America has undergone many changes and challenges to

America has undergone many changes and challenges to become
a great nation and considered a world power. Many nations had attempted to
colonize the America’s but had failed before the English attempted to explore
the ‘New World’. England was the first to properly colonize the United States
in 1607, founding Jamestown. The historic Jamestown was the first permanent
English settlement which became the first stepping stone to the creation of the
United States. While settlers of this ‘New World’ tried to set the foundations
of a governing system all attempts failed until a certain historic document set
the foundation of the United States as we know it. This document is well known
as the U.S. Constitution, which established America’s national government, fundamental
laws, and guaranteed certain basic rights for its citizens. It was signed on
September 17, 1787, making a mark in history forever. This, however, was not
fault 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, written
by James Madison.

The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the
Constitution, guaranteeing basic individual protections and protecting basic
freedoms. Its intention was also to protect the people from the national
government from having too much power. For fear of ‘tyranny’ or the government
having too much power undermining citizens rights or freedoms.  This monumental bill started as simply an
afterthought to the constitution, but may have ended up saving the constitution
from Anti-Federalists who opposed the Constitution before its ratification. Our
constitution wasn’t well received at first and had the bill of rights never
been created the constitution very well may not have been ratified.
Surprisingly, Our Bill of Rights was heavily inspired and influenced by the
Magna Carta and English Bill of Rights. Taking some amendment almost verbatim
from these other documents. In simplest terms, The Bill of Rights is a list of
limits on government power. Seeing how this document had withstood the test of
time so long that speaks volume about how well it was written and sound
ideas.  While time has passed, and things
have changed, the bill of rights applies to us all daily granting us our
freedoms. However, the bill of rights can be quite the controversial topic at
times due to its vagueness in certain amendments. Especially in the first,
second, and eight amendments. The most argued provisions of them are; freedom
of speech, the right to bear arms, and cruel and unusual punishment. If given
the opportunity to amend the bill of rights these three would benefit most from
revision in modern times.

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Freedom of speech, ones right to speak freely without fear
of being punished, is among one of the most treasured freedoms throughout
America. Considered the most important amendment of all, the first amendment
was created specifically to protect the liberties and freedoms of its citizens.
The first amendments states that “Congress
shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise therof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or
the rights of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government
for a redress of grievances.” This protects our freedoms of; religion,
speech, press, assembly, and petition.  The
founding father of America himself was quite passionate about the freedom of
speech even having said: “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb
and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” (George
Washington) While this is a bit of an extreme view people are that passionate
about this issue. The benefits of freedom of speech come with certain consequences
as well. For example, everyone has
the freedom to say what they wish, and hateful views may come into play. One
can use their freedom to offend and defame others or specific groups so long as
it not considered a hate crime.  The pros
however far outweigh the negatives seeing how we are allowed the freedom to say
what we wish without fear of recrimination from the government. Some countries
do not have this right whatsoever and citizens could be killed for speaking out
against the government, or merely for something they said.

If we amended the provision of freedom of speech currently I
believe it should be reworded as ‘or abridging the freedom of speech, excluding
only defamation, incitement, and false claims’. The reason is making it far
less vague in what can and cannot be covered under free speech. The freedom of
speech is a wonderful thing and stifling any voice can be harmful. Amending
this to only restrict truly heinous actions against a person rather then simple
insults or taunts would be for the best. Defamation is a false statement that
damages thee reputation of an individual, or business. While it may not sound
like much when slander destroys a reputation which someone has spent a lifetime
building that goes beyond an insult. It can go so far as to sink businesses or
make 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 false
claims which can lead to harm. For example, screaming “fire” in a building causing
a panic and people to possibly get harmed rushing out of a building, or making
a false call to the police preventing them from possibly going to a real
emergency and saving lives. Incitement is provoking unlawful behavior or
violence which can quickly get out of hand. Provoking physical violence is a
felony which couldn’t be allowed under the claim of freedom of speech. One’s
right to speak freely and say their mind shouldn’t be silenced but there are
limitations which this would specify. 

The right to bear arms has been a heated debate, especially
in current events. Every week you can tune in to the news and hear a report
about a crime or event pertaining to guns and whether they should be legal or
not.  The right to bear arms is in our
second amendment in the bill of rights, which has been criticized for being too
vague about this controversial issue. The second amendment states “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.” The Second Amendment’s function is to guarantee people
with their right to bear arms is unfortunately limited. Conflicting federal
laws that prohibit the ownership of guns and other firearms add fuel to fire of
debates over the amendment. To our
founding fathers, the right to bear arms was critical and of the upmost
importance to them. They considered it one of their God given liberties that
should never be taken away. Benjamin Franklin even went so far as to say,
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” (Benjamin Franklin) Yet another
extreme view but the most passionate issues cause the most controversy. The
negatives for this freedom include more of a risk of danger, irresponsible gun
behavior, possible increased crime rate, and more of a risk of violence. One major
issue with firearms is that they sometimes can be dangerous or can turn lethal
quickly. The wide availability of guns makes them easier to get access to as
well. Criminals may be able to get ahold of weapons legally, but they may also
purchase them illegally making it an issue that’s difficult to deal with. The
positives of having the right to bear arms mainly consist of having the ability
to protect yourself. People are permitted to own firearms for self-defense or
protection whenever they are physically or offensively attacked by other people.
Should someone be in a dangerous situation a gun can be a wonderful tool that
can easily save lives and protects crimes.

If the second amended were revised this would be the best
revision to me. ‘A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a
free state, the right of an individual citizen, of sound mind, to keep and bear
arms in order to defend oneself, shall not be infringed under no circumstances
lest we give up our freedoms.’ As the amendment is currently, those that oppose
it see it as only the militia need to bear arms, while others believe everyone
should have the ability to bear arms with no restrictions whatsoever. This
rewording would specify the right of citizens to carry arms, and a requirement
that they must be of sound mind to own the gun. This law would enforce a
requirement of a firearm license, which can only be purchased after applicants
undergo a background check that specifically scrutinizes the history of
committed criminal cases. The Right to Bear Arms would exclude citizens who
have a history of criminal acts against the community or a person. Ruling out
those not mentally stable enough to be unable to purchase a gun or even shoot
one at a shooting range whatsoever. The ability to own weapons to defend ourselves
from harm is a vital liberty of ours.

The eight amendment states “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor
cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”


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