The Right to Bear Arms
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution reads, "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." ("Second Amendment to the United States Constitution"). Today, the interpretation of the amendment has polarized the American people among two different views (Greenslade, 2004). Those opposed to private ownership of firearms agrue that there is no individual right to keep and bear arms because the Second Amendment refers to the people's collective right as a members of a well-regulated State militia. In contrast, the individual right view holds that individuals may bring claims or raise challenges based on a violation of their rights under the Second Amendment just as they do to vindicate individual rights secured by other provisions of the Bill of Rights. This view appears to be the most valid after placing the Second Amendment in appropriate historical and Constitutional context. Historical Background
Prior to the United States Constitution, the right to arms was consistently a personal one based on several factors. "Beginning with the right of individual English subjects to have arms for their defense, it was supplemented in revolutionary America with the notion that a citizen militia, comprising the armed citizenry, was a particularly important means of securing free government." ("Whether the Second Amendment Secures An Individual Right", 2004) American leaders such as Thomas Jefferson proposed that "no free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms," and Samuel Adams called for an amendment banning any law "to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms." ("The Right to Keep and Bear Arms", 1982) Following the American Revolution, several states such as Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Vermont and Massachusetts included explicit...
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