This week’s assignment was to visit the website of the National Archives and to select a founding document of the United States. These papers are at the core of the nation and continue influencing numerous aspects of its functioning. The example I chose is the Bill of Rights, a collection of the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Published in 1789, the document builds on earlier ideas and protests to specific parts of the original central work and addresses concerns such as the rights and freedoms of people. Some of its provisions are a matter of debate even today, significantly influencing the culture of the United States.
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History and Context
The Bill of Rights was introduced in 1789 as concerns over deficiencies in the Constitution grew. The original document was intended as a framework for the coexistence of the various states on an equal basis and did not devote sufficient attention to the rights and powers available to an individual and his or her government. The faction that supported the Constitution argued that states could guarantee their liberty without interventions from the center.
The opposition rejected the idea and claimed that the lack of a bill of rights endangered personal freedom. Ultimately, the Bill was not included in the original Constitution but was introduced after its ratification and acceptance by a number of states.
The primary concern voiced by the opponents of Bill’s introduction was the organizational difficulties associated with such an act. Once the document was accepted by a number of states and the 1st Congress was formed, many of the concerns became invalid. As a result, when James Madison introduced a Bill of Rights inspired by earlier documents adopted in Europe, it was ultimately accepted and entered into the Constitution. Nevertheless, the final version is significantly different from the initial proposal, with numerous changes submitted to all parts of the document.
The Bill of Rights and Contemporary Government Issues
The Bill of Rights has gone on to become as central to the functioning of the United States as the Constitution itself. It informs the fundamentals of the judicial system, ensures freedom of speech and religion, and regulates other matters. One of the most well-known parts today is the fourth article, also known as the Second Amendment. It allows people to keep and bear arms to maintain a well-regulated militia (“Bill of rights,” n.d.).
The Amendment is at the center of gun control debates, as U.S. citizens are using the ability to own and carry firearms to a broad extent. The country also has high levels of gun violence, with school shootings being a notable phenomenon (Bond, 2018). Some people advocate for stricter firearm control laws that would reduce the frequency of such incidents, but their attempts are usually repealed by the unconstitutionality of such legislation. The Bill of Rights establishes the freedom to own and use lethal weaponry, and any efforts to overturn the trend would have to involve further amendments to the Constitution.
The Bill of Rights is the first list of amendments to the Constitution of the United States. It was introduced due to opposition to the original document that claimed that the document had the potential to allow the government to infringe on personal liberty. The Bill guarantees a number of personal freedoms and outlines court procedures for the resolution of most cases. However, some of its provisions, such as the right to bear arms, are a source of debate and concern.
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Bill of rights. (n.d.). Web.
Bond, S. (2018). Students take the lead in US gun control debate. Financial Times. Web.