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Constitution, US Politics

Individual rights – gun control

Gun Control and the US Constitution

 Key points:

  • The 2nd Amendment seems fairly unambiguous – a right to own firearms that ‘shall not be infringed’. What could be clearer?
  • Even some conservatives regard the 2nd Amendment as ‘anachronistic’.
  • The 2nd Amendment is a perceived obstacle to gun control in theUS.
  • Attempts to implement the Brady Laws, requiring background checks on individuals before they could purchase weapons, was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1997. This was based on the 10th Amendment: the federal government lacks the constitutional authority to order local officials to execute federal policies (i.e. to administer background checks on gun buyers).
  • The NRA is a powerful lobby group.
  • 44 states have ‘right to bear arms’ clauses in their own constitutions.
  • Estimates are that 75-90m Americans own a gun.
  • Just under 9,000 people died due to gun related homicide in 2010 : http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jan/10/gun-crime-us-state

 Questions to consider for class discussion:

  1. With so many states supporting gun ownership is the 2nd Amendment anachronistic/out of date?
  2. Is the Constitution to blame or is it simply the fact thatUSsociety doesn’t oppose guns strongly enough?
  3. What can be done to change the Constitution? Is it likely? Why or why not?
  4. What does all this mean for the ‘rights of the individual’?





  1. Pingback: Individual rights – religion « Government & Politics A-level - November 9, 2011

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