Gun Control

Government 2301
02 November 1996

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.
Amendment II, Bill of Rights
Constitution of the U.S.

The Second Amendment has been a major issue in American politics since
1876. In question is the intent of this Amendment. Was it meant to insure that
people in general have arms for personal service, or was it intended to insure
arms for military service? The nation's powerful gun lobby, the National Rifle
Association, holds that it means the right to keep and bear arms -any arms.
This privileged right is given to those 60-65 million people who choose to own
guns. The NRA also believes that human character defects cannot be changed by a
simple regulation of guns. They argue that problems with firearm ownership
cannot be, in any way, associated with criminal violence. The lobbyist give
credibility to this statement by adding that criminal violence continues to
increase in cities like New York and Washington DC, even though gun control
statutes were put into affect. They point out that gun laws would not have
stopped most addicted killers. According to the NRA, anti-crime measures are
the way to conquer urban violence, not anti-gun measures. The hope of most
members in the association is to educate people about guns. The association is
willing to reveal proper usage of guns to non-gun owners. They feel that this
training could help reduce some of the tragedies involving guns.
The issue of gun control has become a dividing line in America. To gun
control activists, the issue is about crime and the regulation of the weapons
used to commit these crimes. In their opinion, law abiding citizens should have
no need for guns. In this respect, the big controversy seems shallow . However,
to the NRA population, a much deeper issue is in question, the issue is freedom.
The members believe that the Second Amendment is crucial to the maintenance's of
the democratic process. From their point of view, people who advocate gun
control are ready to disregard a constitutional right. They believe that, if
the Second Amendment is abridged, the First Amendment will be the next to go.
The Executive Branch of the Federal Government is in a high-profile
position on the issue of gun control. During this current Presidential election
season, much rhetoric is being exchanged on the issue. It would almost appear
that one must play to either camp in order to receive the desired endorsement of
the strong political lobby groups. In the case of Bob Dole, the Republican
Presidential candidate, his platform on gun control at times are contradictory,
but his pattern of voting on gun-related issues in the senate seem to follow the
characteristic Republican-NRA view on gun control.
President Clinton takes a very different stand on gun control. His
current re-election platform calls for further restrictions on guns and on
people who buy guns. This characteristic "Democrat" attitude on gun control
closely follows the view of Handgun Control, Inc., a political lobby group
dedicated to governmental control and regulation of guns in the United States.
Gun control and drug control are usually associated with opposite ends of the
political spectrum. Presidents Reagan and Bush were eager to pursue the war on
drugs but generally wary of gun control. However, President Clinton has made
gun control a major goal, while his drug strategy is almost invisible.
During President Clinton's administration, the Brady Bill on gun control
was passed. This bill was gridlocked in the House for seven years. The Brady
Bill (named for James Brady, press secretary to President Ronald Reagan, who was
seriously injured when he was shot during a 1981 assassination attempt against
Reagan) was signed by President Clinton, on November 30, 1993, and took effect
in March 1994. This measure imposes a 5-day waiting period for the purchase of
handguns and provides for the creation of a national computer network to check
the backgrounds of gun buyers. The Clinton Administration was also able to pass
an assault-style firearms bill that banned the sale and distribution of certain
types of automatic weapons. The ban, part of a 1994 crime bill, took effect
just months before Republicans gained control of Congress.
During the past year, President Clinton's Administration pushed to get a
terrorism bill passed and signed into law. During the whole fight, the
President and his allies insinuated more than once that opponents of the bill
were weak on crime. Gun laws tend to be passed in an