Second Amendment and Controversial Interpretations

The interpretation of the Second Amendment guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms outside of one’s home is one of the most controversial provisions of the American Constitution. On one hand, the opponents claim that it is imperative to impose restrictions on the right to buy arms freely and carry them openly. The nature of the restrictions varies from prolonged waiting for the permission to buy a weapon to extensive background investigation of a person trying to purchase one officially.

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On the other hand, the supporters of this right such as the members of the National Rifle Organization and similar foundations underscore the significance of protecting the right to the Second Amendment as one of the basic human rights ensuring personal safety and welfare. Even though the debates surrounding the issue are severe, it remains unsolved, as there are dozens of terrifying news reporting mass killings in public places. Recall shootings at San Bernardino, California, resulting in 14 deaths and 22 wounded people or the worst mass shooting ever in Orlando, Florida, when 53 visitors of the club were injured and 50 killed (Deadliest U.S. mass shootings, 1984-2016, 2016), which might have shifted fewer lives if people were allowed to carry arms openly and have the means for self-defense.

Such incidents initiate adopting bills regulating the area of weapon relations in society. One of such legal acts is SB344 granting the right to fall upon weapons as the last resort for self-defense against criminals using the deadly force and being protected under the provisions of the Stand Your Ground Law proposed by the Senate of Florida. Supporters of the Bill believe that it might become an efficient tool for reducing homicide rates and ensuring one’s safety outside of their house.

On the other hand, those opposing the Bill claim that it is ineffective for preventing crimes. While the times and the face of the American society have changed, as well as the perspectives on the provisions of the Amendment, the Constitution of the United States has not, pointing to the fact that the right to the Second Amendment should not be infringed.

Literature Review

The right to the Second Amendment is one of the most controversial issues of the contemporary legal system of the United States of America. As the concern has become more engrained in the social life and turned into the subject of numerous conflicts and controversies, two perspectives on the right to the Second Amendment have emerged – those supporting the right to keep and bear arms openly and those opposing it. The primary challenge is to determine whether the right to bear arms outside of an individual’s home is a basic right granted by nature just like the right to self-defense or it has been introduced with the development of human civilization and the application of legal regulations as well as the invention of weapons. Still, regardless of its roots, the right to carry weapons should not be violated.

The right to bear weapons has its roots in the ancient civilizations and can be traced in the philosophical works of Aristotle, who criticized any restrictions believing that the right to own weapons “derives from the nature of human form” (Adams, 2013, p. 22), Marcus Tullius Cicero comparing it to the right to self-defense and protection, Plato claiming that it is the civil right, and Ovid entertaining the idea that the right to carry arms should be granted and protected by law.

In continental Europe of the eighteenth century, for example, most people believed that the right to keep weapons should be guaranteed in order to protect one’s life is cases of extremity. Moreover, philosophers emphasized that any repressions of this right would inevitably lead to recurrences and instability in society (Adams, 2013). That said, in most cases, it was viewed as the natural right to self-preservation and personal self-defense. This knowledge affected the development of the American legal system.

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Recognition that the right to bear and use arms is a natural one was the basis of the Second Amendment. However, it was viewed within a broader context related to both safety of an individual keeping weapons and those surrounding him. That said, even though the Founding Fathers adopted the provision to secure welfare of homes and families without excessive involvement of militia, it should be strictly regulated (Meltzer, 2014; Smith, 2008).

This issue derives from the changing face of the American society. The central concept of this challenge is not race or ethnicity often seen as the limitation for carrying weapons openly but citizenry because only official citizens of the United States of America should be granted the right to the Second Amendment and guaranteed its protection (Gulasekaram, 2010). This step would be helpful in regulating the concern of increasing crime rates and uncontrolled use of guns.

Even though the right to bear arms is closely related to legal issues and its legal nature is dominant, it is a cultural phenomenon as well. This concern can be viewed from two perspectives. First of all, the right to keep and use arms openly can be analyzed based on the perception of weapons. That said, there is the duality in the apprehension of arms because some people view it as the source of safety while others relate it to danger and do not feel safe once they have a gun in their house (Blocher, 2012).

Moreover, the issue is closely related to cultural bias and ambiguity of social relations, as the right to own and bear arms is often seen as a natural prerogative for some classes or races. In fact, however, the concern is polarized and interwoven with the cultural understanding of what is right or wrong and whose rights and interests should be viewed as primary ones and whose can be ignored.

This feature is interconnected with the historical development of the United States and the fact that even though the country is officially free and lives under the principles of equality without regard to ethnic and economic background, the gap between the blacks and whites, as well as between the urban and rural territories, is gigantic being the primary determinant of the perception of the right to the Second Amendment.

That said, the cultural phenomenon is such that the blacks and those living in the rural neighborhoods are seen as the source of danger. Infringing the right to the Second Amendment is “a cultural gulf separating rural gun owners from those worried about crime in crowded urban neighborhood” (Waldman, 2014, p. 93). That is why most Americans subconsciously believe that those groups of population should not be granted the right to carry weapons openly.

To sum up, it is imperative to note that although cultural duality is strongly engrained in the consciousness of the American society, there is no direct link between ethnic background and crime rates. This fact underpins the necessity of drawing attention to the significance of upgrading law enforcement strategies instead of implementing strict gun laws as the foundation for the safe future of the American people (Makarios & Pratt, 2012). Because the right to the Second Amendment is not what stimulates crimes, it should be guaranteed and protected in order to ensure the safety of American homes.

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References

Adams, L. (2013). The Second Amendment primer: A citizen’s guidebook to history, sources, and authorities for the Constitutional guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing.

Blocher, J. (2012). The right not to keep or bear arms. Stanford Law Review, 64(1), 1-54.

Deadliest U.S. mass shootings, 1984-2016. (2016). Los Angeles Times. Web.

Gulasekaram, P. (2010). “The people” of the Second Amendment: Citizenship and the right to bear arms. New York University Law Review, 85, 1521-1580.

Makarios, M. D., & Pratt, T. C. (2012). The effectiveness of policies and programs that attempt to reduce firearm violence: A meta-analysis. Crime and Delinquency, 58(2), 222-244. Web.

Meltzer, J. (2014). Open carry for all: Heller and our nineteenth-century Second Amendment. The Yale Law Journal, 123(5), 1486-1530.

Smith, R. (2008). Second and Third Amendments: The right to security. Edina, MN: ABDO Publishing Company.

Waldman, M. (2014). Second Amendment: A biography. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, April 6). Second Amendment and Controversial Interpretations. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/second-amendment-and-controversial-interpretations/

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