Are guns a source of protection or a source of violence? This is a thoroughly discussed question right now in the United States. On one hand, guns can be used to protect people from evil. On the other hand, guns could be used for evil and could easily harm many people. Further gun control should be implemented in the United States because the Second Amendment is not valid today, not all people are qualified to use a gun, and the safety of people in the United States as a whole is exceedingly important.
The Second Amendment, which gives militias the right to bear arms (“Gun Control”), is irrelevant in today’s world. Its wording grants militias the right to bear arms (“Gun Control”), therefore ensuring that the people who comprised those militias would be able to combat autocratic rule and tyranny. In the 1939 Supreme Court case, United States v. Miller, Jack Miller was prosecuted for transferring an unregistered shotgun that was less than official length across state borders. Miller stated that the Second Amendment gave him the right to bear arms and argued that this acquitted him of any wrongdoing. The Supreme Court did not agree and countered his argument by stating that a shotgun, especially one with a barrel that was shorter than eighteen inches, was not a militia weapon. This decision further supports the position that the Second Amendment was meant only to guarantee the rights of militias to bear arms (Kaminer). In present-day United States, however, there are no militias. Despite this fact, today’s ordinary citizens continue to believe that they have justification for bearing arms even though they are not militia members fighting against corrupt forces and tyranny. The Second Amendment needs to be changed and there need to be additional gun controls that limit the ownership of firearms to those who use them for a valid military purpose in pursuit of the greater good and safety of the nation; those falling under this category could be military personnel or secret services.
Not everyone in the United States is qualified to handle a gun. Most people are not experienced in handling firearms and don’t know the first thing about using a gun. There are those who are too dangerous or unstable and place other people’s lives at risk when they hold a gun. Today, millions of guns are sold without any background checks and the consequence is often gun-related violence such as accidental shootings, murders, suicides, and gang violence. In the United States, approximately 309 people are shot each day due to various forms of gun violence (“Key Gun Statistics”). One horrifyingly monumental example of gun violence in the U.S. is the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut . On December 14, 2012, twenty-year-old Adam Lanza, who had a history of mental health issues, marched into Sandy Hook with four guns and killed twenty children and six adults. This devastating event shook the whole nation as a whole and increased calls for stricter gun control (“Connecticut Shootings Facts”). Strict gun licenses and guidelines for who can handle firearms are important because they makes sure that those who are in possession of guns are qualified and experienced, and make it difficult for dangerous or unstable people to obtain firearms (Gun Control). In light of this, gun control should be intensified in the United States in order to prevent violent and tragic situations, such as Sandy Hook, from taking place.
The safety of people as a collective group is very important. Since it is so easy for individuals to obtain firearms, gun violence extremely common. Each year, approximately 33,880 people die from gun violence in the United States (“Key Gun Statistics”). This is a disservice to Americans as a whole. Parents try their best to keep their children safe, but how can they guarantee their safety when they don’t know what types of people around them own guns. They safety of Americans as a group is more valuable than the right for an individual to own a gun. This exact point can be supported by the text of Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. In the chapter named “Gotama,” Siddhartha tells the Buddha, “You show the world as a complete, unbroken chain, an eternal chain, linked together by cause and effect. Never has it been presented so clearly, never has it been so irrefutably demonstrated” (Hesse 32). Gotama, the Buddha, puts his followers before himself and teaches them his way of achieving salvation. This benefits the whole group. Similarly, people in the United States may need to give up some of their individual gun rights in order to ensure the safety of people in our nation as a whole. In the last chapter of Siddhartha called “Govinda,” the narrator states that “Govinda stood yet a while bending over Siddhartha’s peaceful face which he had just kissed, which had just been the stage of all present and future forms. His countenance was unchanged after the mirror of the thousand-fold forms had disappeared from the surface. He smiled peacefully and gently, perhaps very graciously, perhaps very mockingly, exactly as the Illustrious One had smiled” (Hesse 151). This quote possibly shows that Nirvana and peace do not just come from within, that it can come from other people. Comparably, peace in the United States does not come from the individual’s right to own firearms; instead it comes from everyone as a group giving up an inalienable right to guns. In order to keep the nation as a whole safe, individuals will have to let go of some of their Second Amendment rights and there need to be more serious gun controls implemented.
Although gun control should be increased in the United States, some people disagree with this position. They believe that they have the individual right to bear arms. They view the Second Amendment as up-to-date and supporting their claims to own firearms. They believe that guns are needed for self defense and that the wide circulation of guns around the country would result in a decreased crime rate. This individualistic argument for gun rights could be supported by the text of Anthem by Ayn Rand. In chapter six, Equality 7-2521 says, “Whatever road I take, the guiding star is within me … [it points] to me” (Rand 95). At the end of the novel, Equality realizes that he, himself dictates his actions and what he wants to do in the future. He is in control of his life. Similarly, people who are pro gun rights believe that they determine how their future turns out. They want to protect themselves with guns in order to guarantee make their safety in the future, and they would encourage others to do so as well. Later on in chapter six of Anthem, Equality tells the readers, “The word ‘We’ is as lime poured over men, which sets and hardens to stone, and crushes all beneath it … It is the word by which the depraved steal the virtue of the good, by which the weak steal the might of the strong, by which the fools steal the wisdom of the sages” (Rand 97). By this he means that collectivists are unfairly taking away the rights of the individuals. Those who support the Second Amendment have a similar mentality and believe that people who are pro-gun control are trying to unjustly take away their individual and inalienable rights to own a gun. In my opinion, the argument of the pro-gun rights group is not persuasive. First of all, the Second Amendment is out-of-date and does not directly condone the ownership of firearms by ordinary citizens. Additionally, an increase in gun ownership would not decrease crime, instead it would lead to an increase and would directly result in more gun violence. Lastly, gun control would not necessarily prohibit everyone from owning a firearm, it would just take guns away from those who aren’t qualified or safe to be around guns.
Gun control is a heated topic in the United States at the moment. Some people believe that gun control should be intensified while others feel that all people deserve the right to bear arms. Further gun control should be implemented in the United States because the Second Amendment is outdated, not all people are qualified to use a gun, and the safety of people as a group extremely important. Some steps towards further gun control that might be taken are government background checks of all gun purchasers and placing all banned purchasers in the system so the F.B.I. has an easier time of deeming who is a legitimate gun buyer (Donohue). These advances will hopefully decrease gun violence immensely, save many lives, and make our nation a better place.