Gun Control Pro Firearms shirt
The right to keep and bear arms (often referred as the right to bear arms or to have arms) is the assertion that people have a personal right to "weapon(s)" for individual use, or a collective right to bear arms in a militia, or both. In this context, "arms" refers to a variety of weapons and armor and to "bear arms" meant to wage war. The phrase "right to keep and bear arms" was first used in the text of Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Beyond the United States of America, the general concept of a right to bear arms varies widely by country, state or jurisdiction. The issue of firearms has, at times, taken a high-profile position in United States culture and politics. Michael Bouchard, Assistant Director/Field Operations of ATF, estimates that 5,000 gun shows take place each year in the United States. Incidents of gun violence in 'gun-free' school zones have ignited debate involving gun politics in the United States. Support for gun control in America has been steadily dropping. Currently, the American public strongly opposes attempts to ban gun ownership, and is divided on attempts to limit gun ownership. A 2008 Gallup poll revealed that 28% of the population supported a total ban on handguns — the lowest level since the poll was first taken in 1959 (when support for a total ban was 60% of the population). This same poll revealed that 49% of Americans in 2008 preferred more restrictive gun laws, compared to 78% when the question was first asked in the 1990 version of the poll. A 2009 CNN poll found even lower levels of support for gun laws: in this poll, only 39% favored more restrictive laws. The poll indicates that the drop in support (compared to 2001 polls) came from self-identified Independents, with levels of opposition among Democrats and Republicans remaining consistent. There is a sharp divide between gun-rights proponents and gun-control proponents. This leads to intense political debate over the effectiveness of firearm regulation. On the whole, Democrats are far more likely to support "stricter" gun control than are Republicans. According to a 2010 Harris Interactive survey, a 70% to 7% majority of Democrats favors "stricter" rather than "less strict" gun control, whereas Republicans are split 22% "stricter" to 42% "less strict" with 27% of Republicans and 14% of Democrats opting for "neither". The division of beliefs may be attributable to the fact that Republicans are more likely to own guns, according to General Social Surveys conducted during the last 35 years. The graphs, below, show that gun ownership has generally declined; however, Republicans — especially men — are far more likely to own "guns or revolvers." More recently in a 2008 survey completed by Gallup, there are large differences between Republicans and Democrats on the issues of gun ownership and control: •More than half of Republicans report having a gun in their homes, while only about a third of Democrats report this. •Two in three Republicans say they are satisfied with the nation's laws or policies on guns. This percentage is much lower among Democrats, at 37%. •The strong majority of Democrats feel that gun laws in the United States should be stricter, while only about 4 in 10 Republicans feel this way. Forty-eight percent of Republicans feel gun laws should remain as they are at the present time. Incidents of gun violence and self-defense have routinely ignited bitter debate. About 10,000 murders are committed using firearms annually. Surveys have suggested that guns are used in crime deterrence or prevention around 2.5 million times a year in the United States. The American Journal of Public Health conducted a study that concluded "the United States has higher rates of firearm ownership than do other developed nations, and higher rates of homicide. Of the 233,251 people who were homicide victims in the United States between 1988 and 1997, 68% were killed with guns, of which the large majority were handguns." The ATF estimated in 1995 that the number of firearms available in the US was 223 million. Some perceive that firearms registration– by making it easier for Federal agents to target gun owners for harassment and confiscation– constitutes an easily exploited encroachment upon individual personal privacy and property rights. In contrast, in a 2008 brief submitted to the United State Supreme Court, the Department of Justice advocated that reasonable regulation of weaponry has always been allowed by the Second Amendment in the interests of public safety. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment secures an individual right to own and possess handguns in a home for self-defense. See below. Fully-automatic firearms are legal in most states, but have requirements for registration and restriction under federal law. The National Firearms Act of 1934 required approval of the local police chief, federally registered fingerprints, federal background check and the payment of a $200 tax for initial registration and for each transfer. The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibited imports of all nonsporting firearms and created several new categories of restricted firearms. A provision of the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 prohibited further registry of machine guns manufactured after it took effect. The result has been a massive rise in the price of machine-guns available for private ownership, as an increased demand chases the fixed, pre-1986 supply. For example, the Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine-gun, which may be sold to law enforcement for about $1,000, costs a private citizen about $20,000. This price difference dwarfs the $200 tax stamp. Political scientist Earl R. Kruschke states, regarding the fully-automatic firearms owned by private citizens in the United States, that "approximately 175,000 automatic firearms have been licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (the federal agency responsible for administration of the law) and evidence suggests that none of these weapons has ever been used to commit a violent crime."  District of Columbia v Heller Main article: District of Columbia v. Heller On June 26, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court held that American citizens have an individual right to own guns, as defined by the Second Amendment of the Constitution. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court stated that an absolute firearm ban was unconstitutional. The Court further determined that its decision in Heller does not impinge upon all existing statutes and regulations, such as those that prohibit felons and the mentally ill from owning or possessing firearms.  Arguments Globe icon. The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. Please improve this article and discuss the issue on the talk page. (August 2010) Several studies have examined the correlations between rates of gun ownership and gun-related as well as overall homicide and suicide rates within various jurisdictions around the world. Martin Killias, in a 1993 study covering 21 countries, found that there were substantial correlations between gun ownership and gun-related suicide and homicide rates. There was also a substantial though lesser correlation between gun ownership and total homicide rates. A later 2001 Killias study however, reported that while there was a strong correlation between gun-related homicide of women and gun-related assaults against women; however, this was not the case for similar crimes against men and that " Interestingly, no significant correlations with total suicide or homicide rates were found, leaving open the question of possible substitution effects."  This study indicates correlation, but no causality. That is to say it could mean that the easier access to guns lead to more violence, or it could mean that larger amounts of violence lead to a higher level of gun ownership for self defense, or any other independent cause. A study by Rich et al. on suicide rates in Toronto and Ontario and psychiatric patients from San Diego reached the conclusion that increased gun restrictions, while reducing suicide-by-gun, resulted in no net decline in suicides, because of substitution of another method — namely leaping. Killias argues against the theory of complete substitution, citing a number of studies that have indicated, in his view "rather convincingly", that suicidal candidates far from always turn to another means of suicide if their preferred means is not at hand.  Gun ownership as a means of resisting tyranny Advocates for gun rights often point to previous totalitarian regimes that passed gun control legislation, which was later followed by confiscation. Totalitarian governments such as Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany during World War II, as well as some communist states such are cited as examples of this, Gun control opponents often cite the example of the Nazi regime. Once the Nazis had taken and consolidated their power, they proceeded to implement gun control laws to disarm the population and wipe out the opposition, and genocide of disarmed Jews, gypsies, and other undesirables followed. Historians have pointed out that already the democratic Weimar Republic had restrictive gun laws, which were actually liberalised by the Nazis. According to the Weimar Republic 1928 Law on Firearms & Ammunition, firearms acquisition or carrying permits were “only to be granted to persons of undoubted reliability, and — in the case of a firearms carry permit — only if a demonstration of need is set forth.” The Nazis replaced this law with the Weapons Law of March 18, 1938, which was very similar in structure and wording, but relaxed gun control requirements for the general populace. The relaxation included, for example, the exemption from regulation of all weapons and ammunition except handguns, the extension of the range of persons exempt from the permit requirement, and the lowering of the age for acquisition of firearms from 20 to 18. It did, however, prohibit manufacturing of firearms and ammunition by Jews. Shortly thereafter, in the additional Regulations Against Jew’s Possession of Weapons of November 11, 1938, Jews were forbidden from possession of any weapons at all. Location and capture of such records is a standard doctrine taught to military intelligence officers; and was widely practiced by German and Soviet troops during World War II. Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union did not abolish personal gun ownership during the initial period from 1918 to 1929; the introduction of gun control in 1929 coincided with the beginning of the repressive Stalinist regime as part of Resolutions, 1918 Decree, July 12, 1920 Art. 59 & 182, Pen. code, 1926. The Battles of Lexington and Concord, sometimes known as the Shot heard 'round the world, in 1775, were started in part because General Gage sought to carry out an order by the British government to disarm the populace.