The USA is one of the most remarkable democracies in the world where people enjoy various rights. Open discussion and direct influence on decision making are some of the most valued opportunities for Americans. The history of the country shows that people have had sufficient wisdom and courage to solve the major problems the nation has had to face. However, some issues can hardly be associated with any compromises as the position of the opposing camps is very different.
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The right to own and carry a gun is one of the most debatable in the modern USA. Opponents emphasize that the Second Amendment has led to countless deaths and a substantial level of violence in the society (Wright et al. 140). Nevertheless, a larger number of people (almost 48% against 40%) believe that every citizen has the right to own a gun (Kalesan et al., Gun Ownership and Social Gun Culture 216). At least two major reasons for this view can be easily traced, and after considering such concepts as the natural right and American federalism, it becomes clear that guns should be allowed.
As mentioned above, the USA is the country where people enjoy many rights, which is a matter of pride and general approval. Clearly, the right to live is the major natural right that is far more important than people’s ability to practice a religion or even speak freely. The Second Amendment ensures Americans’ right to live as it enables all people to defend themselves and their property (McLean 243).
First European settlers had to reside in a really harsh environment, and the only way to survive was to be able to use a gun. This long tradition to be in complete control over one’s life is the basis of the American Constitution. Throughout their history, Americans had to rely on themselves in new territories. Furthermore, they had to protect themselves from numerous gangs that were a significant threat at those times.
However, the old days are far behind Americans, and the society has developed numerous instruments to ensure order, according to the most common arguments of the opponents of the Second Amendment. Police now perform the role of protectors who make sure that citizens will exercise their natural rights. Nevertheless, the law enforcement system has not gained sufficient trust among Americans who do not feel safe (Wright et al. 82). People purchase weapons in order to ensure their own safety as well as the protection of their relatives and property.
Those who arm themselves use their Constitutional right to respond to criminals attempting to commit a violent crime. Such crimes as rape, robbery, or murder can be prevented if people have the tool to defend themselves (Wright et al. 82). If a criminal tries to violate a person’s right to live or the right to property, the former should understand that this kind of behavior can lead to death.
The proponents of strict gun control legislation note that gun ownership leads to an increase in the number of violent crimes although this has not been supported by sound evidence. It has been acknowledged that criminals find various ways to purchase illegal items, while citizens may often find it difficult to obtain a means to defend themselves. Kalesan et al. note that the link between different firearms laws and firearm mortality is not statistically significant (Firearm Legislation and Firearm Mortality in the USA 1847). Hence, it is clear that gun control legislation is rather an ineffective way to reduce the violent crime rate.
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Mass shootings are often considered as a result of the laws allowing people to have a gun. Those who are against gun ownership claim that people buy weapons to kill others (Fennell 100). They state that the ban could prevent people from buying guns and using them in such criminal acts. However, the ban can hardly be instrumental in ensuring complete safety as criminals or those, who are determined to perform a certain act, will still gain access to firearms.
It is possible to draw a parallel between a possible gun ban and the war on drugs that has already proved to be ineffective. Although millions of dollars have been spent on trying to eliminate drug trafficking, illicit drugs are still jeopardizing the wellbeing of the nation. It is necessary to look at mass shootings from a different angle and think of the lives that could have been saved if someone in the crowd had a gun as well.
The Roots of the Focus on Natural Rights
It is necessary to note that Americans’ focus on their basic rights, including their right to own a gun, is a distinctive cultural peculiarity of the nation. McLean implemented an analysis of the ways people saw owning weapons in the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (245). The author emphasizes that Americans turn out to be a more individualist society, whereas the other countries have more collectivist values. It is stressed that these countries were former colonies and had rather a fragmented population in terms of ethnicity, but the USA stands out due to its individualism.
Although the countries mentioned above also preserved citizens’ right to have a gun, they also introduced strict regulatory legislation. Those countries chose the good of all rather than individual rights. However, the United States is the only country where states may have the least restricting laws regarding gun control. Individualism is still the peculiarity of the country, which is associated with various opportunities and victories.
Apart from the focus on one’s natural rights, the debate regarding gun control is closely related to the concept of American federalism. In the eighteenth century, when the US Constitution was created, people who lived in different states were preoccupied with the balance between the power of the state and national government (DeRosa 55). One of the points those people had in mind was the fact that states could always defend their rights if their residents had their guns.
Those weapons were necessary to stand up to the federal armed forces if necessary. In a sense, states wanted to maintain a means to exercise their rights and remain comparatively free from the central power.
Besides, the fact that their rights could be restricted was also a matter of considerable concern. States could not allow the national government to make such important decisions and deprive them of an opportunity to find the most appropriate path that would be suitable for the residents of the state. DeRosa argues that these sentiments are still strong in the society (52). Modern people are concerned about the growing power of the national government and try to defend their position in all aspects of social life.
The issue regarding the scope of the power of the federal and state governments, especially when it comes to carrying and owning guns, has been solved. A few cases concerning the Second Amendment the Supreme Court has heard led to the decisions that ensured the right of the state to allow or ban the ownership of weapons (DeRosa 58). At that, the Court ruled that the national government had the power to regulate the types of arms that could be owned. Importantly, the decisions of the Court also suggest that gun control legislation is likely to face substantial opposition in the society due to people’s focus on their rights.
Therefore, it is possible to note that the concepts of basic rights and American federalism are closely linked to the gun ownership debate, which makes owning a weapon a natural act. Historically, Americans have been concerned about their right to live and protect themselves. The nation is also preoccupied with the balance between the power of the national and state government. Every restriction and ban can be regarded as an attempt to violate the right of an individual or the right of a state.
Apart from the political aspect, it is necessary to analyze the potential benefits of strict gun control legislation. As mentioned above, there is no sound evidence of the link between stricter firearm control laws and a decrease in the rate of violent crimes. On the contrary, by restricting people’s access to weapons, the government prevents them from the being able to defend themselves. In modern times, thousands of criminals and even terrorists may attack people in public places.
Without guns, these people are vulnerable and can hardly exercise their right to live. When considering the benefits of gun ownership, it is important to remember that the USA is still the country where democratic values are strong. This individualist society has achieved the position of the world leader due to Americans’ individualism. Hence, it is essential to make sure that the major values of the nation are preserved and respected.
DeRosa, Marshall L. “The Second Amendment and American Federalism: A View from the States.” Perspectives on Political Science, vol. 22, no. 2, 1993, pp. 52-60.
Fennell, Reginald. “Concealed Carry Weapon Permits: A Second Amendment Right or a Recipe for Disaster on Our Nation’s Campuses?” Journal of American College Health, vol. 58, no. 2, 2009, pp. 99-100.
Kalesan, Bindu, et al. “Gun Ownership and Social Gun Culture.” Injury Prevention, vol. 22, no. 3, 2015, pp. 216-220.
—. “Firearm Legislation and Firearm Mortality in the USA: A Cross-Sectional, State-Level Study.” The Lancet, vol. 387, no. 10030, 2016, pp. 1847-1855.
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McLean, Dylan S. “Guns in the Anglo-American Democracies: Explaining an American Exception.” Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, vol. 53, no. 3, 2015, pp. 233-252.
Wright, James D. et al. Under the Gun: Weapons, Crime, and Violence in America. Taylor and Francis, 2017.