The debate regarding gun control is one of the most intriguing and controversial debates in America today. This issue has provoked strong emotion throughout history and shows no signs of abating. At the heart of this controversy is a debate over the basic meaning of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Advocates of more rigorous gun control, motivated by this nation's high crime rate and the presence of firearms in roughly half the households in the country, tend to cite the amendments militia clause, arguing that the purpose was to insure that the state militias would be maintained to protect against a corrupt federal government. This is known as the collective-rights or communal responsibility theory. Opponents of stricter gun control, inspired by a firm belief in the individual rights theory, argue that the framers of the Constitution intended the amendment to provide for a militia of the whole, at the time a militia of all able bodied white property holders, that would perform its duties with privately owned weapons. Advocated of this view further argue the clause is interpreted to read as an expanding rather than qualifying clause, that while maintaining a "well-regulated militia" was a major reason for including the amendment in the Bill of Rights, it should not be taken as the sole reason. They believe that the framers" also intended to include it as a right to individual self-defense. To better understand these arguments we must first learn about the political environment of our forefathers and the history of this debate. .
The right to keep and bear arms has a long history in civilization. The Greek philosopher Aristotle felt that bearing arms was necessary for true citizenship and participation in the political system. Plato believed in a hierchial monarchy with few liberties and saw the disarming of the populace as essential to the maintenance of his orderly and autocratic system.