Moreover, the increase in firearm-related homicide within this age group occurred among all race-sex groups (Fatal). Rates of suicide by firearm were especially high among the elderly in the United States, and increases occurred in all race-sex groups except African-American females, for whom the number of suicides were too small to produce stable rates (Fatal).
The CDC report cautions that the surveillance data in this report are intended to familiarize public health practitioners, researchers, and policymakers concerning the problem of firearm-related deaths in the United States (Fatal). And although these data help to characterize the magnitude of the problem and identify groups at risk, there are still gaps in knowledge, thus current surveillance efforts need to be expanded to include information about nonfatal injuries (Fatal). Moreover, there needs to be a greater understanding of the causes of firearm deaths to identify modifiable individual and societal risk factors, thus, further research is required to plan, develop and evaluate prevention strategies (Fatal).
According to the CDC, homicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 -24 overall, and within this age group, it is the leading cause of death for African-Americans, the second leading cause of death for Hispanics, and the third leading cause of death for Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, and Asian Pacific Islanders (Youth). A 2004 CDC report states that in 2001, I5,486 young people ages 10 to 24 were murdered, an average of 15 each day, and within this age group, 79% were killed with firearms (Youth). Within a five-year period, 1994-1999, 182 students, ages 5 to 18 were killed on or near school grounds or at school-related activities, and more than 50% of all school-associated violent deaths occurred at the beginning or end of the school day or during lunch (Youth).
The debate over gun ownership is based on the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states "the right of the people to keep and bear arms," however gun control advocates believe that this right does not extend to ownership of military-style firearms, known as assault weapons (Gun). Advocates for gun control point to events such as the April 1999 Columbine High School massacre, in which 14 students, including the two gunmen, and a teacher, died, to support banning assault weapons (Gun). Anti-gun advocates also support measures that would curb gun-related violence, such as mandatory child safety locks, background checks on individuals attempting to purchase guns, limits on the number of guns an individual can purchase, and raising the age limit for gun ownership (Gun). While gun rights groups, led by the National Rifle Association, argue that these and other proposals "infringe on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens," and maintain that there is no evidence that bans on the sales of certain types of weapons reduces violent crime, and that proposals for stricter background checks at gun shows are actually designed to eliminate gun shows (Gun).
Lawmakers may be tiptoeing around gun control issues because the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups wield enormous influence in Washington, D.C. (Gun). Since 1989, gun rights groups have contributed more than $17 million in individual, PAC and soft money to federal candidates and party committees, in which approximately $15 million, or 85% of the total, going to the Republican party (Gun). By far, the National Rifle Association is the gun rights lobby's biggest donor, having given more than $14 million over the past 15 years (Gun). Meanwhile, gun control advocates have contributes far less money, a total of nearly $1.7 million since 1989, of which 94% went to the Democratic party (Gun). By far, the leading contributor among gun control advocates is the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, formerly known as Handgun Control, which has contributed some $1.5 million during the last 15 years (Gun). Gun rights groups have a significant advantage in campaign contributions, and basically dominate gun control advocates in the area of lobbying (Gun). From 1997 to 2003, the National Rifle Association alone spent nearly $11 million lobbying elected and government officials, however they were not the gun rights lobby's biggest spender, that was Gun Owners of America, which spent more than $18 million on lobbying during the same period (Gun). While the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence spent less that $2 million on lobbying from 1997 to 2003, and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence spent some $580,000 (Gun). The National Rifle Association has an additional advantage over all other groups in the debate, because as a membership organization, the NRA is able to spend unlimited funds on communications to its 4 million members that identify pro-gun candidates (Gun). Moreover, those members also contribute millions of dollars in limited donations to the National Rifle Association's political action committee, which in turn runs ads aimed at the general public that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a federal candidate (Gun). During the last 15 years, the National Rifle Association has spent more than $22 million on communications costs and independent expenditures, and more than $18 million went support Republican candidates (Gun).
It is important to understand that no right is absolute, including those granted by and guaranteed in the Bill of Rights (Case). For example, although the First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech, that right is limited, thus an individual cannot publish a claim that a certain public figure is a drug user, if that fact is known to be untrue (Case). This is called libel, and it is a valid abridgement of rights (Case). Nor can an individual stand up in a crowded theater and scream that there is a fire, when there is not a fire, because the ensuing panic may cause injury (Case). Abridgement of rights is sometimes valid because rights can very easily clash, such as the fact that screaming fire in a theater may result in people being harmed (Case). Therefore, advocates of gun control believe that the same analysis can be applied to the Second Amendment (Case). In other words, if the right to own a gun interferes with public safety, then that right can morally be abridged in order to protect public safety, and several court decisions have agreed (Case).
Throughout American history, many Court decisions have limited the right to keep and bear arms, such as the Miller case in the early twentieth century, which limited the right to own certain classes of weapons (Case). More recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, indicated that the clause "a well regulated militia" did not mean that the average citizen is a part of that militia, citing,
Since the Second Amendment right 'to keep and bear arms' applies only to the right of the state to maintain a militia, and not to the individual's right to bear arms, there can be no serious claim to any express constitutional right of an individual to possess a firearm"
Stevens v. U.S., United States Court of Appeals, (Sixth Circuit, 1971) (Case).
Furthermore, a similar ruling from the Seventh Circuit held that Construing [the language of the Second Amendment] according to its plain meaning, it seems clear that the right to bear arms is inextricably connected to the preservation of a militia... We conclude that the right to keep and bear handguns is not guaranteed by the Second Amendment" (Quilici v. Village of Morton Grove, (U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, 1982) (Case).
Recently, a 1992 decision by the conservative majority stated that "Making a firearm without approval may be subject to criminal sanction, as is possession of an unregistered firearm and failure to pay the tax on one, 26 U.S.C. 5861, 5871" (Case). This opinion, written by Justice David Souter and joined by Chief Justice William Renhnquist and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, shows that the Supreme Court has a right to limit Second Amendment rights, thus the Second Amendment is not absolute, and cannot be used as a prima facie reason why any gun should be legal (Case).
However, gun supports believe that the Second Amendment is the Constitution's guarantee that the government can never become tyrannical, and therefore ensures that should this happen, the citizens will be able to overthrow it (Case). Yet, there are several reasons why this is not a very good argument concerning the "right to bear arms" (Case). The Constitution was a document intended to create a government by which its citizens could change through peaceful means, and the last 200 years is proof that it has succeeded to that effect (Case). Another argument that is often cited by gun supporters is that is the government disarms the population, then its citizens are vulnerable for a dictatorial takeover, and will not be able to fight back (Case). Gun control advocates point to the simple fact that "America has over 270,000,000 citizens...No dictator could 'take over' without popular support of these citizens" (Case).
Jeffrey A. Roth points out in his 1994 "Firearms and Violence" that in 1989, approximately 60% of all…