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  • Fully Loaded: An Alternative View of the Gun Control Debate

    Gun control is the regulation of the sale and use of firearms, such as handguns and rifles. Considering that over one-third of Americans possess a firearm, the enforcement of different types of gun ownership requirements and regulations have caused great debate. In 2012, 58% of Americans favored the passage of stronger gun control laws regarding the sale of firearms. In addition, more than 50% of Americans are dissatisfied with the overall state of gun control laws and policies in the nation. Approximately 24% of Americans in 2011 considered stricter gun control laws to be the most important avenue to prevent the reoccurrence of mass shootings in the United States. However, in the same Gallup poll, 15% of Americans believed that better mental health screening and support would be more effective in preventing mass shootings in the country. Other possible options to reduce gun violence in the United States include: enhanced education on gun violence and the proper use of guns, more extensive background checks, stricter security measures at public gatherings, a ban on handguns and bullets, better parenting, better enforcement of existing gun laws, less media coverage of shootings, better cooperation between political parties, and a crack-down on illegal immigration. The issue is complicated as a result of the use of guns by law enforcement agencies, to apprehend criminals and to protect the public against crime, and by private citizens, as a means of self-defense for themselves and their property. While Americans generally agree that something needs to be done in response to the growing gun violence, many “disagree—often passionately—on exactly what to do and how to do it.” Part II examines the nation’s history of gun use and gun laws from the period commencing in the pre-Revolutionary days to the present. Specific to this discussion will be an analysis of the development and understanding of the role and composition of the American militia in relation to the individual right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense under the Second Amendment. Part III evaluates the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment. Furthermore, and more importantly, Part III evaluates the extent of the right to keep and bear arms as addressed in the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Cruikshank to its most recent decision in McDonald v. Chicago. Finally, Part IV considers the current issues and ideological differences surrounding the gun control debate as a result of the ambiguity and lack of decisiveness on the part of the Supreme Court. Moreover, it discusses the implications of the gun control debate on the constitutionality of current state laws, particularly, the NY SAFE Act.

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