Gun Control vs. Gun Rights The second amendment states " The right of the people to keep and bear arms." What does that mean to us, basically and person in the United States is allowed to own and keep a fire arm in house. Gun control advocates believe that right does not extend to ownership of military-style firearms that are otherwise known as assault weapons. To curb gun-related violence certain checks are made, such as mandatory child safety locks, background checks on those wishing to purchase a gun, limits on the number of guns a person can buy and raising the age limit for gun ownership. Gun rights groups, led by the National Rifle Assocation, argue that these and other proposals infringe on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. They maintain that bans on the sale of certain types of weapons have not proved effective in reducing violent crime, and that proposals for stricter background checks at gun shows are designed to eliminate gun shows themselves.

Some gun manufacturers have volunteered support for safety locks, but the NRA has criticized safety locks for placing an undue burden on gun manufacturers without a proven benefit to the public. At the forefront of the debate over guns is the assault weapons ban that went into effect in 1994. The ban, which was part of a larger anti-crime bill passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton that year, applies to 19 specific models of semi-automatic firearms and to other guns with assault-weapon features. The ban expired Sept. 13, 2004, and gun rights groups were pressing Congress to allow the ban to lapse.

Gun control advocates responded with a massive public relations campaign encouraging voters to tell their elected representatives that Congress should renew the ban. The issue has become a hot potato in a presidential election year, with President Bush and Sen. John Kerry taking positions designed not to infuriate voters on either side of the debate. Bush said he supports an extension, but gun control advocates accused him of failing to pressure Congress into action. Kerry announced his support for extending the ban, even as his campaign sought to boost the Democratic presidential nominee's credentials as a gun owner and hunter. Republican congressional leaders say the ban was allowed to lapse because gun control advocates in the House and Senate did not have enough votes to extend it.

They may be right. Most Republicans in Congress oppose an extension, and Democrats were far from united in support of preserving the ban. Democrats representing rural areas kept mum on the issue, perhaps mindful of their constituents's ensitivity to gun control measures. In addition, some Democrats believe their support of the assault weapons ban cost them control of the House and Senate in 1994, and that the gun control issue hurt Al Gore's standing in key states during the 2000 presidential election.