Endorsing the right of Utahns to possess firearms, as well as regulations that limit firearm possession in the hands of those who would use them irresponsibly.
When the American colonies were first settled in the 1600s and 1700s, towns formed militias to protect the residents from attacks by native Americans or the French during the French-Indian War. Every household included at least one musket for protection. During the fighting in Lexington and Concord in 1775, the colonists grabbed their muskets to fight the British who were attacking a local armory. The image of the colonist fighting British soldiers with his trusty gun are burned into the minds of American schoolchildren. And that role of the local militia in opposing foreign invaders propelled early American leaders to include the Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution.
The Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged.” This amendment stands out as among other amendments identifying a right because it specifically describes why the right exists. The right to “keep and bear arms” should not be abridged because it is essential to staffing a well-regulated militia that can preserve the nation and its individual communities from invasion.
The idea of a volunteer militia for community protection quickly became antiquated as the U.S. government adopted a standing army. Nor does a local militia provide law enforcement today. In every community, police officers are employed to perform that role. Government does not use militias anymore. In fact, if a militia formed on its own and sought to implement any official duties of law enforcement, it would be considered illegal.
Additionally, the urban society the vast majority of Americans live in today does not lend itself to the use of weapons in ways that were common in early eras. Most cities prohibit the firing of weapons within the city limits by ordinary citizens, except in designated areas such as gun ranges. While guns were routinely carried openly in the wild west of the 19th century, most Americans today would be nervous if guns were openly carried to grocery stores, restaurants, movie theatres, and other public places. Some churches today, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have banned guns from their houses of worship.
So, where does that leave the Second Amendment in the United States today? The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the right of individuals to possess firearms, stating that ownership of firearms for the purpose of individual self-defense is a Constitutional right. The justices concluded that the right to bear arms is not just tied to membership in a militia.
However, the justices have ruled that this right is not unlimited. It is not the right of anyone to carry any weapon at any time. That limitation includes passage of laws banning possession by certain types of people, such as the mentally ill or convicted felons, or prohibiting the carrying of weapons in to particular places such as courthouses, airports, or schools, or in imposing restrictions on the sale of particular firearms such as military-style weapons.
The United Utah Party supports the Supreme Court’s decision that individual Americans have a right to own firearms for their own personal defense. We also agree with the Court’s decision that allows for the federal government, states, and local communities to impose restrictions on the manufacture, sale, and use of such firearms in accordance with the needs of public safety.