Reagan assassination attempt (courtesy abcnews.go.com)

High school student David sent me this research paper on gun rights. “I am pro 2A,” David asserts, “but my essay takes a slightly moderate stance.” I’m 2A, but? Uh-oh. In the interests of his re-edumacation I asked young Master David if he would consent to having his magnum opus corrected graded by TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia. He agreed. Your participation in this endeavor would be most appreciated.

The Right to Keep and Bear

The date is March 30, 1981, in Washington D.C. President Ronald Reagan waves to a crowd of reporters and civilians when suddenly six shots ring out, and the President’s limo speeds away. The news spreads fast. There has been an assassination attempt on the President. In the following days, weeks, and months, this event brought calls for stricter gun laws, and renewed the debate over whether the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms . . .

There is no doubt that guns are an integral part of American history. From the smoothbore muskets wielded by farmers in the Revolutionary War, to the M1 Garands carried by the valiant soldiers of the U.S. Military in WWII, to the 5.56x45mm rounds being sent “downrange” from the barrels of M4s and M16s in Afghanistan as this is being written, guns were a necessary part in the creation of our nation and continue to play an important role in protecting America abroad. But civilian ownership of guns in America is a dividing issue.

At the center of the debate is the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It reads: “A well regulated militia being necessary for the preservation of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” What is a militia? Who are “the people?” Many questions arise after reading the text. Those in favor of gun control tend to believe that the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms as a collective right, meaning one reserved for the military. Those who support gun rights believe that the Second Amendment is meant to protect the right of individuals to bear arms. Also, there is debate as to whether this amendment has a fixed or evolving meaning, whether the specific intent of the Founders should control it’s current application.

The ability of the government to regulate the sale, possession, and use of firearms grew controversial in the years leading up to the American Revolution. The British realized that organized armed colonists could resist their oppressive regime, and began confiscating their weapons. One such effort to capture colonial arms and ammunition in Massachusetts sparked the Revolutionary War. Once the war was over, and the Framers set about drafting the Bill of Rights, they wanted to ensure that the government could not confiscate citizens’ arms, leading to the Second Amendment. The Revolution and the civilian militias provided the primary context for the Second Amendment.

The debate about whether the Second Amendment protected an individual right began in the Jacksonian era, when in response to the disarmament of British citizens in the mid to late 18th Century, legal experts began to describe the importance of the individual right (Tucker). The first laws that expressly prohibited certain individuals from owning firearms were passed soon after the Civil War, when Southern states enacted laws prohibiting blacks from owning firearms (Mississippi).

These laws were upheld by the Supreme Court, on the ground that the Second Amendment only prevented the federal government, not the states, from restricting citizen’s rights. But later the Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause made laws prohibiting firearms ownership by certain groups of people unconstitutional (Linder). Then, in the early 20th Century, following the infamous St Valentine’s Day Massacre, where gangsters with automatic weapons killed seven members of a rival gang, federal legislation was passed regulating several types of “dangerous weapons” rather than classes of people.

The unified “gun control movement” known today got its start in the 1970’s. In 1974, The National Council to Control Handguns was formed, later renamed after James Brady, President Reagan’s Press Secretary who was permanently injured during the assassination attempt on the President. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is one of gun control’s largest and most ardent supporters. On the opposing side is the National Rifle Association, or NRA. Founded in 1871 as a marksmanship program for civilians and soldiers alike, the NRA had opposed stricter gun laws since the early 1900’s, but in the 1970’s they shifted their focus to actively lobbying against increased regulation (Gun Control, CQ).

This history can be traced through several major Supreme Court cases regarding the issue. The first of these cases is Presser v. Illinois in 1885. In this case, Mr. Presser organized an armed march of 400 German Americans through the streets in Chicago, where it was illegal for armed groups to parade without a permit. Presser thought this was unconstitutional, on the grounds that it violated the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court ruled that the law was constitutional, because the Second Amendment only protected citizens’ rights from restriction by the federal government (Sommers).

The second case to arise was United States v. Miller, in 1939. Two men were transporting a sawed-off, double-barreled shotgun across state boundaries without paying the necessary National Firearms Act (NFA) tax. When they were arrested, they were released because the lower court believed that the NFA was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled that the men were guilty, because at the time a shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches was not associated with the type of militia activity protected by the Amendment and therefore Congress could regulate the possession of such weapons (Sommers).

The third case to come to the Supreme Court on the issue of gun control was United States v. Lopez in 1995. A Texas high school student was carrying a handgun within a high school. Under the recently enacted Gun-Free School Zone Act, carrying a firearm inside of a school was a federal crime. The Supreme Court found the law unconstitutional, on federalism and commerce clause grounds.  Federalism is the system central to American democratic theory that separates power between the federal and state governments.

Under this system, criminal law within the states is for the states themselves to control, outside of the federal government’s power. The commerce clause is part of Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution. The commerce clause allows Congress to regulate commerce “Among the states.” Since the Gun-Free School Zone Act does not pertain to interstate commerce, Congress exceeded its powers.

The fourth case to come before the Supreme Court was District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008. A D.C. man wanted to own a handgun for home defense, but believed he was effectively prevented from doing so because of D.C.’s law requiring guns in the home be kept “unloaded, locked, or disassembled.” In a pivotal decision and a victory for gun rights advocates, the Supreme Court ruled that the law was unconstitutional because it was an unreasonable restriction on the Second Amendment rights of D.C. citizens. Under this ruling, the individual right to keep and bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment.

The fifth case was McDonald v. Chicago in 2010. Similar to Heller, a Chicago man wanted to buy a handgun for home defense, but he could not do so because Chicago banned handguns. The Supreme Court found Chicago’s law unconstitutional, and established that states could not infringe upon the individual’s rights under the Second Amendment (McDonald v. Chicago).

State laws governing the private ownership of guns vary greatly. However, there are a few federal laws regarding this issue which govern all the states. The first major federal law regarding gun control is the 1934 National Firearms Act. Conceived as a response to the organized crime epidemic, the NFA regulated several types of weapons: machine guns, guns which fire more than one round per pull of the trigger; short barreled rifles (SBRs), rifles with barrels less than 16 inches; short barreled (or “sawed off”) shotguns, shotguns with barrels less than 18 inches; and silencers, devices that affix to the muzzle of a weapon and reduce the loudness of the sound made when firing. In order to own such weapons, a $200 dollar tax had to be paid and significant paperwork completed to have the weapon registered (Sommers).

The next major law enacted is the aptly named Gun Control Act of 1968. This established the Federal Firearms License system, putting an end to mail order firearms like the one that was used to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. In 1986, the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act was passed, which made machine guns manufactured after 1986 illegal for civilian ownership.  For other guns, it included a “Safe Passage” provision, so that someone who is traveling from one state to another cannot be incarcerated for a firearms charge in a state with strict gun laws, if they are just passing through.

Enacted in 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, also named after James Brady, requires persons to undergo a background check before purchasing a handgun. In 1994, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was passed, which banned firearms with ‘military features’ such as a pistol grip or flash suppressor (a device which affixes to the muzzle of a weapon and reduces the visual signature of the weapon when firing) on a rifle, and restricted “high capacity” magazines.

The ban included a “sunset clause,” essentially an expiration date, causing the ban to end in 2004. Many attempts have been made to renew the ban, including one led by Senator Dianne Feinstein in 2012, however, all such efforts have failed. Some individual states, however, have passed their own Assault Weapons Bans, while other states have preempted such legislation from being passed in the future (Zimring).

Gun control is not an issue exclusive to the United States. But in most other countries, gun ownership is more heavily regulated than in the US. Such restrictions are not always effective in lowering crime. Russia has very strict gun laws, including banning all weapons except for long barreled shotguns and some BB guns from civilian possession.  Yet Russia had 21,603 murders in 2009, compared to 13,636 murders in the US in the same year, even though, Russia’s population is less than half that of the US, with about 143 million people compared to 313 million in the US (Flintoff).

In the United States, gun ban legislation is very controversial, and outright bans have been proposed only in the context of “assault weapons.” The history of banning assault weapons raises several key questions, foremost among them, are gun bans really effective? Do they reduce gun violence? In a study on the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, Christopher S. Koper finds that “most survey evidence on the actual use of AWs (Assault Weapons) suggests that offenders rarely use AWs in crime.

In a 1991 national survey of adult state prisoners, for example, 8% of the inmates reported possessing a “military-type” firearm at some point in the past (Beck et al., 1993, p. 19). Yet only 2% of offenders who used a firearm during their conviction offense reported using an AW for that offense (calculated from pp. 18, 33), a figure consistent with the police statistics cited above. Similarly, while 10% of adult inmates and 20% of juvenile inmates in a Virginia survey reported having owned an AW, none of the adult inmates and only 1% of the juvenile inmates reported having carried them at crime scenes (reported in Zawitz, 1995, p. 6).”

Proponents of the ban argue that such weapons have no sporting application, and should be kept out of the hands of civilians. Mary M. Cheh, a D.C. councilmember, summed up her opinion during our interview of her in one phrase: “No one needs an assault rifle!”

But if an assault weapons ban, even if enacted, can affect only a very small percentage of crimes, what other solutions are there? And what is the best way to prevent criminal use of more commonly used guns, like your basic handgun.  One legislative solution is to target how criminals get their guns. While most guns are originally obtained through legal acquisition, approximately five of every six firearms used in crime was illegally obtained by that criminal.

This means that something goes amok when the gun is in the secondary market, either through theft, “lying and buying” where the purchaser lies about whether they are prohibited from owning a firearm, or being sold on the black market (Ridgeway). The National Tracing Center compiles information about firearms so that in the event one is used in a crime, law enforcement has information that could help trace the firearm legal purchase history. This makes it easier for law enforcement to identify illegal gun trafficking.

But what is the best way to stop individual criminals from getting guns? While there will always be acts of violence that cannot be prevented, what are the common sense steps our society could take? Currently, the ATF requires FFL (Federal Firearms License) dealers to keep a record of: the name and address of the person from whom the FFL received the firearm; the name of the manufacturer and importer (if any) of the firearm; the model of the firearm; the serial number of the firearm; the type of firearm (pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, receiver, frame, etc); and the caliber or gauge of the firearm (Farago).

Also, all gun sales through FFLs, meaning all gun sales except private sales between residents of the same state, require the prospective buyer to undergo an FBI background check. Third, a person may not transfer (loan, sell, rent) a firearm to another person if they suspect the buyer is prohibited from possessing a firearm (Firearms). Fourth, straw purchasing, where someone who is prohibited from possessing a firearm uses a surrogate buyer to act for them, is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison (Straw).

These requirements, however, apply only where the seller is or uses an FFL, not to private sales between individuals in the same state.  Requiring background checks for all sales might help reduce certain kinds of gun violence, like the instances of domestic violence in which a person under a restraining order was able to purchase a gun without undergoing a background check. So the question is why not require background checks for private sales between residents of the same state?

Opponents argue that this would require background checks for sales between family members, and that in some areas the nearest FFL is inaccessible. Some of these issues were addressed in a bipartisan bill introduced in 2013 by Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey. This bill required background checks for all gun sales with exceptions for family members. The bill was defeated in the Senate (Blake).

Theft remains a large factor in how criminals obtain firearms. A fix for this might lie in safe storage requirements. In an article from one of the NRA’s publications,American Rifleman, B. Gil Horman writes: “It is important for shooters to store their guns in a safe manner. A gun in a drawer or on a shelf does not qualify as safe in any way, even if it’s unloaded and the ammunition is stored somewhere else.”(Horman)

Unfortunately, not all gun owners practice safe storage precautions. Incentives linking gun purchases with discounts for safe storage equipment would be a first step, or gun owners could be required by law to keep their guns stored when not in use, although this would likely be unpopular and decidedly necessary, seeing as most people advocate practicing safe storage in one form or another.

Another possibility is more and better education on using and storing firearms safely. Common sense suggests that educating people about gun safety will help avoid accidental deaths. A few gun safety programs already exist, foremost among them is the NRA’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe program. Developed with the help of teachers, law enforcement specialists, and psychologists, to name a few, the Eddie Eagle program has been taught to more than 26 million children K-3rd grade (Eddie).

Finally, some believe those who are concealed carriers can help stop crime, and there are situations where a concealed carry permit holder who was present as a crime unfolded did help to deter or prevent the crime. Unfortunately, not all people who have guns for self defense are sufficiently trained to act quickly and safely to stop a crime, and their firearms are sometimes used accidentally against innocents.

All 50 states “allow” concealed carry, although in 10 states local authorities have discretion whether to issue the permit (a de facto ban), while in 40 states any individual who meets the state requirements can obtain a concealed carry permit. Training requirements vary greatly from state to state, but one possibility is a national concealed carry law that would establish uniform requirements.

The Supreme Court has ruled definitively that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right “to keep and bear arms.” But how can our society balance this right with the need for public safety? How can our nation respect the culture of hunting and shooting sports in some states, while other areas face high levels of urban gun violence? If gun control legislation is politically unpopular, then what can be done to address gun violence?

While some proposals remain either too controversial, or ineffective, there is more consensus around gun control legislation that focuses on criminals and how they get their guns. Better laws and enforcement tools around trafficking and straw purchasing, preventing theft, ensuring background checks for all purchases, and education could make a difference.

Guns are an important part of our history. Guns can be used for sport, for protection, and they can hold sentimental value like other prized objects.  But they can also be used to hurt innocent people. Owning a gun is a right that carries a heavy responsibility. In his essay On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs, David Grossman writes about the role of the “sheepdog,” those who choose to protect the wider population from attack by “wolves.” He warns: “If you want to be a sheepdog … then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip, and prepare yourself for that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.”

Because of the inherent risk involved in owning and using guns, citizens who choose to own guns must be responsible in exercising their constitutional rights.  Today, too many citizens on both sides of the debate demonize the other side. Our communities need to find space for open and honest dialogue. This is an issue that needs respect. All citizens need to listen to both sides with an open mind and address the best arguments across the spectrum to find effective solutions.

Works Cited

Blair, J. Pete, et al. Active Shooter Events and Response. N.p.: CRC, 2013. Print.

Blake, Aaron. “Manchin-Toomey Gun Amendment Fails.” Washington Post 17 Apr. 2013: n. pag. Print.

Cheh, Mary M. Personal interview. 14 Jan. 2014.

“Concealed Carry Permit Reciprocity.” USCCA. Delta Defense, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. <https://www.usconcealedcarry.com/travel/get-your-ccw-permit/>.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA v. HELLER. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 09 December 2013. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2007/2007_07_290>.

Eddie Eagle. NRA, n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2014. <http://eddieeagle.nra.org/>.

Farago, Robert. “Universal Background Checks for Dummies.” The Truth About Guns. N.p., 4 Oct. 2013. Web. 28 Jan. 2014. <http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2013/10/robert-farago/universal-background-checks-for-dummies/>.

“Firearms FAQs Unlicensed Persons.” BATFE. US Gov, n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2014. <http://www.atf.gov/content/firearms-frequently-asked-questions-unlicensed-persons#gca-unlicensed-transfer>.

Flintoff, Corey, and James Glynn. “The US Has More Guns, But Russia Has More Murders.” National Public Radio. N.p., 21 Sept. 2013. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. <http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/09/19/224043848/the-u-s-has-more-guns-but-russia-has-more-murders>.

“Gun Control.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit: Gale, 2013. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 8 Dec. 2013.

“Gun Control.” CQ Researcher 15 June 2013. Web. 8 Dec. 2013.

Horman, B. Gil. “Safe Gun Storage Options.” American Rifleman: n. pag. Print.

Linder, Doug. “The Right to Bear Arms.” Exploring Constitutional Law. University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School, 2014. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. <http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/beararms.htm>.

Magoon, Kekla. Gun Control. Edina: Abdo, 2008. Print.

MCDONALD v. CHICAGO. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 08 December 2013. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2009/2009_08_1521>.

“Mississippi Black Codes.” Center for History and New Media. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. <https://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/122/recon/code.html>.

“More Gun Control Equals Lower Fatality Rates?” NRA-ILA. NRA, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2013. <http://www.nraila.org/news-issues/articles/2013/11/more-gun-control-equals-lower-firearm-fatality-rates.aspx?s=&st=&ps=>.

“NFA Weapons.” BATFE. US Gov, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2013. <http://www.atf.gov/firearms/guides/identification-of-nfa-firearms.html>.

Ridgeway, Greg, Glenn L. Pierce, Anthony A. Braga, George Tita, Garen Wintemute and Wendell Roberts. Strategies for Disrupting Illegal Firearm Markets: A Case Study of Los Angeles. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2008. <http://www.rand.org/pubs/technical_reports/TR512>.

Sommers, Michael A. The Individual Rights and Civic Responsibility: The Right to Bear Arms. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 2001. Print.

“Straw Purchasing.” Don’t Lie for the Other Guy. NSSF, n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.

Tucker, St. George. Blackstone’s Commentaries: With Notes of Reference, to the Constitution and Laws, of the Federal Government of the United States; and of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Vol. 1. Philadelphia: William Young Birch and Abraham Small, 1803. Print.

Zimmerman, Daniel. “Mass Shooting at Clackamas Town Center Mall.” The Truth About Guns. N.p., 11 Dec. 2012. Web. 26 Jan. 2014. <http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2012/12/daniel-zimmerman/breaking-mass-shooting-at-clackamas-town-center-mall/>.

Zimring, Franklin E. “Gun Control.” World Book Online. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. World Book Advanced. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <http://www.worldbookonline.com/advanced/article?id=ar240440&st=gun+control>.

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86 Responses to Please Grade This High School Senior’s Gun Rights Essay

  1. It’s amazing to me that so much time passed between the founding of this country and these modifying laws.

    Hopefully today’s votes will begin the reversal of the anti-gun people/

  2. I read most of it, skimmed some of it.

    Looked okay to me, a little dry. I learned a few things.

    Good for you kid. The history of gun control in the US is murky indeed.

  3. The leftist SCOTUS rendered a decision concerning individual citizen’s right to bear arms in their decision concerning the restrictive laws of Washington, D.C. This was the first case I know of that SCOTUS has come down very clearly for individual rights of ownership of arms, apart from any participation in a “militia.” This cannot be understated since it will be quoted and built upon on in future decisions.

    • Yes, but don’t ever forget that Heller was a “5 to 4” decision. This fact is ominous in it’s portentions. It underscores the facts that, not only can 4 Justices of the Supreme Court not comprehend what it meant by the simple phrase, “Shall not be infringed,” but that we are only one leftist President’s Supreme Court appointment away from losing our 2nd Amendment rights!….. Ah, Marbury Vs. Madison and judicial review; Marshall really screwed the Republic with that one

      • Yep. The other Thomas Jefferson believed that any one branch having final say as to the constitutionality of a law would simply devolve, in time, into tyranny.

        He was right.

  4. For the most part, very factual, and the instances where the author is injecting his own opinion are noted as such, or are offered up as questions to the reader. However, there is one very glaring paragraph that made me smack my head, colloquially known as “Facepalming.” Through the essay, there is very thorough citation for any facts stated, but the following paragraph states a “fact” without any citation, likely because you can not find any supporting evidence.

    “Finally, some believe those who are concealed carriers can help stop crime, and there are situations where a concealed carry permit holder who was present as a crime unfolded did help to deter or prevent the crime. Unfortunately, not all people who have guns for self defense are sufficiently trained to act quickly and safely to stop a crime, and their firearms are sometimes used accidentally against innocents.”

    Without facts to back it up, this paragraph needs to be modified. There is plenty of proof showing that when someone considered a “Good Guy with a Gun” shows up to intervene in an attempted assault, robbery, rape, murder, or other violent felonious act, the “good guy” has a nearly impeccable rate of deterring or reducing the extent of the “Bad Guy’s” crime. There is little to no evidence of an armed intervener making an already felonious situation worse.

    • Thank you, that is what I attempted to say, below, with less clarity. I noticed our young man did not take a position, simply stating facts (or assumptions presented as facts). Some adult research will do him well, and he should start from a neutral position if he wishes to come to a rational decision.

      Young man, you have a future, here! Do not accept lies, find out for yourself. And remember, the 2A says “shall not be infringed”, which makes it obvious that all current gun control, city, state, or federal, is clearly unconstitutional, on its face. Try addressing that on your next dissertation.

    • It was looking very good until that point. Concealed carriers absolutely knock it out of the park in terms of self defense. Lack of training? Please. CCW holders are more accurate than police and are less likely to shoot the wrong target.

    • CCers shooting the wrong target?
      I’m sure somebody has, but I’d wager it’s in the single digits annually.

      LEOs shooting the wrong target?
      According to police investigating themselves, it’s done fatally at about 3-4x the rate LEOs die on duty, and most of the dead LEOs are from vehicle crashes, so let’s just round it up and say a cop is 10x as likely to shoot and kill an innocent citizen as he is to get shot and killed by a non-cop.
      The number of citizens shot but not killed by LEOs has to be in the thousands. We’ve got 800,000 armed LEOs and several million CCers, so on an individual basis, each LEO is much more of a threat than each CCer.

  5. I regards to concealed carry, “..sometimes their firearms are accidentally used against innocents.” Citation needed. Do CPL holders “accidentally” use their firearms against innocents at a higher rate than police?

    “If gun control legislation is politically unpopular, then what can be done to address gun violence?” Why does gun violence need to be specifically addressed? Why not all violence? Is getting killed by a gun somehow worse than being killed by a knife, bat, or bare hands?

    • This has been one of the key tenets of our gun-rights arguments. Stop talking about gun violence and start talking about all violence. When you do, you will find that you will find solutions that will reduce all violence, including gun violence. Until you do, the best you can do is cause gun violence to change into other forms of violence, with no reduction or even an increase in violence overall. This is supported by several examples around the world.

  6. Could use a little more research on the Concealed Carry part, but I can’t blame somebody for not knowing the stats on armed civilians stopping criminals. It’s not like it’s easy information to find, even with google.
    Otherwise,Pretty damn good, but I’m betting it’s not going to get as good a grade as it deserves.

    • Oh, damn, I did not think of that. I want to know what grade that paper got. It should have been an *A* by any standards, considering research and consideration, but may be a lower grade because of anti-gun extremism among public schoolteachers. Good luck, dude!

      • As an “essay” it is poorly written. It fails to take a clear stance in any regard. It also fails to provide strong evidence in support of a view point. As far as a strictly essay grade? C+ to a B-. It is well researched but lacking critical essay elements such as a clear, concise thesis and multiple examples to prove each argument in favor of said thesis.

        As a research paper? B+ to A-. The research is good and it does provide a balanced statement of the facts. It does not provide any deep insights, summation, conclusions etc that would push it in to A/A+ (which is and should be reserved for exceptional works that go above and beyond).

        This is not coming from a teacher but someone who took university level essay courses. So depending on the school, system and views of the teacher they could grade higher or lower.

        My advice? It does need a rewrite. There are good examples, but it needs a thesis. Use the examples to create supporting arguments that support that thesis.

        Currently it is just a mass of facts, events and anecdotes. Not an essay.

  7. I take some issue with the last paragraph. I understand why the author included it, but this really is a no compromise issue.

    There is no point in having an ‘open and honest dialogue’ with people dedicated to curtailing a fundamental right outlined in the Constitution. Anymore than we should have a dialogue about making a state religion, banning newspapers or quartering soldiers in private homes.

    Any change comes from us, not culture warriors and people that hate and despise the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.

    • While I agree with the spirit of your post, I think there are plenty of things that can be tried to reduce crime without infringing on anyone’s rights to arms. I also think that we “gun guys” NEED a seat at that table! It is important to have those who understand guns and the Constitution in the dialogue so that we can avoid blind alleys, ineffective proposals and, of course, infringements on the rights of the innocent.

  8. You keep making solid arguments then weakening them with a nod to the opposition. I would focus on making clear claims about what kinds of legislation are effective cite statistics to prove that the opposing opinion is less effective/correct.

    An example would be background checks. ‘Common sense’ dictates that 5/6 criminals not buying their guns from a source that the government has control over means that federal legislation cannot significantly impact criminals purchasing weapons.
    On a different note, not everything needs legislation. You mention the many groups advocating “safe storage” of guns yet you assume that the only solution to get less people to leave guns out in the open is to pass a law. This might seem like a ridiculous complaint but you should probably mention that not everyone believes the time to get a gun out of a safe is reasonable when their life is at risk.

    • ^ This.

      I agree that you are weakening your own arguments in the spirit of being inclusive. For example:

      “…Requiring background checks for all sales might help reduce certain kinds of gun violence,”

      The anti crowd strongly believe that to be true, but even the smallest amount of thought proves it to be untrue. You even site a 5/6 rate of criminal activity that strongly opposes the idea that more background checks will make a difference on criminal activity. The very shortest answer is if the current background check system isn’t doing what it is supposed to be doing how would expanding it suddenly make it work as planned?

  9. He forgot Dredd Scott. As Chief Justice Taney said, if Scott was ruled a citizen, “[I]t would give them (blacks) the full liberty to keep and carry arms wherever they went.”

    • Good catch!

      He also neglected to note the numerous times that SCOTUS has listed the Second right along with the First, Fourth, and Fifth as protecting individual rights.

      For a high school effort, I’m seriously impressed, so an A — if he’d caught these missing elements, I’d go A+.

      • He also neglected to note the numerous times that SCOTUS has listed the Second right along with the First, Fourth, and Fifth as protecting individual rights.

        They are all individual rights.

        Freedom of religion is an individual right.
        Freedom of speech is an individual right.
        Freedom of the press is an individual right.
        Freedom to assemble is an individual right.
        Freedom to petition the government is an individual right.
        Freedom from having troops quartered in your house is an individual right.
        Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure is an individual right.
        The right to due process is an individual right.
        Freedom from double jeopardy is an individual right.
        Freedom from self-incrimination is an individual right.
        Freedom from eminent domain claims without just compensation is an individual right.
        The right to a speedy trial is an individual right.
        The right to a public trial is an individual right.
        The right to a jury trial is an individual right.
        The right to confront witnesses is an individual right.
        The right to counsel is an individual right.
        Freedom from excessive bail is an individual right.
        Freedom from cruel and unusual punishment is an individual right.

        But it amazes me that some people think that the right to keep and bear arms is not an individual right, but that it is a collective right!

  10. One key problem with universal background checks is in the enforcement of that requirement. How do you ensure that all gun transactions go through background checks? The only effective way is through gun registration, which has been abused many times in the past by governments.

    • Amazing how one goes to an anti gun website that actually shows the failure of gun control, especially registration.

      Why is it that this small sample of gun control countries (206 total countries in the list) have less than a 25% registration of their guns?

      Explain again with any logic how one gets the criminals to register their guns, is it like a buy back with blanket amnesty, do tell?

      http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/compare/153/rate_of_privately_owned_firearms_-_world_ranking/

      Guns / Registered / % of registered



      Brazil 16,200,000 / 5,200,000 / 32.1%

      Canada 14,450,688 / 7,514,358 / 52.0%

      China 40,000,000 / 680,000 / 1.7%

      Cuba 545,000 / 58,150 / 10.7%

      Guatemala 1,650,000 / 393,996 / 23.9%
      
Japan 710,000 / 413,096 / 58.2%

      Mexico 15,500,000 / 2,824,231 / 18.2%

      N Ireland 380,000 / 141,393 / 37.2%
      
Netherlands 510,000 / 333,000 / 65.3%

      Russia 12,750,000 / 5,000,000 / 39.2% 

      S Africa 5,950,000 / 3,737,676 / 62.8%

      Venezuela 2,825,000 / 925,000 / 32.7%




      Totals & avg. 111,470,688 / 27,220,900 / 24.4%

      Oh wait, further review of data as of 9/20/2014 shows the following…………

      119 Countries reported registration rates!

      296,301,508 guns / 80,398,537 registered = 27.1%

      Do you really think that registration rates would be any different in the US, nah, WORSE, we tell government to FO, doubt me, review the numbers for the Connecticut & NY registration BS just this last year, LOL!

      Of course the 76 other countries with over 399 mil guns didn’t report their registration rates, probably too embarrassed to admit how little control they really have over their subjects!

      Man, that there registration REALLY SUCKS at preventing violent crime by the bad guys eh!

  11. Anyone who uses the term gun violence is claiming a gun is alive and the root cause of violence, only the clinically insane do that!

    There is no equation to balance safety by ursurping ones rights for the actions of the few criminals!

    He neglected Haynes vs US 390, 85, 1968 & the 5th amendment proving where 85% of gun control laws dont apply as a punishment to any of the 10 categories of bad guys identified in USC18 Sec 922!

    He neglected the studies, most notably by GAO General Accounting Office posted 3/21/2001 showing how agents went to 5 different states using fake identification and bought guns using fake identification 100% of the time,

    He neglected the BATF refusal to prosecute more than 1% of the 2.056 mil rejected!

    He neglected the USDOJ Firearms use by Offenders Nov 2001 (18,326 felons surveyed in 3 different regions) & USDOJ Background Check and Firearm Transfer 2008-2010 reports identifying that in todays numbers….95.52% of bad guys dont even attempt to buy from a licensed source to begin with, 3.84% buy from a retail source using fake identifications, and .64% buy from gun shows!

    In that USDOJ data it shows clearly that 50% of the 95.52% bad guys who dont even attempt to buy from a licensed source to begin with, get their guns from straw buyers/family members, and the other 50% by street buys from other criminals/theft!

    He forgot the USDOJ Firearms theft data 2012 report demonstrating a -60.9% reduction in guns stolen per year from 1988-2012, (511k to 199k) yet only a -4.34% reduction in property thefts where the majority of guns are stolen during that same time frame.

    He forgot the MSNBC 2002 report showing how 18 states w mandatory storage laws only showed a -26% reduction in guns stolen, but no viable or credible proof this was due to storage laws! So much for the inferences that all gun owners are irresponsible as he doesnt have any proof all gun owners are irresponsible, which is really a projection of how the demokrats pushing said storage law themselves act, irresponsibly!

    He forgot how during that same time fram that the number of guns in law abiding civilians hands increased by 42% (per NSSF & NICS data, over 90 million guns), yet FBI UCR data shows a -39% reduction in violent crime rate and a -52% reduction in murders by illegal use of a gun, all the greatest reductions of ANY country during that same time frame, the majority of them gun ban paradises!

    He fails to acknowledge the gun control crowd has never given up any of the affirmed rights they value in 60 plus years of gun control, where as there are 22,000 gun control laws that 85% only affect and only punish the law abiding gun owners and not the actual criminals! Why should gun owners compromise anymore with a minority group who is so selfish, intolerant, and promoting the lie of gun control of only the law abiding reduces violence by the bad guys, which it never has and never will?

    Why does he refuse to acknowledge the 1.221 mil people wanted on open felony warrants per FBI DENI, underfunded by the government to track and capture, of which 50% are probably as severely mentally ill as are 50% of the current 2.7 mil prisoners per psychiatrists and criminologists!

    Why does he refuse to acknowledge the effect HIPPA laws have on reporting the mentally ill and felons into the NICS database which NICS Operations reports shows only 5.1 mil in the database July 2014 out of estimates of 31 mil + combined?

    Why does he refuse to acknowledge that 93.8% of all rejections of the background check are FALSE POSITIVES over the 17 years of the Brady Law?

    Why does he not know of the NICS operations reports showing an average of only 45 bad guys prosecuted per year?

    Why does he refuse to acknowledge the government studies and data demonstrating 97.3% of all killings by illegal use of a gun are committed by career criminals, gang members, suiciders, crazies & domestic violence abusers, which arent law abiding gun owners!

    Why does he not acknowledge the USDOJ data showing 30% of the population, not white, commit 87% of all the violent crimes, and votes predominantly demokrat?

    Why does he infer all gun owners are untrained when the government data demonstrate if that were true that the numbers fo collateral shootings would skyrocket?

    Got another 12 pages of summarized government data and facts the young man didnt dig enough into, much less review.

    I would give the young man an incomplete!

    • You do know that most Americans have around a 90 IQ? Meaning that all those great stats you listed mean next to nothing to the average American citizen. Gotta find a way to dumb it down so the flouride drinking mouth-breathers will get on board. In other words, if it’s not being talked about during an NFL pre-game show or in the middle of a Taylor Swift concert, nobody is going to give a fuck.

    • Hey! Be nice! The kid is 18. I’m thinking he’ll do a lot (I mean a LOT) better 10 years from now. Damn fine first effort.

      • That was being nice, trust me on that!

        But as he wanted to post his opinion in public, why should we sugar coat it and encourage the direction of his work that is so obviously lacking?

    • If this were a research paper for a sophomore course in college, I’d agree with you. But for high school, no, unless it was for like half his grade in some course, no.

      • My wife is a teacher of 31 years, and has had several students of exceptional ability, but they are not perfect, and they as a rule have all taken constructive critiicism and correction of their naievette better than most.

        So I have NO problem treating someone who wants to post their opinion in public as an adult, which I did!

        Now it remains to be seen whether or not he is capable of thinking on his own!

    • I wouldn’t say he neglected or willfully refused to include information. It was a high school research paper, not a doctoral thesis. He hit the highlights and the most pertinent information on an infinitely broad topic. I also think he was trying to write it as objectively as he could. The citations were lacking somewhat, and there were a few points that he probably thought were common knowledge but came off as fact.

      The concealed carry part was abysmal. It wouldn’t be hard to quote a few news stories the way American Rifleman does every month to paint a picture, while citing a news story to back up his “injured bystanders” claim if he were trying to be objective and give both sides.

      I’m not a teacher, but I was a history major and wrote a TON of research papers. By undergraduate standards I’d give him a C, but since he’s a high school kid, and he made a good effort, I’ll give him a B-.

  12. Content aside this kid needs a writing tutor. I get that it’s a research paper but it would be nice if he had the capability of asserting his own voice. Creativity is lacking in his word choice, bland structuring, very little to get and hold attention.

  13. Good start, young man. I give it a C+.
    Now. Dig a little deeper into U.S. v Miller.
    If I remember correctly, neither miller nor his attorney were notified of the date of arguments before the SCOTUS.

    Then here’s this statement.
    “No one needs an assault rifle!”
    It’s not a bill of needs, it’s a bill of rights.

    My last point on your paper. You wrote;
    ” How can our nation respect the culture of hunting and shooting sports in some states, while other areas face high levels of urban gun violence? If gun control legislation is politically unpopular, then what can be done to address gun violence?”

    Owning firearms is not about hunting or shooting sports cultures. In the Federalist Papers, it’s very clear that the founders meant for the common man to be armed as a bulwark against a tyrannical government.
    Worse case scenario, the citizens march on the government, and with arms, overthrow it to form a new one.

    There is no such thing as “gun violence”. It’s all about the perpetrator.
    The gun, at times, is the closest tool.

    Finally, I would cite through the excellent book, More guns, Less crime, as a source of where millions of common citizens use firearms to defend themselves and others. It happens a lot.

    Keep up the good work.

  14. David, I’ll give you a B. This was decently written and well-researched, but after your introductory section, which raised the issue as an important moral, philosophical, and political question, you buried us under a bunch of varied data and conflicting case histories, and at the end did not come to any sort of definite conclusion. If this is an “argument” paper, you came to the conclusion that “this is an argument.”

    I’m certain that other readers will note that there is a definite answer to the “what is a militia?” question. It’s defined in Article 2, section 8 of the U.S. Constitution and further described in the Militia act of 1903. Any male citizen between the ages of 17 and 45 who is NOT a member of the uniformed services (including National Guard) is a member of the “Unorganized Militia.” Forgive me if I’m misquoting here, I don’t have the source in front of me. While the militia is under obligation to keep and bear arms in the interests of the public (as in “common defense”) it is totally clear that this shows up as an individual right, as recognized by the Heller decision.

    But to address the core of the issue, being armed is a way of being powerful. It’s not the only way, and it may not be the best way, but it’s inarguable and it’s unmistakable. The larger question that you bring up (and then dance around, and then refuse to answer) is about how power is supposed to be distributed in our Republic. Is it supposed to be distributed widely, in the hands of the individual citizens, with the authority of the government held in check against the will of the citizenry, or should power be held by a central Federalist government in proxy for “the people” broadly speaking?

    What do you think Thomas Jefferson would have said about that?

  15. Young man, that was excellent! A realistic and well researched commentary! The only thing missing was experience. I could be all manner of educational here, but let me, for the moment, just address the following:

    “Unfortunately, not all people who have guns for self defense are sufficiently trained to act quickly and safely to stop a crime, and their firearms are sometimes used accidentally against innocents.”

    Why not give us some actual figures on whether, in a given (and actual) situation, the legally carried firearm was effectively used to stop a crime, or used accidentally against innocents. That is, IMHO, a common lie used to inflame anti-gun activists. How often does either event occur?

    You will be discouraged from such research, “it’s not important”, etc. It IS important, 10,000 used to prevent crime vs. one used accidentally against innocents makes the decision easy. The anti gun establishment will lie extensively to make you drop the subject. I say, go to the FBI figures, do some research outside the biased sources you seem to be using.

    But, again, for an 18-year-old, this was really exceptional. I am 68, and I respect your attempt.

    • Actually, you hit the nail right on the head, sir. I had originally included the example of Nick Meli (Clackamas OR), but my teacher told me it was “not important”, ” anecdotal “, and ” made the paper too long “.

  16. I would prefer the “report” to argue a position, but lacking that he should cite more “laws” and the reasons for them, like firearms registration and the concealed carry regulations that were enacted so blacks and other minorities couldn’t carry guns.

    Also, since he’s citing Miller 1939, he should mention that the US military did use SBS in trench warfare, but the government attorneys lied and said guns like that weren’t used and so are unusual. One of the worst SCOTUS decisions ever.

  17. Overall this is a good paper, especially from a high schooler.
    As Jarhead1982 notes there are a few areas that would ideally
    need further research and expansion. Although, I see this as
    less a full report as I do a intro/summary of a lengthy (20 pgs+)
    research thesis. Bearing that in mind, this paper is still better
    than a great many papers I’ve seen and gotten from college
    students.

    My biggest critique is that there doesn’t seem to be a clearly
    stated thesis. Without this it’s hard to know the context for
    the report itself. For instance, this paper does not seem to
    be making any argument, merely providing a generally history.
    If we take the report as such then much of the information
    others have noticed missing isn’t irrelevant by any stretch; but
    it could become a little superfluous. On the other hand, if an
    argument for or against gun-control was intended then there
    is a lot of data that would need to be added.

    Overall well written, but without a thesis statement of some kind
    I don’t think I could give this more than a B+.

    • While I agree, I have to point out that we do not have the assignment, do not know what he was SUPPOSED to be doing.

  18. As a high school research paper: quite a decent job there, actually. Nice collection of information, and pretty fair presentation of proposals/arguments on both sides of the controversy. I don’t know what standards you’re writing for, but having written a slew of (admittedly more technically focused) research papers, your opening could do with a better “road map” of where your paper is heading – you’ve got an okay start in your second paragraph, but as evidenced by the commenters before me mentioning having not read the whole thing or skimmed it, it could use a little more explicit “we’re going to go over X, Y and Z” to help the reader not feel lost (or have to read it twice). Your last paragraph is rather weak, in that the call to citizens to “listen to both sides” isn’t actually really supported or explicitly mentioned anywhere else in the paper.

    I’m not going to get into the mires of the back-and-forth arguments for and against each proposed solution (I leave that to the other commenters, this IS the internet after all). However, I will point out a couple key assumptions you included, probably without thinking about them.

    “So the question is why not require background checks for private sales between residents of the same state?” – you (or rather the framer of this particular suggestion) have made the classic error of assuming something is either bad and should not be allowed, or good and should be required. What if we change the word “required” to “allowed”? If there was an open version of the NICS system, where anyone could call and get a quick pass/fail check, what would be the potential benefits or drawbacks?

    You use the term “gun violence” without actually defining it. Sadly, in the context of these types of arguments, it is actually necessary to differentiate between “violent criminal acts perpetrated with a gun”, “accidental injury or death due to a gun” and “the use of a gun to deter violent criminal acts” because the term “gun violence” has been known to be used to lump all three contexts together.

    Is “gun violence” something that needs to be independently addressed outside of “violence” generally? Guns make it EASIER to commit violent acts, but the absence of a gun does not PREVENT violent acts (see prisons for a prime example). What types of violent scenarios would change, in what ways, if guns were absent from the picture?

    “While there will always be acts of violence that cannot be prevented, what are the common sense steps our society could take?” – you make the mistake of assuming a “common sense” approach is applicable to violent acts in our society. Unfortunately, “common sense” is not actually a measure of the quality or effectiveness of any approach, especially in a very complex system like the society we live in. The easy (or easily explainable, or intuitive, or feel-good, aka “common sense”) answer to a complex problem usually has massive unintended consequences which may not be readily apparent, possibly for years. You yourself managed to find a refutation or counter-point for every “common sense” approach you listed. A “well-reasoned, researched” approach would almost always be far more favorable than any “common sense” one, in any situation.

  19. What is the point that you are trying to convey? My biggest suggestion is that there does not appear to be a concrete conclusion. ‘Everybody should listen to each other’ is not a conclusion. If the assignment is intended to be a history lesson, it is acceptable to follow the historical thread and look at how things have changed over time and why, but then the current concluding paragraphs are unnecessary and counterproductive. If it is intended to be an opinion piece (i.e. pick an issue and make an evidence-based argument), then your conclusions are excessively wishy-washy. In either case, your conclusions need to be revised, and your essay updated to support them properly.

    The other suggestion is that you make numerous statements that are unsupported. For example, “Better laws and enforcement tools around trafficking and straw purchasing, preventing theft, ensuring background checks for all purchases, and education could make a difference.” How? What evidence do you have to support that view? Is there data that you can point to? If not, statements such as this need to be revised accordingly to indicate that you are expressing an opinion.

    Keep in mind these things apply to all good essay writing. Pick an argument, form a hypothesis, back it up with evidence (DATA!), and make conclusions based on that evidence. Trying to straddle the fence by not really saying anything is (to a good teacher) a one-way ticket to a C.

    • I concur with your assessment. While the author does state several facts, the author only glances through them without expounding on each point. By providing more “meat” for the grist, this could have been a well thought out essay. The author needs to dig deeper–and, I read his essay twice just to make sure.

  20. I’m on a my phone and about to lose reception, sorry if this is a repost.
    Look at the militia acts of 1792 and google 10 us code 311

  21. Not bad at all; seems his idea of a “moderate stance” is to not be rabid, rater than being semi-grabber.

    This kid has a [hopefully bright] future involving language.

    Off to work on my Mosin-based 13 barrel Gatling; pix if I ever finish it…

  22. Even worse the second time I read it. It was really poorly written. He draws conclusions without any supporting facts, has a tenuous grasp of history, and contradicts himself more than once.

    Fail.

  23. Better than me when I was 17. I am critical of the unfounded Concealed carry conclusions. But for posting on a (rabid?) pro 2A site very good. We won’t crucify you like Dick Metcalf 🙂

  24. Howdy folks. I’m the author of this essay, and I’m more than happy to answer any questions y’all have. I’m a little late to the game, I know, but I’ll try and make up for that.

  25. I can find things to quibble about here. The paper is rough in spots and a bit unfocused. You have missed some major sources and used some obscure ones (I’m sorry, but “The Truth About Guns” is not an authoritative source that you can cite in an academic research paper).

    But those are quibbles. For a high school paper this is really remarkable. You show real talent and you could go far if you work to develop it. I hope that doesn’t sound condescending. Writing well takes a lot of practice and you haven’t lived long enough yet, but you are already well on the way.

    In scholarship terms, you should search harder for primary sources. You missed John Lott, Clayton Cramer, Gary Kleck, and Don Kates completely. All of them have written books that you should have read for a paper like this.

    In writing terms, you should do more to make the prose flow. Try to imagine yourself giving a speech before an audience. Try to be organized about what you are trying to say, and lay the points out in a logical order. Chronological order, order by topics, order by opposing views – various things can work, you have to find your own voice. Break your points up into logical and easily digestible blocks. For any given block, consider using the three step format: introduction, body, and summary.

    I think the best advice for an aspiring writer is, to paraphrase H L Mencken, to read widely and to emulate good writing. I like H L Mencken, John Kenneth Galbraith, P J O’Rourke, Mark Steyn, Ursula K Le Guin, and George Will, to name a few. Not what they say, but how they say it – their craftsmanship as writers. Read widely, and when you find someone who writes well, try to see how they do it and borrow the best of their techniques. Be aware that you aren’t going to get anywhere without effort. Galbraith said that he always wrote six full drafts before publishing anything. The first five drafts were progressively less awful. Try to get your work published. There is nothing like working with an editor to raise your game, unless it convinces you that there are easier ways to make a living.

  26. Pretty good over all. I disagree with the presumption we have to cooperate with those who would limit ANY of our rights. No gun laws can stand against “shall not be infringed”. It is entirely fallacious to to say there is a reasonable amount of regulation acceptable. The bill of rights simply says to keep and bear “arms” it does NOT say musket, it does NOT say all but military weapons, there is no clause ANYWHERE in the constitution allowing ANY government ANY amount of authority to regulate ANY of the rights affirmed by our constitution. Considering the document was conceived and written with almost singular purpose and that was to severely limit government. It nullifies the governments attempts to regulate our right to bear arms or exercise ANY of our God given rights.

  27. No need to repeat omissions already commented on but as others commented, this is far better than I would expect from a HS paper. I hope he will take the comments in jest as well as the advise on their facts.

    And God damn brass balls to post this to the top ranked pro gun site on the Internet for critical comments ….i would have wanted to die if anyone but my teacher read anything I wrote at that age, not to mention on a topic that has an entire nation in disagreement.

    Major kudos to you, Sir!!!

    Glad to have you as a fellow american.

  28. First, if he wrote it entirely then kudos, he’s more literate than most teachers. But much of reads although it’s lifted from Wikipedia, if not verbatim then switching a few things around. It just doesn’t flow like one person wrote it straight. Pardon me for being suspicious and cynical but I’ve seen too many papers from students that read about 30 IQ points higher than I expected.

    Second, in regards to the concealed carry and gun violence in general, he ignores the “threat that the victim may be armed” and the “fear by the criminal that their victim could shoot back” in his assessment. He diminishes the role that gun ownership and control has in the prevention of crime taking place at all. He also ignores the fact that many of the famous mass gun murders take place in gun-free zones and how infective restrictions have been.

    But worst of all, he is coming at the issue from the point of view of regulation rather than defense being a natural right that predates the constitution and the USA. Regulating firearm ownership is a desperate act by a sick society because it assumes that citizens have lost their moral compass and need to be policed. No doubt this is the case in many parts of urban America and some of the meth lab boonies but it’s whole ineffective… the druggies and gangs will always be armed no matter what the laws say.

    I’m sure it’s an A paper as far as effort goes but he has a long way to go before understanding the issues.

  29. As others have mentioned I don’t know if this is supposed to be about the history of gun control or a position paper. I am not happy that David simply uses the term “assault weapon” as this is a political term. There are assault weapons. There are assault rifles which are full auto or select fire.

    He also uses the term gun violence. All types of violence are related. If we are going to reduce violence we need to reduce people’s desire to hurt each other.

    • The role of the paper was twofold; to provide a history of gun control (focusing on the 20th century), and then to give your opinion on the issue based on the evidence previously stated. I go to a liberal, hoplophobic school outside of D.C. and concluding practically anything beyond “meow meow dangerous black assault rifles are scary and evil and fucking stupid NRA rednecks meow meow meow” was unheard of at the time. When I wrote this paper, I had just began to dip my toe into the abyss of gun rights, but I still held on to some protectionist notions. TTAG has since dispelled these.

  30. Two points:

    1) The paper misrepresents the Supreme Court’s decision in Miller. Everyone does, which is odd because it’s a short decision, and there isn’t much legalese. In Miller the Court sent the case back to the lower court for fact finding; they did not rule the men were guilty, in effect they held that they didn’t know.

    2) Too many assumptions without examining data. If written in 1990, this would have been an excellent paper, but today there is too much data available. It is not possible to say any gun control idea “might” reduce crime rates, because they all have been tried somewhere and failed.

  31. “Unfortunately, not all people who have guns for self defense are sufficiently trained to act quickly and safely to stop a crime, and their firearms are sometimes used accidentally against innocents.” — Cite your source, kid. That kind of inflammatory statement in an otherwise good essay will count against you.

  32. While his analysis is scholarly, he fails to come to the only conclusion that is acceptable.

    “shall not be infringed” is clear, concise English.

    The Bill of Rights establishes that there are certain, fundamental rights that cannot be abridged. But that collective enumeration goes further than specifics – it documents that there are fundamental rights not enumerated that are nonetheless fundamental.

    The very idea that the Constitution and its Bill of Rights do not cement inviolable principles in law, and that such principles are elastic and subject to the political circumstances of the times, is fallacious.

    That concept invalidates THE keystone of this republic, i.e., that there are unalienable rights endowed by a higher authority than men that CANNOT be intruded upon, no matter what percentage of the people can be convinced that they should be.

    And that is at the center of this so-called ‘debate’.

    It is not guns. It is liberty. It is the very definition of what America IS.

    A+ for the analysis of the status quo.

    F for failing to reach the only conclusion supported by the evidence, namely, that there can BE no ‘debate’ of the future of the people’s right to arms, because it is transcendent.

  33. Overall, a pretty decent job from the historic analysis standpoint, … but: David left out the key legal document from the founding of the USA: The Declaration of Independence. The Declaration sets the context for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, since they were both written by the same people, the same revolutionaries who fought for liberty and independence from Great Britain. The Declaration lists many unalienable Rights, including the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But there is only one DUTY described in that Declaration. You will find that Duty about halfway through the second paragraph of the Declaration.

    “But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their DUTY, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    That is the context for the Second Amendment’s Right to keep and bear arms. It is not hunting, it is not target shooting, it is not trap shooting – it is to fulfill our duty, as free citizens (not subjects) to ensure the preservation of individual liberty for ourselves and future generations, and to prevent our central government from becoming an “absolute Despotism”. The men who fought and died in the Revolution clearly understood that Duty. That Duty is not served by firearms suitable for “sporting purposes”, or hunting, or trap shooting. It is served by civilian versions of the same infantry firearms used by our military.

    And to help David understand the meaning of “shall not be infringed”, try putting two 6-year old kids in the back seat of a car, run a strip of masking tape down the middle of the seat, tell them “stay on your own side”, and take a 4-hour road trip. Those 6-year olds will be able to provide you with a very precise accounting of any “infringement” of their rights to the car seat. Why is that word so difficult to understand when it is used in the Second Amendment?

  34. well researched. I am sure it got an “A” from a teacher. Teachers grade on technical aspects of writing and do not on the accuracy of the conclusion, they can’t be an expert on every subject.

    Just one point, the “debate about evolving language”? The founders didn’t mean for it to “evolve”; that’s why they wrote it down.

  35. Fourth, straw purchasing, where someone who is prohibited from possessing a firearm uses a surrogate buyer to act for them

    This statement is incorrect. According to the recent SCOTUS decision in the Abramski case, a straw purchase is when any surrogate buys a gun for another person, whether or not the other person is prohibited. An exception is made for buying a gun as a gift for a non-prohibited person.

  36. It’s a decent paper, especially for a High School student.

    However, I would direct his attention to Title 10, Section 311 of the U.S. Code, which covers what a militia is:

    (a)The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

    (b)The classes of the militia are—
    (1)the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

    (2)the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/311

    An examination of the Militia Acts is probably warranted, since everything else about the gun control debate is a distraction from the fact that these definitions are already codified into the supreme law of the land. Focus on the good points!

  37. “From the smoothbore muskets wielded by farmers in the Revolutionary War, to the M1 Garands carried by the valiant soldiers of the U.S. Military in WWII, to the 5.56x45mm rounds being sent “downrange” from the barrels of M4s and M16s in Afghanistan as this is being written, guns were a necessary part in the creation of our nation and continue to play an important role in protecting America abroad. But civilian ownership of guns in America is a dividing issue.”

    Seemed that the author was pushing for the military view of the 2nd.

    “What is a militia? Who are “the people?” Many questions arise after reading the text. Those in favor of gun control tend to believe that the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms as a collective right, meaning one reserved for the military. Those who support gun rights believe that the Second Amendment is meant to protect the right of individuals to bear arms.”

    How about some quotes from the founding fathers? Such as:
    “A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.” — George Washington

    “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against the tyranny in government.” – Thomas Jefferson

    “No free men shall be debarred the use of arms.” – Thomas Jefferson

    “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.” — Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution [1787]

    “A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves. …To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.” — Richard Henry Lee

    “A government that does not trust it’s law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is itself unworthy of trust.” – James Madison

    “The great object is that every man be armed. . . . Everyone who is able may have a gun. . . . Are we at last brought to such a humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense?” – Patrick Henry

    As for the Miller decision, there was no real defense presented. There was a history of military use of short barreled shotguns (which is not what they should have based their decision on) prior to the arrest and court cases.

  38. In all fairness Robert, unfortunately sometimes writing a paper like this for class is as much about writing a good paper and expressing your opinion as it is about tailoring it to your teachers sentiments and walking a fine line between achieving both.

    Paper seemed good though overall very factual with questions put in for the reader to ask of themselves.

    Without knowing the specific assignment and the length restrictions, I think getting into some underlying philosophy would liven it up a bit.

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