Similar to gun control, this phrase evokes very different emotions across the political spectrum. For advocates of gun ownership, gun rights are an essential constitutional right - as reflected in the Second Amendment: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
The question behind that amendment -- what the framers of the Constitution intended it to mean (and how or whether it applies today) -- fuels much of the controversy over gun ownership. Some believe the amendment was intended to affirm individual rights to keep and bear arms while limiting the government’s ability to restrict and regulate them. Others read the amendment as preventing the federal government from overriding each state’s right to self-defense.
For those who see guns as centrally to blame for violence (see gun violence), advocates of gun rights or the “right to bear arms” can be experienced as recklessly and irresponsibly contributing to this same violence - especially as they fight against “common sense” gun control measures.
While debate about the issue can be fruitful, it often results in little genuine learning about the many reasons people have for holding different views. By contrast, dialogue that involves people’s stories of experiences that helped form their views on the issues has proved to be useful in deepening mutual understanding about what people believe, why they believe it, and how they came to their perspective.
QUESTIONS TO PLAY WITH:
-People often use the saying, “Your rights end where mine begin.” How do you think that saying applies to gun rights?
-What experiences have you had with guns? How have they shaped your opinions about gun rights?
-Putting aside what the Second Amendment says about all guns, what do you think the Founders would say about the different types of guns available today?