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The Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States gives the right to keep and bear arms. The amendment was adopted on December 15th, 1791, along with the first ten amendments which make up the Bill of Rights.
"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
The issue of guns is a highly controversial one in America, as some people argue that guns are a God-given right by the Constitution.
Many Liberals understand the right to self defense and the right to possess the means of self defense as natural rights, and would point out that the constitutional government arises from a transfer of natural rights by the people to the government, not the other way around. Liberals rejected the Divine right of Kings to govern, and instead understand government to be empowered by a partial transfer of inate natural rights from the people to their government.
In response to the claim "Guns kill," a conservative may place a gun on a table and say, "Go ahead gun, kill. Go on." When the gun fails to kill by itself, the conservative will respond "See? Guns don't kill people; people kill people." There are many responses that can be made; one that will almost certainly end the conversation quickly is saying, "Alright, that's a fair point, but guns are the instrument used to kill. While it may not be the only object capable of killing people, it is one that's pretty damn easy to kill with, and its purpose is to inflict harm to people. According to your reasoning, everyone should have access to nuclear arms because they don't kill people without a person to using it".
The Founding Fathers of the United States lived in a time of muzzle-loading single-shot rifles that were rarely accurate beyond a range of 50 yards, and took between 30 seconds and a minute between firing a single round, depending upon the competence of the shooter. Many Liberals and Conservatives would argue that the Founding Fathers did indeed live in a time of muzzle loading weapons, but would point out that although many of the older weapons were muskets, and inaccurate at long range, rifles were very common. Rifles of the period were quite accurate. Most firearms of the period used larger caliber projectiles than are common today, and in fact because of lack of modern medical treatment, some firearm injuries were far more likely to be lethal than similar injuries are today. None the less the Founding Fathers were unaware of modern 'assault' weapons, which are designed from inception with the sole intent of KILLING human beings as quickly and efficiently as possible. Such weapons are not made for self-defense or whatever other crap the National Rifle Association (NRA) tries to spout; there's a reason they it's called an assault rifle and not a defense rifle. Had firearms been as advanced as they are today in 1787, the Founders of this country may well have viewed gun legislation differently. Gun rights are an important part of American history and culture, and are one of the liberties that distinguish America from the other developed Western nations, which tend to have much stricter gun control laws. Generally many Americans feel, the right to possess guns is one that should be protected. But due to the extreme lethality of modern firearms, particularly automatic ones, it is unreasonable to suggest that regular citizens should be able to own any guns they want without government regulation.
As the Founding Fathers of the United States understood the 2nd amendment, each adult citizen would be expected to be trained with and armed with regulation arms and equipment, and at all times be ready and willing to aid in the defense of their neighbors, their State and their Nation under the command of their elected officers. Although the government could not deny the right of individual citizens to keep and bear arms or to use those arms in self defense, government could require that citizens were properly trained and supplied with regulation arms and that the citizens militia was under control of it's officers. Many Liberals would point out, that the regulation military small arms (assault weapons with large capacity magazines) are exactly the weapons that the 2nd amendment meant to be used by the people. Liberals do believe, however, that every right carries with it a corresponding responsibility, and Government does have the power, and perhaps even an implied duty, to require people to be properly trained and properly regulated in the use of their arms. Arms with large magazines should be used only by disciplined militia after background checks on the members.
As a result of widespread proliferation of guns, America is plagued semi-regularly by violent shootings and massacres, the most notorious of which were the Columbine Massacre in 1999 and the Shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. In fact, shootings occur regularly enough in America that if the death toll does not reach double-digits, the national media will unlikely pay lasting attention. Death tolls in both shootings were in double-digits (Columbine had 15 and Virginia Tech had 32), and both were perpetrated by suspects armed with semi-automatic weapons. In both cases, the victims were primarily teenagers and young adults. Had either situation involved fully-automatic firearms, the results would have likely been even more catastrophic. These events serve as a grim reminder of the high cost of the availability of guns in this country.
Most Liberals and Conservatives agree that America is plagued semi-regularly by violent assaults and massacres, but see no causal relationship between the availability of firearms to law abiding citizens and increased violent crime.
Different Interpretations Edit
Some Conservatives tend to argue that the Second Amendment has no limitations, and that all guns should be made available. However, most people agree that being allowed to bear arms doesn't mean that they are allowed to bear any and all arms that they wish.