The Second Amendment to the US Constitution can be a divisive one when Liberals (typically support strict gun control) and Conservatives (typically oppose heavy government interference) debate the issue. Let’s take a look at some of the talking points from both sides of the aisle. As a starting point, the text of the amendment reads as follows:
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.
While the total number of guns in the hands of Americans is impossible to accurately count, a generally accepted figure is at least 390 million.
From The Left
To begin, it should be noted that one major argument from this side, an emphasis on the militia clause, has been rendered moot even though it is still brought up. The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled in a case titled District of Columbia v. Heller that this is prefatory, which means it’s simply an introduction and not something to limit the main intent.
The main issue brought up by Democrats is that the cost in human lives is too great. To be sure, only the most cold-hearted pro-gun advocate can dismiss this out of hand. They point to mass-shooting incidents such as:
- Sandy Hook Elementary School, December 14, 2012, 27 killed (20 children, 7 adults), 2 injured
- Las Vegas, NV, Mandalay Bay Resort, October 1, 2017, 58 killed, 700+/- injured
- El Paso, TX, Walmart, August 3, 2019, 22 killed, 24 injured
Solutions propounded range from simply stricter background checks and registration requirements, up to and including confiscation. Former Democratic presidential nominee hopeful Beto O’Rourke advocated the idea of police-enforced seizures.
From The Right
Here, the focal point tends to be based on the idea that the United States is a country based on the rule of law. They contend the phrase “shall not be infringed” is intentionally a strongly-worded ban on government action and that there’s no need for military service (refer to above SCOTUS) decision.
Assertions rest on the words of the Founding Fathers:
“The Constitution shall never be construed…to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”
— Alexander Hamilton
“What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms.”
— Thomas Jefferson
The argument goes that their experiences as British colonials instilled in them a great fear that a government could become tyrannical if the people could not check the government aggression.
The remedy for this, they maintain, is simple and pointed. If the Liberals don’t like it, the Constitution provides a method to change it. So use it.
This is a contentious topic that causes emotions to run high on both sides. Unfortunately, it is also one where a consensus is unlikely to be reached any time soon. That’s why it is so important to understand the reasoning held by each faction.
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