REVISION OF: Essay 3, April 10, 2013
The Scoop of the Second Amendment: A Beginner’s Guide
To many average people, the thought of breaking down legislation, such as the Bill of Rights, and identifying different amendments within the document, sounds pretty dull. However, the Bill of Rights gives every American his or her freedoms and limitations, while listing specific prohibitions on governmental power. That being said, it is important to know exactly what your rights are, especially when the subject comes to gun control. What is the Bill of Rights and how does it actively pertain to daily lives in the 21st century? Written in 1776 and later added to the Constitution in 1791, the Bill of Rights consists of ten amendments that, while still our nation’s general “rulebook,” are subject to judicial review, which is the process of the courts interpreting the meaning of the amendments. Each amendment protects individual citizens of the United States from their government. Within the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment 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.” The Second Amendment has been challenged due to a question surrounding whether or not it was initially written as a collective or an individual right. The Second Amendment tags “militia” as the only reason for a right to bear arms; does this mean the main reason for allowing gun ownership should be political defense? The amendment talks about the right to keep and bear arms so that a militia will remain maintained. I question why the Second Amendment is a collective right, guaranteed to the state, rather than an individual right guaranteed to citizens for self-defense and personal uses. The Second Amendment itself is hard to understand, due to the complicated wordiness. The Bill of Rights Institute, located in Arlington, Virginia, created a non-profit website organization to educate young people about the Constitution. As restated, the Second Amendment is written as, “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” (Bill of Rights Institute 1).” What does this actually mean? Eugene Volokh is a professor of Law at the University of California at Los Angeles, and teaches numerous subjects such as Constitutional Law II, Free Speech, and Criminal Law, among others. He is a nationally recognized expert on the First Amendment, and is a member of the American Law Institute, as well as an academic affiliate with the Mayer Brown LLP law firm. I will paraphrase his several-page document. “A well regulated militia,” means to obtain a military that is knowledgeable and well practiced with proper discipline and training. “Being necessary to the security of a free State,” breaks down to mean the state’s singular militia is vital for the safety of the individual state. The term “free State” references the states as being objects of the government. The reference to the “security” of a free State has something to do with the need to defend the state as an article of government. Lastly, “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” I believe this means the individualistic rights of the people shall not be harmed, whether the militia is involved on the state level or not (Volokh 1-27). If the right is only one to use arms in a militia, then why is there an explicit right “to keep” arms, meaning to have weapons? The Second Amendment is questioned today due how long ago that the constitution was written. Because of the masses of military-grade firearms in production in the 21st century, the question posed is specified to what exactly “militia” means. Does “militia,” used in context of the Second Amendment, include personal defense? In an article written for the conservative website GunCite, an...