America has undergone many changes and challenges to becomea great nation and considered a world power.
Many nations had attempted tocolonize the America’s but had failed before the English attempted to explorethe ‘New World’. England was the first to properly colonize the United Statesin 1607, founding Jamestown. The historic Jamestown was the first permanentEnglish settlement which became the first stepping stone to the creation of theUnited States. While settlers of this ‘New World’ tried to set the foundationsof a governing system all attempts failed until a certain historic document setthe foundation of the United States as we know it. This document is well knownas the U.S. Constitution, which established America’s national government, fundamentallaws, and guaranteed certain basic rights for its citizens. It was signed onSeptember 17, 1787, making a mark in history forever.
This, however, was notfault proof and needed amendments to be less vague and mention other issues.Thus, the Bill of Rights was created to amend the constitution in 1791, writtenby James Madison. The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to theConstitution, guaranteeing basic individual protections and protecting basicfreedoms. Its intention was also to protect the people from the nationalgovernment from having too much power. For fear of ‘tyranny’ or the governmenthaving too much power undermining citizens rights or freedoms. This monumental bill started as simply anafterthought to the constitution, but may have ended up saving the constitutionfrom Anti-Federalists who opposed the Constitution before its ratification.
Ourconstitution wasn’t well received at first and had the bill of rights neverbeen created the constitution very well may not have been ratified.Surprisingly, Our Bill of Rights was heavily inspired and influenced by theMagna Carta and English Bill of Rights. Taking some amendment almost verbatimfrom these other documents. In simplest terms, The Bill of Rights is a list oflimits on government power. Seeing how this document had withstood the test oftime so long that speaks volume about how well it was written and soundideas. While time has passed, and thingshave changed, the bill of rights applies to us all daily granting us ourfreedoms. However, the bill of rights can be quite the controversial topic attimes due to its vagueness in certain amendments. Especially in the first,second, and eight amendments.
The most argued provisions of them are; freedomof speech, the right to bear arms, and cruel and unusual punishment. If giventhe opportunity to amend the bill of rights these three would benefit most fromrevision in modern times.Freedom of speech, ones right to speak freely without fearof being punished, is among one of the most treasured freedoms throughoutAmerica. Considered the most important amendment of all, the first amendmentwas created specifically to protect the liberties and freedoms of its citizens.The first amendments states that “Congressshall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting thefree exercise therof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; orthe rights of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Governmentfor a redress of grievances.” This protects our freedoms of; religion,speech, press, assembly, and petition. Thefounding father of America himself was quite passionate about the freedom ofspeech even having said: “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumband silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
” (GeorgeWashington) While this is a bit of an extreme view people are that passionateabout this issue. The benefits of freedom of speech come with certain consequencesas well. For example, everyone hasthe freedom to say what they wish, and hateful views may come into play.
Onecan use their freedom to offend and defame others or specific groups so long asit not considered a hate crime. The proshowever far outweigh the negatives seeing how we are allowed the freedom to saywhat we wish without fear of recrimination from the government. Some countriesdo not have this right whatsoever and citizens could be killed for speaking outagainst the government, or merely for something they said.
If we amended the provision of freedom of speech currently Ibelieve it should be reworded as ‘or abridging the freedom of speech, excludingonly defamation, incitement, and false claims’. The reason is making it farless vague in what can and cannot be covered under free speech. The freedom ofspeech is a wonderful thing and stifling any voice can be harmful.
Amendingthis to only restrict truly heinous actions against a person rather then simpleinsults or taunts would be for the best. Defamation is a false statement thatdamages thee reputation of an individual, or business. While it may not soundlike much when slander destroys a reputation which someone has spent a lifetimebuilding that goes beyond an insult. It can go so far as to sink businesses ormake the target unable to even find a job due to their terrible reputation.False claims go hand in hand with defamation, but it also covers saying falseclaims which can lead to harm.
For example, screaming “fire” in a building causinga panic and people to possibly get harmed rushing out of a building, or makinga false call to the police preventing them from possibly going to a realemergency and saving lives. Incitement is provoking unlawful behavior orviolence which can quickly get out of hand. Provoking physical violence is afelony which couldn’t be allowed under the claim of freedom of speech. One’sright to speak freely and say their mind shouldn’t be silenced but there arelimitations which this would specify. The right to bear arms has been a heated debate, especiallyin current events. Every week you can tune in to the news and hear a reportabout a crime or event pertaining to guns and whether they should be legal ornot. The right to bear arms is in oursecond amendment in the bill of rights, which has been criticized for being toovague about this controversial issue.
The second amendment states “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary tothe security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shallnot be infringed.” The Second Amendment’s function is to guarantee peoplewith their right to bear arms is unfortunately limited. Conflicting federallaws that prohibit the ownership of guns and other firearms add fuel to fire ofdebates over the amendment. To ourfounding fathers, the right to bear arms was critical and of the upmostimportance to them. They considered it one of their God given liberties thatshould never be taken away.
Benjamin Franklin even went so far as to say,”Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporarysafety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” (Benjamin Franklin) Yet anotherextreme view but the most passionate issues cause the most controversy. Thenegatives for this freedom include more of a risk of danger, irresponsible gunbehavior, possible increased crime rate, and more of a risk of violence. One majorissue with firearms is that they sometimes can be dangerous or can turn lethalquickly. The wide availability of guns makes them easier to get access to aswell.
Criminals may be able to get ahold of weapons legally, but they may alsopurchase them illegally making it an issue that’s difficult to deal with. Thepositives of having the right to bear arms mainly consist of having the abilityto protect yourself. People are permitted to own firearms for self-defense orprotection whenever they are physically or offensively attacked by other people.Should someone be in a dangerous situation a gun can be a wonderful tool thatcan easily save lives and protects crimes.
If the second amended were revised this would be the bestrevision to me. ‘A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of afree state, the right of an individual citizen, of sound mind, to keep and beararms in order to defend oneself, shall not be infringed under no circumstanceslest we give up our freedoms.’ As the amendment is currently, those that opposeit see it as only the militia need to bear arms, while others believe everyoneshould have the ability to bear arms with no restrictions whatsoever. Thisrewording would specify the right of citizens to carry arms, and a requirementthat they must be of sound mind to own the gun. This law would enforce arequirement of a firearm license, which can only be purchased after applicantsundergo a background check that specifically scrutinizes the history ofcommitted criminal cases. The Right to Bear Arms would exclude citizens whohave a history of criminal acts against the community or a person. Ruling outthose not mentally stable enough to be unable to purchase a gun or even shootone at a shooting range whatsoever. The ability to own weapons to defend ourselvesfrom harm is a vital liberty of ours.The eight amendment states “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, norcruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”