The right to possess firearms is a disputed issue in the U.S. Actually, there is increased debates about the gun ownership right that any other rights in the constitution (Li, 2010). In 2008, the U.S Supreme Court revitalized the Second Amendment in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290). Heller, the compliant disputed the legality of the Washington D. C’s handgun outlaw, a bill that had existed for over thirty years. The Second Amendment of the U.S Constitution reads: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary of the security of the free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The pronouncement has over the years developed a considerable argument regarding the Amendment’s intentional range. On one hand, the supporters of the change believe it establishes a constitutional obligational for Americans to keep and bear firearms (District of Columbia v. Heller, 2007). Hence, under this provision, the constitution prevents legislative bodies from outlawing firearm possession and renders restrictive and prohibitory regulations unconstitutional. On the other hand, critics believe that the reform is ineffective thus a harsh firearm control needs to be implemented (Li, 2010). The essay argues that the Second Amendment is a fundamental right to the American people.
Before the historical ruling, provisions of the District of Columbia Code prohibited possession of unlicensed firearms and also banned the licensure of shotguns. However, the head of the security department could provide a one-year permit for shotguns (District of Columbia v. Heller, 2007). The law also required holders of licensed firearms to keep them disassembled and unloaded. Dick Anthony Heller was a special security personnel in D.C and was allowed to hold a handgun while working. However, when he tried to request for permit for the shotgun, his request was rejected (District of Columbia v. Heller, 2007). Heller petitioned the District of Columbia by seeking a ruling against the enforcement of the law arguing that it breached his right. The U.S Court of Appeal held that the reform safeguards the right to possess guns in households for the motive of self-protection and the D. C’s provision that guns be held in households be non-functional contravened that right.
Human rights are innate to all individuals against their ethnicity, race, religion, gender, language and other status. They include the right to liberty, life, security, freedom of opinion and expression among others (United Nations, 2021). All individuals are entitled to these rights with discrimination since the International human rights law obligates policymakers to protect and promote human rights and essential freedoms. Like above rights, the 2nd reform is also a basic right. The amendment has over the years been objectified as a constitutional right in line with the UN provisions (Zick, 2018). It has been an essential element of the American cultural, political and legal conversations. Americans widely upholds the right granted in Heller hence, the Second Amendment has a significant rhetorical appeal. Like any other constitutional obligations, the Second Amendment is a crucial ground of struggle in the current globe of continuous reformations in policies (Zick, 2018). The right to bear and keep arms as described by Heller and also in federal and state is supported by state and federal authority and power. Moreover, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other activists defend and expand the reform as a basic right of Americans.
The reform devised in Heller and McDonald is eligible as fundamental obligation since it comprises one of the liberties in the Bill of Rights. As proved by the Court, these rights are tentatively essential (Zick, 2018). Moreover, the right to bear and keep arms is also essential under the Court’s incorporation doctrine. The court systems uses this doctrine to decide which guidelines of the Bill of Rights need to be enforced across local, state or the federal government levels since the right is based on concepts of ordered freedom and founded in the conscience and beliefs of Americans to be considered fundamental (Zick, 2018).In McDonald v.City of Chicago, the Supreme Court upheld that the ability to possess firearms as outlined in Heller was essential in line with these guidelines (McDonald v. Chicago, 2009).The Supreme Court reversed the Seventh Circuit, maintaining that the 14th reform makes the 2nd reform’s right to own firearms for the sole reason of self-protection enforced in all states.
In Justice Samuel A. Alito’s rule, he argued that individual rights are significant to the nation’s plan of ordered freedom and that they are founded in the country’s past and traditions and are thus effectively enforced in the states based on the 14th reform. The jury acknowledge in Heller that the liberty to self-protection was basic and deeply founded hence, it argued that since its holding in Heller, the 2nd reform applied to all jurisdictions (McDonald v. Chicago, 2009). The bench argued that the case to the 7th Circuit to discover whether Chicago’s handgun outlaw breached a person’s liberty to own firearms for self-protection. According to Justice Alito, the Due Process Clause of the 24th reform includes the 2nd reform’s right upheld in Heller (McDonald v. Chicago, 2009). He refuted Justice Clarence Thomas’s separate assertion that the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the 14th reform more effectively includes the 2nd change against the states (McDonald v. Chicago, 2009). In support, Justice Antonin Scalia agreed to the Court’s decision.
The ban on the registration of shotguns and the provision to hold firearms in the household disassembled or non-functional contravenes the law. Again, the court passed that the initial provision of the reform that mentions a “militia” is explanatory subsection and does not inhibit the operational section of the law (District of Columbia v. Heller, 2007). Moreover, it was argued that the phrase militia need not be restricted to military personnel since the phrase referred to all individuals capable of using firearms (District of Columbia v. Heller, 2007). Hence, outlawing handguns, the whole category of guns usually utilized for security reasons and forbidding guns from being held functional in households, the area that is traditionally require to be safeguarded, violates the 2nd Amendment. Again, Heller and McDonald argued based on the relationship between individual autonomy, self-defense and the right to possess guns (Zick, 2018). In this regard, the reform’s right mirror other basics human liberties against contraception and abortion. The right to gun ownership is a significant right connected to the preservation of life thus enhancing human dignity (McDonald v. Chicago, 2009). The Second Amendment is also fundamental since it was shaped as a first-class right drawn from the First Amendment.
In disagreement, Justice John Paul Stevens believed that the 2nd reform does not establish an immense liberty to own weapons for individual protection. In lieu, the law safeguards the right to own and use arms but does not diminish the authority’s ability to control non-military ownership and use of firearms (District of Columbia v. Heller, 2007). Within the U.S, in order to purchase a shotgun, ammunition and rifles, one must be at least 18 years old and 21 years old to get all other firearms. Individuals dishonorably discharged from the military and tourists are restricted from purchasing firearms (Statista, 2021). Guns are sold through registered vendor and all buyers must go through a background scrutiny. Nonetheless, the gun show loophole enables individuals to get guns from gun shows, flea markets, personal collectors or online without background check (Statista, 2021). The reform enforcement on the right to hold guns represents a leading achievement in American civil rights. However, in recent years, it has drawn attention as a moral and social problem (Alegi). Over the years, the U.S has witnessed the growing number of massacres and homicides that have made headlines. Every and everywhere, reports of killings are recorded. According to Alegi, in the first decade of the 21st century, there were recorded over 48 school shootings in 25 states counting hundreds of victims. For example, from 2010 to 2014, there were over 106 school shootings and 103 victims (Statista, 2021). A 2007 survey revealed that the U.S ranks first among other countries by the number of privately owned guns. In the U. S, gun owners are around eight five million meaning that three in four Americans have two or more firearms (Alegi). Studies reveal that the prevalence of gun boosts the peril of gun-associated violence in communities.
Despite these shortcomings, Americans have the right to safeguard their homes and this right need not be undermined. Since there no one questioning the Constitutions provision to safeguard the right of hunters to posses and own sporting guns for hunting or the ability to posses fishing rods for fishing (Alegi). Besides, no one seems to question the right of Americans to own and keep automobiles. The Amendment has been an essential part of the American political, constitutional and cultural discourses. It is even advised that the state and federal governments develop reasonable regulations for the possession and use of firearms in an effort to reduce mindless cases of gun murder.
In conclusion, over the years, the Second Amendment has been viewed and described as a basic constitutional right based on all guidelines and strategies. The ability to own and use firearms, which functions as a robust eclipse, has been regarded as “implicit in the theory of ordered liberty” and distinguished as a key foundation to individual nobility and self-protection. It has been contrasted to, and as a matter of fact customized on the First Amendment’s freedom of speech provision. Despite the increased cases of unlawful use of firearms, the Amendment is a key right to Americans to possess firearms. Policymakers need to devise effective approaches of tackling the moral and social challenges related to increased cases of shootings. Provided that the Supreme Court and several other lower courts have ratified the Second Amendment in these clear conditions, contextual and elucidation, it is a significant right of Americans.
Alegi, G., Greco, F., & Ungari, A. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms Dilemma. The Second Amendment between Constitution, History and Politics.
District of Columbia v. Heller. (2007). Oyez. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.oyez.org/cases/2007/07-290.
Li, H. S. (2010). The Right to Bear Arms: Examining the Consequences of the Second Amendment in Terms of Law & Economics.
McDonald v. Chicago. (2009). Oyez. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.oyez.org/cases/2009/08-1521.
Statista. (2021, November 30). U.S. mass shootings by legality of weapons 2019. https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.statista.com/statistics/476461/mass-shootings-in-the-us-by-legality-of-shooters-weapons/&source=gmail&ust=1639463575727000&usg=AOvVaw1N3KZLSTG-dcJHhxT31sit.
United Nations. (2021). Human rights. https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/human-rights.
Zick, T. (2018). The Second Amendment as a Fundamental Right. Hastings Const. LQ, 46, 621.