The Right To Keep And Bear ArmsThursday, 19 August, 1996″A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, theright of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” (Bill ofRights, Article II).
This seemingly simple phrase is probably the source of more debate and argumentthan any other single sentence in American history. The argument is not black orwhite, pro or con. Rather, it encompasses many shades of gray. At the one end ofthe spectrum you have the National Rifle Association (NRA) which currently viewsany type of gun control as an infraction against the Second Amendment of theConstitution (“What is the NRA” 1). At the other end of the spectrum you havegroups like the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) and Handgun Control, Inc.Order now
seek to make most firearms accessible only to law enforcement and the military(“CSGV” 1). In the middle there are organizations such as the American FirearmsAssociation, who seek compromise regarding our rights (Lissabet, “Return” 2). Some organizations that one would expect to participate in this debate arenoticeably quiet. One such group is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
In “The ACLU on Gun Control”, the national ACLU policy is neutrality (1). All factions in this debate have some merit, some more than others. All use amixture of facts, figures, and emotions to express their views. I will bepresenting some of their history, their views, and how they make their cases. The NRA is perhaps the most well known of the participants.
They were formedafter the Civil War, in 1871, as an organization dedicated to the riflemarksmanship of the state Militias. This was due to Union Army’s lack ofmarksmanship. Following World War II, many returning veterans joined the ranksof the NRA. They endured their share of military life and over time the NRA’smission was changed to that of a sportsman’s organization. This did not lastlong. Following the assassination of President Kennedy the Gun Control Act of 1968 waspassed.
The act banned the mail-order sale of guns and ammunition. This act waseven supported by the NRA’s leaders. Within the NRA however, there was a growingfaction that opposed gun control in any form. This faction was set up as thesubordinate committee, Institute for Legislative Action (ILA). This factiongained support and power and in 1977 gained control of the NRA. They have heldthat power ever since.
Today’s NRA works to foster support for the shooting sports, to promote firearmssafety, responsibility, and freedom, and to protect Second Amendment rights frominfringement (“What is the NRA” 1). They take a very hard line in theirprotection of Second Amendment rights. They believe that the right to keep andbear arms is an individual right and work to oppose any legislation that willinfringe that right. The AFA was founded in 1993. It seeks to protect the constitutional right tobear arms while supporting fair and reasonable gun controls. They seek topreserve the sportsman’s arms, rifles and shotguns, at the cost of therecreational shooters arms, handguns (Lissabet, “Return” 3).
This approach ispresented as a compromise to safeguard Second Amendment rights. They espouse tosupport the Second Amendment, they also support the implementation of strictergun controls (Lissabet, “Anti-Federalism” 4). The AFA counts among itsmembership many ex-NRA members. Some of these include the board members who wereforced out of the NRA in 1977.
The CSGV was founded in 1974. Its mission was to fight what they saw as agrowing problem of gun violence in the US. Their main goal is:_the orderly elimination of the private sale of handguns and assault weapons inthe United States. CSGV seeks to ban handguns and assault weapons fromimportation, manufacture, sale, or transfer by the general American public, withreasonable exceptions made for police, military, security personnel, gun clubswhere guns are secured on club premises, gun dealers trading in antique andcollectable firearms kept and sold in inoperable condition. (“CSGV” 1). Theyalso seek to make the acquisition of the firearms that are still legal verydifficult.
They seek to do this through limiting dealer licenses, restrictivegun owner fees and regulations. Many other gun control measures are supportedand supported by the CSGV. They feel that the Second Amendment is a collectiveright, to be held by the government and law enforcement agencies.These three factions all manipulate the figures to show support