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Lambuth, Jacob R.

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ENGL 102-018

Ms. Moroz

01DEC09

Defending an American Right and Tradition

As Americans, we live in a country that gets to experience a level

of freedom that majority of people in the world could only dream

about. Our founding fathers so many years ago believed in a free

society where a person could do and say what they want without

persecution. To ensure certain rights were to remain in our society

without question or infringement, a bill of rights with 10 entries was

created. Such simple rights such as the freedom of speech or to a fair

and speedy trial are taken for granted in everyday America, yet are

considered priceless in other nations. One such right is defined by the

second amendment: the right to bear arms. Over 20 million Americans

(Department of Justice) actively and legally own firearms without

issues. Despite this, there are many who wish to see this right

removed from the public. These anti-gun lobbyists feel that an

abolition of firearms would rid our streets of gun related crimes and

even violent crimes as a whole. This simply is an extreme solution to a

problem that would result in only criminals owning firearms and law-

abiding citizens being helpless. The 2nd Amendment is an inalienable


right that should not be infringed or eliminated, as it will not eliminate

gun related crime in America. The legal ownership of firearms in the

United States is

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a long standing right and tradition that has proven to be not only not a

contributing factor to gun crime but actually has reduced violent crime

in many areas.

The United States has had the right to bear arms since it’s

independence in 1775. For nearly 2 and a half centuries, we have had

firearms of all calibers and styles available to the public without

significant issues such as political upheaval and mass genocide. It’s

only in the past 20 years where the issue of gun ownership has

become an issue of debate. Ask any person that remembers their

youth in rural America in the 1950’s, my Father being an excellent

example. I remember sitting around the campfire during my Boy Scout

days listening to my Father talk about his youth. He could walk down

the main street of Lafayette, Indiana with his rifle over his shoulder

and have no issues. Nobody feared that he would do something evil or

criminal for everybody respected and understood firearms use and

ownership. So if owning firearms was no issue 40 years ago or earlier,


why is it now such a controversial topic? One major issue is the

proliferation of illegal firearms in tandem with the illegal drug trade

(BATF). Trafficking Illegal narcotics is a multi-billion Dollar business

and dealers go to great lengths to secure their business. This means

illegally purchased weapons brought into the United States. These

weapons are the primary source of firearms used in crime. A survey

done in 1997 among state prison inmates shows that 80% of their

firearms were acquired via either stolen sources or through black

market channels into the US from Latin America and China. Only 12%

of firearms used in a crime originated from legal purchases from

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gun stores (Department of Justice). Another reason is that the media

has made gun related crimes major stories, often blowing them out of

proportion. The United States receives a great deal of observation

around the world yet gun related crimes of other nations go unheard of

to us. People around the world were made aware of the events of the

Colombine school shooting in 1999 due to extensive media coverage,

yet every day people die in Africa and Colombia due to shootings

without a single word being mentioned. Colombia suffers from

blistering amounts of gun related crime and it goes unnoticed every

day to the common American citizen. The issue is only increasingly


controversial because anti-gun lobbyists and inflammatory media are

making it a tremendous issue. The situation at Colombine high school

is not to be considered less horrific than what occurs elsewhere in the

world, but to radically remove the right to bear arms is an extreme

solution to a problem that isn’t extreme in any way.

I was 13 when it all happened to us as a family. We were living in

Mexico City at the time as my parents began working as foreign

contractors. Living in the capital can be difficult as foreigners as crime

is a bit prevalent all over the city. One night I hear a window break and

a loud crash coming from the kitchen. My Father yells out to tell us to

stay in our rooms as he goes to the kitchen to deal with the situation. I

hear a struggle and people yelling. Eventually, 3 shots ring out, and

then silence. I rush to the kitchen to see what had happened. I find a

man on the floor with 3 shots center mass to the chest and my Father

ensuring the scene was secure. The police

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show up and take the body away as well as my father. The man shot

was identified as a known rapist, thief, and murder and his intentions

for us weren’t honest in any way. Despite my father killing a known

criminal and defending us from possible death, he was arrested for

having a firearm. Owning firearms is illegal in Mexico and a serious


crime. We had to bribe the police a significant amount to have him

released. My Father saved our lives, killed a known violent criminal,

and the police were more preoccupied about the illegal firearm. My

father became a criminal overnight for defending us and we had to

bribe him into freedom.

The idea that making firearm ownership illegal in the US to

eliminate gun crime is simply a myth and not a reasonable solution to

end gun related crime. By this manner, only criminals will own

firearms. Just because owning firearms is illegal does not mean

criminals won’t obtain them. They are criminals for a reason, doing

what is illegal is what makes them such. The elimination of firearms

not only is ineffective at reducing crime it actually increases violent

crime. As you remove the ability of honest citizens to defend

themselves, criminals are more likely to perform criminal actions as

their victims are less able to deter them. Studies have shown that

firearms are far more likely to be used in a defensive use than

criminally. A 1995 study on defensive gun use in America showed that

near 2.5 million people have used a firearm in a defensive manner.

Approximately 200,000 of those situations involved women defending

themselves from sexual assault (Kleck, Gertz 1995). According to Kleck

and Gertz, “Citizens shoot and kill more criminals than


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police do every year (2,819 times versus 303).” Not every event

resulted in weapons being discharged. Criminologist John Lott from

the University of Florida discovered that only about 2% of self-defense

cases resulted in weapons being fired, most being warning shots.

Simply showing the weapon to an assailant proves to be very effective

in preventing crimes from occurring in most cases. An excellent

example is the US Military’s continued used of the Mossberg 500 pump

action shotgun. Despite superior and more effective semi-automatic

models available, the noise of the shotgun racking in a round is very

intimidating and is part of the continuum of force for military security

forces. That simple pump action noise is enough to end altercations

and prevent escalation. Many members of military security forces can

attest to the effectiveness of the shotgun racking sound ending

altercations without violence. The knowledge or presence of a firearm

levels the field between assailant and victim. Even on a large scale

such as a large city. For example, in March of 1982 the small town of

Kennesaw, Georgia enacted a citywide ordinance requiring households

to possess and maintain a firearm. Many feared that the idea that the

town would result in shoots outs much like Wild West movies. Prior to

the ordinance, the city had a crime rate of 4,332 per 100,000. Well

over the national average of 3,899 per 100,000 citizens. A recent

survey has shown that the crime rate is reduced to approximately


2,027 per 100,000 while the city population has quadrupled (World Net

Daily). Lt. Craig Graydon of the Kennesaw went on record on saying

“When the Kennesaw law was passed in 1982 there was a substantial

drop in

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crime … and we have maintained a really low crime rate since then.

We are sure it is one of the lowest (crime) towns in the metro area.”

There are still many anti-gun advocates that call for increasingly

heavy gun control laws in false hopes that they will attenuate gun

related crimes in the US. Some States and cities have enacted

incredibly strict gun laws to try and lower gun related crimes. The

District of Colombia and States such as California, New York, Illinois,

New Jersey, and Connecticut have either completely limited gun

ownership to banning their existence. DC being an excellent example

of gun control failing to lower violent crime related to firearm use. In

1978, the District of Colombia enacted a ban on all firearms to

everyone except for security and law enforcement personnel.

According to the Department of Justice, the recorded amount of violent

crime in DC was 10,399 including homicide and rape. The crime rate

dipped slightly the first 2 years of the ban, but then a steady increase

over the next several decades. The highest rate reaching in 1993 at
16,888, which is the highest violent crime rate ever, recorded for DC.

The numbers show that abolishing weapons did nothing to reduce

violent crime and in many cases increased the rate. This is just one

example of gun abolition failing to end violent crime or even

significantly reduce it. Another great example is Chicago and it’s

heavy ban on firearms. The city enacted a complete ban on firearms in

the Cooke County in 1982. Mayor Daley felt the ban would end

shootings in the city and lower violence crimes across the board. Near

3 decades later, the ban has shown to be detrimental to the crime

numbers. Murders in the

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Cooke County, which covers most of greater Chicago, has risen 41%,

as well as other violent crimes according to the Chicago Police

Department survey (Chicago Tribune). These are just a few examples

of gun restriction completely failing to end gun related shootings or

reducing violent crime.

Many Americans fail to realize that owning a firearm is a right

written and secured in the Bill of Rights. 10 rights that was written by

our founding fathers with the idea they would be forever inalienable by

the government. We often take these rights for granted all the time.

The idea of free speech or right to a speedy and fair trial falls into the
same category. These rights were made sacred and inalienable for a

reason, to keep the rights of Americans free and safe from tyranny and

governmental abuse. To think that one amendment could be removed

to satisfy the desires of a small group of the population could mean the

end of other rights we enjoy and practice. The right to defend the

ownership of firearms stems from English common law originating in

the late 1600’s allowing English citizens the right to own weapons for

use in personal defense or in the defense of the nation in the event of

invasion. From time to time, the English government called upon

citizens to actively defend themselves as war demands called up able

bodies for war leaving policing forces weak. This right carried over to

the British Colonies into the American Revolution. The right to bear

arms took a new form with the birth of Democracy. The newly formed

American nation feared governmental tyranny and oppression

experienced under English rule. So under a democracy, it was the

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citizen’s duty to ensure the government was not more powerful than

the people. An armed public is hard to oppress as it can actively

defend itself from a government that has become tyrannical (Joyce Lee

Malcom). The Second Amendment states both militia and the citizens

have to the right to right to bear arms for the security of the state.
Many argue that the right is antiquated and was created for the needs

of an emerging nation. As the United States expanding outwards,

pioneers and settlers required to defend themselves from raiders,

hostile Indians, and general crime. As we are a modern nation with a

regulated military and police force, the need to bear arms is no longer

necessary. True, the days of fighting hostile Indians and highway

bandits have long gone, but that doesn’t give the Government the

right to infringe upon the 2nd Amendment or even modify it to the

desire of a small percentage of Americans. An Amendment that is

supported by approximately 75% of Americans today, both gun and

non-gun owning (Nation Rifle Association). Countless cases have been

brought before the Supreme Court to address and abolish the right to

bear arms and each time the Supreme Court has ruled in it’s favor. To

disarm the public is the beginning to end of American Democracy as

the Government takes the first steps in ensuring the public is unable to

defend itself from oppression. Countless dictators of past and present

ensured their power by disarming the public. An infamous dictator

known to many is Adolf Hitler. When Hitler came to power 1938, he

began to systematically stripping citizens of their weapons. This came

easily as the Weimar government maintained meticulous records of

who owned weapons in Germany. Hitler’s new and methodical regime

adopted,
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improved the database, and then actively removed these weapons to

ensure his rule to be without opposition. Many other dictators did the

same such as Stalin, Chavez, and Pol Pot of the Khmer rouge (Joyce

Lee Malcom). An oppressive government can’t stay in power if their

citizens are able to fight back. If it were not the common law of owning

a weapon, our American colonist forefathers could never have started

a rebellion and forming the free nation we know today as the United

States.

Firearms have been in American society for generations upon

generations. It’s almost to say that they are an American way of life.

They have served as tools of rebellion to the British to win our

Independence, means of defense from aggressors, and have brought

food to the plates of many through hunting. Sure, there have been

many instances where firearms have been used in horrific events, such

as schoolyard shootings and bank robberies. These instances are far

outweighed by the many times they are used for defensive or

productive means. As there are millions of Americans that own legal

firearms and have not committed crimes with said firearms, denying

these citizens the right to own firearms will not end gun crime in

America. The 2nd Amendment should not be infringed in hopes to end

gun related violent crime as previous tries to abolish firearms has


failed. Our forefathers fought of a superior military force of an

oppressive government with their firearms, many Americans today still

live off hunting for a source of food, and countless people are alive

today like myself thanks to firearms. To allow a one amendment to be

abolished to satisfy the desire of a very small minority of Americans

demanding it’s

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removal can only lead to more rights to be suppressed or removed.

Once one amendment is removed, what would stop the government

from eliminating the freedom to speech or a fair trial? With an un

armed public, the only 2 to see the benefits shall be the criminals who

don’t obviously don’t obey the law and an oppressive government with

no fear of it’s people.


Works Cited

“25 Years Murder Free in ‘Gun Town USA’” World Net Daily. Ed. World
Net Daily Staff. 19 April 2007 <http://www.wnd.com/ news/article.asp?
ARTICLE_ID=55288>

“Bureau of Justice Statistics Firearms and Crime Statistics.”


Department of Justice. Ed. BJS Staff. 28 Oct. 2009
<http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/guns.htm>

Charles, Patrick J. The Second Amendment: The Intent and Its


Interpretation by the States and the Supreme Court. Jefferson, NC:
McFarland & Co., 2009.

“Firearm Publications” Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Ed.


BATF staff. 29 Nov. 2009 <http://www.atf.gov>

La Rosa, Benedict. “Can Gun Control Reduce crime?” The future of


Freedom Foundation. Ed. Benedict La Rosa. Oct. 2002
<http://www.fff.orgfreedom/fd0210e.asp>

Malcolm, Joyce Lee. To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of An Anglo-
American right. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press,
1994.

“Nation Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action Policy Issues”


National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. Ed. NRA Staff.
01 Nov. 2009 <http://www.nraila.com/issues>

Chapman, Steve. “The Failure of Chicago’s Gun Ban.” Chicago Tribune.


01 Oct. 2009. Print.