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Stacey Clark Professor Jeffrey Ferlo POLS 1100 October 31, 2013 Persuasive Essay

The Second Amendment Are we doing enough to protect the American people?

On the morning of December 14, 2012 in the tightly knit community of Newtown, Connecticut, parents lovingly dropped their elementary children off at school never expecting the events that would unfold just an hour later. At a time where decorative lights were happily strung on trees, hot ovens were baking traditional treats, and the sights and sounds of holiday celebrations filled the air, visions of this happy season were quickly shattered as the serenity of this community became a scene of chaos. With the piercing sound of sirens followed by fire engines, police cars and swat teams, onlookers eagerly watched as emergency vehicles raced to their destination of Sandy Hook Elementary. Using an assault rifle, twenty year old Adam Lanza shot through the securely locked front door of the school, where he ambushed the front office, and proceeded through the hallway taking the lives of twenty first graders and six adults before he turned the gun on himself (CNN). The actions of Adam Lanza forever changed families and residents of this peaceful community, where seven hundred students and faculty were in attendance that day.

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As the news of this tragedy quickly spread throughout the world, questions of how Mr. Lanza was able to get his hands on an assault rifle came to the surface. It was later revealed that the rifle belonged to his mother, whom he killed just hours before he packed his car with weapons, and carefully drove to Sandy Hook Elementary with the intent to kill. Mr. Lanzas actions toward innocent little children and adults, has created controversy within the gun rights and gun control community. In particular, as wounds were still fresh when just a few months previous, on July 20, 2012, James Holmes of Aurora, Colorado walked into a Century movie theater wearing army tactics and carrying loaded weapons. Just as a midnight showing of the movie, Dark Knight Rises was just about to begin, Mr. Holmes set off tear gas and began spraying ammunition into the movie theater audience using several assault weapons and taking the lives of twelve victims and injuring seventy others (Hughes). Regarding these two horrific shooting tragedies where innocent lives were taken and families were changed forever, The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States inevitably becomes the topic of conversation. What are the gun rights of the American people, and do they need to be changed? The Second Amendment 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 (Fathers). According to Cornell University School of Law, The language of The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States has created considerable debate regarding the Amendments intended scope. On one hand, some believe that the Amendments phrase the right of the people to keep and bear Arms creates an individual constitutional right for citizens of the United States. Under this individual right theory, the United States Constitution restricts

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legislative bodies from prohibiting firearm possession, or at the very least, the Amendment renders prohibitory and restrictive regulation presumptively unconstitutional (School). In addition, the Cornell University School of Law addresses the fact that some scholars point to the prefatory language a well regulated Militia to argue that the Framers intended only to restrict Congress from legislating away a states right to self-defense. Scholars have come to call this theory the collective rights theory. A collective rights theory of the Second Amendment asserts that citizens do not have an individual right to possess guns and that local, state, and federal legislative bodies therefore possess the authority to regulate firearms without implicating a constitutional right (School). However, prompted by the December 2012 Newton, CT. shooting, a national discussion over gun laws and calls by the Obama administration to limit the availability of military-style weapons and expanded gun background checks was defeated in the Senate in April 2013, despite extensive public support (Masters). According to an article in CNN, opposition by the powerful National Rifle Association led a backlash by conservative Republicans and a few Democrats from pro-gun states that doomed key proposals in the gun package, even after they had been watered down to try to satisfy opponents (Cohen). Obama felt that the day the Senate voted down the tougher gun law proposal was a shameful day in Washington (Cohen). There were a lot of supporters, including public support that felt the need for tighter and stricter gun law rules that includes expanded background checks. The last time the Supreme Court made any changes to the Second Amendment was in 2008, when on June 26, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the United States Supreme Court issued its first decision since 1939 interpreting the Second Amendment to the United States

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Constitution. The Court ruled that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution confers an individual right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense. It also ruled that two District of Columbia provisions, one that banned handguns and one that required lawful firearms in the home to be disassembled or trigger-locked, violate this right (Congress). There is not a week that goes by in America that we dont hear of some sort of tragic shooting. The latest one being at the Los Angeles International airport where on November 1, 2013 a TSA officer was killed and several others were injured by twenty three year old Paul
Anthony Ciancia. Mr. Ciancia apparently felt that TSA officers were traitors, and was

determined to kill them with his assault rifle. Given all of the recent mass shootings in America, concerns have been raised and have brought an interest in comparing gun policies with other countries. In an article titled, U.S. Gun Policy: Global Comparisons which was published by the Council on Foreign Relations, it states that Democracies that have experienced similar traumatic shooting incidents, for instance, have taken significant steps to regulate gun ownership and restrict assault weapons (Masters). This article further illustrates that gun ownership in the United States far surpasses other countries. Not only is there a concern regarding mass shootings in America, but an article published by the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that in a recent study, some 7,500 children are hospitalized yearly for gunshot wounds, and 500 of them die. This study found a significant association between the percentage of kids gunshot wounds occurring in homes and the percentage of households containing firearms (Pediatrics). The lead study author for the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Arin L. Madenci found that while many current gun-control efforts focus on limiting military-style semi-

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automatic assault rifles, handguns account for the majority of childhood gunshot wounds, and this number appears to be increasing over the last decade (Pediatrics). According to a Swiss-based Small Arms Survey, gun ownership in the United States far surpasses other countries (Geneva). In comparing gun ownership in the United States with other countries, it is said in the survey that, The United States, with less than five percent of the worlds population, has about thirty five to fifty percent of the worlds civilian-owned guns, which ranks the United States as number one in firearms per capita (Geneva). There are some analysts who do not believe that a high gun ownership in the U.S. is linked to the high homicide rate, but according to the book, Small Arms Survey 2007: Guns and the City, It states that the U.S has the highest homicide-by-firearm rate among the worlds most developed nations. In contrast to what the United States has done to protect the American people with the recent April 2013 defeat of putting into effect tougher gun laws and expanded background checks, other countries have taken measures in tightening gun control laws to protect their citizens. For example, in the country of Australia, a young man in April of 1996 went on a shooting spree with a semi-automatic rifle. During the rampage, he killed thirty-five people and wounded twenty-three others. Two weeks later, The National Agreement on Firearms was put into place prohibiting automatic and semi-automatic assault rifles, and stiffened licensing and ownership rules (Masters). Further, in Norway, a right winged extremist by the name of Andrews Breivik, went on a shooting rampage in July of 2011 at a summer camp. Mr. Breivik shot and killed seventy seven people in his attack, causing the recommendation to tighten Norways gun restriction in a number of ways, including prohibition of pistols and automatic weapons (Masters). In the

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country of Japan, there is a very low gun-homicide rate, and under their Firearm and Sword Law, the only guns that are permitted in the country of Japan are: shotguns, air guns, guns that have research or industrial purposes, or those used for competitions (Masters). In looking at all of the recent stories of mass shootings in the United States, and the rates of homicide and accidental shootings by gun fire, it is clear that The Second Amendment to the Constitution desperately needs to be addressed. Perhaps a look into the success of what other countries have done regarding their own gun laws and adopting the restrictions that have been successful would be a good place to begin.

Stricter gun laws would not be taking away the rights of American citizens, but would be reinforcing the personal responsibility of gun ownership. According to an article published in The Washington Post regarding the recent defeat of stricter gun laws states: The fierce confrontation on Capitol Hill over an issue that has divided Americans for decades is likely to continue, but any legislation that may ultimately pass probably would be far more modest than the measures Obama had championed (O'Keefe).

In light of the Newtown shooting, The Second Amendment needs to be addressed where stricter gun laws are put in place. Communication within the senate is key in unifying the Democrats and the Republicans, and in building a plan that would not infringe on the rights of the American people, but would create responsibility among the citizens. Without addressing the gun right laws, all of the people who have died by gun fire in mass shootings, in particular the little children, would all have died in vain.

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Works Cited
CNN, News. http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2012/12/us/sandy-hook-timeline/. December 2012. 18 Oct 2013. Cohen, Tom. http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/17/politics/senate-guns-vote. 18 Apr 2013. 30 Oct 2013. Congress, Library of. http://www.loc.gov/law/help/second-amendment.php. Oct 2013. 30 Oct 2013. Fathers, Founding. The Constitution of the United States. Philadelphia, 1789. Geneva, Small Arms Survey. Small Arms Survey 2007: Guns and the City. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1st edition, 2007. Hughes, Trevor, Pesce, Carolyn. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-0720/shooting-movie-theater-denver/56351098/1. 20 July 2012. 23 Oct 2013. Masters, Jonathan. www.cfr.org.society-and-culture/us-gun-policy-global-comparisons. 15 Jul 2013. 30 October 2013. O'Keefe, Ed, Rucker, Philip. http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-04-17/politics/38617843_1_gunbuyers-background-checks-gun-laws. 17 Apr 2013. 1 Nov 2013. Pediatrics, American Academy. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/5/e1416.full. 29 Oct 2013. 31 Oct 2013. School, Cornell University Law. http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/second_amendment. October 2013. 23 October 2013.