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Wednesday, 4 August, 1999, 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK
Reaction to the US handgun issue: The right to bear arms
The right to bear arms is a constitutional right in which Americans believe very strongly.
I viewed with some amazement a speech made by President Clinton following the tragic Arkansas shooting when he said that there had been three similar gun attacks in schools in the past few months. He then went on to say that he would have to set up a team to find out what connected the incidents. I shouted at the TV set "GUNS, are you stupid!", but then I thought about it a bit more, and that is why I have voted against a ban.
When the Constitution gave citizens the right to bear arms, it was referring to the formation of a militia, and the 'arms' were muskets! Guns are intended for violence, and only perpetuate it. Ten children a day die from handgun accidents; that is ten deaths too many that could be prevented if people would stop keeping guns in their home. There is no excuse for keeping a gun in your home in this day and age.
In a word; NO. The question is, in fact, equivalent to "Should America Ban Breathing?". The most fundamental right of any organism is to protect and maintain its existence. For human beings, so long as one does not initiate force, no tool towards that end may be barred from one's use. Indeed, within the context of a Free People and a Just Government, I refer you to the following quote from an obscure English anti-government wacko: "The right of self-defence is the first law of nature; in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and when the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction." Henry St. George Tucker, in Blackstone's 1768 "Commentaries on the Laws of England."
Let's see. Some other countries that ban/restrict private ownership of guns.....North Korea, China, Taiwan, Bosnia, Haiti....let freedom ring!
Unfortunately (or fortunately), there are risks associated with living in a democracy. This is one of them.
I don't know about Europe, but the easy availability of handguns in the USA scares me. They are prevalent here despite the fact that concealed weapons are banned. The propaganda put forward by the American Rifle Association is an unbelievable mess of jingoism and deliberate avoidance of the truth. The two children who shot their schoolmates in Arkansas are being dismissed as a pair of pranksters. The fact that they were allowed easy access to weapons is dismissed as their family 'rights'. Thank goodness I live in a fairly isolated town.
I stood by my country during the Vietnam War. My country then trusted me to be armed and trained in the use of arms. I later became a Police Officer and again was trusted to be armed. However today I am retired. Am I to be no longer trusted, to defend my own home as I was trusted to defend my country and society? If my government can no longer trust me, then I can no longer trust my government.
The constitutional right to bear arms is an historical irrelevance, as many legal things are once two centuries old. There is still an active law here banning Welsh people from the town of Chester (an English town near the Welsh border) after night fall. No-one would exercise this law now, because it is irrelevant and its use would look foolish. It tells us something about the nature of life back then, but tells us nothing about what life is like today.
How dare you question our rights to own handguns! Freedom, baby, freedom!! "He who gives up his liberties for the sake of security deserves neither". My government will never kick my butt! Can you say the same...I think not! I will never give up my 2nd amendment rights without a fight. Don't be misled by the liberal media. Americans in the Heartland are not even debating this issue...it is dead in the water. I could go on forever, but I only get madder and madder thinking about it. So take care of your own and we will do the same.
It's because I own and carry a handgun that I am still here to write this. I was attacked by two people. One was armed with a knife, the other with a pipe. When I pulled my .45 and aimed it at the centre of the person with the knife, the attack stopped. If I was unarmed, I would be dead now and my two children would be fatherless. It is our right to keep and bear arms in the United States. It's that right which keeps our Constitution in place. It is the arms in private citizens' hands that keep us free from government oppression.
Have we lost sight of the fact that "rights" can be negative to society? I am not a pacifist, but who of sound mind can go on defending the right of people to carry "equipment" designed for no other purpose than to injure & kill. Would anyone seriously suggest that we allow a person to pollute the atmosphere simply because he has the "right" to like black smoke?
Hitler first disarmed the people then he built the concentration camps. In 1942 the US government also built concentration camps. Consider also the genocide against the Native Americans. George Washington said that no government can be trusted. Besides all that, our people had a right to bear arms before this government existed- we aim to keep that right at any cost.
It may sound a little paranoid but it is the ultimate freedom to know that the government is beholden to its people because they have the ability of armed insurrection. I am quite sure that Americans have enjoyed greater freedoms because of the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.
The ban of hand guns is yet another step down the road to serfdom. We will give up our every right for the promise of a safer tomorrow. And that promise is always fraudulent.
America cannot legally ban the handgun unless and until congress and the nation vote to change the Bill of Rights, where the second amendment ... A WELL REGULATED (armed) MILITIA (citizen army) BEING NECESSARY TO THE SECURITY OF A FREE STATE, THE RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED ... is the guarantor of the rest of the constitution. In fact, it was the only amendment where the approval was unanimous. Think about it, what enemy foreign or domestic would be foolhardy enough to launch a frontal assault on a well armed citizenry? The criminal element lies not in firearms, but rather in the removal of personal responsibility for one's actions and from the removal of God from our classrooms, government and society.
The right to bear arms is our constitutional right. The need to bear arms is a national and international disgrace.
When this country is run by fascists we'll be wishing we hadn't given up our personal defence. We've had it easy for a long time. But we cannot assume that our country is immune from being oppressed by a government, members of whom are the only ones allowed to carry firearms. If you outlaw firearms, only outlaws (and the government) will have firearms. I'd rather defend myself than take my chances with statistics.
A country often has the government and laws it deserves. Since a majority of Americans apparently believe that an archaic constitutional right to bear muskets implies the right to almost unrestricted firearm ownership, I'm going to sit back, laugh and enjoy watching the macabre spectacle in the south unfold. Against stupidity, even the gods struggle in vain.
Despite lawyerish weasel arguments to the contrary, the Constitution guarantees a pre-existing right to bear firearms. The question of a ban is therefore moot. The threat to the freedom of law-abiding residents in the US comes from an insidious imposition of arbitrary administrative restrictions. Such a process is both undemocratic and a contemptuous insult to the people. Personal protection of oneself and one's family is the responsibility of the individual alone. The police are neither capable nor mandated to provide individual protection. Responsible gun ownership provides the individual, if he or she so chooses, with the only truly effective counter to the very real and potentially devastating personal effects of an encounter with the predatory and often evil criminal elements in society. The entire issue is too serious to be compared to the actions of children in Arkansas. The guns are not the problem it is the human beings. Jamie Bulger was beaten to death by children using blocks of concrete. Should building materials be banned?
Although I advocate the banning of handguns in the USA I don't believe that there is enough political will by either party to pursue it. They would lose too much of their grass roots support because most Americans use the Constitution as a basis for their rights. Taking away the right to bear arms knock on government control and anti-freedom.
Current gun laws in the USA are stricter than they were 30 or 40 years ago. It was possible at one time to purchase a gun through the mail. Of course then there was less crime but people took responsibility for themselves and their actions. The government didn't try to run everyone's life back then. And yes, in the bible Jesus tells a man to sell his cloak and buy a sword so that he may defend and protect his family. I also have one question for all you detractors, if the USA is such an uncivilised, dangerous and backward country why do millions of people from every country in the world want to live here?
Since there is no gun violence problem, I would invite Mr Ratner to visit any one of our many inner-city areas, where he will not have to fear for his life. Seriously, though, the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States states, as its raison d'etre, the establishment and maintenance of local militia. Isn't this already filled by the state National Guard units?
The right to bear arms is a Revolutionary War-era law which has been a disaster in modern times. Our forefathers never envisioned that it would lead to children killing children.
I have felt for many a year that the second amendment to the US constitution should be repealed, and the recent events in Arkansas have done nothing to dissuade me of that belief. The current state of affairs is not what the founding fathers of the United States had in mind. The second amendment grants Americans the right to bear arms "in order to maintain a well regulated militia." A militia force was of paramount importance during the birth of the nation, but it is a role more or less filled in these times by the National Guard, a reserve military unit called into active duty when and if situations warrant.
With 230,000,000 hand guns in America, it would be impossible to confiscate them all without a house-to-house search. I, for one, would never give them (plural) up. Like most Texans, owning guns is a part of the Sacred Honour of being an American. My children and their children do not have access to my arsenal. Only by force would I give up my guns. AMEN.
God-given right? Since when is it Christian to kill?
Here in Boston, we have constant reminders of the tyranny that was once imposed upon us by your country. It was that tyranny that gave rise to our revolution and ultimately our Constitution with its Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment of our Constitution gives every citizen of our nation the right to bear arms. An armed citizenry is our check against tyranny.
I am appalled at the thought that people feel that it is a part of their "freedom" to carry a gun and own one. Here in Australia we know only too well the consequences of that form of thinking.
NO, handguns should NOT be banned in the US (or anywhere). They will always exist. Even a complete ban puts them only in the hands of criminals. We are supposedly at war against drugs. Look how many are still made here as well as imported. Did anyone learn anything from Prohibition?
No. It was interesting, when we visited the UK last year, to see your Eye-Spy programme, with all those poor shopkeepers outgunned by robbers-but it's not a situation I would care to replicate in my country, thank you. I'll keep my handgun-and I'll train my children properly.
Contrary to common belief, the Second Amendment does not guarantee an individual right to bear arms. The amendment refers to "a well-regulated militia" (too many people neglect to read the first clause), and therefore guarantees a corporate or collective right, rather than an individual right. This is an opinion that has been upheld by the Supreme Court in numerous cases.
When are Europeans going to get it through their heads that this issue goes deeper than being able to own a gun. It's about rights!! I don't own a gun and personally I have no desire to run out and buy one. That is my decision. Take away the right of a law-abiding citizen to own a gun and pretty soon the government will be looking for something else to take away until we are left with nothing.
For many Americans gun violence is considered a social problem. Like many social ills the problem lies with someone else and not with ourselves. "It's the pistol in the hands of a criminal and not the handgun in our closet that's the problem.", we say to ourselves. I, like many Americans own rifles and handguns but often one weapon out of millions falls into the wrong hands and tragedy results. Perhaps we consider the violence that occurs as acceptable casualties for our Constitutional rights. The American tradition of gun ownership and gun violence can perhaps only be understood by Americans. For the United States guns are one of our few lasting traditions and for better or for worse help define our national character.
First of all, I have to laugh at the nonsensical debate of other countries over US law. If you don't like our laws, so be it. I understand enough about some of your laws to really not care about non-American opinion regarding internal US policy. And if you want to worship/follow a system of government based on thousand-year old notions of inherited domain, so be it. My ancestors didn't like it, neither would I.
Similarly, you don't live here, and I for one thank God for it. We Americans have enough nit-wit wanna-be socialists that want to run everyone else's lives for them. They all have short memories and forget too easily what freedom is about, and how much they have benefited by the firearms we possess and the other freedoms those firearms have protected over the years. But America's "Gun Culture" sure as hell helped the Brits and Western Europe out only 50 years ago, remember Dunkirk? All the donated firearms from US households that helped prevent the UK from celebrating Oktoberfest today? I don't mean to dwell on the past, but come off it.
Guns in America save far more than they kill and anyone who makes an honest effort to study the issue knows this.
As always, the problem is with the user and not the tool. Are we going to ban 'straight-razors' because 'Sweeney Todd' was not in control of all of his faculties?
Approximately 20,000 Americans a year are murdered. The figure for Great Britain is less than 1,000. America has roughly five times the population of Britain. Americans are not more violent than the British, yet when they commit acts of violence the results are usually far more definitive due to the widespread availability of firearms. The notion that the Constitution guarantees the right to carry arms ignores the fact that today the government is armed with more than muskets. They will always have the greater fire power. But the profusion of hand guns certainly does not make the USA a safer place. It makes it more violent and easier for the young, the criminal and the insane to indulge in more dangerous acts of violence. Maybe it is time to amend the Constitution.
Some of my fellow countrymen are exhibiting their usual muddled thinking and knee-jerk reactionary tendencies on this one.
It amuses me to know that more people died through gun violence in the last year in the States than have died in 25 years of "Troubles" in Northern Ireland. If people really believe that "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" then what does that really say about the Americans as a people?
It is bad policy to make law on extremely rare events. Like it or not, law-abiding citizens who legally obtain guns don't shoot people for kicks! And a law banning guns and rifles will not deter the criminal -- the overwhelming majority of whom obtain weapons illegally so that they don't register their name with the gun.
The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government. - Thomas Jefferson
The US sees itself as leading the world into the new millenium. Its claim to do so is valid, given the amazing durability of its Constitution, and the equally amazing energy of its people. But it is completely ridiculous to believe that future generations will not look back and regard the freedom that Americans have to hold guns to kill each other as a wild anachronism. People will look at it as they now look back on slavery - a fundamental attack on human rights.
Perhaps the country that gave the world Neville Chamberlain and later rejected Winston Churchill will never understand: The purpose of our Second Amendment is to make sure that we can defend ourselves against the abuses of OUR OWN GOVERNMENT! Anyone familiar with our current crop of politicians who is intelligent enough to walk and chew gum at the same time will have no trouble understanding my meaning.
Two of the main reasons (besides the grace of God) that I survived the "LA Riots" in 1992 without a scratch were two Browning 9mm pistols with 15-round magazines. The others were an SKS rifle and a 12 ga Remington 870 shotgun. All of them, "evil assault weapons". When rioters saw that my friend and I were armed and ready to use the guns if need be, they decided to find safer places to destroy. I never had to fire a shot, just their presence was enough of a deterrent. The police were nowhere to be seen. The mayor, governor and president did nothing to help until the trouble was over. Relying on "government" to protect you can get you killed. The Nazis had gun control. Need I say more?
Why do people harp on about their right to carry arms? Surely the US has a right to protect the public by removing these guns from circulation.
History has shown that our 2nd Amendment keeps the USA free and prosperous. The USA has kept Europe and much of the rest of the world Free. How many of you outside the US really want a weakened demoralized and ineffectual America?
I am genuinely appalled at the lack of constitutional knowledge of a minority of those who've replied to this question. There are those who decry our constitution and lament that we even have one. I'm glad you don't live here.
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