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Guns in America

January 17, 2012

We are going to watch Michael Moore’s documentary Bowling for Columbine in my English class, and that touches upon a very sensitive issue in America: gun control and how the second amendment to the US Constitution should be interpreted. The second amendment has this line:

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.

This means the Constitution protects the rights of individual citizens to carry a gun. The specific laws vary from one state to another: some states (e.g. New Hampshire) allow you to carry a loaded gun, whereas in other states (e.g. California) the gun must be unloaded. In most states you must be 18 years or older – in Vermont you must be 16.

This first video shows interviews with people on the street in the state of California, and the interviewer is carrying a gun (!) while asking people what they think of gun control.

Is the interviewer biased in any way, or is this a balanced presentation?

The second video I’d like to share is an interview by MSNBC journalist Chris Matthews on the show Hardball with William Kostric. Kostric came to a political meeting in New Hampshire on 11 August 2009 where President Obama attended, carrying a loaded gun. After seeing this, you understand why it’s called Hardball.

 

I think this shows something interesting: while a lot of people support the right to carry a gun, many of those will react negatively when that right is exercised. Kostric was protected by law to do what he did, but he still has to suffer questions about it afterwards. Having the right does not automatically make it right.

Berørte kompetansemål:
3a: drøfte sosiale forhold, samfunnsforhold og verdier i ulike kulturer i flere engelskspråklige land
3b: presentere og diskutere internasjonale nyheter og aktuelle hendelser

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From → 3a, 3b, Social issues

30 Comments
  1. I don’t think EVERYONE should be allowed to carry a gun. Loaded or unloaded. But I think the police should be allowed to! They learn how to use it, and when to use it. If a 18-year-old have a gun, he might shoot if he lose his temper. And he might kill a person, when he could just shoot him in his leg to make him fall.

  2. I think that the police should be able to carry firearms. They are trained to use them, and know when it’s necessary to use them. People walking around on the streets with firearms, openly or even concealed, would scare me, because I don’t know if I can trust them. Then I would rather choose to carry one myself, but if it was illegal in the first place, it wouldn’t be necessary. People who still have firearms illegally would be a threat to the public, but that’s why we’ve got the police. They are the ones who should take responsibility and protect the public, instead of the public protecting itself.

  3. Gun control is surely a hot topic. It’s a hard one as well. Personally I believe that the police should be able to carry guns,(and the military, of course). But I do not believe that regular citizens should should be able to. Weapons are really dangerous, and without the correct training even more dangerous. I would say that we should leave guns to professionals. For our own safety.

  4. I’m basically against weapons, so I think guns should be banned. But it may be necessary for the police to use them in special situations. I would not feel safe when seeing people carrying guns in the streets, because some may respond based on reaction. Only trained officers with experience should be allowed to use weapons.

  5. Well it all depends. If the one carrying the gun actually do need it, and has been threatened then I do totally understand that a firearm might be necessary. But since there are too many people who think it is “cool” to carry a gun and do not know the responsibility, I think the people who should be allowed to carry one should be limited. Or they should at least apply for some training before having the permission to buy a firearm.

  6. I kinda agree with William Kostric, he has good reasons for carrying a loaded gun. The police should definitely be allowed to carry a gun. But what I’m concerned with, is all the different types of people in this world. For all I know, a crazy dude can violate the second amendment and shoot people. If “ordinary” people should be allowed to carry a gun, then I think they must have some sort of training and a licence to to use one (if it isn’t so already); to assure they are serious.

  7. I really don’t think guns should be legal, they’re dangerous and not amusing in the slightest. Stun guns on the other hand, are a different matter. It allows people the sense of security that comes of being capable of protecting themselves, while disarming even the largest potential attackers in a most entertaining fashion. I mean, have you ever seen someone shot with a stun gun? They just twitch and flop about, they look like they’re pretending to be fish or something along with many other entertaining effects.

  8. Well my opinion on this is that you should be allowed to have guns at home, but for carrying you should get special license. Perhaps you might have to take a special course in how to use a gun.

  9. frida permalink

    I don’t think it shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun. You can kill a person with it and I dont think it is fear to kill people.

  10. I agree with my fellow classmates. It is nescessary for the police to carry firearms, they are the keepers of peace and sometimes they have to use firearms to protect the citizens. The police has training in using firearms, both physically and psychologically. If regular citizens should be allowed to carry firearms, I think that they should go through physical and psychological tests, so that we could sort out the “mad men”. Personally I think that no-one should carry firearms. It seems so out of place to carry firearms, that are used for horrible actions, when taking a walk or going shopping. Countries where the citizens are allowed to carry firearms, have a different opinion about how regular people should handle a threatening situation than countries where firearms are illegal.

  11. Sanne permalink

    I also think that only the police should be able to carry guns and weapons. The police are trained and they know when they should take out their gun. If I lived in America, I don’t think I would ever feel safe out on the street, knowing that others around me could be carrying a gun. You don’t know anything about these armed strangers. For all we know, they could be mentaly unstable.

  12. I agree with most of the opinions above. Unless you’re a cop I don’t think you should be allowed to carry a firearm. Police officers are put in situations where they are forced to protect themselves everyday, so a gun may be neccesary for them to stay alive. They are trained to only use them in extreme cases and they understand the consequences. Normal civilians however, should not be allowed to own guns. I don’t understand why anyone would want to own something that causes nothing but injuries and death.

  13. I agree with many of my classmates. Firearms are dangerous, and in my opinion civilians should not be carrying them. The police aren’t just trained in how to use a gun, they’re also trained in when to use it and they have their own rules. It’s very rare to hear about a trained policemen walking around and killing innocent civilians. These are the main reasons to why I and most people (not everyone) feel like we can trust a policeman with a gun. I would definitely not say the same about civilians, who oh I don’t know can get a gun when they open up a certain bank account. Normal people like you and me may train and learn how to use a gun, we may learn how to aim, shoot, and hit the target exactly where we want to. Yes we may learn all of that, but we most likely won’t be able to completely understand the responsibility that comes with it. We may let out emotions get the best of us, our rage, our sorrow etc. We may let that get in the way of our better judgment; we may actually end up killing someone. Okay I feel like I’m getting ahead of myself, to wrap this up I just want to say that I do not support civilians walking down the street with a gun in his pocket. I think that the US has experienced enough, to understand that it’s not safe for civilians to own/ use guns and it should not be legal.

  14. I’m going to comment on the movie, because I see that nobody else has done it:)
    At first I thought this was going to be a boring movie, but after watching a bit of it, I realized that this is a good movie in fact. It brings up a subject we are not used to talk about in our peaceful country. We are not familiar with normal families living a suburban life having guns at home. To me, this is kind of shocking! I mean, I knew that people had guns in their homes, but I never really thought so much about it. But now I realize how scary that is!
    I’m looking forward to finish watching the movie!

  15. I don’t think anyone should carry a gun, and the view some people in America (and other country’s) have on firearms and other weapons are absolutely frightening!

    If everyone would go around having a gun in their pocket I think the death rate would be even higher then it already is. You react on impulse and you barely get to think about your decision, so you point your gun at someone, just like that, and shoots them… Your mind can’t even react before it’s done, and you stand there, a murderer.

    I believe that firearms could be illegal to all of the world’s population. It will probably never be like that, but it’s sure okay to hope? I guess..

  16. First of all to make it clear, I do not support civilians carrying weapons. In my opinion the only one who should be legal to do that is the police and the army, ect, because they are trained to use it and knows when it should be used. I personally would not feel safe in a society surrounded by people carrying firearms, because I would never know which person to trust. And as I am from Norway where carrying weapons are far from normal, it would scare me, and I would be paranoid just waiting for somebody to pull the trigger. BUT, I think that it would be impossible to ban guns and expect that they would all be taken off the street. Weapons use are so widely spread in America (and other countries where firearms are legal for that matter) now and it is probably too late to change the laws of it. So additionally, America should AT LEAST do more to ensure the people who are getting guns are capable of handling them and are not likely to go kill someone with it. I believe that a ban on firearms in America will result in a lot of protests and riots, the gun market will most likely continue, and people will no longer feel safe considering they are so used to carrying weapons as protection. At least that’s what I think.

  17. olavri permalink

    Besides, the bad guys will always get their hands on a gun, there is no way of stopping that, right? If the police is able to keep the public safe, that would be ideal. But we do not live in an ideal world. Why shouldn’t people be able to protect themselves?
    I guess I am playing the devil’s advocate here to provoke some opposition… Isn’t it fair to say that the reality in America is very different from Norway?
    Also: would it be ok to acknowledge a difference between keeping a gun in your home and carrying one in public?

    The US is not so much one state as a federation of states (the United States!). This means that each state has its own constitution and different laws apply: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_the_United_States_(by_state)
    In New York state, there are even different laws for different cities!

  18. olavri permalink

    The strictness of gun laws vary from state to state. Green is lax, red is strictest.

    Notice how the largest city areas have the strictest laws (New York, Los Angeles). That makes sense, I guess.
    Image taken from http://www.city-data.com/forum/atlanta/976616-really-good-idea-allow-guns-hartsfield-10.html

  19. I don’t think anyone else then the police should carry guns. They know how to handle it. It’s not safe having a firearm under the pillow at night!
    Maybe the shooting at Colombine whouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t allowed, i don’t know but I think it was/is to easy when you can get a firearm at your bank.

  20. I personally don’t agree with that regular citizens should have weapons. I just don’t see the reason why they should. And what’s the use? I wouldn’t even feel safe if my neighbour had a gun, and he’s a really nice and caring man, so you get my point. The only one who should be able to carry or have weapons should be the police, the army, ect. They’re trained to use a gun and know when to use it. I would like to refer to a quote from the documentary we’re now watching; “Plutonium weapons shouldn’t be allowed for everyone, there’s a lot of crazy people out there”.
    The man who said that wasnt exactly the person you would trust to carry a gun after all himself. In America, they’re approximately giving everyone the right to carry a gun, and that’s not safe at all.

  21. This is a really great topic which can cause interest and argumentation. It would be a bit easier to discuses this topic if we knew how it is to be a citizen in America… I mean, I bet that 99% of the Norwegian population would say that they are against regular people to hold weapons. Why? Because the simply doesn’t have any use for it. I can’t speak for all of us, but me myself have no problem going around in the city at any time being afraid someone is going to attack me or whatever… Since we don’t know it is to be raised, live and everything in America I can’t really say if it’s a good idea or not. Maybe they are more responsible than we think?

  22. Should regular citizens be able to carry a gun? The real question is: Will there be a reduction in murder rate in the U.S, caused by firearms, if the right-to-carry arms would be removed? Most of the people will definitely say “yes”, since it sounds like the most logical solution. But here is something that can really blow up their minds, take a look:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/94/Homicide_rate2004.svg

    As you can see, the U.S has the highest homicide rate compared to the other countries (5.48 per 100,000 inhabitants), but if we take a look at the country in the neighborhood – Canada, we will see that its homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants is almost three times less than the homicide rate in the U.S. Now, how can we explain this? I mean, it is absolutely legal to carry a gun in Canada as well as in the U.S, and for a fact, according to the movie: “Bowling in Columbine”, an average Canadian family has more firearms contained in their house than an average family in the U.S and yet, the homicide rate in Canada doesn’t even reach 2.

    So I’m asking you again: The constitution of the United States, is it really the core of the problem? Please, don’t get me wrong. I’m completely against the bearing of arms and by no means am I supporting that kind of law, but I believe that the problem dwells in the society. In other words, the social relations of American people towards each other are different, compared to the Canadian people. A funny fact that actually supports my argument is that in some rural areas of Canada the locals don’t lock their frontdoors, not even at night! It’s fascinating that people there have such an incredible trust in their neighbors. Trust… perhaps that could be a good start for the American people?

  23. It might sounds a bit silly for someone, but I think all guns should be illegal. But of course, the police-forces and other public “peacemakers” should be allowed to carry a gun!

  24. Personally I think that guns and other firearms should be banned for normal citizens and only used by the police. However in the USA is the situation different,
    To carry arms is not only allowed but also defended by the constitution. In this case were it is to difficult to ban the right to own/carry a weapon I think the best solution would be strict rules that you aren’t allowed to carry guns in pubic, and to have store them in a gun safe at home.
    I also think all semi-automatic weapons should be forbidden because these weapons are only made for killing, you don’t use a gun that can fire 20 bullets as son as you pull the trigger once to protect yourself.

  25. it is absolutely ridiculous that young, immature people can carry weapons. That says something about how bad the liberalistic government in the US is, when they give people the possibility of killing each other. this can easily make us see how fast the liberalistic conduct of america ruins they future.

    – I apologize for the misunderstanding, my Ipads correct writer doesn’t like me! here is my real comment.
    – Olav you can delete my first comment.

  26. I don’t think civil should be able to carry firearms, even though there are high crime and murder rates in different parts of the states (which is a consequence of the easy access to weapons). The police and army are there to protect the country and it’s population, and are trained to carry firearms. Having a gun in your home can be ok, just in case, but bringing your gun if you’re going to buy some groceries, will just make you a threat. Besides, if it’s so simple to gain a weapon, anyone could easily go out and kill anyone. If civil should be allowed to carry firearms, I think they should have some kind of knowledge of the weapon, before they should be able to bring it anywhere.

  27. If the ones that carry guns knows how to handle them, then yes they can carry guns. As long as they don’t use them to kill or wound innocent people.

  28. Edvard permalink

    I don’t think any civilian should be able to have guns, only the police to be able to fight crime, but only as a last resort

  29. Insurgo permalink

    First of all; In my opinion the first interviewer is balanced and neutral.

    Just the idea, and thought of simply creating an object designed to harm other breathing creatures is simply revolting and ridiculous, even rifles in usage of hunting moose and deer and the like, for we have farms where we raise animals to be eaten by us so we may as well just leave other beings alone since we can nurture ourselves in such a way.
    But handguns and rifles for usage in protecting oneself against other citizens, other humans who are just like you, is just stupid and overrated.
    The reason America with almost 400 million inhabitants has over 11 thousand murders by projectile-based weapons annually is because they have the means to. There are guns everywhere in America. I mean guns are illegal in Japan and they have ca 130 million inhabitants, and they only have 27 murders with handguns every year.

    • olavri permalink

      OK, I accept that argument when it comes to people shooting other people. What I object to is your distinction between shooting animals and raising them to be butchered. It may seem more civilized, but that is because we tend to think of animals in the wild as individuals, and farm animals as a commodity.
      Look forward to seeing your blog! Send me the address soon, would you?

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