The United States policy on guns has surfaced again in the wake of a mass shooting that took place in New Zealand on March 15, 2019. It was lunchtime in the city of Christchurch when a man live-streamed himself walking into two mosques and killing 49 people and seriously injuring 20 more (Reagan 2019). The reason this has manifested so much attention on the United States gun policy is that it took New Zealand just six days to announce a national plan to ban all military-style semiautomatic assault rifles and high capacity ammunition magazines (Mervosh 2019). This is the first mass shooting to take place in New Zealand in over 20 years, and the response was drastic (Oliver 2019). Many have compared New Zealand’s rapid response to the string of recent mass shootings in the United States and its unwillingness to change gun policies. This paper will examine the truths behind the United States' extraordinary gun culture and show how mass shootings shouldn’t motivate gun policy.
A Legal History of Guns in the United States
To understand America's gun culture in the 21st century, it is important first to understand how Americans felt about guns during the founding, and how that opinion has evolved to lead to where they are today. “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” (U.S. Const.). The Second Amendment of the constitution of the United States has been the most influential piece of law regarding guns in America. The Second Amendment was written by framers, who had very little trust towards a strong federal government. Although the Second Amendment was written in 1789 and became law in 1791, and there is little evidence of what was meant by the framers, it is still the cornerstone of America's gun culture. Two main interpretations surround the Second Amendment of the constitution. Adam Winkler, Professor of Law at U...