The recent spate of tragic mass shootings in the United States brings, as it always does, much discussion and debate as to what the Constitution actually allows for in terms of arms ownership.
What is the Second Amendment?
The Second Amendment to the Constitution is one sentence long: “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.”
That’s it. One sentence. Government representatives and average community members alike constantly disagree and debate as to what this sentence protects.
Some state laws have been found in violation of the Second Amendment over the years. Notably, in 2005, The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was enacted, which protects manufactures and dealers from being held liable when crimes are committed with guns. In 2008, Dick Anthony Heller sued the District of Columbia for the right to have a functioning handgun in his home. This spurred the Second Amendment to be analyzed by the Supreme Court. Five of the nine Supreme Court Justices voted to strike down Columbia’s “nonfunctional” clause as unconstitutional. This decision set a precedent for how state laws about guns are assessed and created a culture where an individual had the legal right to own this type of weapon under the new understanding of the Constitution.
It’s important to note the financial motivation behind striking down gun regulation is vast. The National Rifle Association (often referred to as the NRA) was founded in 1871 by two US Civil War veterans as a recreational group designed to "promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis". Since 1975, this organization has become among the most powerful special interest lobby groups in the US, with a substantial budget to influence members of Congress on gun policy.
A collection of books on the history and impact of the Second Amendment.