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The Bill of Rights was created by the Founding Fathers to guarantee “certain inalienable rights” to the citizens of the young United States. Many of these are barely discussed, but the 2nd Amendment, in particular, tends to be extremely controversial, it proclaims that: “… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” (U.S. Const. amend. II)
There is plenty of debate about how this is to be interpreted, but it is pretty clear that the intent is to allow the ownership of guns by the American people. However, the situation gets more difficult when we account for context; this document was written hundreds of years ago, well before automatic weapons were a reality. How could anybody predict the weapons technology of the future or the dangers that would come with them?
Almost every American can agree that some level of weapons regulation should exist. It would be tough to argue that citizens should be able to easily obtain RPGs or automatic machine guns. Conversely, almost every American can agree that the Constitution supports gun ownership. The disagreements arise simply on where the line should be drawn, and suddenly it becomes a high-stakes choice between safety and liberty.
Although over 80% of gun related deaths are incidents involving handguns, the Supreme Court has ruled that it would be unconstitutional for the government to attempt to regulate these. Attempts have been made to regulate or ban vaguely defined “assault weapons.” The issue is that these are often simple hunting weapons or aesthetic variations of these which fails to prevent domestic or foreign terrorists from being able to perpetrate horrific attacks. These regulation haven’t proved to be effective, as mass shooters often resort to using multiple handguns, magazines or whatever it takes to inflict as much damage as possible.
Merely banning “assault weapons” won’t solve America’s gun violence problem, and it would be both legally and logistically impossible to enforce a ban on all guns. Guns are a huge part of American culture and are permanently etched into the American psyche. Any attempt to regulate firearms will meet significant resistance and will barely lower the rate of gun violence in the country, which is disproportionately high compared to other
What can be done then, to simultaneously protect American people from gun violence and their rights a culture from government regulation? There is no simple answer, but a possible solution would be to regulate gun owners. Background checks for criminal activity, psychological evaluations, and gun safety courses are all possibilities to reduce both gun crime and accidental deaths. These are not new ideas; if there is a compromise to be reached, these realities and possibilities must be met with open minds on both sides of the aisle.
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