Gun Control And Ownership In The U.S. Term Paper

Length: 10 pages Sources: 10 Subject: Law - Constitutional Law Type: Term Paper Paper: #98208421 Related Topics: Gun Control Laws, Gun Laws, Arms Control, Econometrics

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Gun Control in United States Gun control

Gun control is a particularly controversial topic in the contemporary society, as especially in the U.S. people have been accustomed to living in a culture focused on guns. Factors like the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights influenced people to identify with an environment that is widely supportive with regard to the masses having access to guns. The U.S.' history made it possible for the country's citizens to acknowledge the importance of having guns -- by being able to protect themselves, people can make sure the authorities do not abuse them and that they can take up arms against oppressors whenever this is needed.

Gun ownership as a tool promoting individualism

Considering conditions in the U.S., it would be safe to say that people consider guns to be a part of their culture, a part of being an American. In order to be able to gain a complex understanding of the gun debate, one first needs to consider the history of the U.S. And the way that Americans have been living in a community associating guns with the idea of being self-reliant. Through installing laws promoting gun ownership, the U.S. basically encouraged Americans to think about their community as one providing them with all the resources they need in order to be safe. "One illustration of the American ideals of classlessness (and of individualism and self-reliance), is reflected in the selection of the archetypal armed American hero." (Kopel)

The traditional image of a hero in other countries involves individuals belonging to a particular group. In contrast to other communities in charge of helping the masses, the American version of the hero is a rather simple individual who takes on attitudes related to freedom and to anything based on being free. To a certain degree, this is the classical cowboy in a typical Western environment where the only solution to stay safe would be to own a gun (Kopel)

Gun control in a country that is used to seeing guns as part of people's ability to fight for their freedom is an especially controversial concept. By accepting guns as being part of the American culture, individuals basically acknowledge the fact that society tends to promote unequal values. As a consequence, an individual who is underprivileged either because of his physical attributes or because of the condition he is in can use a weapon in order to protect himself from potential threats. In order to prevent powerful persons from taking advantage of less powerful individuals, the U.S. has attempted to create an environment functioning in accordance with the idea of equity. Even with the fact that some people are privileged, they have the right to protect themselves from abuse by using any means available to them - guns being a specific form of protection. "Whatever the reason, the degree to which guns have permeated American consciousness can be seen in how American speech is loaded with gun metaphors: big shot; going off half-cocked; cocksure; misfire; shoot for the moon; primed; a gunner; jump the gun; triggered; flash-in-the-pan; keep your powder dry; top gun; straight shooter; loaded for bear; target date; set your sights on it; square shooter; take another shot at it; a long shot; draw a bead on it; high caliber; stick to your guns; he's a pistol; son of a gun; shoot from the hip; faster than a speeding bullet; riding shotgun; bring out the big guns; fire away; bite the bullet; a shotgun approach; lock, stock, and barrel; on target; and on." (Kopel)

The Revolutionary War and the Second Amendment

Even with the fact that threats present during the revolutionary war are no longer seen in the U.S. today, Americans cannot help but to consider these respective threats and the ideology behind the Second Amendment. This text was introduced in the Bill of Rights in order to guarantee that people are no longer vulnerable to abuse.

Civil libertarians seem to be more interested in the Second Amendment than in other provisions that are part of the Bill of Rights. Federal courts also consider this topic to be particularly controversial and are seemingly uncomfortable with discussing it. Lower courts tend to adopt interpretations that are not very clear and that have little to no support from historical precedents. This is largely owed to the fact that the provision can be interpreted in a series of ways and the case under discussion always makes the difference between how federal judges understand the Second Amendment. (Lund, 103)

By being against gun ownership for the masses, many Americans have the feeling that they act against the country's Founding...


Guns are a part of the nation's history and they were one of the reasons why people were able to go against English authority and eventually win the Revolutionary War. Although the country's law enforcement situation changed significantly ever since the late eighteenth century, many are still unable to leave their traditions behind and thus lobby with regard to how the authorities should continue to support the right to own guns.
Gun control laws are obviously affected by the Second Amendment, as people have the tendency to interpret it in accordance with their interests. The Second Amendment contains complicated clauses and phrasing, the text makes it difficult for readers to reach a conclusion regarding its exact purpose. Concept like a 'militia', the 'people', and the type of arms the text is referring to can be especially confusing. This makes it possible for both gun-ownership supporters and individuals in favor of gun control to interpret the text with the purpose of influencing federal courts to see their perspective as the correct one (Heller).

Interpreting the Second Amendment

The most recent Supreme Court decision regarding the Second Amendment is the United States v. Miller one, but it provides little information about the topic under discussion. When considering the Second Amendment, pro-gun communities believe that it directly emphasizes the need for people to own guns while anti-gun communities consider that the act is really meant to highlight the need for a militia unit in the country.

Individuals supporting gun control relate to the effects that guns have had on the U.S. during recent years. "It has been estimated that economically the cost of gun violence is on the border of $100 billion per year." (Chemerinsky, 479) Furthermore, the majority of murders, numerous robberies, and a series of other illegalities are committed using firearms. In response to this, gun supporters claim that these statistics have no relevance in the context of the Second Amendment (Chemerinsky, 479). In a way, the act stands as the perfect example of how a law in the Constitution can be interpreted in several ways depending on people's thinking. This makes it possible to perceive NRA success as "a textbook example of a special interest group capturing the legislative process, and the remedy is to file lawsuits asking courts to impose gun controls that would otherwise be passed by a truly representative legislature" (Lytton, 154).

Criminological and legal elements

The idea of gun control has been known to take two main approaches, one of them involving the criminological aspect of the subject and one relating to the legal element. Criminologists have addressed the probability that gun control would reduce the number of crimes associated with guns and the probability that this would also take away people's ability to protect themselves. Legal experts discusses with regard to a legal barrier that prevents the authorities from denying the masses access to guns.

Both the criminological and the legal approaches tend to take the matter extremely seriously by considering all the implications that gun ownership entails. "In this regard, the gun in America is properly understood from the position of realism, in that the most important feature of the gun is its actual physical characteristics: because a gun can shoot a lead projectile at an attacker from a distance, a smaller person can effectively defend herself against an attacker." (Kopel) The fact that the gun can be carried with little to no effort and that it provides the user with the ability to defend him or herself from an attacker means that it can make the difference between a successful attack and one that fails. Similarly, guns make it possible for criminals to project a force they would otherwise be unable to project.

Limiting firearms -- a way to reduce crime-related crimes

Gun laws are perceived differently by diverse groups in the U.S., as while some think about them as a means to make sure the masses have a way to protect themselves, others cannot ignore the numerous crimes associated with guns. When considering conditions in Philadelphia, for example, Donald W. Dowd's description of the gun environment there is at least controversial. In a conversation with Senator Hugh Scott, Dowd was encouraged to believe that gun laws are permissive for the benefit of the people. From the senator's perspective, the Second Amendment enables hunters to perform their activities without being persecuted as a result of this (Dowd).

In contrast to hunters and to basically anyone wanting to use the…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works cited:

Chemerinsky, E. "Putting the Gun Control Debate in Social Perspective." Fordham Law Review Vol. 73, Issue 2 Article 2.

Cheng, X. (2002). "Analysis of states gun control restrictions." Graduate Theses and Dissertations.

Dowd, D.W. "The Relevance of the Second Amendment to Gun Control Legislation," 58 Mont. L. Rev. 79 (1997)

Heller, S. "The Right to Bear Arms: Some prominent legal scholars are taking a new look at the Second Amendment." The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 21, 1995.
Kleck, G. "POLICY LESSONS FROM RECENT GUN CONTROL RESEARCH." Retrieved November 30, 2014, from
Lytton, T.D. "The NRA, the Brady Campaign, & the Politics of Gun Litigation," Retrieved November 30, 2014, from

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