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051 What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?

51. What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?
• Freedom of expression
• Freedom of speech
• Freedom of assembly
• Freedom to petition the government
• Freedom of worship
• The right to bear arms

The United States is full of many different kinds of people with many different experiences, education, and beliefs. But no matter how different they are, they all have certain rights (or things that people can do) in common, meaning that they all have the same basic rights. The freedom of expression and freedom of speech let people say whatever they want to, with only a few exceptions or limitations. Freedom of assembly lets people meet in groups. Freedom to petition the government lets people try to change their government and ask it to help them. Freedom of worship lets people follow whatever religion they want to, or none at all. And finally, the right to bear arms lets people buy and have guns.

That last right, the right to bear arms, is much more controversial (or is not easy for people to agree about) than the other rights. Because Americans have the right to bear (or have and use) arms (which include guns and other weapons), there are many guns owned by individual people for their own use in the United States. Some of these guns just stay in the homes or are used to hunt (or kill animals, usually to eat the meat). But other guns are used to hurt and kill people illegally. Some people believe that if we didn’t have the right to bear arms, there wouldn’t be as many lethal (or deadly) shootings.

When the Founding Fathers gave Americans the right to bear arms, people who fought in the militia (or the army) were not professional soldiers. They were
everyday people who helped to fight for their country and they had to bring their own guns. Many people think that the Founding Fathers gave Americans the right to bear arms so that our country could fight against its enemies (or the people and countries who are against our country). The Founding Fathers could not have imagined the situation today, where many people have guns and use them illegally. The people who think this way would like to get rid of (or not have) the right to bear arms.

But other people strongly think that Americans should continue to have the right to bear arms. They think that having a gun is part of what it means to be an American. Because people on both sides of the issue have such strong beliefs, the right to bear arms continues to be very controversial.


right – the power or ability to do something; a freedom
* Do you think that people have a right to privacy?

in common – shared; something that two or more people have that are the same
* The only thing the two brothers have in common is that they love hockey.

controversial – something that is argued about a lot because people have very strong and different opinions about it
* Using illegal drugs as medicine is a very controversial topic.

to bear – to have and use something, especially guns or other weapons
* Will the new police officers bear guns while patrolling schools?

arms – guns and other weapons
* The museum is having an exhibition of arms from World War I.

to hunt – kill animals for sport and/or to eat the meat
* In which months are people allowed to hunt deer?

lethal – deadly; able to kill someone or an animal
* He swallowed a lethal amount of aspirin to try to end his own life.

militia – army; military; a group of people who are trained to work as soldiers even though they are not part of the government’s official army
* How many people fought in the state militia?

enemy – a person or country whom one is fighting against; a person or country who is against one's country
* Russia and the United States were enemies during the Cold War.

to get rid of (something) – to no longer have something; to throw something away; to stop having something
* I need to get rid of all these old clothes that don’t fit me anymore.