Critical Evaluation of the Right to Bear Arms
In light of recent events, pertaining to gun violence, I grew interested in as to why Americans feel the need for firearms when it has caused more harm than good. However, there was the need to look at this issue from both sides: safety of the people v.s. the right to protect one’s self. The United States has been disputing whether there should be an eradication of the Second Amendment, or simply change it so it would reflect modern day society. Yet, if there was a removal of this Amendment, there would be a loss of protection for those who live alone, such as the elderly. This was discussed in “The Right to Protect Our Loved Ones,” in which Susan Williams, a sixty-seven year old Californian must defend herself against thieves and coyotes as she lives on a remote avocado farm.
Nonetheless, to have a change in the Second Amendment would be a large milestone in de-escalating the number of mass shootings America has experienced. The revision of the Amendment should not only be specific to modern times, but still protect the rights of those that view guns as part of their livelihood. This suggestion of amending the Amendment has come up again and again, yet was never able to pass due to politics, from who is a member of the NRA to which political party was attempting to restrict another. Overall, the ideology behind my writing was to look at both sides of the issue without being too heavily influenced by political opinions and agendas.
In the process of the first essay, there was the conflict of narrowing the topic down sizably. Eventually the topic was no longer broad in the sense of just focusing on gun violence, but how guns have negatively impacted America. With the sources such as America Now:Short Readings from Recent Periodicals, “Mass Shooting at Mandalay Bay Concert in Las Vegas Kills 50,” and others, I was then able to ask my audience whether or not the safety of the people should be in the hands of the people, thus the title, all the while risking others’ lives. But in my second essay, there was the question of whether citizens should give up their guns and risk not having the protection that they need.
Throughout both essays, I evaluated the arguments for and against the Second Amendment, and whether or not it is relevant to the different livelihoods everyone holds. To be able to evaluate this, I needed to find various sources that were liable and agreed with the points that I was attempting to prove. For example, the use of Suzanna Hupp’s personal experience as a victim of a mass shooting, Susana Williams the elderly Californian, and John P. Stevens, a former Associate Justice of Supreme Court to be able to look at both sides of the spectrum fairly without any blemishes of my own thoughts. In addition to the primary and secondary sources, I used databases and professional journals such as “Statistics on Guns in the Home & Safe Storage” and “Journal of Quantitative Criminology: Defense Gun Uses: New Evidence from a National Survey” to give qualitative evidence on how guns have affected children in the home, while the journal supports owning a firearm because it can be beneficial to oneself. Furthermore, there was the use of academic sources such as the College of Staten Island Writing Center, and the online programs Citation Machine and Grammarly, which corrects grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure.
While writing the first essay, there was a certain level of unclarity within my introduction paragraph. For example, the thesis statement used to lure my audience in my essay was not as insightful or as informative as I had expected. Professor Joyce, too, questioned as to why I was merely stating the fact that “a firearm has caused great harm as many seek to amend the Second Amendment,” but there was no explanation in the ways it has caused harm and how the amendment can be amended. This unclarity could have caused a misunderstanding amongst my readers since there were no examples given to support my claim. Furthermore, there was some slight punctuational and grammatical errors in terms of commas, missing or additional words needed and not needed. In addition, I was missing in text citation of the article, “Allowing Guns Won’t Make Campus Safer,” (Fry) and structural mistakes for the labeling of my last name in the right hand corner, in which it was not Times New Roman, but Merriweather. Another issue was not having full four pages, although I did have text on the fourth page, but the page was not entirely filled. Had the conclusion had an addition such as,“By making the Second Amendment more specific and having added conditions such as: mandatory semiannual mental examinations, yearly firearm trainings and quarterly classes for gun owners on gun safety tips,” then my thesis could have been more clear for the reader as not only would it be a direct answer to the question posed before, but a solution suggested for the dilemma.
In the second essay, there was a vast improvement as there were less markings in my paper, except for the frequent check marks that demonstrated Professor Joyce’s delight to the points that I was able to hit. In accordance to the professor, my work was very clear and focused as I was able to maintain sight of my thesis with significant documental proof. This supports my previous point that my first essay was lacking in maintaining the ideology behind my thesis as I only focused on one aspect rather than the whole picture. Unlike the first essay, the second had factual evidence to support my claim and make my thesis not only stronger, but clearer for the reader in what I was addressing. However, let it not be forgotten that there were some formatting errors in my work as there was an extra ½ space beginning on page two that followed throughout the rest of the essay, in addition to a few extra words not needed, and a question mark that was supposed to be a period on page two of the essay. However, overall this was the better essay out of the two that was written within the course as it showed growth in my writing and a better understanding for people who support the Second Amendment.
With both essays there was the use of the CSI Writing Center that is attended every Monday due to a weekly appointment. From these meetings, my writing has improved as I not only am starting to understand the structure of sentences better in terms of the meanings of verbs, adverbs etc., but also having the chance to sit down with someone and actually dissect my work from the horridness it truly is into something of beauty. In addition, there was the use of Grammarly, which I used for the second essay. I was late for my Monday appointment, which was subsequently the same day the final draft was due. Without Grammarly, I believe the second essay could have had a worse fate than I imagine. With the use of Citation Machine I was able to structure my Works Cited page in the correct order and format. Lastly, the opinions I gained from my group during the peer review enabled me to have better focus on where I wanted the essays to go rather than have a broad idea.
Researching for these essays has been an olympic event as there was my first essay in which I had explained the arguments against firearms, whereas in the second essay I had to state the opposite. Although, based on the comments Professor Joyce made, my second essay was more fluent and analytical. At first, I was very critical of my work as there was the problem of going against my initial beliefs. The second essay was honestly one of the harder essays I’ve ever written as it not only reflected today's events, but also contradicted my very opinion. This contradiction, had me initially go into the essay with a narrow mind and closed heart as I didn’t want to look at the other sides view. However, it was not until I was finished with the initial draft of the essay and read it over that I began to see the hypocrisy of my work. I was bending the words of the people that truly believed that guns are apart of their livelihood. Then, I saw that I was no better than those who use the Second Amendment as an excuse for murder, thus the deletion of that draft. Back to the drawing board I went, with an open mind and heart as I attempted to understand people's reasoning for advocating for firearms. Until I read the story about the elderly woman Susana William’s didn’t I understand the importance of firearms for some, as without her late father's pistol not only could thieves and coyotes have stolen her avocados, but her life as well. Reading her story, I remembered what Ohio and West Virginia landscapes are like, where there are acres of land between neighborhoods where I doubt, no matter how loud one would attempt to scream, it would not have been heard. Further on, I began to analyze the signs that stated warnings for deer, bears, and raccoons and knowing how violent animals can be, a firearm in such a situation would be extremely helpful. Although my opinion on guns and the need for gun control has not changed, I must say I can understand to some degree as to why Americans are so protective of their firearms and the Second Amendment. However, I am not able to overlook the mass destruction these firearms have not only caused in public, but within homes that house children.
Having had the opportunity to have peer review gave me the chance to have multiple eyes view my work and give their opinions openly. In addition, I was able to have a better idea of what I wanted my main topic to be focused on rather than a broad topic with various aspects. I believe without the use of peer review and the Writing Center, my essay would not have been as polished as it is now. Furthermore, Citation Machine is a tremendous help as I didn’t have to worry about the structure of my work cited page, but the actual essay itself.
Next time I have to research a topic on something that may contradict my personal beliefs, I will attempt to have an open mind, rather than hinder myself from learning. In addition, through this process I’ve learned to appreciate others beliefs even if it does contradict with my own because everyone have their own opinion.