This essay is used with the permission of David M. Mastroberte, Age 15, Grade 9 - Home-schooled in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania . It was the First Prize winning essay for Law Day sponsored by the Monroe County Bar Association, Friday, May 1, 1998.

The Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms

"...the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed upon."

- The Second Amendment, United States Constitution

Have you ever asked yourself the question, "Would the world be better if guns were banned? Would the world suddenly be a safer place to live? Are guns the major cause of violence?" The answer to these questions is NO!

As an American, I strongly believe in the Second Amendment. People need the right to keep and bear arms, yet we increasingly see individuals within our government trying to pass bills to infringe upon our constitutional right. Even though we are living in a constitutional republic, we have no assurance that it will always remain so.

All this comes to mind during the Fiftieth Anniversary celebrations of the statehood of Israel. Although I am not Jewish, I can relate to their plight and their persecution by the Nazis during World War II. You may ask, "Why did they not fight back?" The answer is gun control.

In 1938, the Nazi laws barred Jews from businesses involving firearms. On November 10, of the same year - one day after the SS savaged thousands of Jews, synagogues and Jewish businesses throughout Germany - new regulations under the Weapons Law specifically barred Jews from owning any weapons, even clubs or knives. Without weapons, the Jews were at the mercy of the highly-armed Nazi's.

Yet many people think, "If we pass laws, the guns will be out of the hands of violent criminals, and murders would reduce." Criminals will always find ways to get guns and if they can't get guns, they will use other weapons. We would need to criminalize almost everything in the world! These laws only keep the guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.

You may still think, "Can't the police protect us?" Unless we have a personal officer by our side twenty-four hours a day, we could not be fully protected. In no way am I degrading the job that our police officers are doing, however, they can not be in all places at all times. In many cases, it was only the use of a legally carried firearm that has deterred crimes.

During the 1992 "Rodney King Riots" the police abandoned entire neighborhoods. They left the criminals to vandalize, pillage and murder. In certain areas, armed individuals banded together to form barricades to protect their children, families, and homes. They found out the hard way that you cannot always rely upon law enforcement as your sole means of protection.

Many persist in thinking that guns are evil. I believe that guns are neither good nor evil, but can be employed for either purpose. Statistics show that hand-guns are used 1,145 times a day against robbers and 416 times a day by women against rapists. A gun in the home is 216 times more likely to be used in self defense than to be the cause of an innocent death. Taking away fire arms from law abiding individuals puts them at the mercy of well armed criminals.

Along with ownership of arms comes personal responsibility and accountability. If you own a firearm, you are responsible for any consequences that may occur through the use of that weapon. You are responsible for seeing that it does not fall into the wrong hands or that it is used improperly.

It has been said that those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it. We must learn from the sad past, that of the Nazi persecution, that taking away fire-arms from the hands of law abiding citizens only paves the way for tyrants and those who have no respect for the dignity of human life.

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