Can the Government restrict your rights to gun ownership?

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Answered by: EJ, An Expert in the Your Rights Category
Many people fear that the government is going to ban the manufacture and possession of firearms in the United States. The following discussion is an attempt to imagine the possible steps that might be taken to restrict your rights to gun ownership.

Any efforts to prohibit the right of the people to bear arms would clash with several institutional and practical barriers. The Second Amendment of the US Constitution guaranteeing citizens the right to bear arms was enacted as part of the Bill of Rights in 1791. For 222 years Americans have had a constitutional right to gun ownership. According to several sources, including the National Rifle Association (NRA) , and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATF), there are 290 to 350 million guns in the United States, and 129,817 licensed gun stores . Additional BATF statistics indicate that 114 licensed manufacturers produced approximately 6.5 million guns in 2011 with about 3 million more being imported. In 2011, 10.8 million were sold.

The National Rifle Association claims to have 4.3 million members. In 2011, the NRA gave 242 House of Representative members a solidly pro-gun rating, an A grade, 30 received a B or C, 146 received a D or F, and 17 were not rated. In the Senate, 46 members received an A, 13 a B or C, 35 a D or F, and 6 were not rated. In the House of Representatives it takes 217 members to vote yea to pass a piece of legislation; the Senate requires 51 unless there is a filibuster, in which case 60 votes are required. In short, 56% of the members of the House are rated pro-gun with another 7% leaning that way. In the Senate, 46% are rated pro-gun with 13% leaning that way. Such are the ratings of the pro-gun NRA.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is another organization that provides a gun-law grading system, but with a different perspective. The Brady Center ranks states according to the gun laws they feel individual states should enact to reduce gun violence. They have ranked 30 states in the weakest category and 8 more in the next-to-weakest category; only 6 states rate strong in gun safety laws in their opinion. These statistics are relevant when considering the possibility of enacting a constitutional amendment to prohibit firearms in the United States.

To prohibit your rights to gun ownership in the United States, the Second Amendment to the US Constitution would have to be repealed. This action would be the twenty-eighth amendment. Also required would be an amendment to the constitution prohibiting firearms; this would be the twenty-ninth amendment.

Article V of the Constitution requires, “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the congress…”

Samples of the additional amendments are presented here:

Amendment XXVIII

Section 1. The second article of the amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

(No doubt a great deal of legal language would follow the simple sentence above.)

Amendment XXIX

Section 1. The manufacture, sale, transportation or private possession of firearms in the United States is hereby prohibited.

Given the readily available statistics as presented here, it is hard if not impossible to imagine 66 Senators and 290 House Representatives proposing some facsimile of Amendments XXVIII and XXIX above. The prospect of three-fourths of the states ratifying such measures would appear to be more in the realm of science fiction than political possibility.

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