Which of the following should citizens be permitted to own? : Which of the following should citizens be permitted to own? Handguns
“Automatic” or “assault” rifles
Grenades F-16 Fighter Jets
(hold up to 50 bullets in one “clip”)
Grenade launchers The Second Amendment : The Second Amendment The Right to Bear Arms: Personal or Government What does the 2nd say? : What does the 2nd say? “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.”
The 2nd amendment (collectively known as “the right to bear arms”) was believed to have been included in the Bill of Rights for several purposes:
To protect the colonies from outside invasion
In order to arm citizens, for a number of reasons
Perhaps most controversially, to enable citizens to resist a tyrannical government What does the 2nd “mean”? : What does the 2nd “mean”? Scholars, judges and citizens often disagree about exactly how the 2nd amendment means
Does it give each individual the right to possess any weapon? Certain weapons (which ones)?
Does it only allow those enlisted in a state army (“militia”) the right to own weapons (guns)?
Generally, the debate revolves around how we interpret three words in the amendment.
“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.” Defining the 2nd Amendment : Defining the 2nd Amendment Militia – does this mean…
A state army, organized, trained, funded and led by the state government?
A loose collection of “citizen-soldiers”, separate from the
People – does this mean…
The people in general, i.e. the state governments
Arms – what “arms” would the “people” be able to own? The Decision in DC vs. Heller : The Decision in DC vs. Heller Question:
Whether provisions of the D.C. Code generally barring the registration of handguns, prohibiting carrying a pistol without a license, and requiring all lawful firearms to be kept unloaded and either disassembled or trigger locked violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals?
Yes. In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
The Court based its holding on the text of the Second Amendment, as well as applicable language in state constitutions adopted soon after the Second Amendment.
In his dissent, Justice Stevens argued that the Second Amendment only protects the rights of individuals to bear arms as part of a well-regulated state militia, not for other purposes even if they are lawful.
Justice Breyer agreed with Stevens' argument but also stated that even if possession were to be allowed for other reasons, any law regulating the use of firearms would have to be "unreasonable or inappropriate" to violate the Second Amendment. In Breyer's view, the D.C. laws at issue in this case were both reasonable and appropriate.