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Sreya NalluriFinal Reflection PaperThroughout America’s history, the Constitution, one of our founding documents, has been the cause of much controversy and debate, specifically relating to law-making and justice. Many of the articles and amendments in the Constitution still prove to be relevant, and the document itself essentially framed the system of government and legislation that is still in place today. The issues that modern liberals and conservatives most strongly argue about in our country can be traced back to this founding document. While liberals tend to take a broad interpretation, conservatives support strict constructionism. One could tie this idea to Haidt’s Five Moral Foundations, in which he argues that liberals tend to view principles like care/harm and fairness/equality as more important, while conservatives tend to view loyalty, authority, and sanctity as more important. Their interpretations of the government’s role in society, therefore, may be based on these morals outlined by Haidt. Many of the issues I care about revolve heavily around harm and equality more so than other principles, indicating that I may lean more liberal than conservative. The closest groups I identify with are welfare liberals and advocates for liberation ideologies, although I do not agree with every aspect of either of these ideals. While there are many social issues I feel are impactful in our country today, two stand out among the rest; gun control and institutionalized racism. The Second Amendment of our Bill of Rights 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.” First, it is important to realize that different time periods had different political atmospheres. In the eighteenth century, the Founding Fathers feared a large central government. For this reason, they viewed the union of sovereign states as dangerous and proceeded with caution. Though the notion of state militias was relevant in the eighteenth century, it is almost completely forgotten today. The contemporary understanding of this amendment is radically different. Most private citizens do not necessarily interpret gun rights as a form of protection against the government; rather, they view their second amendment right as a protection against other acts of violence. Unfortunately, allowing the prevalence of weapons and guns to go unregulated has led to a gun violence epidemic across many American cities. In my opinion, every right is subject to appropriate regulation, including the right to bear arms.The results of the United State’s lack of regulation are evident through many events in our country. From horrifying mass shootings to suicide, guns only encourage violent behavior. According to the Centers for Disease Control in 2014, approximately 33,000 people die each year because of gun-related homicides, suicides, and accidents in the United States. Moreover, more than eighty percent of guns used in mass shootings are obtained legally (Chuck, NBC News). As previously stated, advocates for gun rights argue that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. However, this idea has been proven not entirely true. In December of 2012, a Chinese man walked into an elementary school and attacked 22 children with a knife. While the act was extremely tragic, the use of a gun would have worsened the already violent situation. If a gun had been involved, more children in the school could have been severely injured. Although no children died in this case, a gun could have made the attacks fatal. Effective gun control laws in China prevented this man from obtaining a more dangerous weapon. However, the U.S. has not adopted the same policies. It is unsurprising to note, therefore, that the U.S is known to be one of the most lax countries in the world when it comes to gun control. In fact, the statistics are so staggering that the number of firearms in circulation has now surpassed the total U.S. population (Ingraham, “There Are Now More Guns than People in the United States”). We must examine gun regulation policies in the United States. It is important to understand that the goal of these policies is not to take away certain rights, but to simply reduce violence. The three most popular gun control policies are universal background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines, and a ban on certain assault weapons.A background check includes looking up criminal, commercial, and financial records of a person. Gun control advocates argue on behalf of safety, stating that some people diagnosed with mental illnesses should not have access to firearms. Another case in which background checks are beneficial is a person’s substance abuse record. Among gun control supporters, a ban on high-capacity magazines is popular. This can reduce the number of shots available in case of a mass shooting, consequently reducing possible deaths. For instance, the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance that would forbid city residents from possessing handgun or rifle magazines that exceed 10 rounds of ammunition. This legislation illustrates the logic that most gun control advocates follow; more than 10 rounds of ammunition is unnecessary for self-defense, and should be outlawed. (Kopel, “The Costs and Consequences of Gun Control.”)The last gun control policy is a ban on assault weapons, which restricts the ability to use certain firearms deemed a threat to public safety. Bernie Sanders, an advocate for the ban of assault weapons, argues, “No one needs an AK-47 to hunt.” Essentially, an assault rifle is not needed for recreational sports or hunting; therefore, the use of this rifle is unnecessary for our day-to-day lives. The epidemic nature of gun-related crimes makes complete prevention impossible, but that does not mean we should stop trying to reduce the amount of gun violence in the United States. For this reason, I find myself believing that the government should play a fairly large role in regulating our right to bear arms as American citizens.  The second issue that I care deeply about relates to institutionalized racism. Our colorblind thinking has led us to believe we live in a perfect society, where racism no longer exists. Unfortunately, racism still runs rampant. While we’ve rid our country of “separate but equal” agendas, racism is still built into the systems we encounter everyday – schools, government, law enforcement, and jails.  Structural racism is built into our everyday lives. This type of racism naturally benefits white people, and more specifically, white males. Since the founding of our country, white males have reaped the benefits of their power; white males have had better schools, better jobs, and more influence in our government. Before the Civil Rights Movement, people of color were viewed as second-class citizens. It was not until the 1960s that we began to repeal the “separate but equal” notions in our legal systems. As the years of progress went on, however, a growing backlash emerged from the white conservative population. Ronald Takaki states that “the campaign against multiculturalism and ethnic studies reflects a deeper white anxiety over the changing composition of American society and a perceived loss of prestige, influence and power” (284). Because of this growing resentment to equal access to civil rights, there has been a shift back to more segregated communities. When we typically think of institutions that separate black people from white people, we tend to think of the Jim Crow era. What most people do not realize, however, is that this type of racism is present in our lives today.      First, the American school system is directly impacted by racial disparity. Compared to suburban schools, which typically enroll majority white students, inner-city schools have much lower standards. For example, the amount of AP courses given to students at inner-city schools is significantly lower than the amount offered at suburban schools. This problem alone may not seem racist, but it actually reveals a much larger and deep-rooted problem. The availability of AP classes offers more opportunities for progress to higher education, but inner-city school kids have been ignored, mostly because states have not allowed adequate funding for public schools in economically disadvantaged areas. This systemic issue perpetuates ingrained stereotypes, that have long existed in America, of the black demographic being “lazy” and “uneducated.” As a result, black people from the inner cities cannot easily attain better jobs and living conditions, thus leading them back to crime-infested and neglected neighborhoods, which most well-funded institutions such as banks and private schools purposefully avoid. The American school system essentially created a never ending cycle, in which black people were never granted vehicles to escape impoverished conditions after the Civil Rights Movement, and thus could never gain equal footing with the already advantaged white demographic. Because education is often the foundation for success in the United States, black people are therefore systematically at a disadvantage when it comes to achieving their fullest potential. While anyone can find success in their life through hard work and determination, people of color do not have access to the same opportunities as white people do. One could draw parallels to liberation ideologies and Cornel West’s essay “Race Matters,” where he discusses why it is important to acknowledge the disparities and double standards our society holds regarding racial tensions. As advocates of liberation ideologies would argue, people of color are naturally at a disadvantage, and it is only by identifying these problems through race that we can move towards a more equal society.     Another way institutionalized racism manifests itself is through incarceration rates. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, the African American population in California is only 6%, but African Americans make up more than 30% of the prison population. The so called “war on drugs” is where this racial disparity exponentially increased. “This war has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color, even though studies consistently show that people of all colors use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates,” states Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow. By imprisoning minorities at a greater rate, politicians appeal to the majority of white voters. Despite claiming to represent all American citizens, government representatives have proven that they do in fact often support legislation that allows systematic racism to fester in our country. The only way that people of color can find a solution to this issue is to find strength in their community and elect their own representatives to government. This principle, therefore, is very similar to the arguments expressed by advocates of black liberation ideologies. All in all, I believe that I would be classified as a modern liberal. While it is necessary to have nuanced political opinions, I’ve noticed that social issues like gun control and institutionalized racism truly speak to my moral foundations, as I believe we should do everything in our power to address problems of violence and inequality. Works Cited “National Center for Health Statistics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 May 2017.Chuck, Elizabeth. “More Than 80 Percent of Guns Used in Mass Shootings Obtained Legally.”, NBCUniversal News Group, 5 Dec. 2015.Ingraham, Christopher. “There Are Now More Guns than People in the United States.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 5 Oct. 2015.Kopel, David. “The Costs and Consequences of Gun Control.” Cato Institute, 1 Dec. 2015.Takaki, Ronald. “The Development of International Human Rights Law.” Human Rights Project. “California’s Changing Prison Population (PPIC Publication).” Web. 14 Dec. 2017.Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow. Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York, Perseus, 2010. 

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