Gun Control – ‘’Right of the People’’ : The Supreme Court Debate

21 Feb 2013

The Second Amendment provides: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’’ In this post I consider two questions related to gun control. Is the right to keep and bear arms stated in the Second Amendment to the Constitution an individual right or a collective one? And if a collective one, who is included? In D.C. v Heller in 2008, the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court debated the meaning of the phrase “right of the people” In summary the Court held: ‘’1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home…. (a) The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms…. (b) The prefatory clause comports with the Court’s interpretation of the operative clause. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert…

Gun Control Pros and Cons - Some history

08 Feb 2013

For my second post I’ve chosen to review some of the history of gun use in America, since the US unfortunately has the reputation of being the most violent of all developed countries. As a historian I believe that mapping how we got here is vital to charting our future, not least because history shows how the values and viewpoints people hold today have arisen. Like millions in America and worldwide, I was shocked and distressed by the Newtown, CT school shooting. I wept inwardly with the bereaved parents. Two of my cousins teach school. Will they be safe, I asked myself? America is the greatest country in the world, so why do we have this problem of gun violence? Why does nobody seem to notice the disturbed teens and young adults who mostly perpetrate these crimes and act to correct their violent tendencies before they get catastrophically out of hand? Or is it really not a problem but isolated violent outbursts by deranged individuals? What, if anything, can we do about it? Indeed, should we do anything? Don’t Americans have the right to bear arms? Aren’t the overwhelming majority of Americans decent law-abiding citizens? Won’t more gun control infringe…