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Right to keep and bear arms

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A woman trains real-life defensive gun use scenarios with live ammunition at a video shooting range in Prague, Czech Republic.

The right to keep and bear arms (often referred to as the right to bear arms) is the people's right to possess weapons (arms) for their own defense.[1] Only few countries recognize people's right to keep and bear arms and protect it on statutory level, and even fewer protect the right on constitutional level.

Background

In Old English, beran (past tense bær) means to bear, bring, bring forth, or produce; to endure or sustain; or to wear.[2]

The Bill of Rights 1689 allowed Protestant citizens of England to "have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law" and restricted the ability of the English Crown to have a standing army or to interfere with Protestants' right to bear arms "when Papists were both Armed and Imployed contrary to Law" and established that Parliament, not the Crown, could regulate the right to bear arms.[3][4]

Sir William Blackstone wrote in the 18th century that the right to have arms was auxiliary to the "natural right of resistance and self-preservation" subject to suitability and allowance by law.[5] The term arms as used in the 1600s, the term refers to the process of equipping for war.[6] It is commonly used as a synonym for weapon.[7]

Inclusion of this right in a written constitution is uncommon. In 1875, 17 percent of constitutions included a right to bear arms. Since the early twentieth century, "the proportion has been less than 9 percent and falling".[8] In their historical survey and comparative analysis of constitutions dating back to 1789,[8] Tom Ginsburg and colleagues "identified only 15 constitutions (in nine countries) that had ever included an explicit right to bear arms. Almost all of these constitutions have been in Latin America, and most were from the 19th century".[9]

Generally, where modern constitutions refer to arms at all, the purpose is "to allow the government to regulate their use or to compel military service, not to provide a right to bear them".[8] Constitutions which historically guaranteed a right to bear arms are those of Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Liberia, Mexico, Nicaragua and the United States of America.[10] Nearly all of the Latin American examples were modelled on that of the United States.[9] At present, out of the world’s nearly 200 constitutions, three still include a right to bear arms: Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States; of these three, only the last does not include explicit restrictive conditions.[8]

Americas

Guatemala

While protecting the right to keep arms, Guatemalan constitution specifies that this right extends only to "weapons not prohibited by law".

Mexico

Mexican constitution of 1857 first included right to be armed. In its first version, the right was defined in similar terms as it is in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. A new Mexican constitution of 1917 relativized the right, stating that its utilization must be in line with local police regulations.

Another change was included in 1971 Constitution. Since then, Mexicans have the right to be armed only within their home and further utilization of this right is subject to statutory authorization in Federal law.

United states

Gun violence and the politics of the right to bear arms

Legal restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms are usually put in place by legislators because they believe that they will reduce gun related violence.[14][15][16] Their actions are frequently the result of grass roots pressure for such controls. The Brady, Snowdrop Campaigns, and the Million Mom March are recent examples of campaigns calling for tighter restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms.

Accident statistics are hard to obtain, but much data is available on the issue of gun ownership and gun related deaths. The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) has made comparisons between countries with different levels of gun ownership and investigated the correlation between gun ownership levels and gun homicides, and between gun ownership levels and gun suicides. A strong correlation is seen in both.

During the 1989 and 1992 International Crime Surveys, data on gun ownership in eighteen countries have been collected on which WHO data on suicide and homicide committed with guns and other means are also available. The results presented in a previous paper based on the fourteen countries surveyed during the first ICS and on rank correlations (Spearman's rho), suggested that gun ownership may increase suicides and homicides using firearms, while it may not reduce suicides and homicides with other means. In the present analysis, four additional countries covered by the 1992 ICS only have been included, and Pearson's correlation coefficients r have been used. The results confirm those presented in the previous study.[17]

UNICRI also investigated the relationship between gun ownership levels and other forms of homicide or suicide to determine whether high gun ownership added to or merely displaced other forms of homicide or suicide. They reported that "widespread gun ownership has not been found to reduce the likelihood of fatal events committed with other means. Thus, people do not turn to knives and other potentially lethal instruments less often when more guns are available, but more guns usually means more victims of suicide and homicide." Speculating on possible causes the researchers concluded that "all we know is that guns do not reduce fatal events due to other means, but that they go along with more shootings. Although we do not know why exactly this is so, we have a good reason to suspect guns to play a—fatal—role in this".[18]

The research reporter found that guns were the major cause of homicides in 3 of the 14 countries it studied; Northern Ireland, Italy, and the United States. Although the data seem to indicate that reducing the availability of one significant type of arms—firearms—leads to reductions both in gun crimes and gun suicides and in overall crimes and overall suicides, the author did caution that "reducing the number of guns in the hands of the private citizen may become a hopeless task beyond a certain point", citing the American example.[18]

In contrast to the 1993 study however, a more recent study by UNICRI researchers from 2001 examined the link between household gun ownership and overall homicide, overall suicide, as well as gun homicide and gun suicide rates amongst 21 countries. Significant correlations between household gun ownership and rates of gun suicides for both genders, and gun homicide rates involving female victims were found. There were no significant correlations detected for total homicide and suicide rates, as well as gun homicide rates involving male victims.[19]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Halbrook, Stephen P. (1994). That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right (Independent Studies in Political Economy). Oakland, CA: The Independent Institute. p. 8. ISBN 0-945999-38-0. OCLC 30659789.
  2. ^ "Bear (v.)". Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  3. ^ "1688 c.2 1 Will. and Mar. Sess. 2". The National Archives (UK). Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  4. ^ "BBC: Bill of Rights Act, 1689 – The Glorious Revolution". bbc.co.uk. BBC. 2002. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  5. ^ "Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England". Avalon.law.yale.edu. Retrieved 2012-05-22.
  6. ^ Harper, Douglas Harper. "arm (n.)". Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  7. ^ "Arm". Thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d Ginsburg, Tom; Elkins, Zachary; Melton, James (7 March 2013). "U.S. Gun Rights Are Truly American Exceptionalism". Bloomberg. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  9. ^ a b Elkins, Zachary (4 April 2013). "Rewrite the Second Amendment". New York Times. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  10. ^ Ginsburg, Tom; Elkins, Zachary; Melton, James (2016). "Data Visualizations – Right to Bear Arms". CCP: Comparative Constitutions Project. Retrieved 2016. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  11. ^ https://www.businessinsider.com/2nd-amendment-countries-constitutional-right-bear-arms-2017-10#guatemala-2
  12. ^ {{cite web | url= http://www.ordenjuridico.gob.mx/Constitucion/articulos/10.pdf | title= Mexican Constitution (As amended) |work= |publisher= |pages= Article 10
  13. ^ {{cite web | url= http://www.ordenjuridico.gob.mx/Constitucion/articulos/10.pdf | title= Mexican Constitution (As amended) |work= |publisher= |pages= Article 10
  14. ^ Wright, David (April 22, 2007). "U.K. Response to School Massacre: Ban Handguns". ABC News.
  15. ^ "EU legislators push tougher gun controls". International Herald Tribune. November 29, 2007. Archived from the original on November 29, 2007.
  16. ^ "President Clinton Calls Brady Law a Success and Backs More Limits". New York Times. December 1, 1999.
  17. ^ Killias, Martin (1993). "Gun Ownership, Suicide and Homicide: An International Perspective" (PDF). In Alvazzi del Frate, Anna; Zvekic, Ugljesa; van Dijk, Jan J. M. Understanding Crime, Experiences of Crime and Crime Control - Acts of the International Conference, Rome, 18–20 Nov 1992. Rome: United Nations International Crime & Justice Research Institute (UNICRI). pp. 289–306. ISBN 92-9078-023-1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-01-07.
  18. ^ a b Killias, Martin (1993). "Gun Ownership, Suicide and Homicide: An International Perspective" (PDF). In Alvazzi del Frate, Anna; Zvekic, Ugljesa; van Dijk, Jan J. M. Understanding Crime, Experiences of Crime and Crime Control - Acts of the International Conference, Rome, 18–20 Nov 1992. Rome: United Nations International Crime & Justice Research Institute (UNICRI). pp. 289–306. ISBN 92-9078-023-1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-01-07. During the 1989 and 1992 International Crime Surveys data on gun ownership in eighteen countries have been collected on which WHO data on suicide and homicide committed with guns and other means are also available. The results ... based on the fourteen countries surveyed during the first ICS and on rank correlations...suggested that gun ownership may increase suicides and homicides using firearms, while it may not reduce suicides and homicides with other means.
  19. ^ Killias, M.; van Kesteren, J.; Rindlisbacher, M. (2001). "Guns, Violent Crime, and Suicide in 21 Countries" (PDF). Canadian Journal of Criminology. 43 (4): 429–448.

Further reading

  • Baker, Dennis (2009). Collective Criminalization and the Constitutional Right to Endanger Others. Criminal Justice Ethics.
  • Cramer, Clayton E. (1994). For the Defense of Themselves and the State: The Original Intent and Judicial Interpretation of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Praeger Publishers. ISBN 0-275-94913-3.
  • Dizard, Jan E.; Muth, Robert Merrill; Andrews, Stephen P., Jr. (1999). Guns in America: A Reader. New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-1878-7.
  • Halbrook, Stephan P. (1989). A Right to Bear Arms: State and Federal Bills of Rights and Constitutional Guarantees. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-26539-9.
  • Malcolm, Joyce (1996). To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0674893078.
  • Malcolm, Joyce (2004). Guns and Violence: The English Experience. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0674016088.
  • Spitzer, Robert J. (1998). The Politics of Gun Control. Chatham House Publishers. ISBN 1-56643-021-6.
  • Uviller, H. Richard; William G. Merkel (2002). The Militia and the Right to Arms. Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-3017-2.