Do you believe that American citizens have the right to own a gun?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The historical background behind the Second Amendment is compelling reason enough to support gun ownership.  The reality is that if British troops were harassing Colonial families, settling into their homes, and entering personal quarters without any probable cause, gun ownership would be an appropriate means of protection.  It will not take a great leap in logic to presume that many Colonial husbands did feel protective of both their property and families and in protection of both of these ends, gun ownership was seen as a way to keep what was theirs and dear to them.  At the same time, given the British restrictions on gun ownership and the idea that the British were very much against colonists having weapons of any kind, gun ownership was seen as an act of protest and defiance.  In this light, gun ownership could be seen as a valid right.  Of course, this is in a historical context and the idea of being able to own a gun for protection is still valid, but the Framers would not have envisioned in the Second Amendment in the context of semi automatic weapons and guns that are to be used for military purposes as opposed to for personal protection.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes, I do.  I do not think that American citizens have the right to own any gun without any exceptions or rules, but I do see the right to have a gun as something that is pretty fundamental to our sense of liberty.

I do not mean this to say that I think that guns are useful for protecting us against a tyrannical government.  That's a bit ridiculous given that the government has tanks and helicopters...  But I do think that being able to have a gun if you want one is a right that we should have just as we have the right to have a motorcycle if we want one.  We should have the right to have and do anything we want as long as it is not something that is basically illegal.

Guns have all sorts of uses that are legal.  Therefore, there is no reason to say "oh, guns can be used for crime, we should ban them."

I should mention that I see this as a pretty generalized right coming out of the whole idea of privacy and doing what you want -- I don't really see this as a Second Amendment thing only.

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I, too, believe that the Constitution grants Americans the right to own guns. The statement from the 2nd Ammendment does include the connection to a "well-regulated Militia" which some interpret as the National Guard, but later in the phrase, the writers use "right of the people" which is certainly more general.

It is best to look at two recent Supreme Court rulings: District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago. In both cases, the Court ruled in favor of the individual's right to own a weapon. It is interesting to note that both men involved (Heller and McDonald) live in high-crime areas with very strict gun laws--laws which restrict law-abiding citizens from owning a weapon with which they feel comfortable defending themselves but that obviously do nothing to restrict criminals from perpetrating crime with guns.

martinjmurphy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Second Amendment to the Constitution states, “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.”  There are several ways to interpret this amendment.  The Supreme Court, in the past, said the Second Amendment means that states are allowed to have armed militias, or an armed National Guard.  Recently, it has backtracked and stated that there is definitely a right for an individual to own a gun.  I tend to agree that this Amendment means states can have a National Guard.  The fact that the first four words of the amendment are “A well  regulated Militia”  makes me believe that the Founding Fathers wanted states to be able to defend themselves, particularly at the beginning of this country when the U.S. did not have a strong national army.   

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The question is sort of an academic one.  The Second Amendment to the Constitution is quite clear, and says that yes, Americans do have the right to own guns, and the government has the right to put reasonable restrictions on that ownership.  To repeal that amendment would take the support of an overwhelming majority of Americans, and given our gun culture, that isn't going to happen any time soon.  So my opinion has little affect on gun ownership rights.

I choose not to have guns in my home, but I have no problem with others owning them.  Of course I don't want people committing crimes with guns, but they will do so whether or not guns are legal since they are breaking the law in the first place by committing the crime.