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The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution Explained

2nd Amendment of the Constitution
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

Introduction to the 2nd Amendment

The Second Amendment to the Constitution is a single sentence with profound implications.

It reads:

“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.”

As part of the Bill of Rights, this amendment safeguards US citizens’ right to bear arms. The right to bear arms has been jealously defended up to the present day.

At the end of the eighteenth century, ‘militia’ meant any group of citizens who had joined together intending to protect their communities. Militias were also organized to protect towns, cities, and the new states.

Previous experience had made people distrustful of centralized government and was reluctant to give them too much power. Soldiers had seen how the British government had kept control of the American colonies, so they did not want the new US government to have similar power.

The Second Amendment’s effect was to give the federal government no authority to disarm the state militias. This means that the states still had the means to protect themselves against any form of oppression. There was a strong body of opinion current at the time, which held that the federal government should not create a permanent national army. Instead, a national army should only be brought into existence when there were real foreign threats to the United States.

However, the Constitutional Convention of 1787 did grant the federal government authority to raise and maintain a national army.

The right to bear arms debate

As soon as the 2nd Amendment was ratified, the arguments about exactly what it meant began. Some argued that as it specifically mentions ‘militias,’ then the right to bear arms only applied to those who were part of an organized militia. Others argued that the right to bear arms applied to every citizen. This latter interpretation is the one in force today.

Interpreting the Second Amendment as a protection for individuals who wish to bear arms has led to much debate about how strictly the principle should be applied.

Powerful voices on both sides of the argument have spoken out.

Support of Gun Control

Those in favor of gun control argue that many gun owners are not fit to do so and that there should be more gun control and fewer gun rights. They want a stricter vetting system so that those deemed to have criminal records or mental health problems are refused the right.

The Brady Bill of 1993 was a significant victory for them, as it introduced background checks on purchasers of handguns.

Opposition to Gun Control

Those who oppose gun control include the National Rifle Association, founded in 1871 and has been vociferous in campaigning for gun rights.

Gun Ownership Legal rulings

In 1886 the Supreme Court stated that the Second Amendment applied only to the federal government, and the individual states could control gun ownership. However, they later overturned this decision and ruled that neither the federal government nor the states could impose gun ownership restrictions. In doing this, they established the principle that self-defense was a basic human right and that gun ownership was a part of that right.

The Supreme Court did suggest areas where limitations were reasonable and court cases continue to this day, which challenges those suggestions.

Gun rights supporters continue to enjoy the right to bear arms, despite many mass shootings even with an assault weapon. These have outraged many citizens about gun safety, but supporters of gun ownership argue that gun control laws and gun regulation are an abuse of their constitutional rights and an individual’s right. Those constitutional rights remain in place, just as they have done since the eighteenth century.

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10 Responses

  1. It is very simple! The words were chosen carefully and for good reason. The right of the people to bear arms was created to provide the people with a means of protecting themselves from anyone or anything that infringed upon their rights. Of life freedom and the PURSUIT of happiness. And in the beginning of the sentence it makes clear that the people not only can but is deemed NECESSARY to form a militia to protect a FREE state.
    It is clear the word ”state” is not limited to real property but also the people within. That means everyone.

    Nowhere does it say that we should be limited to the arms available at the present time or restricted from any particular newly invented firearms in the future. To do so will eliminate the peoples ability to defend.

    The only way to stop a bad person or people with a gun/arms is with a gun/arms of equal or greater efficiency.

    “These rights shall not be infringed”. . PERIOD

    American patriot, Phillip Trueblood

    1. Phillip,
      While we are not necessarily on opposite sides, there are statements in your argument that are nonsensical and don’t help the cause.
      Restricting “any particular newly invented firearms in the future. To do so will eliminate the peoples ability to defend.” Simply a false statement. Restricting me from owning a fully automatic weapon or a bazooka has not eliminated my ability to defend. My 12 gauge is quite sufficient for home defense and doesn’t endanger my neighbors, as an assault rifle with a 2200 ft/sec + muzzle velocity would. In public I can carry my concealed 45, for which I am licensed and trained. I personally choose not to for purely statistical reasons.
      “The only way to stop a bad person or people with a gun/arms is with a gun/arms of equal or greater efficiency.” This is an old, simple minded cliche that suggests if all “good” guys carried guns, “just in case”, that society would be safer. Decades of statistics, and evidence from virtually every nation on Earth (including super independence minded Australia), shows that this is simply not the case. More guns, widely distributed, has proven to result in a much more dangerous society. The numbers are there if you just take the time.

      1. The concept of an individual’s unfettered right to bear arms, ostensibly as set out in Article II of the Constitution, as envisioned by Its’ signatories, and as freely ignored and, moreover, referenced as the legal basis and authority for an argument to own and discharge one’s personal weapon against another for any perceived injustice against the person ranging from money and other exchange, and including but not limited to, intimacy with one’s partner, gang killings over thrusts for power and control, damage to one’s automobile, hostility resulting from drunken stupidity and/or drug intoxication, arguments over mask-wearing during a global pandemic, being compelled to wait in a line, squabbles related to purchasing gasoline, hating a cashier for doing her/his job, killing for a ‘laugh’, etc. contributes nothing to ‘We the People’, but rather creates a condition of civil war.

        In a nation founded on principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, where the judicial process and the Courts exist to adjudicate impropriety of conduct, internecine killing for vengeance is an absurdity of unimaginable proportions.

        Mr. Malone’s assertions and argument are well worth considering at length, inasmuch as his letter stands as an excellent starting point for the legislators to initiate practical, effective weapons control.

        One final point, if I may. Toronto is essentially gun-free. In a city of some 7.5 million people, we have suffered on the order of some 47 murders this year to date, shootings . How is this possible? Our freedom subsists on the desire to live in peace, and to treat each other with courtesy and respect.

        Would that my dear American nay-saying friends pick up on these two basic principles of freedom.

        Michael D. Pappas, C.E.T.
        .TORONTO.

    2. I have a shotgun I’ve never fired. Clean it now again, rag’s & oil. Reminds me of my younger, more sure days as a young paratrooper. Did’nt have to fire a more deadly designed assault weapon. Had it ready and never shot less than 38. Knew that weapon better than my… I’d feel better if a very fundamental non-recorded class on basic firearms blah,blah. I’ve seen to many fantasy fubar rambos out and about to dismiss people’s concerns about “weapon” safety as an attempt to force me to rely upon another’s life and death decision. I wish..hold out two hands &….tough topic,

  2. Criminals DO NOT obey the law!!! So, if we the law abiding citizens, have our right to bear arms taken away from us, we become defenseless! This must never happen! We must do everything in our power to make sure of it!

  3. The right to bear arms to keep a free state…We, in my opinion, are past the point where our laws and government have ceased to protect citizens from oppression. I think the reason the FBI goaded attack on Jan. 6th is being framed more harshly than the year of violence, destruction and murder in cities all across this country is to scare people from the constitutional duty to protect our freedom when the threat is from our own government. Every member of the three branches of government take a sworn oath…what they are now calling a “affirmation” to uphold the constitution and protect from foreign and domestic enemies. From day one of this administration is seems they’re doing the opposite. How long do we have before our currency is completely devalued, some cities are already distroyed…we have been humiliated and weakened on the global stage…and if it’s not glaringly obvious that someone besides our “elected” president is running the country now, you are blind. This..the second amendment is, or was, our stopgap to prevent things from ever getting to where we are now. If our Republican lawmakers won’t start pushing back with articles of impeachment, criminal charges(which there is evidence for so many) something! I personally am fed up with hearing the latest infraction and having zero done! Our lawmakers should not be above the law and they have to start being held accountable! I’m sure this will get me flagged and put on some list, but I don’t care. I live in America and I refuse to cower and act otherwise..we have free speech. I will exercise that right as long as I’m breathing.
    ,

  4. The Second Amendment is not so clearly defined, The gun loving public just leaps over this part… “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” Time has taught us a very painful lesson, not everyone should be given the right to own a firearm. Those that are the most adamant about allowing any and all people gun ownership, probably should not own one themselves. Why would any rational individual be against stronger gun control? As a Marine Corps Viet Nam veteran I am 100% for taking a closer look at our existing laws both State and Federal.

    1. Once you allow any regulation, or modification, it’s just a matter of time until all your rights are taken. Ask Australia

  5. so how can the courts strip your gun rights away if you are found guilty on a felon charge. if its a nondangers charge. doesn’t the constitutioun over seed any law passed by the courts.

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