The words of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution have been the topic of debate for centuries. Gun activists use it as a weapon in and of itself. They purport that the language of the amendment guarantees them the right to own and openly carry a weapon – and that means any weapon of their choosing.
There are, however, clear questions as to whether or not this is really true. Today’s average pro-gun advocate has significantly inflated the interpretation of the Second Amendment making further clarification of the directives laid out in it more of a necessity than ever.
The Language of the Amendment
The Second Amendment reads this way: “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 language itself is divided in a manner that some claim to be ambiguous, but activists on both sides of the gun control argument each claim have their own interpretations. Both sides claim that the way the amendment is written favors their position.
The separation of the clauses is the key point of discussion when trying to determine the actual meaning of the amendment. Some gravitate toward the concept of keeping and bearing arms only as it pertains to an organized militia. Others believe that the phrase, “shall not be infringed,” is the glue that binds private citizens and militia to the same liberty to own and carry a firearm.
The Supreme Court was able to keep itself out of the debate until a 2008 ruling declared that keeping a firearm for home protection fell in line with the stipulations ironed out in the Second Amendment. Self-defense was deemed an arguable defense of an individual’s right to bear arms.
State supreme courts, however, have had occasion to grapple with the subject as far back as the mid-1800s. In several instances, judges interpreted the amendment to include private citizens, not just militiamen, as legitimate, legal gun owners.
Law and Liberty
The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to set limits and boundaries that allowed the average person to feel protected from threats from within our borders. This leaves modern courts in the position of having to draw their own conclusions as to how to implement it. The core concern, of course, is the need for public safety and how the Second Amendment should be implemented to ensure that people feel safe at home, school, or any public venue.