GunOwnership in America
The United States is arguably one of the most armed countries in theworld. Apart from being infamous for its military prowess and complexwarfare hardware and tactics, the citizens hold millions of firearms.Various state and national regulations provide guidelines for theownership of guns in the country. They include the Constitution, theAmerican Declaration of Rights, the Bill of Rights (1791), TheVirginia Declaration of Rights (1776), and the MassachusettsConstitution. The three sets of laws allow citizens the liberty ofowning guns. The ownership and use of arms by the Americancitizens is against the intention of the founders because theypurposed the weapons to be used for general defense, based on theconstitutional declaration that all human beings were created equaland none of them could have the upper hand before the law.
The Declaration of Independence formed a formidable path for theprogression of the United States. The drafters of the documentpresumed that security was an imperative consideration indevelopment. The Declaration was clear that “A well-regulatedmilitia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the rightof the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” (Billof Rights, 1791). In the declaration, the leaders outlined that, “Wehold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienablerights, which among these are life, liberty and the pursuit ofhappiness” (Divine et al., 2007). Since the country was just edgingout of colonialism, the search for happiness was imperative. Thesafety of citizens was a priority. However, to prevent the countryfrom drifting back to inequality, the rich and the poor had to begiven an equal platform of protecting themselves using arms.
Another major intention of the leaders who forged a path for theUnited States can be drawn from the Constitution of Massachusettsthat was ratified in 1780. Article XVII of the document was clearthat “The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for thecommon defense. And as, in the time of peace, armies are dangerous toliberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of thelegislature and the military power shall always be held in an exactsubordination to the civil authority and be governed by it”(Constitution of Massachusetts). The principle of equality that theyvested their vision upon did not have room for rookie groups actingon self-interests. An organized militia group could not workeffectively unless under the control of the state or federalregulations (Divine et al., 2007). Militia and Navy formed thespecial defense and safety of the commonwealth. They constituted ofpeople trained to arms and military techniques, and they acted asstanding armies who would come to action during wars. However, thedistribution of gun in the country has given rise to criminal gunsthat acquire sophisticated weapons in efforts to match those used bythe law enforcement agencies. This creates an inequality that thefounding leaders detested passionately. The rationale for this isthat the criminal gangs take people’s property forcefully andengage in violent and fatal attacks. The weapons that were meant forgeneral defense have gotten out of hand. According to VirginiaDeclaration of Right (1776), the militias were under strictsubordination and governed by the civil power, and they were onlyexpected to come into action during wartime. The regulation ensuredthat they don’t use their weapons and liberty to engage indangerous actions.
The initial intention of gun ownership as evident in variousconstitutional clauses including the Bill of Right, Constitution ofMassachusetts and Virginia Declaration of Right (1776) was not meantfor self-gain. The Virginia Declaration of Rights was also clear onthe use of weapons by the civilians. Section 13 indicates that, “Awell-regulated militia, or composed of the body of the people,trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a freestate that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided asdangerous to liberty” (The Virginia Declaration of Rights). Theinitial intention of owning arms was not to take part in activeself-defense but for general safety in a nation. However, thepossession of arms is enough to cause alarm especially when peopleuse the for unintended purposes. The role of the government was tooffer protection through an agency trained in arms is becomingineffective if individuals have to bear arms to be secure.
The constitution, particularly the second Amendment has beeninterpreted to mean that the states cannot prohibit individuals frompossessing weapons. The section provides "A well-regulatedMilitia, being necessary to the security of a free state and protectfrom any external attacks, the right of the people to keep and bearArms, shall not be infringed" (Divine et al., 2007). It is clearthat the vision of the founding leaders was geared towards promotingsafety in the society and prevents harmful events resulting frominvasion by enemies such events would result to massive destructionsto the people in the community. People have equal rights to bear andkeep arms for the common defense during wartime however, duringpeace, the armies are dangerous to liberty and should not bemaintained without the legislation consent (Constitution ofMassachusetts). The debate surrounding the right has clipped thestate laws that can create bureaucracies to discourage gun ownership.What they foresaw was an organized militia that would take over therole of security. It is a fact that having a gun causes perturbationand the weapons become a great source of inequality. With such a bigpopulation in the United States, it is impossible to have aneffective control of the purposes for which the guns are used.Different scholars have argued that the drafters of the constitutionintended to restrict the Congress from taking away the right of thestates implement measures for self-defense. They use the collectivetheory of rights to reiterate that the Second Amendment does not inany way authenticate the ownership of guns without any form ofcontrol. They further emphasize that the founders intended to givethe state authorities liberty to regulate the ownership of firearmsin ways that do not implicate on people’s rights.
According to the Constitution of Massachusetts, no man or acorporation has the title to get an advantage or a given exclusiveprivilege that is unique from other people in the community that whatis considered as the services rendered to the general public.Governments are established for the common good of all people in anation and not for the profit or interest of single individuals inthe community. People in the society have the right to personaldefense, and they must be protected in the enjoyment of their libertyand property as per the regulations in the standing laws. Therefore,they can prevent those who use their authority from oppressing themby returning their public officers to private life. The militias weregiven weapons, and they acted as special army force that came intoaction only during the wars and was kept contained and inactiveduring the peaceful times. Gun possession was not allowed to anyother people apart from the formally trained individuals whostrengthened the security system in the states.
Finally, the aim of the pioneer leaders of the United States was thatindividuals could use the arms for general defense. They drew theirrationale from the constitutional declaration that people have equalrights. However, the number of guns in the country is divergent tothe intention. The country has been turned into a group that takesself-defense so seriously to the point of shadowing the role of theorganized law enforcement agencies. The lack of reference to theinitial vision has resulted in thousands of guns being handed toundeserving individuals who hide under the provision of the SecondAmendment. Without proper regulation regarding the ownership and useof firearms, the government may not be in a position to control theactivities of felonious individuals and live to the expectation ofthe founding fathers.
Divine, R. A., Breen, T. H., Frederickson, G. M., Williams, R. H.,Gross, A. J., & Brands, H. W. (2007). The American Story. Vol.1.
The Constitution of Massachusetts (1780). “Part the First – ADeclaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth ofMassachusetts.”(1990).National Humanities Institute. Retrieved from http://www.nhinet.org/ccs/docs/ma-1780.htm.
The Virginia Declaration of Rights. (1909). The ConstitutionSociety. VII, 3812-14. Retrieved fromhttp://www.constitution.org/bcp/virg_dor.htm