By Aleschia Hyde
I am interested in this scholarship because I want to practice criminal or immigration law and the additional funds from the scholarship would help to defer many of the costs associated with law school while still allowing me to invest fully in my 1L coursework. Since college, I have worked and gone to school, thus sacrificing many hours of studying and networking. I would like to attend law school without the additional stress, if possible. Eventually, I want to pursue a career as a legal scholar. My undergraduate and graduate thesis work examined the way in which the state and individuals construct citizenship as well as the ways that the judiciary animates rights for marginalized people in Latin America.
All legislative actions that place restrictions on firearms do not infringe on the Second Amendment right to bear arms or jeopardize its effectuate. There are typically two types of legislative actions that relate to firearms. Whereas the first type restricts where and when firearms can be used, the other type restricts who can use firearms. Neither type is mutually exclusive. Yet, the former, in my opinion, preserves the exercise of the second amendment, while the latter is more ambiguous, and thus more contentious.
Laws that define where and when a firearm can be used do not limit an individual’s right to possess firearm. Therefore, these laws do not directly affect the Second Amendment, which stipulates that individuals have the right to have a weapon. For instance, there is great debate about whether there should be weapons in school. The Virginia Tech shootings and the Sandy Hook Massacre fueled this debate. In support of weapons in schools, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos contends that teachers may need a weapon to protect students from grizzly bears and potential threats. In contrast, many opponents of guns in schools cite the amount of money and training, not to mention gun safety concerns, firearms would place of school systems. Each argument recognizes the right for individuals to have guns, but strives to regulate the context in which they are employed. Still, this does not stop legislatures from debating or judiciaries from deliberating about these restrictions.
On the contrary, legislation that restricts which individuals have access to firearms affects the exercise of the Second Amendment. With increased gun violence in urban cities like Chicago and mass shootings like the Orlando Nightclub Massacre, the ambiguity of the Second Amendment and its relationship to the security of the public and the private right to ensure one’s own safety is even more contentious. Following the attempted assassination of President Ronald Regan in the 1980s, the Brady Bill required gun purchasers to undergo background checks.
Individuals could be denied a weapon in the name of public safety. In the wake of the Charleston Massacre in South Carolina in which nine African American churchgoers were slain, local and state governments called for restrictions on gun purchasing for individuals with documented mental health issues. Opponents of these restrictions such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) have lobbied politicians to vote against these efforts. For example, the NRA supports allowing individuals who are listed on the U.S. Terrorist Watch List to legally obtain weapons. The NRA predicates its argument on the Second Amendment. In their belief, to deny any individual from buying a firearm is a violation of the Second Amendment and threatens the rights of all gun owners. Thus, the amendment is evoked in these debates.
To conclude, I do not believe that any restriction on firearms affects the Second Amendment. Indeed, the guns rights debate in the U.S. focuses primarily on the possession of weapons by certain people. However, there are debates that establish the ways individual use his or her weapons. This debate does not always compromise the Second Amendment and therefore, presents examples of firearm restrictions that do not affect the right to bear arms. Nonetheless, these debates are best resolved in the judicial system.