Constitutional right to carry arms in the U.S
Debate Rounds (3)
This is my first debate, and I am looking forward to either being convinced by good counterpoints, or convincing someone else of my side.
I will start off by saying how counter-intuitive the right is to any cohesive system. Why do you need to have a open carry license(to buy guns, yes, but you can also acquire these illegally) when the fact if you actually have said license or not can not be checked by any authority without your consent?
Essentially this means that if you are a convicted felon for instance, and you have acquired a firearm, you are free to carry it openly as the fact that you are a convicted felon can not be uncovered without your consent, as they have no legal right to seize your weapon for check nor can they demand you to show identification.
This seems like a god-awful flaw in the system to me.
I can not find it in me to see this as reasonable on my own, and need help to see the other side so I can draw a conclusion on the matter.
That being said, I will outline the case for Side Pro, supporting the existence of the US Bill of Rights" 2nd Amendment. I have two primary contentions.
Contention 1: The Second Amendment is necessary for homeland security.
Let us examine the text of the Second Amendment:
"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."
It is easy to jump to the latter clause, but the former "militia clause" is just as important. From this perspective, the Second Amendment prevents the US Federal Government from withholding firearms from a militia.
But what exactly is a militia? Is it another word for the US Armed forces? Does any private paramilitary organization have the right to call itself a militia? Even worse, could terrorists consider themselves members of a militia, and thus shield themselves from all gun restrictions?
Fortunately for US homeland security, militias are slightly more complicated. Looking at Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, clause 15 and 16, we find Congress has the power "To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union." From a grammatical standpoint, the Militia is not only capitalized, but also given the preceding article "the." From a linguistic standpoint, this provides both a sense of authority to this militia, but denoting it as the one specific militia; one cannot create a militia for private use. Such a militia is not legally recognized as a militia by the government.
With this in mind, what militias can Congress not take arms from?
1. The National Guard of the United States
The US National Guard is arguably the US government"s greatest asset to homeland security. The National Guard operates via state-by-state branches and districts, able to deploy men and women to help individuals from any crisis, be it a natural disaster or another threat. Not only do these honorable individuals help rescue individuals from threats, but they also provide crucial security after disasters.
Consider the recent Boston Marathon attack: various National Guard members immediately rushed to the aid of the injured and panicked. Afterwards, they helped search for the individuals responsible for the attack. Indeed, for their bravery, the state of Massachusetts awarded 14 members of the National Guard with Army Commendation Medals (1). In May of this year, members of the North Dakota branch of the National Guard controlled missile field security for "one of the nation"s three missile fields." In fact, the National Guard managed to safely cover an area the size of New Jersey (2). Such defense does require firearms, as in the case of a suicide bomber or a launch facility breach.
For this and other needs of the National Guard, firearms are nigh necessary. The right to bear arms is then necessary to prevent the federal government (or the state government, under the SCOTUS doctrine of incorporation) from seizing the weaponry.
2. State Defense Forces
Along with the National Guard, most states have laws in place authorizing "state defense forces," armed forces serving as adjuncts to the National Guard. These individuals are nearly as important as the National Guard with regards to promoting security and saving lives. Consider the 129th Rescue Wing of the California Military Department: since 1975, the members of this rescue division have saved over 1000 lives (3). In some cases, firearms are nigh necessary for these individuals.
Without forces such as these having adequate firearms, lives could be at stake. In 1966, Charles Whitman, a crazed US Marine, murdered 16 people with a sniper rifle from the University of Texas tower. Austin"s police, without a SWAT team or a National Guard capable of putting down this threat, was left relatively defense. Sheer luck was a huge factor in taking Whitman down, as there were no properly armed men capable of taking him down (4).
So to stop men such as Whitman, our legally recognized militias require the right to bear arms. It is for our security.
Contention 2: The Second Amendment does not supersede gun control legislation.
Under the precedent of District of Columbia v. Heller, the SCOTUS decided "The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home" (5). Thus, current opponents of gun control legislation have been quick to batter down any proposed gun control legislation as infringing upon Second Amendment rights. This is not the case. In fact, ANY constitutional right can be limited; the greater question is the degree of the restriction. The question of whether or not a right can be restricted to a certain degree is determined by the SCOTUS via one of two tests: the Rational Basis Test (established by 1819"s McCulloch v. Maryland), dealing with non-fundamental rights, and the Strict Scrutiny Test (established by 1938"s United States v. Carolene Products Co.), dealing with fundamental rights.
Under the Palko Test, established by Palko v. Connecticut, as the right for a private citizen to own a gun is not "essential to a fundamental scheme of ordered liberty" (6), the right to bear arms is not considered a fundamental right. Therefore, the right to bear arms is treated with the Rational Basis Test. The Rational Basis Test has two components:
1. Does a government policy restrict/limit a citizen"s non-fundamental right?
2. Does the government have a legitimate state interest in enacting the policy?
If the answer to the second question is "yes," the policy is constitutional. Therefore, the federal government can legally create a policy, such as a Federal Assault Weapons Ban for private citizens, with a legitimate state interest behind it. If someone sues the federal government, the SCOTUS should, by all previous precedent, consider the policy constitutional. The Second Amendment does not stop gun control from passing; the SCOTUS tests allow the right to bear arms to be restricted to a certain degree.
In essence, my opponent"s issue with the Second Amendment is not due to the Second Amendment itself, but poorly written gun control legislation.
Which brings me to"
My opponent"s main issue with the Second Amendment seems to stem from an alleged underlying contradiction between the right to bear arms and gun licensing. The right is supposedly "counter intuitive to any cohesive system." The main issue with this argument is a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Second Amendment works. The Second Amendment, under the ruling of DC v. Heller, allows private citizens or members of militia, the US Armed Forces, etc. to own a firearm. It DOES NOT say the government cannot enact restrictions to ensure gun safety. The government can and has created such restrictions (see the Federal Assault Weapons Ban). If my opponent has issues with convicted felons reacquiring gun rights and then concealing purchased firearms, this is an issue with gun control legislation, and not the second amendment.
I thus close the first speech for side pro, and eagerly await my opponent's first rebuttal.
BaronSly forfeited this round.
BaronSly forfeited this round.
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