May 11, 2013
Out of all modern states, the U.S. has the longest democratic tradition. Most democratic norms, freedoms and rules of functioning of political institutions have been enshrined by the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1787. However, this continuity has not only positive consequences: the creators of the Constitution could not have foreseen how the situation in the domestic and foreign policy would change within centuries, that is why many provisions of the Constitution need to be adapted to today's realities, and without such an adaptation can create problems. In this case, the traditional legitimacy of these provisions could be a serious obstacle in trying to reform them in accordance with the changed situation. One of the examples is the right to own weapons, the debate around which in the USA was renewed after the mass shooting in Arizona in January 2011, during which the U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was heavily wounded. The right to own weapons is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, the Second Amendment that states: "As a duly organized Militia is necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be limited." To understand the amendment, and the controversy surrounding it in the modern United States, it is necessary first to recall the historical situation in which the amendment was adopted.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
It is necessary to pay attention to the fact that the right to gun ownership was initially associated with the activities of militia. This militia consisted of all adult males, which, if necessary, could defend their colony, and later the U.S. state using guns they possessed. After independence, the existence of militia in every state was one of the key attributes of the original state system of the United States: a national army was absent, security was maintained by militia in every States, thus, the states emphasized their independence in a relationship with a weak general federal government. The weakness of the federal government created a lot of problems, so in 1787 the convention was convened to develop a constitution to strengthen the central government and solve these problems. To adopt the Constitution, it was necessary to adopt a number of amendments to protect individual rights and thus become additional guarantees preventing possible power usurpation. Thus, the Second Amendment not only guarantees that any U.S. citizen can own a gun to defend the country from external threats, but also the fact that the same gun can be used to protect the freedom of the country, if a government tries to destroy the democratic regime in the U.S. This inner political aspect of the history of the Second Amendment gives it a special significance, and explains the difficulties faced by today's opponents of the free gun ownership in the U.S (Blocher, J. 2012).
During the existence of the U.S. Constitution, courts, including the Supreme, have considered numerous cases related to effect of the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court repeatedly affirmed that the right protected by the Second Amendment is an individual, that is, all citizens of the United States, with few exceptions (former criminals, mentally abnormal citizens, etc.) have this right.
In the twentieth century, the nature of the debate surrounding the Second Amendment has changed: the main controversy unfolded over the meaning that this amendment has to public safety and order. Opponents of free gun ownership indicate that as the result of the Second Amendment, the criminals get more access to guns and, therefore, become more dangerous. Proponents argue that the Second Amendment gives every citizen the opportunity to arm himself against criminals, and acts as a deterrent to potential offenders, fearing armed resistance on the part of potential victims. This discussion became particularly intense in the second half of the seventies…