The Second Amendment and the Right to Bear Arms

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WORKS CITED

[1] Cottrol, Robert, ed. Gun Control and the Constitution: Sources and Explorations on the

SecondAmendment. New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 1994

[2] Dowlut, Robert. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms in State Bills of Rights and Judicial

Interpretation. SAF 1993

[3] Freedman, Warren. The Privilege to Keep and Bear Arms. Connecticut: Quorum Books,

1989

[4] Hickok, Eugene Jr., ed. The Bill of Rights: Original Meaning and Current Understanding. Virginia: University Press of Virginia, 1991

[5] Kruschke, Earl PHD. Gun Control: A Reference Handbook. California: ABC-CLIO Inc.,

1995

[6] Image on the cover page taken from TIME. Photographer unknown.

[7] Prune Yard Shopping Center v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74, 81 (1980)

[8] Zimring, Franklin E., Gun Control. Encyclopedia Encarta: 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation.

Throughout the years there has been an ongoing debate over the Second Amendment and how it should be interpreted. The issue that is being debated is whether our government has the right to regulate guns. The answer of who has which rights lies within how one interprets the Second Amendment. With this being the case, one must also think about what circumstances the Framers were under when this Amendment was written. There are two major sides to this debate, one being the collective side, which feels that the right was given for collective purposes only. This side is in favor of having stricter gun control laws, as they feel that by having stricter laws the number of crimes that are being committed with guns will be reduced and thus save lives. However while gun control laws may decrease criminals' access to guns, the same laws restricts gun owning citizens who abide by the law; these citizens make up a great majority of the opposing side of this argument. These people argue that the law was made with the individual citizens in mind. This group believes that the Amendment should be interpreted to guarantee citizens free access to firearms. One major group that is in strong opposition of stricter gun control laws is the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA argues that having stricter gun control laws will only hinder law-abiding citizens. The final outcome on this debate will mainly depend on how this Amendment is going to be interpreted.

The Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights 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. (Amendment II 1791)

This debate has produced two familiar interpretations of the Second Amendment. Advocates of stricter gun control laws have tended to stress that the amendment's militia clause guarantees nothing to the individual and that it only protects the states' rights to be able to maintain organized military units. These people argue that the Second Amendment was merely used to place the states' organized military forces beyond the federal government's power to be able to disarm them. This would guarantee that the states would always have sufficient force at their command to abolish federal restraints on their rights and to resist by arms if necessary. The Second Amendment was written shortly after the colonist had gained their freedom from Britain, and the reason for their gaining independence is that they were tired of living under British rule and especially under the leadership of King George the III. These gun control advocates argue that the Second Amendment grew out of the colonists' fear of standing armies and their belief that having militias that were composed of ordinary citizens was the surest way of maintaining their freedom (3).

The opposite side of this debate consists of those who claim that the amendment guarantees some sort of individual right to arms. This view comes from the literal wording of the Second Amendment, which states, "the...
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