Right to bear arms versus the right to life

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THE Second Amendment to the US Constitution 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.”
James Madison originally proposed the Second Amendment shortly after the Constitution was officially ratified as a way to provide more power to state militias, which today are considered the National Guard.
It was deemed a compromise between Federalists — those who supported the Constitution as it was ratified — and the anti-Federalists — those who supported states having more power. Having just used guns and other arms to ward off the English, the amendment was originally created to give citizens the opportunity to fight back against a tyrannical federal government.
Since its ratification, Americans have been arguing over the amendment’s meaning and interpretation.
One side interprets the amendment to mean it provides for collective rights, while the opposing view is that it provides individual rights.
Those who take the collective side think the amendment gives each state the right to maintain and train formal militia units that can provide protection against an oppressive federal government.
They argue the ‘well regulated militia’ clause clearly means the right to bear arms should only be given to these organised groups. They believe this allows for only those in the official militia to carry guns legally, and say the federal government cannot abolish state militias.
Those with the opposite viewpoint believe the amendment gives every citizen the right to own guns, free of federal regulations, to protect themselves in the face of danger.
The individualists believe the amendment’s militia clause was never meant to restrict each citizen’s rights to bear arms.
Both interpretations have helped shape the country’s ongoing gun control debate.
Those supporting an individual’s right to own a gun, such as the National Rifle Association (NRA), argue that the Second Amendment should give all citizens, not just members of a militia, the right to own a gun.
Those supporting stricter gun control, like the Brady Campaign, believe the Second Amendment isn’t a blank check for anyone to own a gun.
They feel that restrictions on firearms, such as who can have them, under what conditions, where they can be taken and what types of firearms are available, are necessary.
According to an analysis conducted by the Washington Post earlier this month, more than 150 000 Americans have experienced a shooting on campus since Columbine in 1999.
It seemed pretty clear, shortly after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that the US does not have a bottom to hit.
If a man killing 20 first-graders, six of the school’s staff and his own mother does not make a nation do something about their gun problem – and indeed, nothing was done – it is difficult to believe that anything ever will be.
On Valentine’s Day, a 19-year-old man armed with AR-15 rifle attacked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and left 17 dead, a number that authorities say could rise.
The alleged killer in Parkland had been expelled from school and apparently liked to show pictures of dead animals to his classmates when he was there, appeared obsessed with guns and had, according to one student, been abusive to his girlfriend and fought with her new boyfriend.
But it is worth imagining the outcry that would have occurred had he been denied the right to purchase an AR-15 rifle based on any or all of the above.
On Friday, February 16, the FBI issued a statement apologising for failing to act on a January 5 2018 tip that the man now in custody was behaving erratically and may have been planning a school shooting.
At that point, he already had a gun.
After Wednesday’s rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, you can add 3 000 more children to that list.
Together, the US’ school shooting survivors would make up a city the size of Savannah, Georgia or Syracuse, New York.
That is to say nothing of another
300 000 parents, give or take, and tens of thousands of teachers and other adults who were there too.
The ‘Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund’ says the US has averaged one school shooting a week since 2013, based on the definition ‘any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds’.
In 2018, so far, the rate has been far higher, with ‘Everytown…’ putting the number of school shootings at 17 before the Florida attack.
Not all of the shootings resulted in injuries or deaths.
Interestingly, the media chooses to ignore that the bulk of school shootings are carried out by whites.
This is equally true for most mass shootings in the US.
Between 1982 and November 2017, 54 out of 95 mass shootings were initiated by white shooters.
The Las Vegas strip massacre in 2017 had the highest number of victims since 1982, with 58 people killed and over 500 injured.
An analysis of the factors Americans consider to be to blame for mass shootings show that 48 percent of people felt that the inability of the mental health system to recognise those who pose a danger to others was a significant factor.
Unfortunately debate continues to shy from the fact that mentally unstable persons have access to guns and any form to regulate purchase of guns is greatly resisted by the gun lobby.
While groups such as the NRA thrive on campaigns that depict the average white America as needing a gun due to rising crime, they choose to ignore that the bulk of those who believe their rhetoric are on the fringe of society.
No sane person needs the same type of firearm the US army is issuing its ground troops in combat abroad.
These automatic weapons are a menace on the streets.

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