About Gun Rights

Historically, how one interprets the legislation itself determines the second amendment's meaning. The amendment has generated debates because different people and cases have given it various interpretations. The second amendment is inscribed on the National Rifle Association's building, but the amendment's militia provision is not present. Therefore, they assert that people have the right to possess and carry a variety of firearms in accordance with the second amendment. On the other hand, the supporters of gun control were of the opinion that the second amendment was aimed at guaranteeing states the rights to have their militia. The courts did not help in clarifying the issues for over seventy years until the case of District of Columbia V Heller. The case could be interpreted in two ways, with one being that those individuals have a right to carry firearms that are only common to the militia. The second interpretation is that individuals have no right at all. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, stating the claim that the defendants were not a part of any militia. Therefore, historical evidence does not back up the inference that the second amendment provides the rights of persons to hold firearms.

If the Second Amendment does create an individual right, how broad is the right? Does it include the right to possess arms that would be useful to a militia today—hand grenades, rocket launchers, etc? Or does it create only a right to possess arms that would have been used by a militia in 1791—muskets? Or is the right answer between these extremes?

If the second amendment does produce a person’s right to own and carry firearms, the broadness of the entitlement is limited. The license is limited and does not contain the right to own any arms that would be expedient to soldiers today. Individuals may have the right to possess weapons that are commonly used in militias but based on the law; this could only cover weapons that are useful to the army that existed in 1791- muskets.

The second amendment speaks of the right to bear arms, does this suggest for example there is no right to possess weapons that could not be carried such as cannons?

The right to bear arms provides individuals with the opportunity to be in charge of their security by being in possession of weapons. The second amendment provides the interpretation that individuals have a right to bear weapons for their protection, but only the weapons that are common to the militia. Therefore, based on the interpretation, it is true to argue that the right to bear arms suggests that it is illegal to own bulky firearms that are difficult to transport such as cannons. Such weapons are not common to the militia, and thus they cannot be covered by the amendment.

If the underlying concern that inspired the second amendment- fear of an abusive federal government oppressing states and their citizens –no longer existed, should that affect how we interpret the amendment?

The second amendment was a result of the fear that the federal government could be abusive to the states and their citizens, thus the need for a law that will provide the citizens with a right to protect themselves. This led to the interpretation that citizens have a right to possess and carry weapons for their protection. If the concern was addressed and no longer existed, the interpretation of the second amendment will not be affected. This is because even though the law was implemented due to the fear of the possibility of the existence of an abusive federal government, the possession of weapons is for the citizens to protect themselves against anyone who poses a danger to them. Therefore, the interpretation of an individual right to possession of weapons will still be in existence as there is a need for the individual to protect themselves against other citizens and criminals in the society.

What is the argument for choosing what provisions of the bill of rights we will give full effect?

The bill of rights is meant to ensure that the government power is limited and thus ensures the protection of the liberty of any individual. It, therefore, ensures that individuals are at liberty to exercise their freedom without interference from the government. To choose the parts of the bill of rights that will be given complete effect, there is need to consider the extent of the entitlement and the effect it will have on other individuals in the society. For instance, if it is argued that the second amendment allows individuals to possess and carry weapons, then the right has to be examined on the effect it will have on the rights of the other individuals to determine if it will be given the full effect. The rights that affect others and limit the power of the government in a way that it loses its ability to serve and protect its citizens are not considered. The rights that are given full effects are those that ensure the protection of the individual and the citizens.

Which of the following regulations of firearms is constitutional? (1) An age restriction, (2) a four-day waiting period for the purchase of a firearm, (3) a ban on carrying of concealed weapons?

Based on the United States Constitution, the guideline on firearms that is constitutional is age restriction where an individual must be over 18 years or over 21 years to be allowed to possess a given type of a gun. There is no waiting period or the existence of a ban on carrying concealed weapons.

The court in District of Columbia V Heller announces that it is an individual’s right to keep and bear firearms for self-defense, but states that this right extends only for weapons in common use for such purposes. If many people began using machine guns for self-defense, Will the weapons covered by the second amendment extend to cover them?

The second amendment does not cover dangerous and uncommon weapons. This means that if people began using the machine guns for self-defense, the weapons covered by the second amendment would not extend to cover them. This is because the machine guns are considered as dangerous weapons and are mostly used by the military and thus they cannot be covered by the second amendment.

The court in D.C. v Heller suggests that concealed carry laws and laws prohibiting guns in public buildings are constitutional. Why is that so? What test should the court use to evaluate future gun regulations- strict scrutiny? Intermediate scrutiny? An undue burden test?

The concealed carry laws and laws prohibiting guns in public are constitutional because weapons in public buildings endanger the people in public in case of the misuse of the weapon. For instance, the possession of weapons when one is visiting a jail could endanger the life of the individual and that of others in the premises if a criminal gets his or her hands on the weapon. The constitution, therefore, ensures the protection of all individuals and thus prohibits the possession of guns in public buildings. The court should apply the strict scrutiny test to evaluate future gun regulations. This will help the court decide whether the restrictions on weapons imposed in the future are constitutional.

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