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It started out as any other day, and yet April 16, 2007 is destined to live on in the annals of
American history as one of the all-time tragic events ever faced by this country. This is because on
this particular Monday morning, at the early hour of 7:15 a.m., a lone gunman, by the name of
Seung-Hui Cho began a shooting rampage which, when the smoke settled, claimed 32 lives and
an undisclosed number of wounded on the campus of Virginia Tech University in the city of
Blacksburg, Virginia.
Within hours of the initial report news outlets and political pundits were beginning the age old
discussion regarding the need for gun control legislation and its inevitable outcome: the
overturning of the Constitution's Second Amendment. The second Amendment was considered by
the Founding Fathers to be the main check on government and their standing armies; additionally
gun violence is not the result of lawful access to legal arms and munitions but rather the choice of
an ever violent minority of people bent on inflicting pain, terror, and chaos; and finally limiting the
rights of law abiding citizens to arm and defend themselves will inevitably result in an increase of
crime and violence and open the door to the potential abuse of a dictatorial regime.
For the Founding Fathers English history made two things clear: an armed citizenry was the only
effective check on the federal government, and standing armies threatened liberty. Recognition of
these two ideals meant that the force of arms necessary to check the government had to be
placed in the hands of citizens; and because this was the intended purpose of this right it is
necessary that it belong to the individual. Further it was to be absolute, meaning that it could not
be done away with by the prevailing rulers. These ideals were embraced by the framers of the
Constitution, both Federalists and Antifederalists: neither group trusted government. Both believed
the greatest danger to the new republic was an oppressive government and that the ultimate
check on tyranny was an armed population. They (the citizens) were the balance placed on
government at all levels, not simply the federal government and to keep this check in place guns
were an absolute necessity.
It has also been argued by some that the Second Amendment's emphasis places the right to
"keep and bear arms" within the scope of the state run National Guards (LaPeirre 3); however, it is
this papers contention that the framers did not intend for the government, of which they were
understandably leery, to be given the power to create another form of a standing army since this
would in effect make the so called "militia" an instrument for the government to use at their
discretion in the manner that they chose. Instead of this the desire was to make the whole of the
population an integral part of the militia; after all the amendment in question states it is "the right of
the people" indicating that it was the population at large that they viewed as the militia members.
Numerous constitutional debates have been held on this very principle; the framers recognized
that the purpose of preserving freedom would be served by protecting each individual's right to
arms thereby empowering the people to resist tyranny and preserve the republic as it was
originally intended.
Their intent in establishing this was not to create a right for another standing army which would be
controlled by the State government but rather to preserve the right of the citizens of the states to
be armed so as to keep all levels of government in check. To the framers of the constitution a
militia was not a professional class of soldier but rather a citizen soldier, one reminiscent of the
minutemen of their own struggle for freedom. LaPeirre also quotes Samuel Adams' admonishment
that " is always dangerous to the liberties of the people to have an army stationed among them,
over which they have no control....the militia is composed of free Citizens" (LaPierre 6). In fact
Patrick Henry, George Mason, James Madison and even Benjamin Franklin are among the many
voices which weighed in on the side of gun advocates and their voices still ring through the ages
as proponents of an armed citizenry.
Advocates of gun control legislation often state the premise that strict limitation on guns will curtail
the numbers of gun related fatalities and violent crimes. And while there is a measure of truth to
their premise in relation to such things as accidental gun discharge, the use of guns in violent
crimes would not be significantly changed once such strict legislation was enacted. In fact it would
likely be just the opposite: the severe limitation of access by law abiding citizens to the possession
and ownership of guns will inevitably increase the rate of such tragic occurrences. Well known
author Tom Clancy stated in the forward to Wayne LaPierre's book Guns, Crime, and Freedom
that "I have yet to meet a single law-enforcement officer who thinks... confiscating firearms form
the general public will do any good" (LaPierre xiv). The weight of the discussion should be turned
from the ability of a law abiding citizen to keep and bear arms to how to help an ever increasing
number of societal members which fail to handle stress, rejection, or loss in a morally acceptable
In all fairness both sides of this heated debate engage in pure speculation regarding their
purposed theories. What is known is that between the years 1993 and 2005 the rate of gun
violence decreased in the United States from 1,054,820 or 11% of all violent crimes, to 419,640 or
9% (Bureau 1). This is a decrease of over 635,180 incidents per year. Gun Control advocates love
to point out that in 1993 the Brady Bill was enacted and 1994 saw the passage of the Assault
Weapon ban. I, on the other hand, would contend that 1993 saw a dramatic rise in gun violence.
How can this be explained? Did the perpetrators of such crimes realize that their access to guns
was about to become restricted under the Brady Bill and therefore go on a shooting spree before it
was too late? Not likely! Such statistics demonstrate that the citizenry, and not the legislation,
control the rate of gun usage. The fact that some crimes are committed with the use of a gun in no
wise makes a valid argument for the disarmament of a law abiding people. After all "more than 70
percent of all felony crimes involve the use of a motor vehicle" (LaPeirre 61) and yet no one is
advocating the removal of all automobiles from the use of the public. A viable solution would be
stricter punishments for perpetrators of gun crimes; this type of legislation would no doubt be
welcomed by an overwhelming majority of gun right advocates, but the further deterioration of our
Second Amendment freedoms can not be tolerated.
Various voices within the Gun Rights Advocacy state, very convincingly, that in those countries
with a lower percentage of gun ownership, such as Great Brittan and Australia, violent crime is
conducted on a much larger scale than it is here in the United States. In fact, John Dougherty, a
columnist for WorldNet Daily stated in an article published in 2001 that "Twenty-six percent of
English citizens -- roughly one-quarter of the population -- have been victimized by violent crime.
Australia led the list with more than 30 percent of its population victimized. The United States" he
continues "didn't even make the 'top 10' list of industrialized nations whose citizens were
victimized by crime," (Dougherty 1). This is quite enlightening when you consider that of the three
ours is the only one which has a legally armed citizenry. The reality that the average person could
potentially have a firearm on his or her possession at any given time apparently acts as a very
strong deterrent to the potentially violent criminal. In addition, of the major occurrences of gun
violence like that witnessed at Columbine or Virginia Tech it can easily be pointed out that the
environment the gunmen selected for the events virtually assured them that they were the only
people present with guns, thus emboldening them to act in their reprehensible manner.
It should never be presumed that those who defend the right of citizens to keep and bear arms
have no care for the safety of American children. It has always been a fascination of mine how
children get used as a trump card in debates within the political arena. If you don't vote for school
tax increases you don't "care for the children"; if you aren't willing to support school lunch
programs you are "unconcerned about the children"; and if you won't support gun legislation
restricting gun ownership you are in affect contributing to the death of our "children". It is pointed
out that "drowning accidents, bicycle accidents, skate board accidents, automobile accidents,
poisoning from drug (medication) accidents... result in far more deaths than firearm accidents"
(LaPeirre 81). In each of these potentially hazardous situations proper instruction on safety is
encouraged and supported as the most effective way to eliminate such tragedies; no one defends
the notion that removing access to these items or activities is a viable alternative because it is not.
So why then are guns singled out to be removed? Can't children, and parents for that matter, learn
proper gun safety measures as a means of prevention? We teach condom use in the school why
not proper gun use and safety? Many of the deaths which occur, at least in children, happen
because of accidental discharge. This takes place when someone pulls a trigger expecting the
chamber of the gun to be empty only to discover to their horror that it is not. This type of gun
handling is the first type addressed in a proper gun safety course. The Boy Scouts of America
teach their young men to handle all guns as if they were loaded which instills a level of respect for
the power of the weapon into the mind of the child.
It is also my contention that gun violence and crime rates will not go down with the removal of
guns from the homes of the American citizens but will actually increase. This can easily be proved
by pointing to our English cousin across the sea. For many years now England has been a
relatively gun free society (sporting guns are tolerated while handguns are banned) yet a joint
article published by Dave Kopel, Dr. Paul Gallant and Dr. Joanne Eisen in March of 2001 sited a
CBS news report conducted by Dan Rather which "proclaimed Great Britain one of the most
violent urban societies in the Western world" they go on to quote Dan Rather as saying
"thousands of Americans will travel to Britain expecting a civilized island free from crime and
ugliness... [but now] the U.K. has a crime problem... worse than ours" (Kopel 1). It appears that
the presence of guns does not play a significant role in determining the amount of crime a nation
endures, but they do play a significant role in the deterrent of those crimes.
Finally, it is shown that modern history is filled with example after example of governments which
run amok solely because their citizenry is incapable of raising arms against them. As a prominent
member of the Nazi party and the Minister of the Interior, Wilhem Frick issued the Regulation of
Jews Possession of Weapons in 1938 which "prohibited" Jews "from acquiring, possessing, and
carrying firearms and ammunition, as well as truncheons or stabbing weapons" (Frick 1). While it
would be ridiculous to assert that the Holocaust of World War II was a direct result of acts such as
this it is without a doubt this act enable the hate infused Nazi regime to take one of it's first steps
towards its "final solution". While it is not this papers assertion that the government of the United
States would, at least at this time, engage in such atrocious acts, it is its assertion that the removal
of an individual's right to gun ownership would remove a major stumbling block from future
generations of government leaders who would aspire to follow such infamous footsteps.
Time and time again the argument is brought forward stating that "guns do not kill people, people
kill people" and this is true. So why don't people see or understand this most basic principle?
Simply put people seek to avoid, at all cost, the true essence of the issue we face, that of moral
decay that can so infect an individual that they could, without compunction, enter a public
education facility and without thought, hesitation, or remorse begin systematically seeking target
after target in an attempt to extinguish as much life as possible. If you take the gun away from the
citizens what would be the result? The premise is that he (the gunman) would not be able obtain a
weapon and therefore loose his potential to inflict the same level of damage to his victims. To
which I reply simply - what of Oklahoma City? Or the Tokyo Subway system where terrorist bent
on death and destruction released Sarin gas into the ventilators and killed 19 and seriously
affected 500 others? Or September 11th and the Twin Towers where more people died than did
during the bombing of Pearl Harbor in World War II? People with this level of mental disturbance
will seek any and all means available to them to inflict the pain and anguish they seek; guns are
not their only option, but they do provide a level of personal security for the law abiding citizen that
the government and law enforcement agencies can not afford. Additionally, if you remove the gun
from the law-abiding citizen it does nothing for the guns possessed by those intent on breaking the
law.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."
Seung-Hui Cho may have renewed the debate about Gun Control by his act of atrocity but the
result will be the same. Unless there is a drastic change at some point in the unforeseeable future
of our country the Second Amendment will continue to serve as a harbinger for the Gun Rights
Advocates. The Founding fathers believed it to be vital to our survival as a nation and a means of
keeping our government in check. My access as a law abiding citizen to guns for sport or
protection in no way encourages additional gun violence as it is many times the maladapted and
criminal element which perpetrate such atrocities. If such access should ever be denied our
country will see a rapid and dramatic increase in crime as the statistics have shown. It seems then
the Second Amendment said it best ""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."
Work Cited
Bureau of Justice and Statistics. Nonfatal Firearm Incidnets and Victims, 1993-2005. US
Department of Jusice (2006): 2. Deer Park Texas. 1 May 2007.
Doughert, John E. Britain, Australia top U.S. in Violent Crime: Rates Down Under Increase
Despite Strict Gun-Control Measures. WorldNetDaily (2001):1. Ed. Joseph Farah. Deer Park,
Texas. 1 May 2007.
Frick, Wilhelm. The Regulation of Jews Possession of Weapons. Germany: (1938). Reprinted by
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. Hartford: JFPO, (2002):1. Deer Park, Texs. 1
May 2007.
Kopel, Dave; Paul Gallant and Joanne Eisen. A World Without Guns: Be Forwarned Its Not A
Pretty Picture. National Review Online (2001):1. 1 May 2007.
LaPierre, Wayne. Guns, Crime, and Freedom. Washington: Regency, 1994
Robert Briggs is the Pastor for the New Testament Christian Church in Pasadena Texas. He has
been married for 17 years and has a son and a daughter. For more information please visit his
church website at
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