The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads, "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." It is argued, rightfully that despite constitutional purists the intent of the wording was to allow Militias, which served as proxies to well regulated police and other defense organizations in communities. This ideology allowed for individuals to, "keep and bear arms" as a result of their need to protect the greater good of the community they lived in as well as their own family if it was needed. Guns in today's society, though not the cause of harm, are far too easily obtained and are not understood well enough by many people who own them. Few people who own guns have the knowledge and ability to properly use them, to defend themselves or otherwise, even though most claim that they own them for defense. (Harvard School of Public Health) The prevalence and limited regulations of guns in the U.S., in part stemming from the wording of this archaic amendment to the constitution, leads to violence and harm in many forms. Street violence or the fighting with weapons by individual criminal interests, such as gangs or drug dealers, the use of guns for crimes of property such as armed robberies and burglaries, are made possible in part due to the easy access to guns in this culture, as is a far more serious and common problem domestic and personal violent gun crime.
If you as an individual in anger or fear do not have to go far to obtain a lethal weapon you are far more likely to use it to threaten or do harm. If you have to seek it out and work to get it you are much more likely to let your cooler head prevail, revisit the possible consequences of your proposed actions and hopefully stop yourself from doing harm to yourself or others. In a study by the Harvard Injury Control Center conducted among batterers in treatment the results were undisputable in the group:
Recent gun owners were 8 times more likely to have threatened their partners with a gun than non-gun owners. Four main types of gun threat against partners were (a) threatening to shoot then, (b) threatening to shoot a pet or person the victim cares about, (c) cleaning, holding or loading a gun during an argument, and (d) shooting a gun during an argument. (Harvard School of Public Health)
Crime is more often committed against people we know than against strangers and violent crime is not the exception but a major part of the rule, as an individual is far more likely to be physically hurt and even murdered by someone they know and likely love than by a stranger. Yet, both stranger danger and the real danger of harm from loved one is made worse by easy access to guns, because it makes the propensity to violence much more likely to be lethal.
There is a clear sense that the form of militia spoken of in the second amendment to the constitution is no longer a common place ideal or standard in our society. In fact the idea of individuals arming themselves to serve as impromptu police or security force is archaic and passe and has not been a socially or legally accepted circumstance since the move west, when lawlessness often required such activities for real defense from criminality and harm. (McNab 8) It was during this period and prior to it in the 18th and 19th century that is was compulsory for free white men to serve as members of local militias, as there was serious infrastructural limitations and police forces were almost negligible in size and range. (McNab 59) It simply made sense during this period in history to arm individuals, as those individuals where the only army and the only police force in many of the places they lived and did business. Travel of law enforcement from one location to another was slow and infrequent and communities needed a way to protect themselves without relying on the "cavalry" to arrive, as this took far to long. In contrast, for the most part people in the U.S. currently live in relatively peaceful communities with adequate police forces, with rapid and professional response times and standards. It is for this reason that I believe that the constitutional right of all citizens to bear arms is also an archaic concept that should be reevaluated.
It is also very clear that most laws and even the constitution of the U.S. is based on a system of civil law, which in and of itself is meant to change. Common law is law that changes over time to better meet the needs of society, when society sees that a law is no longer effective or applicable it either ceases to enforce it or changes it to better meet the needs of society. This is therefore the basis for the ability of local, state and federal government to enact gun restriction laws. If the constitution were the only force of law and were immutable, as some would have us believe the right of a democracy to enact and enforce laws that protect society would be seriously hampered or almost more importantly eradicate laws that are in and of themselves harmful to society. Common law is evolutionary, based on precedence (previous legal rulings) and decided by society and experts (often judges) as a matter of the changing needs of society. (Pollock, 2008)
Though most legal scholars seek to reiterate the value of the constitution and the fact that the second amendment is not seated in the ability of the individual to be a part of a well armed militia but instead support the idea that all individuals have the right to defend themselves from harm. Yet there is significant and enduring evidence that self-defense gun use is relatively rare, as most guns in the home are more likely to be used to frighten and intimidate (usually family members) than to actually defend one's self from the harm of a criminal. Another point well made by the same source, which relies on scholarly research is that almost all of the "self-defense" claims that do arise in the legal system are deemed by law enforcement and judges to actually be illegal, rather than legally justifiable and (Harvard School of Public Health) In other words, when individuals actually use guns, in self-defense, which is exceedingly rare, it is usually not within the confines of the legal definitions of self-defense and most use is actually innocuous, menacing or even illegal on the part of the gun owner.
Public health experts are rightfully worried about gun ownership in the United States. Almost 40% of American households contain at least one firearm. About one in six adults owns a handgun. In many states, there are few if any requirements for the training and licensing of gun owners and the registering of fi rearms that are similar to those, say, for drivers and motor vehicles. More than half of suicides and homicides in the United States are carried out with firearms. When a gun is in the home, the risk of someone in that household committing suicide or becoming a victim of homicide rises two- to fivefold. Research shows that after a gun purchase, the risk of harm goes up and stays elevated for up to five years.(miller, 2008)
In addition Miller goes on to note that gun crime and injury is far greater than most developed nations, which have far stricter regulations on guns. In many ways the kinds of things that are a danger to public health are restricted far more than in the U.S. In most western developed nations. Stricter control on motor vehicle use is also seen in most other western developed nations, for the very same reasons. Motor vehicles are a threat to public health and safety and therefore it is much harder to get and retain a license to own and/or drive a vehicle. Direct restrictions then reduce the amount of harm simply by reducing the number of vehicles and people driving them.
There is no fault in the logic that reducing the number of guns in the U.S. And increasing the difficulty of obtaining and retaining a gun would do the same thing, i.e. reduce criminal and non-criminal harm done by guns. When I say increasing the difficulty I am especially referring to gun control regulations but more importantly gun training and control by the very individuals who seek to obtain them. Individuals thinking about obtaining a gun need to be trained to use it, understand it and secure it in the same manner that law enforcement is taught. Law enforcement goes through rigorous training and recertification to allow them to continue to carry weapons in the service of their jobs and this training is essential to the reality…