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This article was written by 13-year-old Amanda Embree and submitted to the Liberty Essay Contest. As a result, Amanda won a prize -- a Life Membership. She's our newest and youngest Life Member. Feel free to send her a note to welcome her to the team. --Angel Shamaya, KABA Founder/Executive Director

Guns: A Wrong or Our Right?

by Amanda Embree

The second amendment to the constitution of the United States of America says that "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." Many argue that this is a collective right given to the National Guard, and not the individual citizens. Webster's collegiate dictionary defines militia thus: 

"A body of citizens enrolled as a regular military force for periodical instruction, discipline, and drill, but not called into active service except in emergencies. In the United States, it includes all able-bodied male citizens between eighteen and forty-five . . . " 

In 1990 the Supreme Court ruled in U.S. v. Verdugo that when the Constitution and its amendments use the phrase "the people" it can always be interpreted "individuals." This would include "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." The U.S. Code defines militia in Title 10, section 311 as "all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age...." The second amendment means the citizens.

With their first argument debunked, gun control advocates would have us believe that guns are dangerous and that anyone owning one is a potential criminal. They insist, then, that we must keep guns only in the hands of policemen and the military. One major problem is that criminals, by definition, disobey the law. According to The New American magazine, during one period of 10 years, about 16,000 guns were stolen from U.S. Military arsenals, and in one year enough rifles, machine guns, bullets, gas masks, grenades, etc. were stolen from the Los Angeles National Guard to arm a combat unit.

Even supposing we could get all guns from everyone including the police and military, criminals could make their own. Home-made guns, also known as "Zip" guns, can be made from readily available materials such as radio antennas, gas pipes, rubber bands, door latches, and nails. At a high school in Jerome, Idaho, in June of 1988, a 15-year-old boy died when he was accidentally hit by a gun he had made from a music stand and a ball bearing. In the Marion, Illinois top security penitentiary, officials found "an extremely sophisticated zip gun made from metal tubing, tape, a light bulb filament, flashlight batteries taken from a radio, and a toggle switch." The gun's hitting power was reportedly equal to that of a .25-caliber pistol (Parade magazine, September 28, 1980). Two murderers escaped from a maximum security prison in San Quentin, California using a machine gun they had built while serving time. The list goes on and on.

If we can't prohibit guns, then control lobbyists will suggest waiting periods. The problem is that waiting periods do not prevent crime and can keep protection out of the hands of those who need it. The Kansas City Police Department found that, on average, murder stemming from a domestic dispute was committed after the murderer had already visited the victim five times. Murder is usually planned ahead of time, so a waiting period won't prevent it. A Hollywood actor named David Rappaport committed suicide 15 days after he bought a .38-caliber revolver. The 15-day waiting period in California didn't stop him.

Guns have been called "the great equalizer" with reason. The elderly and invalids can handle them and protect themselves from stronger attackers. Robert J. Kukla said in his book Gun Control (Stackpole Books, 1972), 

"Prior to the development of firearms it was the most muscular and brutal -- the man with a club, ax, or sword who ruled our roads and streets and at their whim terrorized our homes. Today, a paunchy intellectual or a dainty and delicate woman, with courage and determination, is more than the equal of any brute who ever trampled the sands of a Roman arena. The difference is a firearm."

In 1982 the head of households in Kennesaw, Georgia (except convicted criminals and those with religious objections) were required to own at least one gun and ammunition. That year incidents of burglary dropped 73% in Kennesaw. In 1991 and 1992 combined there were three robberies, and from the passing of the law until ten years later there were no murders. A University of Massachusetts study found that criminals' fear of armed citizens halts an average of 50,000 crimes each year.

The fiercest criminal from whom individual citizens need protection is a government which becomes overbearing. We are free in America today because the colonists fought against King George's tyranny using the guns that the king tried to take from them. The Alamo defenders used their own weapons when the Mexican government violated the Constitution of 1824 and started to take away the settlers' freedoms. More recently, our government used force to take Elian Gonzalez by overcoming his unarmed protectors and dispersing unarmed protesters. There is no guarantee that it won't happen again, because a government can do whatever it wants to if the citizens are unarmed.

If we are to keep our freedoms we must keep our guns.


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All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void. Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (2 Cranch) 137 (1803)

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