The Context of the Second Amendment

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The Context of the Second Amendment

By | October 1999
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The Context of The Second Amendment

The interpretation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America has been a topic of controversy since its acceptance over two-hundred years ago. This controversy stems from the fact that the amendment was written for reasons for the most part that do not have any relevance today. One side argues the amendment void, and the other takes it out of historical context so it portrays the meaning they want. To understand what the second Amendment means, one must interpret the actual text, the historical background for its adoption, and what it means today.

"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" (Nesbit, 309). What many people see when they read this is, ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed'. One can say that it clearly states that the people do have a right to have firearms. Who are ‘the people'? Some argue that the people are just what it says, citizens. "[M]any legal historians have concluded that the right is corporate rather that individual"(Hook, 30). Meaning that the right is giving to the state government not to individual citizens. Others argue that it does give people the right to bear arms, but only if you belong to a certain group.

This group is defined by the beginning preamble to the Second Amendment, ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State'. This preamble is set out to regulate the other half of the Amendment. What is a militia? "[A] militia is a body of men enrolled for military service, and called out periodically for drill and exercises, but serving full time only in emergency"(Hook, 25). This is talking about a State sponsored militia that is well-regulated. Since there are no State Militias do the people have any right to bear Arms? According to this amendment it is up to the State to...
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