Arms and the citizen

If the United States had the same gun murder rate as India, approximately 9,000 American men, women and children who were slaughtered by gunfire in 2012 might still be alive today. If the US had had the same gun murder rate as India since 2000, more than 100,000 murdered American men, women and children might still be alive today.

This is due in part to the US Constitution, or at least to how the Supreme Court has interpreted the Second Amendment, which guarantees the "right to keep and bear arms". In many respects, the US Constitution has served as a model for constitutions around the world. Of the 188 nations that have written constitutions, the vast majority have adopted fundamental guarantees that were first fully articulated in the US Constitution.

Indeed, 97 per cent of all the world's constitutions now protect the freedom of religion; 97 per cent protect the freedom of speech and press; 97 per cent the right to equality; 95 per cent protect the freedom against unreasonable searches; 94 per cent the right of assembly; 94 per cent prohibit arbitrary arrest or detention; 84 per cent forbid cruel and unusual punishment; 84 per cent protect the right to vote; 80 per cent prohibit ex post facto laws; 72 per cent protect the right to present a defence and 70 per cent the right to counsel. These freedoms, first constitutionalised in the US, are now widely recognised as fundamental to a free, humane and civilised society.

Yet, only 1 per cent of all the other nations of the world recognise a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. The idea that individuals have a fundamental right to purchase and possess firearms has been resoundingly rejected by 185 of the world's 188 nations. There are few, if any, questions about which the world's nations are in such universal agreement.

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