were at a courthouse in Colfax, Louisiana protesting outside. Some of the men were armed, but they were protesting peacefully. They were approached by a mob of Klu Klux Klan members who brutally murdered approximately 300 of the African Americans. Local courts ruled the Klan members were innocent. This decision was influenced by the fact that Louisiana was considered a racist southern state at the time. Eventually, the case worked its way up to the Supreme Court where they ruled the second amendment only applies to the federal government. The freed men were no longer protected by the constitution, but instead under the state laws. Another famous Supreme Court case relating to gun control was Presser vs. Illinois. This case took place during 1886. Mr. Presser was in an Illinois citizen’s militia group. This group was parading around town while they were carrying guns. He was convicted and fined $10 for being part of an armed militia that was in existence without a valid permit from the Governor. He claimed this ruling violated his second amendment rights to bear arms. When the case made its way up to the Supreme Court, the decision stood. The men were convicted because the second amendment protects individual’s rights, not groups or militias without Government consent. One of the biggest Supreme Court cases related to gun control was the United States vs. Miller that took place in 1939. This case stated that Miller was not permitted to carry a particular type of weapon because it was not as per the needs of the amendment that ensure the effectiveness of the military. This case showed that the government was allowed to regulate the type of guns used on the street without infringing upon the second amendment.