“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.” — Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
What the Second Amendment Says (in Modern English)
The Second Amendment to the Constitution protects a U.S. citizen’s right to possess (keep) and carry (bear) firearms. It was ratified on December 15, 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights, at a time when the newly formed states were concerned that the federal government might try to disarm the state militias. At that time, the state militias were the primary military force of the nation. Letting the federal government control access to guns would make the states weaker and less able to defend themselves against federal government actions and policies they objected to. Click here for more.
What the Second Amendment Means
There are two very different interpretations of the meaning of the Second Amendment. The first, known as the Collective Rights theory (details), focuses on the first part of the Amendment’s text, the “well-regulated militia” part. The second, known as the Individual Right theory (details), focuses on the second part of the Amendment’s text, the “right of the people” part. Up until 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court had tended to rule in favor of the Collective Rights theory when gun rights cases were brought before it.
Major Supreme Court Cases Dealing with Gun Rights
Dealt with the question of whether the District of Columbia, as part of the Federal Government, had the right to restrict gun ownership.
Dealt with the question of whether a city, as part of an individual state, had a right to restrict gun ownership. In other words, did the Heller ruling apply to states, too?
Gun Facts and Statistics
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