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American history - essay

In 2012, a gunman walked into a school and killed twenty young children and six adults. These innocent lives were taken by a gun that was placed in the hands of an unstable man. This man was dangerous to society, but because of the easy access to firearms, he was able to get his hands on a lethal weapon. Families were ripped apart with the loss of family members, and the town of Newtown is still mourning the loss of the children and teachers. This tragedy is not as rare as people may think, there has been an increasing number of mass shootings in the U.S.. Every day 100 Americans are killed by guns and there needs to be a change in government policy. The main reason the government has not illegalized guns is that of the Second Amendment. Even though the Second Amendment says that everyone has the right to bear arms, there should be more regulations surrounding gun control because guns are very easy to obtain and can be put in the hands of lethal people, it creates dangerous situations for U.S. citizens, and there has been an excessive number of mass shootings in the U.S.

In 1791, the Constitution was ratified, which instated the Second Amendment. This Amendment upheld American citizens" right to bear arms. At first, this amendment was effective in ensuring people"s safety and freedom; however, as technology has advanced guns have proved to be more of a threat and a danger to society. Throughout the last century, the American government has been debating solutions to solve this issue, but it only grows as more mass shootings and murders occur. In the court case the United States v. Miller in 1939, the Supreme Court followed the National Firearms Act and concluded that the interstate transportation of an unregistered sawed-off shotgun can be restricted because the gun needed to be registered.

However, in 2008, during the case of District of Columbia v Heller, the Supreme court ruled that the Second Amendment prohibits the federal government from making it illegal for citizens to keep loaded handguns at their house. There have also been many laws passed to try to fix the gun problem in America. In 1934, Congress passed the National Firearms Act, which required some firearms to be registered, taxed the sale and manufacture of firearms, and restricted the sale and ownership of high-risk weapons like machine guns. This was the country"s first major piece of legislation passed that limited the use of guns. Later, in 1968, the Gun Control Act was passed following the assassinations of Dr. Martain Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. This act "banned the sale of guns to felons, fugitives from justice, illegal drug users, the mentally ill, and those dishonorably discharged from the armed forces". It also banned mail-order sales of firearms and ammunition. Finally, in 1993 and 1994, the government passed laws that required background checks in order to purchase a gun and banned the sale of new assault-style weapons. This requirement of background checks was removed, but many states still use them. Yet, with all of this being done to stop gun violence, it is still a very prominent issue in the United States. These laws are not enough to stop the murders that are caused by guns, and stricter regulations need to be put in place.

Although gun control has been a topic of conversation for centuries, this issue has been increasingly prominent in recent years with a rising number of mass shootings. According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "for every American killed by a terrorist, there have been 1,000 killed by domestic gun violence". Guns have been the cause of so many deaths in America. There has been a multitude of protests held to fight for stricter regulations for guns, but not much action has taken place. Innocent lives have been taken due to guns, and something needs to be done about it. Guns are used in two-thirds of all homicides in the U.S. However, worldwide only 42 percent of all homicides involve guns. Many countries have passed legislation which has greatly reduced gun violence. For example, Australia banned all semiautomatic weapons and now requires a strict licensing and registration system for gun owners. Since these regulations have been put in place there has been a steady decrease in gun-related deaths. If the United States decided to follow the example placed by countries like Australia, gun violence could greatly decrease. The amount of guns in America is overwhelming with about 120 guns for every 100 people, and if this number was abated even a little, many people"s lives could be spared.

Gun control activists have proposed many solutions to this ongoing problem. There are many options for routes that the U.S government can take to help solve this issue. There should be stricter regulations placed on guns. These regulations should include background checks, which can make sure guns do not go into the hands of someone with a violent past who could be dangerous. After a mass shooting in a Texas Church, Senator John Cornyn believed that "those 26 people and the 20 more who were wounded would be alive today and the injured would not have been shot if an appropriate background check system had been in place". No one who has anything on their record that could make them a threat should be allowed to own a gun. All assault-style rifles should also be banned because of the damage they can cause. The process of getting a gun should be made more difficult as well. Guns should be made difficult to access and made complicated to buy, so only people who really want a gun will go through the effort of buying one. This could greatly reduce the number of guns that are held by American citizens and, in turn, will reduce the risk of gun-related violence. The most effective solution would be to ban guns altogether, but this law would be very hard to pass because it would require changing a Constitutional amendment. There would be a lot of protests by gun rights supporters if the government decided to change an amendment and take away guns from citizens, so it would be easier to compromise with creating strict regulations for firearms.

Even with all of the violence that guns bring, many people still argue that guns are essential in upholding the freedoms that the founding fathers agreed upon. They argue that because of the second amendment, everyone should be given the right to bear arms. The 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".

People who advocate for gun rights state that because it is the second amendment that says that citizens should have the right to own a gun, it can not be changed seeing that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. However, the Constitution clearly states that the right to bear arms is for the purpose of having a well-regulated militia to maintain the security of the state. Very few guns that are purchased fall under the category of the state militia, and therefore should not be protected by the Second Amendment. Furthermore, the founding fathers created the Constitution over a century ago when there were no high-tech guns and assault rifles, and the threat of gun violence was almost nonexistent. The Constitution is meant to be open for interpretation and adapted when necessary. The United States needs to realize that in order for there to be a decline in gun-related homicides, there have to be stricter regulations on guns. Just because the Constitution originally stated that everyone should have the right to own a firearm, does not mean they still should. Whether it be stricter gun regulations or the illegalization of guns, something needs to be done.

The American policies surrounding gun control need to change in order to prevent the murder of innocent lives via firearms. With "Guns [being] responsible for over thirty-three thousand deaths in the United States annually" it is quite apparent something needs to be done. Because it would be too difficult to change an amendment in the Constitution, the government should create stricter regulations for gun control without taking away the right to bear arms completely. The Supreme Court needs to create a precedent that policies such as background checks and banning assault rifles are constitutional and necessary to maintain the safety of American citizens. People need to ask themselves what is more important: the lives of innocent people, or their right to own a lethal weapon. The number of lives that could have been spared if guns were better regulated is copious. The decision to save many Americans" lives in the future rests in the hands of the current government and creating new policies for gun control could help tremendously.