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Does the Second Amendment provide a constitutional right to bear arms?

 The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution 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.”

 To loosely paraphrase the above:

 “Because an army of trained civilian soldiers are needed to protect our country, the right of the people to have and carry weapons shall not be denied or taken away.”

 The United States is currently protected by a trained, volunteer military force rather than a civilian militia.  Therefore, the question arises…Does the Second Amendment exclusively provide for weapons to supply a civilian militia, or does it also provide or guarantee a universal right of “people” to bear arms?

Reading the text literally and in context, people (the general population) have a right to possess and carry weapons because a regulated militia is necessary to protect our country.

A significant number argue that our country now has a military force to protect the country without a civilian militia.  Therefore, the rationale for the people’s universal right to bear arms no longer exists.  Therefore, civilians can be barred or legally prevented from possessing and carrying weapons.

Some state that the current military reserve is akin to a militia.  Therefore, the basis for the Second Amendment right to bear arms still exists.

Many believe that bearing arms is a fundamental human right and the only means the American people have to reclaim control of a government, should it some day become irretrievably corrupt.  Others disagree and state that the only way to reform a powerful government in this day and age is through nonviolent means.

Still others argue (and I agree that this is the constitutionally soundest interpretation) that, regardless of whether or not the rationale currently exits for the Second Amendment, the right of the civilian population to bear arms exists and will continue to exist until the U.S. Constitution is amended to provide otherwise. 


 In 2008, the U. S. Supreme Court, in District of Columbia vs. Heller, involved a Washington, D.C. ban on individuals having handguns in their homes.  Writing for a 5 to 4 majority, Justice Scalia found the right to bear arms to be an individual right consistent with the purpose of the Second Amendment which was to maintain strong state militias.  Scalia wrote that it was essential that the operative clause be consistent with the prefatory clause, but that the prefatory clause did not limit the operative clause.  The Court held that the Washington D.C. handgun law violated the 2nd Amendment.  However, the Court held that governments can regulate gun ownership, and, thus, can, for example, enact laws restricting gun ownership of felons or the mentally ill.  Further, the court held that that bans on particularly dangerous or unusual weapons would most likely be permissible. 

In 2010, in the case of McDonald v. City of Chicago, the U. S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that “the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense [and hunting], and … struck down a District of Columbia law that banned the possession of handguns in the home. The city of Chicago (City) and the village of Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, have laws that are similar to the District of Columbia's, but Chicago and Oak Park argue that their laws are constitutional because the Second Amendment has no application to the States. We have previously held that most of the provisions of the Bill of Rights apply with full force to both the Federal Government and the States. Applying the standard that is well established in our case law, we hold that the Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the States * * * [by virtue of ] the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment [which] incorporates the Second Amendment right recognized in Heller."

See also  Does the Bible infer or proclaim any fundamental right to bear arms?

                  Does the Right to Bear Arms Extend Outside of the Home?

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