Understanding The Second Amendment: The Right to Bear Arms

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The are two official copies of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The first copy is the one that was passed by the Congress and the second one was the one ratified by the States. The copy passed the Congress reads as follows:

“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 copy sent to the States is worded the same but Militia and State are not capitalized.

Now to answer the question that so many seem to have problems with, do the 2nd Amendment guarantee people the right to keep and bear (fire)arms. The answer to the question is Yes and No. People who are a member of a well regulated Militia whose purpose is to provide security for a free State, may keep (not necessarily own) and bear (fire)arms for that purpose. This amendment does not protect people from a State or Federal infringement for the ownership or use of (fire)arms for any other purpose. The Second Amendment does not give people the right to bear arms for personal reasons such as self-defense or defense of personal property.

Some obvious points that the muncipal, state, and/or federal government should be allowed to do:

  • They can infringe on the personal use of arms for any purpose of than for the security of a free State.

  • They can enact laws that may restrict the use of certain arms, as the 2nd Amendment never states what arms may and may not be used for the security of the free State.

  • They can enact laws that will restrict the way in which one may procure arms.

The issues that worries me about the 2nd Amendment is that it neither states what entity is to regulate the Militia and if there could be private militias be created as well as the public militia (National Guard and Police). These are issues that are not addressed by the 2nd Amendment. There exists many private militias today, namely private security agencies which are regulated by individual States and the regulations vary from State to State.


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