“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” (Madison, 1791). What does that statement mean? Is it even open to interpretation? Should it be viewed as an individual right to possess firearms, or should it be believed that firearms should only be possessed in times of crisis? What is the definition of a crisis? A criminal trying to steal personal property or harm a life is a crisis in most people’s book. For too long, many have created ever-changing interpretations to the Second Amendment. Unfortunately, these interpretations have been presented and accepted by an uninformed society. As this debate rages on, the facts and the Founding Fathers have all the answers.
One such interpretation: The collective rights interpretation of the Second Amendment. Collective rights advocates believe that the Second Amendment only grants the right to bear arms within a militia. In their eyes, the right to bear arms does not apply to private militias, only government organized militias, such as the Armed Forces. The Founding Fathers feared the government’s control of its citizenry by disarming them; therefore the collective rights interpretation would be the exact opposite of the amendment’s intent.
Another is the states’ rights interpretation of the Second Amendment. States rights advocates believe that the Federal Government cannot force the states into a situation that could invade a state’s protected interest. By possessing firearms, a populace would not be a credible threat to any state protected interest. Without proper evidence to show how a citizenry bearing arms invades any state’s protected interest, this interpretation is far-fetched.
The individual rights interpretation is the correct interpretation of the Second Amendment. In the Second Amendment it states, “the right of the people” (Madison, 1791). This phrase was used only two other times in the Bill of Rights; in the First Amendment’s Assembly and Petition Clause and in the Fourth Amendment’s Search and Seizure Clause (Card, 2009, p. 269). In both the First and Fourth Amendments, the phrase “the right of the people”, refers to individual rights. Why would the Founding Fathers use the same phrase in three different amendments and give it a different meaning from one amendment to another? The fact is, they would not; the Founding Fathers installed that language in the Second Amendment so that it could be interpreted as nothing other than an individual right.
Our Founding Fathers did not take their responsibilities lightly. They knew they were forming the foundation of this nation that needed to last for years to come. The Founding Fathers took the most important of all rights and molded them into the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights. Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and countless others, knew that protecting one’s life is an inalienable right. The Second Amendment is vital to the citizens of the United States, it provides our right to keep and bear arms. In June of 2009, an article in the UCLA Law Review had this say, “From the enactment of the Second Amendment until the outset of the early twentieth century gun-control debate, it was understood that this Amendment guaranteed all responsible, law-abiding Americans a right to possess firearms for personal defense. Fictions such as the states’ rights theory or collective right theories were entirely unknown to the Founding Fathers and for a century after their time” (Kates, 2009, p. 1231).
The uninformed society believes that increased gun-control is the only answer to fighting violent crimes and keeping our streets safer; however, gun-control is ineffective at preventing crime, because stricter gun laws only prevent law-abiding citizens from owning firearms and research indicates that stricter gun...
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