Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Do Americans really have the right to bear arms?      

Before I answer that question, let me give you some interesting statistics and facts about gun control in other countries.                                        


Guns have been controlled in Japan since the late sixteenth century.  After the Second World War, gun control became very strict.  Many civilians have never seen a gun in their lives. 

In order for a person to own hunting guns and to hunt animals and birds with a gun, he or she must pay a hunting tax and obtain a gun-possession permit, hunting license, and hunting registration.  The process for obtaining a gun-possession permit is cumbersome and time-consuming.  The number of people who possess guns has been declining as a result of the very strict regulations.

There are very few deaths by gunshots in Japan, which has a low homicide rate overall.  The suicide rate, on the other hand, is very high, and many speculate that if Japanese people were able to possess guns more freely, the suicide rate would rise sharply. 

The 1958 Law has frequently been amended following a public outcry after crimes or incidents involving guns, each amendment making the restrictions tighter.  For example, when the police determined that most illegal guns were imported from abroad, a provision making the unauthorized importing of guns a crime was added to the law in 1965.  After an eighteen-year-old licensed to own two hunting rifles killed a police officer and went on a shooting spree against police officers in 1965, the age for owning a hunting rifle was raised from eighteen to twenty years old. After replica guns were used for crimes in the 1960s, including airplane hijacking, the possession of replica handguns that appear real was also prohibited. More recently, airsoft guns of more than a certain power began to be regulated by a 2006 amendment. After five murders involving shotguns, a 2008 amendment further restricted the possession of such guns.

To obtain permission to possess a gun, a person must file an application with the Public Safety Commission of the prefecture where he or she lives specifying the gun to be in his or her possession and the purpose of its use. The kind of gun permitted to be possessed is limited, depending on the purpose of the possession.  Among the guns included are hunting guns (rifles and shotguns) or air guns, excluding air pistols, to be used for target shooting, hunting, or extermination of harmful birds and animals; special guns used in specific businesses, such as lifesaving, slaughterhouses, fisheries, and construction, guns for testing or research and pistols and air pistols to be used in international athletic competitions when recommended by a person designated by Cabinet order. Possession of handguns by civilians is not allowed except for researchers using them for testing or research purposes.

That country has virtually eliminated shooting deaths in part by forbidding almost all forms of firearm ownership and for this reason; Japan has as few as two gun-related homicides a year. Japan’s population in 2016 is approximately 126,317,000 It is obviously a safe country to be in.

 United Kingdom

The UK has some of the toughest gun control laws in the world. If you want to own a gun, it is very difficult to do so. In short, it has been designed to put as many barriers in the way as possible and to assume the worst, rather than hope for the best.

Gun Control is administered by police forces in each part of the UK and in England, Scotland and Wales there are separate licences for shotguns and for other firearms. According to the most recent figures for England and Wales, there are 138,728 people certificated to hold firearms and they own 435,383 weapons. There are 574,946 shotgun certificates which cover 1.4 million shotguns. Statistics for Scotland show that 70,839 firearms were held by 26,072 certificate holders at the end of last year. Some 50,000 people in Scotland are certificated to hold shotguns and 137,768 weapons are covered by those certificates.

Getting a licence is a long and complicated business. Every stage of the process is designed to reduce the likelihood of a gun falling into the wrong hands. It starts with an application form which asks specific questions about why the individual wants a gun, telling them they need to show good reason for having one in their possession. Shotguns tend to be used in more general rural circumstances, such as by farmers who are protecting livestock from foxes. The police recognize that landowners need guns for pest control.

The criteria are tougher for rifles and handguns than shotguns because weapons that fire bullets must only be used for specific purposes in specific places. These would include deer stalking or sports shooting on an approved range.

Police officers check the Police National Computer for a criminal record and they speak to the applicant's background for evidence of alcoholism, drug abuse or signs of personality disorder. Social services can also be asked for reasons to turn down an applicant. Finally, senior officers must be sure that prospective gun holders have a secure location for the weapon, typically a dedicated gun cabinet. Each certificate is valid for five years.

Michael Ryan's massacre of 16 people in Hungerford in 1987 led to the banning of all modern semi-automatic rifles, the range of guns that can be fired rapidly without needing to be reloaded.

Nine years later, Thomas Hamilton killed 16 schoolchildren and their teacher when he opened fire at a school in Dunblane. Parliament banned the possession of all handguns carried by ordinary citizens and there is now a mandatory five-year jail sentence for the illegal possession of a handgun

The ringleader of Britain’s biggest known gun-smuggling operation was sentenced to 35 years in jail for shipping £100,000 worth of weapons from the same source used in the Charlie Hebdo terror attack. 

Nationally, there were 29 fatalities resulting from offences involving firearms in 2013/14; one fewer than the previous year and the lowest figure since 1980.

Children in the UK as young as 10 were among 1,500 youngsters arrested for firearm offences between 2013 and 2016.

The population in the UK in 2016 is approximately 65,121,000


The U.S.'s neighbor to the north had an outstandingly low gun casualty statistics in 2009. There were 0.5 deaths per 100,000 from gun homicide (173) Still, the ownership was comparatively high since there were  23.8 firearms per 100 people in the Canada that year.

Unlike in the US, there is no legal right to possess arms in Canada. It takes sixty days to buy a gun in Canada and there is mandatory licensing for gun owners. Gun owners pursuing a license must have third-party references, take a safety training course and pass a background check with a focus on mental, criminal and addiction histories.

Licensing agents are required to advise an applicant's spouse or next-of-kin prior to granting a license and licenses are denied to applicants with any past history of domestic violence. Buyers in private sales of weapons must also pass official background checks. 

Canadian civilians aren't allowed to possess any automatic weapons, handguns with a barrel shorter than 10.5 cm or any modified handgun, rifle or shotgun. Most semi-automatic assault weapons are also banned. As a result of exemptions, several kinds of assault weapons are still legal in Canada, although this has been the source of some controversy.

Anyone in Canada found in possession of an illegal  firearm will face a mandatory five years in prison. 

Canada reported only 172 firearm-related homicides in 2014 out of a total of 543 homicides, the lowest tally in more than half a decade,

The population in Canada in 2014 was  estimated to be  35,540,400.  

United States

America's gun control laws are the loosest in the developed world and its rate of gun-related homicide is the highest. Of the world’s 23 “rich” countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times that of the other 22 countries. With almost one privately owned firearm per person, America’s ownership rate is the highest in the world.

More Americans have been killed by guns since 1968 than in all of the wars the U.S. fought in. There were as many as 1,396,733 members of the armed forces killed on the battlefields of all the wars the Americans fought in including the American Civil War.  


Here is a summary. The figures below refer to total deaths in the United States caused by firearms. 
Years   firearm deaths
1968 to 1980   377.000
1981 to 1998    620-525
1999 to 2013    464,033
 2015        33,183

 (estimated based on rate from 2011-2013)  22,122
TOTAL,  1968-2015   1,516,863
These figures are frightening. These figures refer to all gunfire-related deaths, not just homicides. In fact, homicides represent a minority of gun deaths, with suicides comprising the biggest share. In 2013, according to CDC data, 63 percent of gun-related deaths were from suicides, 33 percent were from homicides, and roughly 1 percent each were from accidents, legal interventions and undetermined causes.

No official figure exists but there are thought to be about 300 million guns in the US, held by about a third of the population. That is nearly enough guns for every man, woman and child in the US.

There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870. Some 13,286 people were killed in the US by firearms in 2015, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and 26,819 people were injured (those figures exclude suicide). Those figures are likely to rise by several hundred, once incidents in the final week of the year are counted.

The US spends more than a trillion dollars per year defending itself against terrorists, who are a tiny fraction of the number of criminals who kill people for reasons other than terrorism.

The right to own guns is regarded by many as enshrined in the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, and it is fiercely defended by lobby groups such as the National Rifle Association, which boasted that its membership surged to around five million in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting.

According to figures from the US Department of Justice and the Council on Foreign Affairs, 11,385 people died on average annually in firearm incidents in the US between 2001 and 2011.

In the same period, an average of 517 people were killed annually in terror-related incidents. Removing 2001, when 9/11 occurred, from the calculation produces an annual average of just 31 persons killed by terrorists. 

That mass shooting put 2015 on track to be America’s deadliest for gun violence since 2012 — the year 20 children and a teacher were shot to death in their elementary school and many people were convinced that was the turning point for American gun control. It wasn’t: Even the most modest attempts at making it tougher to buy a gun have failed. U.S. President said in the wake of gun violence in the US; “We have a pattern, now, of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world,” 

Much of the America’s pro-gun push is centered around protection and personal freedom. Gun sales tend to rise in the wake of shootings both because people want to keep themselves and their families safe, and because they fear a governmental crackdown on gun ownership. According to the FBI, gun sales skyrocketed on Black Friday, even as police engaged in an hours-long standoff with a shooter who killed at least three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.

However, there’s little evidence to suggest guns keep even their owners safe. Most of America’s gun deaths are suicides: Firearms are the country’s leading method of suicide, and the rate of firearm suicides is higher in America than just about everywhere else. Further, recently two men carried concealed guns with them, presumably to protect themselves from criminals. They were killed by police officers who thought they were drawing their handguns to shoot the cops.

In my opinion, there are two really stupid laws in the US with respect to firearms. The first is the law in some States that permits people to possess military rifles. The second law is the one where some States permit their  citizens to carry with them concealed weapons.

Overall, Americans are almost 70 per cent more likely to die at the end of a gun; shot by someone else, by themselves, by accident than Canadians are being killed in a car accident.

As of April 30, 2016, the United States has a total resident population of 323,730,000, making it the third most populous country in the world after India and China.

And now, I will answer the question I raised in the heading of this article. to wit; Do Americans really have the right to bear arms?

The Second Amendment, or Amendment II, of the United States Constitution is the amendment and the section of the Bill of Rights that says that people have the right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment was adopted into the United States Constitution on December 15, 1791, along with the other amendments in the Bill of Rights. 

What Does the Second Amendment Mean?

The Second Amendment is only a sentence long and this is what it says.

“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 is a comma after the word “arms” which means that the words after the word “arms” is part of the purpose of the founding fathers of the United States who wrote the Amendment. In other words, it could read;

“A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, therefore the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

If there was a period at the end of the word, “arms’ and the next word was capitalized, then that would mean that the Amendment has two separate statements, each one entirely different from the other. Since a comma separates the two sets of words, that means the Amendment is one statement and each of the two groups of the words are part of that one statement.

In Switzerland, all males between certain ages are require to be members of their local militia and are given military rifles in which they must keep in their homes so that if the need arises, they will already be armed when they report to their militias. I believe that this was also the intention of the founding fathers. 

When the United States was being colonized by immigrants from European countries, their firearms  were very important to them. During early American history, all males who were between the ages of sixteen to sixty were required to be a part of the local militia in their towns and communities. Almost everyone during this time used and owned guns.  The few men who did not use or own a gun were required by law to pay a small fee instead of participating in the military services of their communities.  These militias defended their communities against Indian raids and acted as a police force when it was needed.  It was also available to be called upon to defend either their State or the United States of America if it they were  invaded. Since the men in those days already had their firearms in their homes, the founding fathers wanted to make sure that their government didn’t take their guns away from them.

After the American Revolutionary War, the framers of the Constitution, believed that many Americans of the time, distrusted standing (permanent) armies but they trusted their militias. After the Revolutionary War, Americans expected state militias to defend their newly created nation. The Articles of Confederation, the new nation's first constitution, called for each state to maintain a well-armed Militia. Congress could call up the militias to defend their new nation against any foreign power. However, Congress could only form a standing army if nine of the thirteen states approved. This was one of the weaknesses that led to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and a new constitution.

In my respectful opinion, what this meant then was that if a male of the appropriate age was a member of the local Militia, then he could possess a firearm and bear (carry) it when necessary. Of course farmers could also possess them and so can anyone who goes hunting or uses them for competitive shooting.

I honestly think that the Second Amendment is outdated. Nowadays, members of their local Militia don’t keep military weapons belonging to the militia in their homes like the Swiss do nor do they use the personal weapons of its members.  The last time the people took arms against their government was in the American Civil War. I can’t envision a time in the future where the American people will take up arms to fight their governments—State or Federal.

The phrase, “.…the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” is clearly outdated since that right doesn’t exist  anymore. The words, shall not are imperative words that in essence means that that right shall never be infringed. However, the right is in fact infringed since the right  to keep and bear arms is a non-entity since any citizen can have that right taken from him or her if the authorities feel that certain persons are a risk to themselves or to others.

The State of Virginia was one of the first colonies to adopt a state constitution. They included the words: “……a well regulated Militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms.” The State of Pennsylvania declared: The people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”

The Second Amendment was a result of several proposals being combined and simplified into just 27 words. This simplification has caused many debates over gun ownership and individual rights. Historians, judges and others have repeatedly looked for the intended meaning by the 18th century writers of this Amendment.  Different interpretations of the Second Amendment still cause public debates about firearm regulations and gun control

In 1939, the U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark decision in United States v. Miller. The Court determined that Congress could keep people from having certain weapons (in this case, a sawed-off shotgun) because the shotgun would not help maintain a well-regulated militia. The Court said the Second Amendment's purpose was to ensure the effectiveness of the military.

Further, People who obey the law cannot possibly use sawed-off shotguns for any legal purpose. That also applies to military weapons. What legitimate purpose would a citizen have for firing a military weapon when an ordinary rifle, shotgun or a handgun would do when protecting one’s self or family in one’s home? The only persons who carry and fire military weapons (other than members of the military) are criminals.

Laws about similar weapons that cannot be used for any legal purposes would not violate the Second Amendment. Laws that would keep criminals and the mentally ill from having guns would also not violate the Second Amendment. And that also applies to persons who have violently attacked their spouses or children. So as you can see, the right to bear arms can be infringed. 

However, In McDonald v. Chicago,   Supreme Court said in a 5-4 decision in 2010, that the city of Chicago could not make it illegal for citizens to own handguns. The Court ruled that the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms” that was  protected by the Second Amendment is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court held that it applies to all the States.

Due process is the legal requirement that states that the government must respect all legal rights that are owed to a person. Due process balances the power of law of the land and protects the individual person from it. When a government harms a person without following the exact course of the law, this is a due process violation, which offends the rule of law.

The Fourteenth Amendment (to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868. It was one of the Reconstruction Amendments. The Amendment discusses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws. It was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War. This Amendment was bitterly contested. Southern states were forced to ratify it in order to regain representation in Congress. The Fourteenth Amendment is one of the most litigated parts of the Constitution. It forms the basis for landmark decision such as Roe v. Wade (1973), and Bush v. Gore (2000). It remains the most important Constitutional Amendment since the Bill of Rights was passed in 1791.

The issue dealt with by the Supreme Court was the belief that everyone has the right to keep and bear arms because it is a fundamental right that protects an individual’s inherent right to self-defense, and as such, the States should be prohibited from infringing that right.

The Rutherford Institute, citing the high crime rate in Chicago itself, urges that limiting state and local governments’ ability to restrict the right to bear arms is necessary to allow citizens to protect themselves against violent crime, especially in urban areas. I have to agree that is a valid point.

Several California district attorneys added that handguns, in particular, are especially useful to average citizens in defending themselves or their property against criminals, hereby making handgun possession an important component of the individual right of self-defense. That is another valid point.

Robberies accounted for 28.0 percent of 1,165,383 violent crimes  committed in the United States in 2014. How many of those victims had the means to protect themselves? 

It isn’t just theft that happens during a home invasion. If a home owner or his or her family happens to be in the home at the time of the crime, then there is a good chance that an assault will happen. Violent crime has direct links with home invasions.

According to a United States Department of Justice report: As many as  38% of assaults and 60% of rapes occur during home  invasions.  There has also been quite a few murders committed during home invasions. One in every of every five homes will experience a burglary or home  invasion. That is over 2,000,000 homes being entered by criminals. According to Statistics Canada, there has been an average of 289,200 home invasions annually over the last 5 years. Statistically, there are over 8,000 home invasions per day in the United States and Canada. According to Statistics U.S.A., there was an average of 3,600,000 home invasions annually between 1994 and 2000.

I can see justification of citizens having firearms in their homes so that they can protect themselves and their families. 

I am against citizens carrying concealed firearms on their person when they are in public. Consider these two following scenarios.

An honest citizen who has a permit to carry a concealed handgun when he is in public is walking on a street one  night, A robber pulls out a handgun from his belt and points in the face of the citizen and orders the citizen to hand over his wallet.  If the citizen reaches for his concealed gun, the next thing he will hear is BANG. That is the last thing he will ever hear.

Now suppose he gives the robber his wallet and the robber then turns away from the victim and while he is running down the street, the victim pulls out his concealed handgun and shoots the robber in his back and subsequently, the robber dies. Guess what? The victim is now facing a second degree murder charge. That is what a cop who shot a fleeing suspect in the back is now facing.

Neither of those two scenarios is going to have a happy ending. It is far better to lose your wallet and its contents than lose your life or your freedom.

The views of the National Rifle Association

In June of 1999, two weeks after Rosie O’Donnell used her TV talk show to confront Tom Selleck about gun violence. Dufring her show,  she called in to the TV show, Larry King Live” to promote gun control on CNN. Asked by Larry King if she favored amending the Second Amendment to the Constitution, O’Donnell replied: “I think that we need to seriously consider that. Yes, I do, Larry.”   

The above may appear to some as evidence of gun bashers running amuck in the media, even favoring a rewrite of the Constitution. I submit it as evidence of just the opposite, The National Rifle Association is a gun lobby that has dominated the terms of the media debate on gun control.         

As the nation's largest and oldest civil rights organization, the NRA proudly supports the right of law-abiding Americans to carry firearms for defense of themselves and others regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. I don’t take issue with that view.

Americans who live in a household where they or someone else is an NRA member overwhelmingly favored the idea of making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to such checks. About three-quarters (74%) backed these expanded checks compared with 26% who opposed them. But far fewer people in NRA households supported proposed bans on assault-style weapons or high-capacity ammunition clips. This is where the leaders of the NRA should step in but rather than d that, they let things stand as they are.

A week after the December 14, 2012, massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the NRA argued that gun control legislation would not prevent similar shootings and instead, called for a nationwide program that would place armed security in every school desiring protection.

I think the latter suggestion is a good one but suggesting that gun control would not have prevented the killings in the school is outright stupid. If there was better gun control than there currently is, the shooter who was a screwed up teenager; would not have had access to his mother’s guns since she would not be given a permit to have all those guns in her home as long as her mentally disturbed child was still living with her or even visits her. Her guns should have been locked up so that he couldn’t get access to them.

Many years ago, I sued a creep and when he was answering my questions while I was cross examining him, it was obvious to him that he was losing his defence, he suddenly left the witness stand and on  his way out of  the courtroom within the hearing of everyone including the judge,  he said in a loud voice, “BATCHELOR. YOU ARE A DEAD MAN!”

I called the police and told them what had happened. Two days later, they visited him. They took away all of his rifles and told him that if he buys another one, they will arrest him and charge him with threatening to kill me—which in Canada is a very serious crime. He never bought another gun and I never heard from his again. He shouldn’t have guns in his possession in the first place but at that time, there was no real gun control in Canada.

The United States needs better gun control.

I hope that you have found this article informative and interesting. 

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