The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified on December 17, 1791, and states, “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 inherent right to bear arms is a constitutional privilege which distinguishes the United States from most of the rest of the world. In a country of 315 million people, Americans possess about 300 million firearms.1
There are roughly 32,000 gun deaths per year in the United States, of which 60% are suicides and about 3% are accidental deaths.1 According to FBI statistics, firearms accounted for 8,103 of the 11,930 U.S. murders in 2014 (5,545 by handgun, 248 by rifle, 25 by shotgun, and 2,052 by unknown type).2 However, News-Times reported in 2007 that 78% of all shooting deaths are drug, gang, or other criminal-related incidents committed with unregistered guns wielded by non-licensed criminals, with less than 1% percent committed by legal gun owners.3
Recent high-profile tragedies, such as the devastating shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, the murders at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater in 2012, and the 2016 Pulse Nightclub massacre, highlighted a need for greater efforts to keep dangerous firearms out of the hands of criminals, potential terrorists, and those who lack the mental competencies to possess guns. At the center of the debate are the issues of federal background checks (see FBI Fact Sheet), states rights to pass their own gun laws, as well as HIPPA laws in regards to balancing patient privacy rights with protecting communities. 2nd Amendment advocates argue that greater enforcement of current gun control laws is needed rather than drafting new laws.
1Putting Gun Death Statistics In Perspective
2Crime in the U.S
3Don't Blame Crime on Legal Gun Owners
Should the federal government pass stricter gun control laws?