XXI Seaweed Symposium

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Pushing And Pulling: 2nd Amendment Rights

The battle for the interpretation and scope of the 2nd amendment began in the case of Columbia v. Heller where the courts decided that individuals have the right to carry and bear arms to protect themselves. However, there were no structured guidelines to encompass the scope of the individual’s right to carry arms (Miller 1281). This lack of guidance has been causing a rift between those who was stricter gun laws, even to the point of banning private possession of guns, and maintaining the status quo of loose gun control policies, especially since crime rates in the U.S. are going up.

The main argument of pro-gun control advocates is that low restriction gun access will negatively affect the health and safety of others, especially when criminals have easy access to such weapons. On the other hand, gun lobbyists would rather that individuals carry their own firearms, not just as an inalienable right to personally possess a gun, but to protect themselves when there is no other help in sight.

In the battle between proponents and oppinents of gun control laws, it seems that the courts in recent cases, such as McDonald v. City of Chicago, has been leaning on the side of gun use advocates, when the constitutionality of Chicago’s hand gun ban had been challenged. The win for gun advocates can be attributed to the fourteenth amendment, which protects an individual’s right against the state to be deprived of their possession without the due process of law.

While the courts have been deciding toward loosening gun control measures, legislation has been fighting back with its own arsenal of laws. The Obama administration has taken one of the court’s decisions in the Heller case to use as their bulwark for stricter gun control measures and enforcing the right of the state to confiscate arms. In the Heller case, the court clarified that the constitution still would not allow the mentally ill to take possession of firearms. Prompted by the school shootings that made waves in the news, the Obama administration signed an expanded gun control legislation including the disqualification of individuals with psychiatric diagnoses from owning guns. This new law prompted states like New York to push out laws like the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act that gives enforcers the authority to confiscate weapons based on the individuals’ psychiatric conditions.

While both sides of the argument present compelling evidences to their cause, sensible regulations need to be in place in order to strike a balance between gun ownership for personal protection and making guns inaccessible for those who would use it for criminal or harmful intentions.

 
 

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