The right to carry handguns for law abiding citizens has been a continual social and political debate about the restriction or availability of firearms within the country. Actually, the right to carry handguns has developed to become one of the major controversial and intractable issues within the social and political environments in the nation. The main reason attributed to the development of this controversial issue is the constitutional provision regarding firearms and the government's responsibility to prevent criminal activities, maintaining order, and safeguarding citizens' well-being. The debate has been characterized by different reasons that have been raised by intellectuals, social activists, and advocates in support and opposition of the controversial issue.
The debate regarding the right to carry and keep firearms can be traced to the inception of the gun culture, which explained the affections of American's citizens in adopting and celebrating handguns as part of the nation's heritage. Actually, the right to possess a gun, particularly for self-protection is largely considered as a central tenet of the American identity. In America's frontier history, guns were important to westward expansion as they were used to enable settlers to protect themselves from Native Americans. During this period, the frontier citizens usually assumed the responsibility of protecting themselves from animals and foreign armies. Moreover, the significance of guns also emanates from the hunting role in the culture of the nation and has remained to be famous as a sport in America today.
The passion for hunting or sporting in America derives from the period when the country was an agrarian and subsistence nation in which hunting was a supplementary source of food for settlers and an avoidance to animal marauders. Consequently, the link between shooting skills and survival was considered as a rite of passage into manhood for rural American men. Currently, hunting has remained as a main sentimental component of the gun culture as means of controlling animal populations in the entire nation regardless of the modern shift away from rural living and subsistence hunting.
Notably, the history of the modern right to carry or concealed carry in America began with Georgia in 1976 when the then governor introduced the model for subsequent laws. The decision and effort by the Georgia governor to introduce the law was inspired by Ed Topmiller, a former border patrolman and NRA director. As a result of the enactment of the legislation, Georgia joined the few other states that permitted concealed carry without the requirement of a license (Arnold par, 2). This contributed to an emergence of a trend in which other states enacted such regulations like New Hampshire in 1923, Washington in 1961, Connecticut in 1969, Indiana in 1980, Maine and North Dakota in 1985, and South Dakota in 1986.
Nonetheless, the evolving trend in the enactment of right to carry legislations didn't sweep the entire country as some states ignored the efforts. For instance, Florida ignored these attempts until 1987 because of the possibility to turn the country into another Dodge City. There were huge fears that the enactment of the legislation would result in blood flow across Florida streets and fender-benders turning into firefighters.
Since then, analysis of the right to carry handguns for self-protection by law abiding citizens has remained as one of the few constitutional rights that can claim any significant antiquity. This constitutional right has an ancestry that goes beyond a millennium resulting in difficulties about tracing its actual beginning. The period between 1989 and 1998 was the major time in which the laws swept throughout the country as several states enacted them such as Oregon, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and South Carolina among others.
Arguments in Favor:
Self-protection is considered as an essential human right in the entire United States that has contributed to the enactment of right-to-carry laws. The importance of this right is evident from the fact that the American Constitution, the constitutions of the country's 44 states, all state laws, and common law acknowledges the right to use firearms in self-defense. Generally, such laws respect the right to self-defense by permitting people to carry and keep firearms for protection purposes. However, there have been major concerns in the recent past on whether law abiding citizens have the constitutional right to carry handguns for self-protection.
For instance, in a 2008 case between the District of Columbia and Heller, the Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia's ban on handguns. The Supreme Court stated that the inherent right of self-protection has been a main issue in the Second Amendment of the Constitution. The court also ruled that the Second Amendment safeguards the individual right for law abiding citizens to own and carry firearms or handguns in case of confrontation. Consequently, the court reinstated and approved the fact that the common-law principle allows citizens to repel force by force when attacked for the purpose of self-defense and protection ("Right-To-Carry 2012" par, 2).
Some of the arguments that have been raised in support or favor of whether law abiding citizens have the constitutional right to carry handguns for self-protection include:
As evident in the Supreme Court decision in the District of Columbia vs. Heller case, one of the major arguments in favor of the right to carry handguns is the common-law principle that individuals have the right to repel force by force when under attack. Actually, the right to self-defense and protection has been acknowledged as a common-law rule for many centuries i.e. For more than 2,000 years. For over 2000 years, there has been a notion that any and every means of self-protection by an individual is morally right when his/her life is endangered by violence, armed robbers, and enemies. This common-law principle provides a constitutional right to law-abiding citizens to use handguns for self-defense since the right of self-defense is established in the law of nature that can't be superseded any societal law.
Success of the Legislations in Reducing Crime:
The other argument in favor of the constitutional right for law-abiding citizens to carry handguns for self-defense is the success of right-to-carry laws in lessening crime. An analysis of crime trends in several counties showed that permitting law abiding citizens to carry the weapons for self-protection reasons has deterred violent crimes. Actually in every state or county that handgun laws were enacted, there was a reduction of murder cases by approximately 8.5% as rape and provoked assaults decreased by 5 and 7% respectively.
As violent crime increased in the United States since 1991, various states adopted laws that replaced the prohibition of carrying firearms for self-defense resulting in the increase of privately-owned guns. Consequently, as the number of privately-owned guns increased, there was a decline in the country's murder rate by 52% and an overall decline in the total violent crime rate by 48%.
Impact of the Use of Handguns by Law-abiding Citizens:
The other reason in favor of the issue is the fact that law abiding citizens use firearms to prevent crime four times more than criminals use them in committing crimes ("The Facts" par, 7). Actually, a survey by the Department of Justice found that approximately 40% of criminals choose to avoid committing some offenses for fear that their targets or victims may be armed. Therefore, the constitutional right is based on the assumption that there are approximately 2.5 million protective uses of handguns annually, which is more than four times the documented number of offenses committed using firearms.
Provision in the Second Amendment:
This is the main reason stated by people in support of the issue on whether law abiding citizens have the constitutional right to carry handguns for self-protection. These people argue that the Second Amendment provides the right for individuals to bear arms for protecting themselves. The founding fathers of the nation established such a provision on the basis that citizens in America should have the authority to bear arms in order to safeguard themselves, their family, and their property. Since there is no constitutional modification to the contrary, the intensions and wording of the provision by the county's founders should be honored.
Lack of Constitutional Amendment:
Law abiding citizens have a constitutional right to bear and use firearms like handguns to protect themselves since there is no constitutional modification that contradicts or changes the Second Amendment's provision. While legislators have tried to enact several laws to illegalize these efforts, law-abiding citizens are constitutionally permitted to carry handguns. Actually, these legislators should amend or re-write the constitution rather than make such attempts.
In opposition to the arguments raised in support of this constitutional right, there are contradicting reasons that have emerged in opposition to it. Actually, individuals who oppose the constitutional right for law abiding citizens to carry and use firearms for protection argue that the initiatives are largely based on assumptions instead of reality and misinterpretation of the Constitution. These individuals have raised several reasons in contradicting the assumption including & #8230;