Gun Rights vs. Gun Control
The debate about appropriate limitations on gun ownership centers on the intent and interpretation of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Gun control advocates argue that the Amendment provides individuals the right to possess guns with the exception of military-style assault rifles, but also that the Amendment does not prevent limitations to be placed on ownership. Gun rights advocates, however, refute that any interpretation to the Amendment needs to be made and argue that the Amendment guarantees ownership of all guns, regardless of type. For gun rights advocates, limitations on age and background checks prior to permitting an individual to own a gun impinge on an individual’s rights.
The Perspective of Gun Control Advocates
Gun control advocates are not necessarily completely against gun ownership. They believe that gun ownership should be subject to limitations. These limitations include 3-day waiting periods prior to receiving a purchased gun, background check, mandatory child safety locks on weapons and minimum age requirements. Gun control advocates do not view these limitations as impingements on freedoms, but instead as measures aimed at preventing violent or underage individuals from obtaining weapons. For advocates, these limitations could prevent future violent gun crimes. Groups such as the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence are the main proponents of gun control laws.
The Perspective of Gun Rights Advocates
In contrast, gun rights advocates view these limitations as infringements on rights guaranteed to citizens under the U.S. Constitution. The Second Amendment, advocates argue, needs no analysis, interpretation or protective measures for its implementation. In support of their argument, gun rights advocates point to data demonstrating that bans on weapon ownership do not reduce violent crime rates. Moreover, they argue, requiring child safety locks places an undue burden on gun manufacturers. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Owners of America Association (GOA) are the main gun rights advocacy groups.
The Issue of Gun Shows
Gun shows are a major point of controversy for both groups of advocates. Gun control advocates argue that purchasing a gun at a gun show should be subject to the same limitations that apply when an individual purchases a gun at a store, meaning a 3-day waiting period and background check. Gun rights advocates believe that these measures will significantly reduce the amount of weapons that are bought and sold and will, eventually, eliminate gun shows altogether. In 1999, the Senate passed a bill extending the 3-day waiting period to guns bought at a show; the House, however, failed to pass a the same bill, and instead passed on in apply a 24-hour waiting period to gun shows after which the gun could be given to the purchaser, regardless of whether the background check information has been processed.
The Political Side of the Issue
The gun control vs. gun rights dispute is as much a political debate as it is moral. Gun control advocates spent approximately 3.7 million in political contributions, mainly to Democratic candidates. In contrast, since 1989, The National Rifle Association spent 17 million dollars in political donations; 14 of which was over a 15-year period. Additionally, the Gun Owners of America Association made political contributions equating to approximately 18 million dollars from 1997-2003. Almost all of the NRA and GOA donations were given to Republicans.
For more information about gun rights and gun control, as well as information from both sides, refer to the links below:
- The Bill of Rights: The text of the Second Amendment provided by the Library of Congress.
- Gun Rights or Gun Control: This page, hosted by Ohio University, introduces the basic debates between gun rights and control.
- Timeline: The Second Amendment Goes to Court: This page, created by Ohio State University, lists the timeline of major events in Second Amendment history.
- The Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms: Provided by North Carolina Wesleyan College, this page provides an in-depth explanation of the Second Amendment’s language.
- District of Columbia v. Heller: The Supreme Court ruling that permitted an individual to own a gun without being associated with the militia.
- Violence Policy Center: This page contains list several recent gun legislations that have been presented to Congress.
- Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence: The Brady Campaign’s website, this site describes the Campaign’s main intentions and actions taken in accordance with their aims.
- Coalition to Stop Gun Violence: The Coalition’s website, this site explains the Coalition’s purposes and actions to stop gun violence.
- Five Myths of Gun Control: Duke Stanford School of Public Policy explains the five main myths about gun control.
- Mayors Against Illegal Guns: Comprised of government leaders, this site provides a map of the discoveries of illegal guns.
- Gun Free Zone Act of 1995: This page contains the text Federal government’s law, which was a major win for gun control advocates.
- National Rifle Association: The NRA’s main website, this site describes the NRA’s aims and recent actions in pursuit of those aims.
- Gun Owners of America: The main GOA website, this site describes the GOA’s major aims and recent actions in support of gun rights.
- Second Amendment Foundation: This Advocacy group is dedicated to explaining the Second Amendment and working on protecting those rights.
- Bryan v. United States: This Supreme Court ruling defines and explains the Firearm Owners Protection act.
- McDonald v. Chicago: The Supreme Court ruling that extended the Second Amendment to the states.
- Gun Control as a Method for Reducing Violence: The Center for Disease Control’s research and findings on the relationship between gun ownership and violent crimes.
- Firearms Legislation In the 111th Congress: This page discusses GOA’s view on current gun laws.
- Open Secrets: NRA Political Donations: This page provides the statistics on the NRA’s political contributions.
- Gun Control Donations: This page provides the amount and party division of political donations by gun control activists.
- Gun Shows: What Goes on Inside: Professor Garen Wintermute from U.C. Davis explains the workings of a typical gun show.
- The Gun Show Loophole: Provided by Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, this page discusses how the sale of guns by individuals not engaged in the sale of firearms are exempted from federal regulations.
- The Gun Show Loophole Challenge: The New York Times’ report on the Columbine and Virginia Tech parents of the deceased arguments against the gun show loophole of being able to obtain a gun in 24 hours.
- Section 18, Chapter 44, United States Code: Provided by the U.S. House of Representatives, this page contains the text of current firearms regulations.
- The Gun Show Accountability Act: This site, hosted by the Violence Policy Center, provides the text of House Rule 902, which regulates the sale of guns at shows.