GunControl in the US
Thegun control debate, in contemporary America, is synonymous with thesubject of what the Second Amendment encompasses. The connotation ofthe right to possess firearms in the United States is amongst themost controversial issues in the American constitutional law (Cornelland DeDino 487).Two conflicting schools of thought have dominated the current SecondAmendment debate. The enthusiasts of tougher gun regulation controlssubscribe to the idea that the Amendment is a collective right. Thetenets of this supposition hypothesize that the meaning of theAmendment is fashioned by the Preamble that confirms the significanceof a militia that is well regulated. Collective rights thinkerscontend that the Second Amendment enables the states to protect theirwell-regulated mercenaries from the danger of disarmament by thecentral government. The activists of gun rights place more emphasison the concluding part of the Amendment it gives the masses theright to “bear and keep firearms”(Cornell and DeDino 487). The United States Court of Appealidentified three schools of thought, regarding the topic of guncontrol: the traditional collective rights perspective, thesophisticated collective rights perception, and the individual rightsviewpoint”(Cornell and DeDino 490). The Second Amendment erudition has spreadacross a diverse spectrum that encompasses the broad right of theperson to the constricted collective right of the states to sustaintheir private armies.
Recentscholarship typifies the alternative models as part of a novelparadigm that describes the new Amendment as a civic right. Thisviewpoint draws attention to the fact that citizens exercise theright to bear arms, as opposed to individuals (Cornell and DeDino491). Instead of focusing on one part of the writing, the modernstudy attempts to develop a perception that is holistic. Thisviewpoint avers that the Second Amendment stretches beyond protectingthe private rights of individual entities and the common rights ofstates. According to the contemporary scholarship, the citizens whotake action collectively, for a purpose that concerns the public(regulated militia), deserve the right to bear arms. Although thequestions of state rights and federalism are indispensable in theSecond Amendment deliberation, the content is more applicable in thecivil rights model when compared to both the individual rights andcollective rights model.
Thus,the civic right to bear arms has the closest connection with thedominant understanding that was advanced during the Founding Era. Oneof the most critical eighteenth-century perspectives forunderstanding the right to possess arms was the active legal dialogueof civic responsibility (Cornell and DeDino 492). Historianssubscribe to the understanding that the Second Amendment had a strongconnection with the republican ideas of the Founding Era,specifically the concept of civic virtue. The opponents of thisviewpoint assert that the founding generation was motivated byliberal ideas, as opposed to Republican, when developing the conceptof the right to bear arms. Nonetheless, historical erudition hasrejected the premise that the political culture of the United Statescan be studied under the lens of a single ideological belief. Aconception that is more pluralistic, in terms of a reflection on theworld of the founders, has been embraced. The recognition of thelegal tradition, which was derived from the jurisprudence of theEnglish common law, in addition to liberalism and republicanism, hasbeen developed. Notwithstanding, a causal relationship between Shay’srebellion and the ratification of the US Constitution has beenproven.
Historians,on numerous occasions, have implied, assumed, or stated in anexplicit manner that Shay`s Rebellion played a significant role inthe writing and the confirmation of the US constitution. Theextensive debate that was generated by Shay`s rebellion, according tohistorians, went a long way toward motivating the masses, in theUnited States, to realize the need for constitutional reform duringthe 1786 to 1787 winter (Feer 388). Additionally, the proclamationsof political leaders like George Washington, flourishing merchantslike Stephen Higginson and the various associates of theConstitutional Convention reflected the centrality of Shay`srebellion on bringing the need for ratifying the constitution to thesurface. Nonetheless, a careful analysis of data to bring to the forethe significance of Shay’s rebellion on the ratification of theConstitution has not been done. It is not clear whether or not theConstitution of the United States would be written and approvedduring the same period if the Shay rebellion occurred or not. Aftercontemplating about the problems of causation that faced socialscientists and historians, Robert MacIver contended that the best wayto evaluate the significance of the incident on the ratification ofthe constitution would be to ask what events would have occurred ifthe causative agent was not present.
Consideringthe above, Shay’s rebellion played a significant role ininfluencing the manner in which the delegates to the ConstitutionalConvention interpreted the revision of the constitution. GeorgeWashington, for instance, was troubled by the news of the rebellion(Feer 395). Historians contend that Washington was frightened out ofretirement, and back into politics, by the rebellion. George’sprestige kept the delegates active to ensure that the ratificationprocess was hastened. Accordingly, if George was not present, theconfirmation process may have been delayed or even sabotaged.Additionally, Stephen Higginson declared that Shay`s rebellionconvinced him that a stronger central government was necessary (Feer406). He contended that he had never seen a such a significant shiftin the public opinion as he did after Shay`s rebellion. Nonetheless,upon the completion of their tasks at the Convention, Madison,Washington, Wilson, Hamilton, King, and other delegates recommendedconstitution to the states (Feer 406). Shay’s rebellion was onlybrought up occasionally by the Federalists in newspapers andpamphlets during the 1787-1788 long winters. Luther Martin did notbelieve that Shay’s rebellion was a sufficient arsenal in the chestof the Federalists. In the ratifying conventions, the rebellion wasalso not necessary. In fact, in the states where detailed reports ofdebates exist, the resistance only came up occasionally.Nevertheless, in spite of the many stands against the significance ofShay`s rebellion on the US Constitution`s ratification process, theoriginal players in the confirmation process were influenced by therevolution, which means that it played a critical role in the writingand approval of the constitution. The founders of the constitutionwrote it to bring a state of balance in the rights and obligations ofthe citizenry.
Thefounding fathers sketched the Constitution with the intention ofbalancing rights with responsibilities. The Federalists emphasize thecentrality of a strong national government and a standing army (Feer405). This group of individuals holds that a strong centralgovernment is critical to the maintenance of stability. As discussedabove, a nation can succumb to the ills of rebellions and revolutionsif the capacity of central government is inadequate. If the federalgovernment had enough power to quash rebellions, Shay’s rebellionmay have not occurred. George Washington, for example, asserted thatthe only remedy for anarchy and confusion was the development of a“liberal and energetic Constitution” (Feer 405). The Federalists,considering the philosophy mention beforehand, support that premisethat gun control policies should be developed at the national levelto prevent the unlawful acquisition of arms and to ensure a state ofstability in the nation. Additionally, the supporters of this schoolof thought believe that a standing army, or, the military, iscritical to ensuring the country is protected from aggressors. Theanti-federalists, on the other hand, avow that the masses have theright to possess weapons to defend themselves and the state (Cornelland DeDino 496). This faction contends that the central governmentshould have limited powers, and, by extension, standing armies attimes of peace are perilous to liberty. Thus, these individualsbelieve that the Army should be dissolved, and each state should begiven the responsibility of maintaining its defense through themilitia. Also, the military must always be subjected to strictsubordination and under the governance of civil law. The gun culture,however, changed significantly at the beginning of the nineteenthcentury.
Thenineteenth century observed a significant increase in the prevalenceof laws regulating firearms. After years of peaceful existence andstability, the darker side of letting the masses poses weaponrywithout regulation reared its head. William Gaynor, the New YorkMayor, was shot after a displeased employee shot Gaynor (Cornell197). To fight the dangers that were precipitated by guns and bringto bear a well-regulated civilization, states became ambitious andstarted to develop laws that were broad and far-reaching to controlfirearm use (Cornell and DeDino 512). The laws fell into threedistinct categories: the legislation that prohibited the carrying ofhidden weapons, the laws that put a stop to the carrying of firearms,and the laws that averted the firing of guns under particularcircumstances. The first gun control movement was a local one.Timothy Sullivan influenced New York to put in place the mostcomprehensive gun control statute in the history of America (Cornell197). His decision was informed by the failed assassination of theWilliam J. Gaynor in 1910. The Sullivan law resulted in theregulation of the right to carry firearms, in addition to therestriction of the possession of guns in one’s business and home.The law also required the persons that owned handguns to apply for alicense. Slavery and its abolition also played a significant role inthe gun control debate, albeit in an indirect fashion.
Slaveryand its abolition contributed important insights into the continuinggun regulation debate. Insurrectionists contend that the foundingfathers of the United States recognized the essence of owning guns asa measure of warding off tyranny (Hartgrove 112). Theinsurrectionists argue that the disarmament of the African Americansduring the Civil War led to their subjugation for one hundred years.In the beginning, the individuals that advocated for the barring ofblack people from the military had the upper hand. No slaves wereadmitted to the army and, a short while later, black people stoppedbeing enlisted in the army (Hartgrove 114). However, after fearsabout the safety of South Carolina and Georgia led to a differentturn of events. It was believed that all Blacks would join theBritish Troops if a commander that had adequate supplies marched intoGeorgia and proclaimed freedom to all faithful black people. Theissue of arming slaves was more significant in the South whencompared to the North since the population of Blacks was higher(Wesley 239). The outbreak of the civil war led to more restrictionssince the majority of African-Americans were rebellious, andoutnumbered the Whites. Thus, the South resorted to enlisting theBlacks in the military the North, under the leadership of Lincoln,also adopted the same approach. These events, eventually, led to theenlisting of the Blacks in the entire United States region.
Ina recap of the above discussion, theSecond Amendment dialogue has stretched across a diverse continuumthat covers the liberal right of the individual to the thin, communalright of the states to maintain their secret armies. Thegun control discussion, in contemporary America, can be identifiedwith the issue of what the Second Amendment encompasses. Thesignificance owning firearms in the United States is among the mostcontentious subjects in the American constitutional law. Twoconflicting schools of thought have conquered the current SecondAmendment argument. The devotees of tougher gun regulation measuressubscribe to the suggestion that the Amendment is a shared right. Thepremise of this assumption hypothesizes that the implication of theAmendment is shaped by the Preamble that substantiates theconnotation of a militia that is well regulated. The collectiverights thinkers assert that the Second Amendment helps the states todefend their well-regulated band of soldiers from the risk ofdisarmament by the national government. The advocates of gun rightsplace more importance on the final part of the Amendment it offersthe masses the right to possess weapons. TheUnited States Court of Appeal acknowledged three schools of thought,concerning the issue of gun control: the common collective rightspoint of view, the sophisticated collective rights perception, andthe individual rights viewpoint.
Cornell,Saul and Nathan DeDino. "A Well Regulated Right: The EarlyAmerican Origins Of Gun Control." 73.2 (2004): 487 – 528. Web.
Cornell,Saul. AWell-Regulated Militia.1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Print.
Feer,Robert A. "Shays`s Rebellion And The Constitution: A Study InCausation." TheNew England Quarterly 42.3(2003): 388. Web.
Hartgrove,W. B. "The Negro Soldier In The American Revolution." TheJournal of Negro History 1.2(1916): 112. Web. 12 Nov. 2016.