We all know that the 2nd amendment is our right to bear arms, but do we really know the extent of what that consists of? Here are five things you may not have known
1: The 2nd Amendment isn’t so much to protect collective rights, but more of the individual’s rights
This just means that, although the wording uses “the people,” it is referring to individuals. Even the Supreme Court states, “it was clearly an individual right.”
The operative clause of the Second Amendment is “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” which is used three times in the Bill of Rights. The Court explains that “All three of these instances unambiguously refer to individual rights, not ‘collective’ rights, or rights that may be exercised only through participation in some corporate body” (p. 5), adding “nowhere else in the Constitution does a ‘right’ attributed to “the people” refer to anything other than an individual right” (p. 6).
2: The primary purpose of the 2nd Amendment is personal self defense.
Yes, hunting is a wonderful, life sustaining use of guns. However, this is not the primary purpose of the 2nd Amendment covering our right to bear them.
The Court states “the core lawful purpose [is] self-defense” (p. 58), explaining the Founders “understood the right to enable individuals to defend themselves … the ‘right of self-preservation’ as permitting a citizen to ‘repe[l] force by force’ when ‘the intervention of society in his behalf, may be too late to prevent an injury’ (p.21). They conclude “the inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right” (p.56).
3: The biggest reason that the 2nd Amendment exists, is to prevent a tyrannical ruling of America.
In order for a nation to remain free, the citizens need arms. As it has been said, “When the able-bodied men of a nation are trained in arms and organized, they are better able to resist tyranny.”
The Court states that the Founders noted “that history showed that the way tyrants had eliminated a militia consisting of all the able bodied men was not by banning the militia but simply by taking away the people’s arms, enabling a select militia or standing army to suppress political opponents” (p. 25). At the time of ratification, there was real fear that government could become oppressive: “during the 1788 ratification debates, the fear that the federal government would disarm the people in order to impose rule through a standing army or select militia was pervasive” (p.25). The response to that concern was to codify the citizens’ militia right to arms in the Constitution (p. 26).
4: The weapons that are “in common use at the time” by the people is protected by the 2nd Amendment.
Yes, that means exactly what is sounds like. The courts can withhold firearms from the mentally ill and there can also be instances of “no gun” zones. However, a gun that is common or popular use by the people cannot be banned.
What is protected are weapons “in common use of the time” (p.55). This doesn’t mean weapons in common use “at that time,” meaning the 18th Century. The Court said the idea that it would is “frivolous” and that “the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding” (p.8). The Court’s criteria includes weapons in popular widespread use “that [are] overwhelmingly chosen by American society” (p. 56), and “the most popular weapon chosen by Americans” (p. 58).
5: The militia is made up of every citizen
The use of the word militia, according to the courts, stated that it is “the ordinary definition of the militia as all able-bodied men.” Obviously, in today’s society, it is not limited to only men, but to women as well.
The Court explains: “’Keep arms’ was simply a common way of referring to possessing arms, for militiamen and everyone else” (p. 9). Since the militia is all of us, it doesn’t mean “only carrying a weapon in an organized military unit” (p. 11-12). “It was clearly an individual right, having nothing whatever to do with service in a militia” (p. 20).