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PS 170 - Term Paper

PS 170 - Term Paper

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Published by: aznhomig on Oct 08, 2010
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The Gun Control Debate
Individual Liberty versus Collective Security
Political Science 170: Public Policy3/9/2010
ntroduction: The Origins of the Gun Culture and the Debate of Gun Control
ut of the millions of shots that have been fired since the invention of guns and gunpowder, thereis only one that is known as the shot heard around the world. This shot was the spark of the RevolutionaryWar on April 19, 1775. In reality, it was likely many shots as that day was the battle at Lexington Green.The reason for the signal to Paul Revere and his famous ride was the intention of British General ThomasGage to confiscate the firearms and munitions being stockpiled by the citizens of Concord.
Rather thanlet the British take their arms and leave them defenseless in the process, the citizens of Massachusettsopted for independence. The origin of gun rights and the ³gun culture´ in the US comes from its founding by frontiersmen and citizen-soldiers necessary for frontier and communal defense against variousenemies, such as the Native Americans and their French allies before the war. After winning theRevolutionary War, it was widely acknowledged that an armed citizenry was important; it had won themindependence from Great Britain and the necessity of an armed citizenry was mentioned multiple times inthe
Federalist Papers
such as
 Federalist No. 46 
ur founders believed that the people should be able todefend themselves, from foreign nations as well as their own government if it were necessary. Since thennot only has the status of our country shifted, but there have been several events, such as the schoolshootings in Columbine High School and Virginia Tech, which have made some question if the averagecitizen is to be trusted with firearms.Gun control policy is a relatively new concept in Congress; the bulk of major legislation has been passed in the last century. Upon the founding of the United States, the nation¶s framers wrote the SecondAmendment into the Constitution, which States:
³A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free State, the right of the peopleto keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed 
How the Second Amendment should be interpreted is a key point of contention when it comes togun control policy. The meaning has been interpreted by individuals, courts, lawmakers, interest groups,and policy analysts to either refer to an individual right to keep and bear arms for recreation and self-
 defense, or a collective right of local authorities, State militias and law enforcement to keep and bear arms. Public policy has been enacted by lawmakers regarding firearms possession, sale, and traffickingwhich either curtail civilian possession of firearms in the name of public safety, or protect the right of theindividual to keep and bear arms. The difference in what policies have been produced has been affected by how the issue is framed. There are two ways to frame the issue of gun control policy: safety versuscivil liberty. The question that is at hand is: would greater controls upon firearms make the United Statesa safer place communally, or are they an infringement on individuals¶ right to self-defense and individualfirearms ownership?
Supporters vs
Detractors of Gun Control Policy
In the gun control policy debate there are both supporters and opponents in the forms of interestgroups, partisan think tanks, and policy entrepreneurs.
ne of the biggest proponents of gun controls isthe Brady Center to prevent Gun Violence. In their mission statement they state that they are working to³reform the gun industry by enacting and enforcing sensible regulations to reduce gun violence, includingregulations governing the gun industry.´
They frame the issue as one of safety. While working asPresident Ronald Reagan¶s press secretary Jim Brady was shot in an assassination attempt on the president. The incident inspired Brady and his wife to found the Brady Center. Similarly, the MillionMom March was founded in 1999 by a New Jersey mother who read about a gunman who randomly shotat a group of children in California. After months of organizing, approximately one million mothers andother persons marched all across the country in support of safety gun regulation. The Million Mom Marchis now a chapter based organization which has merged with the Bell Campaign and the Brady Campaign.With their resources pooled these interest groups have become a voice that has significant influence inCongress; one of their successes being the Brady Law (199
mentioned later.The Brady Center and Million Mom March frame the issue as a safety concern. But another way tolook at it is as a civil liberties issue. Supporters of gun control argue that greater control and regulationupon firearms as a means of greater collective safety is not specifically prohibited by the Second

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