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Second Amendment – Conservapedia

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Oct 192015

See also gun control.

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution states:[1]

For several decades, the lower federal courts had interpreted the Second Amendment as protecting merely a collective right of state militias.[2] However, the U.S Supreme Court has always called it an individual right. The 2008 Supreme Court decision of District of Columbia v. Heller ruled 5-4 that the Second Amendment protects an individual right.

In 1786, the United States existed as a loose national government under the Articles of Confederation. This confederation was perceived to have several weaknesses, among which was the inability to mount a Federal military response to an armed uprising in western Massachusetts known as Shays’ Rebellion.

In 1787, to address these weaknesses, the Constitutional Convention was held with the idea of amending the Articles. When the convention ended with a proposed Constitution, those who debated the ratification of the Constitution divided into two camps; the Federalists (who supported ratification of the Constitution) and the Anti-Federalists (who opposed it).

Among their objections to the Constitution, anti-Federalists feared a standing army that could eventually endanger democracy and civil liberties. Although the anti-Federalists were unsuccessful at blocking ratification of the Constitution, through the Massachusetts Compromise they insured that a Bill of Rights would be made, which would provide constitutional guarantees against taking away certain rights.

One of those rights was the right to bear arms. This was intended to prevent the Federal Government from taking away the ability of the states to raise an army and defend itself and arguably to prevent them from taking away from individuals the ability to bear arms.

The meaning of this amendment is controversial with respect to gun control.

The National Rifle Association, which supports gun rights, has a stone plaque in front of its headquarters bearing the words “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The slogan means that individual citizens have the right to own and use guns.

American law has always said that the militia includes ordinary private citizens, and gun rights advocates say that the amendment means individuals have the right to own and use guns. Gun control advocates began in the late 20th century to say it means only that there is only some sort of collective or state-controlled right.

Supreme Court opinions have all been consistent with the individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment, but the lower court opinions are mixed.

As of 2007, people argue about the meaning of the Second Amendment, but there is no definitive answer. The latest ruling is Parker v District of Columbia, in which the DC Circuit court of appeals ruled on March 9, 2007 that the DC gun ban violated individual rights under the Second Amendment.

The One Comma vs. The Three Comma Debate

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.””’

Quoted from:

Down to the Last Second (Amendment)

Participants in the various debates on firearms, crime, and constitutional law may have noticed that the Second Amendment is often quoted differently by those involved. The two main variations differ in punctuation- specifically, in the number of commas used to separate those twenty-seven words. But which is the correct one? The answer to this question must be found in official records from the early days of the republic. Therefore, a look into the progression of this declaratory and restrictive clause from its inception to its final form is in order.

Before beginning, one must note that common nouns, like “state” and “people,” were often capitalized in official and unofficial documents of the era. Also, an obsolete formation of the letter s used to indicate the long s sound was in common usage. The long ‘s’ is subject to confusion with the lower case ‘f’ ,therefore, Congress” is sometimes spelled as “Congrefs,” as is the case in the parchment copy of the Bill of Rights displayed by the National Archives. The quotations listed here are accurate. With the exception of the omission of quotations marks, versions of what is now known as the Second Amendment in boldface appear with the exact spelling, capitalization, and punctuation as the cited originals.

During ratification debates on the Constitution in the state conventions, several states proposed amendments to that charter. Anti-Federalist opposition to ratification was particularly strong in the key states of New York and Virginia, and one of their main grievances was that the Constitution lacked a declaration of rights. During the ratification process, Federalist James Madison became a champion of such a declaration, and so it fell to him, as a member of the 1st Congress, to write one. On June 8, 1789, Madison introduced his declaration of rights on the floor of the House. One of its articles read:

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.1

On July 21, John Vining of Delaware was appointed to chair a select committee of eleven to review, and make a report on, the subject of amendments to the Constitution. Each committeeman represented one of the eleven states (Rhode Island and North Carolina had not ratified the Constitution at that time), with James Madison representing Virginia. Unfortunately, no record of the committee’s proceedings is known to exist. Seven days later, Vining duly issued the report, one of the amendments reading:

A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms. 2

In debates on the House floor, some congressmen, notably Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts and Thomas Scott of Pennsylvania, objected to the conscientious objector clause in the fifth article. They expressed concerns that a future Congress might declare the people religiously scrupulous in a bid to disarm them, and that such persons could not be called up for military duty. However, motions to strike the clause were not carried. On August 21, the House enumerated the Amendments as modified, with the fifth article listed as follows:

5. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the People, being the best security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person. 3

Finally, on August 24, the House of Representatives passed its proposals for amendments to the Constitution and sent them to the Senate for their consideration. The next day, the Senate entered the document into their official journal. The Senate Journal shows Article the Fifth as:

Art. V. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed, but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person. 4

On September 4, the Senate debated the amendments proposed by the House, and the conscientious objector clause was quickly stricken. Sadly, these debates were held in secret, so records of them do not exist. The Senators agreed to accept Article the Fifth in this form:

…a well regulated militia, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall net be infringed. 5

In further debates on September 9, the Senate agreed to strike the words, “the best,” and replace them with, “necessary to the.” Since the third and fourth articles had been combined, the Senators also agreed to rename the amendment as Article the Fourth. The Senate Journal that day carried the article without the word, “best,” but also without the replacements, “necessary to.” Note that the extraneous commas have been omitted:

A well regulated militia being the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. 6

With two-thirds of the Senate concurring on the proposed amendments, they were sent back to the House for the Representatives’ perusal. On September 21, the House notified the Senate that it agreed to some of their amendments, but not all of them. However, they agreed to Article the Fourth in its entirety:

Resolved, That this House doth agree to the second, fourth, eighth, twelfth, thirteenth, sixteenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, twenty-fifth, and twenty-sixth amendments… 7

By September 25, the Congress had resolved all differences pertaining to the proposed amendments to the Constitution. On that day, a Clerk of the House, William Lambert, put what is now known as the Bill of Rights to parchment. Three days later, it was signed by the Speaker of the House, Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, and the President of the Senate, Vice President John Adams. This parchment copy is held by the National Archives and Records Administration, and shows the following version of the fourth article:

Article the Fourth. 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. 8

The above version is used almost exclusively today, but aside from the parchment copy, the author was unable to find any other official documents from that era which carry the amendment with the extra commas. In fact, in the appendix of the Senate Journal, Article the Fourth is entered as reading:

Art. IV. 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.9

Also, the Annals of Congress, formally called The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, show the proposed amendment as follows:

Article the Fourth. 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.10

Further, once two-thirds of both chambers of the Congress agreed to the proposed amendments, the House passed a resolve to request that the President send copies of them to the governors of the eleven states in the Union, and to those of Rhode Island and North Carolina. The Senate concurred on September 26, as recorded in their journal:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States be requested to transmit to the executives of the United States, which have ratified the constitution copies of the amendments proposed by Congress, to be added thereto; and like copies to the executives of the states of Rhode Island and North Carolina.11

Fortunately, an original copy of the amendments proposed by the Congress, and sent to the State of Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations, does survive. Certified as a true copy by Assembly Secretary Henry Ward, it reads in part:

Article the Fourth, –A well regulated Militia being neceffary to the Security of a free State, the Right of the People to keep and bear Arms fhall not be infringed. 12

And so, the proposed amendments to the Constitution were sent to the states for ratification. When notifying the President that their legislatures or conventions had ratified some or all of the proposed amendments, some states attached certified copies of them. New York, Maryland, South Carolina, and Rhode Island notified the general government that they had ratified the fourth amendment in this form:

Article the Fourth. 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. 13

Articles the First and Second were not ratified by the required three-fourths of the states, but by December 15, 1791, the last ten articles were. These, of course, are now known as the Bill of Rights. Renumbering the amendments was required since the first two had not been ratified. The 1796 revision of The Federalist on the New Constitution reflects the change as such:


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.14

This version is carried throughout the 19th Century, in such legal treatises as Joseph Story’s Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833) and Thomas Cooley’s Principles of Constitutional Law (1898). It is also transcribed in this manner in the 1845 Statutes at Large, although the term “state” is capitalized in that text. The latter are the official source for acts of Congress.15,16, 17

This version still appears today, as is the case with the annotated version of the Constitution they sponsored on the Government Printing Office web site (1992, supplemented in 1996 and 1998). The Second Amendment is shown as reading:

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. 18

(The Senate-sponsored GPO site does carry a “literal print” of the amendments to the Constitution showing the Second Amendment with the additional commas. The punctuation and capitalization of the amendments transcribed there are the same as those found on the parchment copy displayed in the Rotunda of the National Archives.)19

Thus, the correct rendition of the Second Amendment carries but a single comma, after the word “state.” It was in this form that those twenty-seven words were written, agreed upon, passed, and ratified.

Why the Commas are Important

It is important to use the proper Second Amendment because it is clearly and flawlessly written in its original form. Also, the function of the words, “a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state,” are readily discerned when the proper punctuation is used. On the other hand, the gratuitous addition of commas serve only to render the sentence grammatically incorrect and unnecessarily ambiguous. These points will be demonstrated later in the Second Amendment Series.

Footnotes to Comment section:

1. Amendments Offered in Congress by James Madison, June 8, 1789. The Constitution Society., 16 January 2000.

2. Amendments Reported by the Select Committee. July 28, 1789. The Constitution Society., 16 January 2000.

3. U.S. House Journal. 1st Cong., 1st sess., 21 August 1789.

4. U.S. Senate Journal. 1st Cong., 1st sess., 25 August 1789.

5. U.S. Senate Journal, 1st Cong., 1st sess., 4 September 1789.

6. U.S. Senate Journal, 1st Cong., 1st sess., 9 September 1789.

7. U.S. House Journal. 1st Cong., 1st sess., 21 September 1789.

8. Bill of Rights. National Archives and Records Administration., 22 January 2000.

9. U.S. Senate Journal. 1st Cong., 1st sess., Appendix.

10. Annals of Congress, 1st Cong., 1st sess., Appendix

11. U.S. Senate Journal. 1st Cong. 1st sess., 26 September 1789.

12. A True Bill. The Constitution for the United States, Its Sources and Its Applications., 27 January 2000.

13. U.S. House Journal, 1st Cong., 3rd sess., Appendix Note: Maryland and South Carolina capitalized the “m” in “Militia.”

14. The Federalist on the New Constitution, 1796. The Constitution for the United States, Its Sources and Its Applications., 17 February 2000.

15. Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution Society., 18 February 2000.

16. Quotes from Constitutional Commentators. Gun Cite., 2 February 2000.

17. Statutes at Large 1845, 21.

18. Second Amendment–Bearing Arms. The Constitution of the United States of America., 18 February 2000.

19. Text of the Amendments (Literal Print). The Constitution of the United States of America., 18 February 2000.

Liberals have made various efforts to subvert the Second Amendment by enacting unconstitutional gun laws which restrict the ability of individuals to protect themselves against the excesses of government. Examples include:

See also list of celebrities against Second Amendment

Bill of Rights: 1 – Freedom of speech, press, etc. 2 – Right to bear arms 3 – Quartering of soldiers 4 – Warrants 5 – Due process 6 – Right to a speedy trial 7 – Right by trial of a jury 8 – No cruel or unusual punishments 9 – Unenumerated rights 10 – Power to the people and states

11 – Immunity of states to foreign suits 12 – Revision of presidential election procedures 13 – Abolition of slavery 14 – Citizenship 15 – Racial suffrage 16 – Federal income tax 17 – Direct election to the United States Senate 18 – Prohibition of alcohol 19 – Women’s suffrage 20 – Terms of the presidency 21 – Repeal of Eighteenth Amendment 22 – Limits the president to two terms 23 – Electoral College 24 – Prohibition of poll taxes 25 – Presidential disabilities 26 – Voting age lowered to 18 27 – Variance of congressional compensation

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Second Amendment – Conservapedia

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Second Amendment | Fox News

 Second Amendment  Comments Off on Second Amendment | Fox News
Oct 192015

Luby’s massacre survivor speaks out on gun control debate

Suzanna Hupp slams Hillary Clinton’s gun control plan on ‘The Kelly File’

Gun control advocates are launching a new regulatory push in California to impose first-in-the-nation instant background checks for ammunition sales, a move that comes as gun viole…

Alan Colmes vs: Larry Pratt on why he believes gun registration is the first step towards total confiscation of all guns

Texas professor is worried about students bringing guns to campus under new law; Daniel Hamermesh sounds off on ‘The Kelly File’

Pres. Obama’s visit to Oregon a week after shooting massacre not welcome by some Roseburg residents and the publisher of the Roseburg Beacon. ‘On the Record’ takes a closer look

Judge Napolitano’s Chambers: The Judge reminds the people what the 2nd Amendment means in 2015 and why Hillary Clinton should not convince anyone to not have guns

While the FBI continued to analyze the emails Hillary Clinton thought she deleted and her advisers pressed her to hire a Republican criminal defense attorney in Washington, a madma…

Starnes Exclusive: Franklin Graham condemns Obama’s reaction to the Oregon school shooting, defends Dr. Ben Carson’s controversial comments about the tragedy and discusses his fath…

Viewer tired of talking heads

Donald Trump goes ‘On the Record’ on his biggest disappointment with Pres. Obama, says Putin clearly has a ‘lack of respect for the president. Trump also sounds off on latest 2016 …

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Second Amendment | Fox News

Second Amendment – National Constitution Center

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Oct 122015

The Second Amendment

Modern debates about the Second Amendment have focused on whether it protects a private right of individuals to keep and bear arms, or a right that can be exercised only through militia organizations like the National Guard. This question, however, was not even raised until long after the Bill of Rights was adopted.

Many in the Founding generation believed that governments are prone to use soldiers to oppress the people. English history suggested that this risk could be controlled by permitting the government to raise armies (consisting of full-time paid troops) only when needed to fight foreign adversaries. For other purposes, such as responding to sudden invasions or other emergencies, the government could rely on a militia that consisted of ordinary civilians who supplied their own weapons and received some part-time, unpaid military training.

The onset of war does not always allow time to raise and train an army, and the Revolutionary War showed that militia forces could not be relied on for national defense. The Constitutional Convention therefore decided that the federal government should have almost unfettered authority to establish peacetime standing armies and to regulate the militia.

This massive shift of power from the states to the federal government generated one of the chief objections to the proposed Constitution. Anti-Federalists argued that the proposed Constitution would take from the states their principal means of defense against federal usurpation. The Federalists responded that fears of federal oppression were overblown, in part because the American people were armed and would be almost impossible to subdue through military force.

Implicit in the debate between Federalists and Anti-Federalists were two shared assumptions. First, that the proposed new Constitution gave the federal government almost total legal authority over the army and militia. Second, that the federal government should not have any authority at all to disarm the citizenry. They disagreed only about whether an armed populace could adequately deter federal oppression.

The Second Amendment conceded nothing to the Anti-Federalists desire to sharply curtail the military power of the federal government, which would have required substantial changes in the original Constitution. Yet the Amendment was easily accepted because of widespread agreement that the federal government should not have the power to infringe the right of the people to keep and bear arms, any more than it should have the power to abridge the freedom of speech or prohibit the free exercise of religion.

Much has changed since 1791. The traditional militia fell into desuetude, and state-based militia organizations were eventually incorporated into the federal military structure. The nations military establishment has become enormously more powerful than eighteenth century armies. We still hear political rhetoric about federal tyranny, but most Americans do not fear the nations armed forces and virtually no one thinks that an armed populace could defeat those forces in battle. Furthermore, eighteenth century civilians routinely kept at home the very same weapons they would need if called to serve in the militia, while modern soldiers are equipped with weapons that differ significantly from those generally thought appropriate for civilian uses. Civilians no longer expect to use their household weapons for militia duty, although they still keep and bear arms to defend against common criminals (as well as for hunting and other forms of recreation).

The law has also changed. While states in the Founding era regulated gunsblacks were often prohibited from possessing firearms and militia weapons were frequently registered on government rollsgun laws today are more extensive and controversial. Another important legal development was the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Second Amendment originally applied only to the federal government, leaving the states to regulate weapons as they saw fit. Although there is substantial evidence that the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment was meant to protect the right of individuals to keep and bear arms from infringement by the states, the Supreme Court rejected this interpretation in United States v. Cruikshank (1876).

Until recently, the judiciary treated the Second Amendment almost as a dead letter. In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), however, the Supreme Court invalidated a federal law that forbade nearly all civilians from possessing handguns in the nations capital. A 54 majority ruled that the language and history of the Second Amendment showed that it protects a private right of individuals to have arms for their own defense, not a right of the states to maintain a militia.

The dissenters disagreed. They concluded that the Second Amendment protects a nominally individual right, though one that protects only the right of the people of each of the several States to maintain a well-regulated militia. They also argued that even if the Second Amendment did protect an individual right to have arms for self-defense, it should be interpreted to allow the government to ban handguns in high-crime urban areas.

Two years later, in McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010), the Court struck down a similar handgun ban at the state level, again by a 54 vote. Four Justices relied on judicial precedents under the Fourteenth Amendments Due Process Clause. Justice Thomas rejected those precedents in favor of reliance on the Privileges or Immunities Clause, but all five members of the majority concluded that the Fourteenth Amendment protects against state infringement the same individual right that is protected from federal infringement by the Second Amendment.

Notwithstanding the lengthy opinions in Heller and McDonald, they technically ruled only that government may not ban the possession of handguns by civilians in their homes. Heller tentatively suggested a list of presumptively lawful regulations, including bans on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, bans on carrying firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, laws restricting the commercial sale of arms, bans on the concealed carry of firearms, and bans on weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes. Many issues remain open, and the lower courts have disagreed with one another about some of them, including important questions involving restrictions on carrying weapons in public.

The right to keep and bear arms is a lot like the right to freedom of speech. In each case, the Constitution expressly protects a liberty that needs to be insulated from the ordinary political process.

Gun control is as much a part of the Second Amendment as the right to keep and bear arms. The text of the amendment, which refers to a well regulated Militia, suggests as much.

Not a Second Class Right: The Second Amendment Today by Nelson Lund

The right to keep and bear arms is a lot like the right to freedom of speech. In each case, the Constitution expressly protects a liberty that needs to be insulated from the ordinary political process. Neither right, however, is absolute. The First Amendment, for example, has never protected perjury, fraud, or countless other crimes that are committed through the use of speech. Similarly, no reasonable person could believe that violent criminals should have unrestricted access to guns, or that any individual should possess a nuclear weapon.

Inevitably, courts must draw lines, allowing government to carry out its duty to preserve an orderly society, without unduly infringing the legitimate interests of individuals in expressing their thoughts and protecting themselves from criminal violence. This is not a precise science or one that will ever be free from controversy.

One judicial approach, however, should be unequivocally rejected. During the nineteenth century, courts routinely refused to invalidate restrictions on free speech that struck the judges as reasonable. This meant that speech got virtually no judicial protection. Government suppression of speech can usually be thought to serve some reasonable purpose, such as reducing social discord or promoting healthy morals. Similarly, most gun control laws can be viewed as efforts to save lives and prevent crime, which are perfectly reasonable goals. If thats enough to justify infringements on individual liberty, neither constitutional guarantee means much of anything.

During the twentieth century, the Supreme Court finally started taking the First Amendment seriously. Today, individual freedom is generally protected unless the government can make a strong case that it has a real need to suppress speech or expressive conduct, and that its regulations are tailored to that need. The legal doctrines have become quite complex, and there is room for disagreement about many of the Courts specific decisions. Taken as a whole, however, this body of case law shows what the Court can do when it appreciates the value of an individual right enshrined in the Constitution.

The Second Amendment also raises issues about which reasonable people can disagree. But if the Supreme Court takes this provision of the Constitution as seriously as it now takes the First Amendment, which it should do, there will be some easy issues as well.

District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) is one example. The right of the people protected by the Second Amendment is an individual right, just like the right[s] of the people protected by the First and Fourth Amendments. The Constitution does not say that the Second Amendment protects a right of the states or a right of the militia, and nobody offered such an interpretation during the Founding era. Abundant historical evidence indicates that the Second Amendment was meant to leave citizens with the ability to defend themselves against unlawful violence. Such threats might come from usurpers of governmental power, but they might also come from criminals whom the government is unwilling or unable to control.

McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010) was also an easy case under the Courts precedents. Most other provisions of the Bill of Rights had already been applied to the states because they are deeply rooted in this Nations history and tradition. The right to keep and bear arms clearly meets this test.

The text of the Constitution expressly guarantees the right to bear arms, not just the right to keep them. The courts should invalidate regulations that prevent law-abiding citizens from carrying weapons in public, where the vast majority of violent crimes occur. First Amendment rights are not confined to the home, and neither are those protected by the Second Amendment.

Nor should the government be allowed to create burdensome bureaucratic obstacles designed to frustrate the exercise of Second Amendment rights. The courts are vigilant in preventing government from evading the First Amendment through regulations that indirectly abridge free speech rights by making them difficult to exercise. Courts should exercise the same vigilance in protecting Second Amendment rights.

Some other regulations that may appear innocuous should be struck down because they are little more than political stunts. Popular bans on so-called assault rifles, for example, define this class of guns in terms of cosmetic features, leaving functionally identical semi-automatic rifles to circulate freely. This is unconstitutional for the same reason that it would violate the First Amendment to ban words that have a French etymology, or to require that French fries be called freedom fries.

In most American states, including many with large urban population centers, responsible adults have easy access to ordinary firearms, and they are permitted to carry them in public. Experience has shown that these policies do not lead to increased levels of violence. Criminals pay no more attention to gun control regulations than they do to laws against murder, rape, and robbery. Armed citizens, however, prevent countless crimes and have saved many lives. Whats more, the most vulnerable peopleincluding women, the elderly, and those who live in high crime neighborhoodsare among the greatest beneficiaries of the Second Amendment. If the courts require the remaining jurisdictions to stop infringing on the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, their citizens will be more free and probably safer as well.

The Reasonable Right to Bear Arms by Adam Winkler

Gun control is as much a part of the Second Amendment as the right to keep and bear arms. The text of the amendment, which refers to a well regulated Militia, suggests as much. As the Supreme Court correctly noted in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the militia of the founding era was the body of ordinary citizens capable of taking up arms to defend the nation. While the Founders sought to protect the citizenry from being disarmed entirely, they did not wish to prevent government from adopting reasonable regulations of guns and gun owners.

Although Americans today often think that gun control is a modern invention, the Founding era had laws regulating the armed citizenry. There were laws designed to ensure an effective militia, such as laws requiring armed citizens to appear at mandatory musters where their guns would be inspected. Governments also compiled registries of civilian-owned guns appropriate for militia service, sometimes conducting door-to-door surveys. The Founders had broad bans on gun possession by people deemed untrustworthy, including slaves and loyalists. The Founders even had laws requiring people to have guns appropriate for militia service.

The wide range of Founding-era laws suggests that the Founders understood gun rights quite differently from many people today. The right to keep and bear arms was not a libertarian license for anyone to have any kind of ordinary firearm, anywhere they wanted. Nor did the Second Amendment protect a right to revolt against a tyrannical government. The Second Amendment was about ensuring public safety, and nothing in its language was thought to prevent what would be seen today as quite burdensome forms of regulation.

The Founding-era laws indicate why the First Amendment is not a good analogy to the Second. While there have always been laws restricting perjury and fraud by the spoken word, such speech was not thought to be part of the freedom of speech. The Second Amendment, by contrast, unambiguously recognizes that the armed citizenry must be regulatedand regulated well. This language most closely aligns with the Fourth Amendment, which protects a right to privacy but also recognizes the authority of the government to conduct reasonable searches and seizures.

The principle that reasonable regulations are consistent with the Second Amendment has been affirmed throughout American history. Ever since the first cases challenging gun controls for violating the Second Amendment or similar provisions in state constitutions, courts have repeatedly held that reasonable gun lawsthose that dont completely deny access to guns by law-abiding peopleare constitutionally permissible. For 150 years, this was the settled law of the landuntil Heller.

Heller, however, rejected the principle of reasonableness only in name, not in practice. The decision insisted that many types of gun control laws are presumptively lawful, including bans on possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, bans on concealed carry, bans on dangerous and unusual weapons, restrictions on guns in sensitive places like schools and government buildings, and commercial sale restrictions. Nearly all gun control laws today fit within these exceptions. Importantly, these exceptions for modern-day gun laws unheard of in the Founding era also show that lawmakers are not limited to the types of gun control in place at the time of the Second Amendments ratification.

In the years since Heller, the federal courts have upheld the overwhelming majority of gun control laws challenged under the Second Amendment. Bans on assault weapons have been consistently upheld, as have restrictions on gun magazines that hold more than a minimum number of rounds of ammunition. Bans on guns in national parks, post offices, bars, and college campuses also survived. These decisions make clear that lawmakers have wide leeway to restrict guns to promote public safety so long as the basic right of law-abiding people to have a gun for self-defense is preserved.

Perhaps the biggest open question after Heller is whether the Second Amendment protects a right to carry guns in public. While every state allows public carry, some states restrict that right to people who can show a special reason to have a gun on the street. To the extent these laws give local law enforcement unfettered discretion over who can carry, they are problematic. At the same time, however, many constitutional rights are far more limited in public than in the home. Parades can be required to have a permit, the police have broader powers to search pedestrians and motorists than private homes, and sexual intimacy in public places can be completely prohibited.

The Supreme Court may yet decide that more stringent limits on gun control are required under the Second Amendment. Such a decision, however, would be contrary to the text, history, and tradition of the right to keep and bear arms.

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Second Amendment – National Constitution Center

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Repeal the Second Amendment – Baltimore Sun

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Oct 042015

In 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States decided in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects a civilian’s right to keep a gun in his home. In 2010, the court decided in McDonald v. Chicago that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment limits the power of state and local governments to outlaw the possession of handguns by private citizens. The vote in each case was five-to-four not exactly a ringing endorsement of the court’s reasoning in either case. But for now, the law of the land with regard to easy access to guns is settled.

The Second Amendment is enthroned mistakenly, but as a matter of law as a fundamental dimension of individual freedom. The practical result is that we must live with carnage by firearms as a daily fact of American life.

Surely, the timid voices of reason and humanity whisper, there is some limit to the atrocities that Americans will tolerate. When Adam Lanza, with no prior criminal history nor treatment for mental illness, killed 26 people including 20 first-grade students at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on December 14, 2012, the nation was riveted and horrified. Something this unspeakable, this ghastly, this straight-out-of-hell, changed exactly nothing in federal law.

Then, in June of this year, a gunman killed nine churchgoers in Charleston, S.C. Two months later, a Virginia TV news crew was slaughtered on air, and the deed posted almost immediately to social media by the killer. And Thursday, a gunman killed at least 9 people and wounded others on the campus of Oregon’s Umpqua Community College.

What will it take to shock us out of our torpor? Another dead president? Not likely half the country will applaud it. How about a dozen people inspired by ISIS slipping simultaneously into the Mall of America and unveiling the assault weapons they have obtained in perfectly legal ways? I cannot imagine what level of gun violence will serve more to horrify than to entertain.

It is certainly a respectable idea to accept the Second Amendment and treat death by firearms as a public health issue. It is doomed to fail, however, because it isn’t the criminal or the psychotic who produces the murder, it’s the easy means to act out one’s fantasies that produces the criminal and the psychotic. Millions of guns, thousands of gun deaths.

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens, the leading dissenter in Heller and McDonald, has published a wise little book, “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution.” He suggests five words be added to the Second Amendment so that it reads “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.”

I say, let’s get rid of the Second Amendment altogether. Let the states and Congress regulate firearms as they see fit. Some states, most of them without big-city violence, will retain laws that allow citizens to carry concealed firearms. Gang-ridden Chicago will try again to crack down on guns. Congress will reconsider universal background checks and the prohibition of assault weapons.

As Justice Stevens informs us in his book, “legislatures are in a far better position than judges to assess the wisdom of such rules and to evaluate the costs and benefits that rule changes can be expected to produce. It is those legislators, rather than federal judges, who should make the decisions that will determine what kinds of firearms should be available to private citizens, and when and how they may be used. Constitutional provisions that curtail the legislative power to govern in this area unquestionably do more harm than good.”

And we’ve all already seen enough harm.

Hal Riedl retired from the Maryland Division of Correction in 2010, and from the office of the state’s attorney for Baltimore City in December 2014. His email is

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Repeal the Second Amendment – Baltimore Sun

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The Second Amendment Is a Gun-Control Amendment

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Oct 032015

Participants consoling each other during a candlelight vigil for the nine people who were killed in a shooting at Umpqua Community College, in Roseburg, Oregon, on Thursday. The gunman also was killed. Credit photograph by Rich Pedroncelli/AP

The tragedy happensyesterday at a school in Oregon, and then as it will againexactly as predicted, and uniquely here. It hardly seems worth the energy to once again make the same essential point that the Presidenthis growing exasperation and disbelief moving, if not effective, as he serves as national mournerhas now made again: we know how to fix this. Gun control ends gun violence as surely an antibiotics end bacterial infections, as surely as vaccines end childhood measlesnot perfectly and in every case, but overwhelmingly and everywhere that its been taken seriously and tried at length. These lives can be saved. Kids continue to die en masse because one political party wont allow that to change, and the partywont allow it to change because of the irrational and often paranoid fixations that make the massacre of students and children an acceptable cost of fetishizing guns.

In the course of todays conversation, two issues may come up, treated in what is now called a trolling tonepretending to show concern but actually standing in the way of real argument. One is the issue of mental health and this particular killers apparent religious bigotry. Everyone crazy enough to pick up a gun and kill many people is crazy enough to have an ideology to attach to the act. The pointthe only pointis that, everywhere else, that person rants in isolation or on his keyboard; only in America do we cheerfully supply him with military-style weapons to express his rage. As the otherwise reliably Republican (but still Canadian-raised) David Frum wisely writes: Every mass shooter has his own hateful motive. They all use the same tool.

More standard, and seemingly more significant, is the claimoften made by those who say they recognize the tragedy of mass shootings and pretend, at least, that they would like to see gun sanity reign in Americathat the Second Amendment acts as a barrier to anything like the gun laws, passed after mass shootings, that have saved so many lives in Canada and Australia. Like it or not, according to this argument, the Constitution limits our ability to control the number and kinds of guns in private hands. Even the great Jim Jeffries, in his memorable standup on American madness, says, Why cant you change the Second Amendment? Its an amendment!as though further amending it were necessary to escape it.

In point of historical and constitutional fact, nothing could be further from the truth: the only amendment necessary for gun legislation, on the local or national level, is the Second Amendment itself, properly understood, as it was for two hundred years in its plain original sense. This sense can be summed up in a sentence: if the Founders hadnt wanted guns to be regulated, and thoroughly, they would not have put the phrase well regulated in the amendment. (A quick thought experiment: What if those words were not in the preamble to the amendment and a gun-sanity group wanted to insert them? Would the National Rifle Association be for or against this change? Its obvious, isnt it?)

The confusion is contemporary. (And, let us hope, temporary.) It rises from the younger-than-springtime decision D.C. v. Heller, from 2008, when Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for a 54 majority, insisted that, whether he wanted it to or not, the Second Amendment protected an individual right to own a weapon. (A certain disingenuous show of disinterestedness is typical of his opinions.)

This was an astounding constitutional reading, or misreading, as original as Citizens United, and as idiosyncratic as the reasoning in Bush v. Gore, which found a conclusive principle designed to be instantly discardedor, for that matter, as the readiness among the courts right wing to overturn a health-care law passed by a supermajority of the legislature over a typo. Anyone who wants to both grasp that decisions radicalism and get a calm, instructive view of what the Second Amendment does say, and was intended to say, and was always before been understood to say, should read Justice John Paul Stevenss brilliant, persuasive dissent in that case. Every person who despairs of the sanity of the country should read it, at least once, not just for its calm and irrefutable case-making but as a reminder of what sanity sounds like.

Stevens, a Republican judge appointed by a Republican President, brilliantly analyzes the history of the amendment, making it plain that for Scalia, et al., to arrive at their view, they have to reference not the deliberations that produced the amendment but, rather, bring in British common law and lean on interpretations that arose long after the amendment was passed. Both keep arms and bear arms, he demonstrates, were, in the writers day, military terms used in military contexts. (Gary Wills has usefully illuminated this truth in the New York Review of Books.) The intent of the Second Amendment, Stevens explains, was obviously to secure to the people a right to use and possess arms in conjunction with service in a well-regulated militia. The one seemingly sound argument in the Scalia decisionthat the people in the Second Amendment ought to be the same people referenced in the other amendments, that is, everybodyis exactly the interpretation that the preamble was meant to guard against.

Stevenss dissent should be read in full, but his conclusion in particular is clear and ringing:

The right the Court announces [in Heller] was not enshrined in the Second Amendment by the Framers; it is the product of todays law-changing decision. . . . Until today, it has been understood that legislatures may regulate the civilian use and misuse of firearms so long as they do not interfere with the preservation of a well-regulated militia. The Courts announcement of a new constitutional right to own and use firearms for private purposes upsets that settled understanding . . .

Justice Stevens and his colleagues were not saying, a mere seven years ago, that the gun-control legislation in dispute in Heller alone was constitutional within the confines of the Second Amendment. They were asserting that essentially every kind of legislation concerning guns in the hands of individuals was compatible with the Second Amendmentindeed, that regulating guns in individual hands was one of the purposes for which the amendment was offered.

So there is no need to amend the Constitution, or to alter the historical understanding of what the Second Amendment meant. No new reasoning or tortured rereading is needed to reconcile the Constitution with common sense. All that is necessary for sanity to rule again, on the question of guns, is to restore the amendment to its commonly understood meaning as it was articulated by this wise Republican judge a scant few years ago. And all you need for that is one saner and, in the true sense, conservative Supreme Court vote. One Presidential election could make that happen.

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The Second Amendment Is a Gun-Control Amendment

Obama Mocks Second Amendment Supporters For Crack Pot …

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Oct 032015

During a press conference this afternoon, the president mocked gun rights supporters for supposedly spreading conspiracy theories about his desire to take away guns from law abiding citizens.

Obama described gun rights supporters as absolutists who denounced gun control as somehow an assault on freedom or communistic or a plot by me to, you know, take over and stay in power forever or something.

I mean, there are all kinds of crack pot conspiracy theories that float around there, he continued. Some of which by the way are ratified by elected officials in the other party on occasion.

He dismissed the notion that the issue of mass shootings was somehow just a mental problem.

There are hundreds of millions of angry young men around the world, most of them dont shoot, he insisted. The only thing we can do is make sure that they dont have an entire arsenal when something snaps in them.

Obama suggested that gun control supporters shouldnt vote for Democrats even if they were good on other issues they cared about.

Even if theyre great on other stuff for a couple of election cycles, you got to vote against them and let them know precisely why youre voting against them, he said.

He encouraged gun control supporters to be single issue voters, like gun rights supporters who agreed with the National Rifle Association.

The NRA has had a good start, you know. Theyve been at this for a long time, he said.

Theyve perfected what they do, you have got to give them credit they know how to stir up fear, they know how to stir up their base, they know how to raise money, they know how to scare politicians, they know how to organize campaigns and the American people are going to have to match them in their sense of urgency if were actually going to stop this.

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Clinton at private fundraiser: SCOTUS is wrong about the …

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Oct 032015

posted at 6:41 pm on October 2, 2015 by Matt Vespa

At a small private fundraiser in New York, Hillary Clinton slammed the Supreme Court and the National Rifle Association on Second Amendment issues, even going so far as to say that the Court is wrong regarding this provision in our bill of rights. Stephen Gutowski and Alanna Goodman at the Washington Free Beacon obtainedthe audio of this event:

I was proud when my husband took [the National Rifle Association] on, and we were able to ban assault weapons, but he had to put a sunset on so 10 years later. Of course [President George W.] Bush wouldnt agree to reinstate them, said Clinton.

Weve got to go after this, Clinton continued. And here again, the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment. And I am going to make that case every chance I get.


Im going to speak out, Im going to do everything I can to rally people against this pernicious, corrupting influence of the NRA and were going to do whatever we can, she said.

Clinton argued that the NRA has so intimidated elected members of Congress and other legislative bodies that these people are passing the most absurd laws.

The idea that you can have an open carry permit with an AK-47 over your shoulder walking up and down the aisles of a supermarket is just despicable, she said.

Yet, when one says the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment, is the former first lady referring to the Heller case? The 2008 D.C. v Heller was a landmark case that said Americans have a constitutional right to own a handgun unrelated to service in a standing militia, but it only applied to federal enclaves. In 2010, McDonald v. Chicago expanded that right to the states.

I have no doubt that Clinton agrees with these views. Im not so sure if she has the guts to pull it off. Yes, her husband did take on the NRA and it partially contributed to the 1994 Democratic wipeout. Speaker of the House Tom Foley (D-OR) became the first sitting speaker since Galusha Grow to lose his re-election bid. Grow was booted in 1862.

Six years later, Democrats still didnt get the picture. The story goes that Vice President Al Gore could have easily become President Gore if he hadnt tried to out-gun control his Democratic rival, Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ), in the primaries; a completely unnecessary move since Bradley never polled within striking distance of Gore. The consequence of this was Arkansas, Tennessee, and West Virginia going for Bush. If these three states had been etched into the Gore column, Florida wouldnt have been an issue. Bush could have still won Florida, but Gore would have locked down more than enough electoral votes to win the presidency. Since then, the gun control movement has gone into the bunker.

All Clinton is doing is courting the most progressive elements of the Democratic base, which yearns for a candidate that will challenge the NRA and enact new gun control laws. In reality, Clinton rhetoric on SCOTUS being wrong on the Second Amendment, and her pledge to make that case every chance I get, is the definition of pie-in-the-sky. You need a functioning state-based Democratic political apparatus to place pressure on localities and state legislatures to change the guns laws, file lawsuits, and hope that the Supreme Court will hear arguments again on the Second Amendment. As its been reported before, state-based Democratic parties are all but finished in some states.

This underreported aspect of the Obama era includes the slow, bleeding death of these political operations, which have entered such a state of decrepitude in some areas that Clinton has vowed to rebuild those structures if shes elected president. With no strong Democratic leaders at the local level, no anti-gun voices in the state legislatures, which have become more Republican since 2008, Hillarys crusade to reverse landmark gun rights cases on the Supreme Court seems to be nothing more than slogans for fundraising. Moreover, on the legal front, those who are for Second Amendment freedom appear to be on a winning streak, winning cases in California and Illinois that either expand gun rights, or prevent governing bodies from curtailing them.

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2nd Amendment Archives – Bearing Arms

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Sep 262015

on September 23, 2015 at 3:04 pm

A new Rasmussen Report from a national telephone survey conducted this week shows most voters dont want the federal government in control of Americas guns. The report found that only 34% of likely voters polled []

on September 23, 2015 at 3:03 pm

The Los Angeles Times editorial board is upset. They dont like the U.S. Supreme Courts 2008 decision in District of Columbia vs Heller, and are furious that an appellate courts mixed response in what has []

on September 21, 2015 at 8:51 pm

This morning, thanks to a Facebook post by TWANGnBANG, I discovered that the AK Operators Union Local 4774 had their Facebook page unceremoniously deleted without comment or warning by the social media giant, a fact []

on September 17, 2015 at 10:36 am

Weve all heard it. The anti-gun speech condemning guns, pleading to stop the killing, insisting we come together to do Whatever It Takes to save just one more life. Weve all made our counterpoints:That someone []

on September 16, 2015 at 11:18 am

Despite a mainstream media which slants coverage in order to drum up the illusion of widespread gun violence, 59-percent of Americans feel that the nations gun laws are either about right or too strict. Only []

on September 15, 2015 at 11:40 am

As some of you who follow me on Twitter or read my personal blog may know, I took up running last year. While I do have to use the treadmill for the better part of []

on September 9, 2015 at 11:24 am

House Democrats pushing what they call the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2015 are stooping to outright lies in order to fabricate a need for their legislation. The bill is ironically offered by Rep.Elijah E. []

on September 9, 2015 at 7:53 am

Shannon Watts is clutching her pearls. The University of Chicago Preventative Medicine performed a gun study bysurveying99 Cook County Illinois inmatesand the results are staggering. According to their findings, the majority of guns used by []

on September 8, 2015 at 10:28 am

The U.K. Telegraph is doing the job American journalists wont do, and has set out to get a rough idea of where Republican candidates stand on the issue of Second Amendment rights. They asked whether []

on August 18, 2015 at 6:31 am

Well, its almost here folks! Can you tell? Parents are smiling, kids are grumbling, teachers are well, yeah with the kids, so teachers are grumbling too. The 2015-16 school year is almost upon us! Anyone []

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2nd Amendment Archives – Bearing Arms

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History of Gun Rights – a Timeline of the 2nd Amendment

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Sep 262015

After going virtually unchallenged for more than one hundred years, Americans right to own guns was one of the hottest political topics of the second half of the 20th Century. The issue has calmed somewhat in the early days of the 21st Century, but if history is our guide, the debate is going nowhere until an inevitable and definitive ruling is handed down by the nations courts: does the Second Amendment apply to individual citizens?

1791: The Second Amendment is Ratified

The ink had hardly dried on the ratification papers of the Constitution before a political movement was undertaken to amend the framing document to declare gun ownership as a right.

A select committee assembled to review amendments proposed by James Madison authored the language that would become the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights: 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.

1871: NRA Founded

The National Rifle Association was founded by a pair of Union soldiers in 1871, not as a political lobby but as an effort to promote the shooting of rifles. However, the organization would grow to become the face of America’s pro-gun lobby in the 20th Century.

1822: Bliss v. Commonwealth Brings Individual Right Into Question

The Second Amendments intent for individual Americans first came into question in 1822, in Bliss v. Commonwealth. The court case arose in Kentucky after a man was indicted for carrying a sword concealed in a cane.

He was convicted and fined $100.

Bliss appealed the conviction, citing a provision in the Commonwealths constitution that states: The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state, shall not be questioned.

In a majority vote with just one judge dissenting, the court overturned the conviction against Bliss and ruled the law unconstitutional and void.

1856: Dred Scott v. Sandford Upholds Individual Right

The Second Amendment as an individual right was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States in its decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1856. With the rights of slaves in question, the nations highest court opined on the intent of the Second Amendment for the first time, writing that affording slaves full rights of American citizenship would include the right to keep and carry arms wherever they went.

1934: National Firearms Act Brings About First Major Gun Control

The first major effort to eliminate private ownership of firearms came with the National Firearms Act of 1934. A direct response of the rise of gangster violence in general, and the Saint Valentines Day massacre in particular, the National Firearms Act sought to circumvent the Second Amendment by controlling firearms through a tax excise ($200 for each gun sale).

The National Firearms Act targeted fully-automatic weapons, short-barreled shotguns and rifles, pen and cane guns, and other firearms defined as gangster weapons.

1938: Federal Firearms Act Requires License for Dealers

The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 required anyone selling or shipping firearms to be licensed through the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Federal Firearms License (FFL) stipulated that guns could not be sold to persons convicted of certain crimes and required sellers to log the names and addresses of anyone they sold guns to.

1968: Gun Control Act Ushers In New Regulations

Thirty years after Americas first sweeping reform of gun laws, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy helped to usher in new federal legislation with wide-ranging implications. The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibited mail order sales of rifles and shotguns, increased license requirements for sellers and broadened the list of persons prohibited from owning a firearm to include convicted felons, drug users and the mentally incompetent.

1994: Brady Act and Assault Weapons Ban

Two new federal laws passed by a Democrat-controlled Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994 became the hallmark of gun control efforts of the latter 20th Century.

The first, the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, required a five-day waiting period and background check for the sale of handguns, while also requiring a National Instant Criminal Background Check System to be created. The second, the Assault Weapons Ban (officially entitled the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act) banned a number of rifles defined as assault weapons, including many semi-automatic, military-style rifles such as the AK-47 and SKS.

2004: Assault Weapons Ban Sunsets

A Republican-controlled Congress refused to pass a reauthorization of the Assault Weapons Ban in 2004, allowing the ban to expire. President George W. Bush was criticized by gun control supporters for not actively pressuring Congress to renew the ban, while gun rights supporters criticized him for indicating that he would sign a reauthorization if Congress passed it.

2008: D.C. v. Heller is a Major Setback for Gun Control

Gun rights proponents were thrilled in 2008 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment extends gun ownership rights to individuals. The decision affirmed an earlier decision by a lower appeals court and struck down handgun bans in Washington D.C. as unconstitutional.

The case was lauded as the first Supreme Court case to affirm the right of an individual to keep and bear arms in accordance with the Second Amendment. However, the ruling applied only to federal enclaves, such as the District of Columbia. Justices did not opine on the Second Amendments application to the states.

2010: Gun Owners Score Another Victory in McDonald v. Chicago

Gun rights supporters scored their second major Supreme Court victory in 2010, when the high court affirmed the individual right to own guns in McDonald v. Chicago.

The ruling, which was an inevitable follow-up to D.C. v. Heller, marked the first time that the Supreme Court ruled the provisions of the Second Amendment extend to the states. The ruling overturned an earlier decision by a lower court in a legal challenge to Chicagos ordinance banning the possession of handguns by its citizens.

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Articles about Second Amendment – latimes

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Sep 262015



They lock the gate to Canada at 5 p.m. But in this woodsy corner of northeastern Washington, no one really seems to mind the wait until it reopens promptly at 9 the next morning. In an emergency, there’s a border crossing open until midnight about 10 miles to the west. “This part of the country is still kind of backward. I like it that way.



Their counterdemonstration in support of gun rights will be smaller than the Million Mom March. But the gun-owning women who make up the Second Amendment Sisters feel just as passionately about their cause. “The anti-gun factions constantly say that if it saves one life, it’s worth it,” said Debra Collins, who once used a 12-gauge shotgun to defend herself from an attack by her ex-husband at 4 o’clock in the morning. “Well, my firearm saved one life–mine.”



Like many another old-timer, Leon Uris looks at America and doesn’t like what he sees. Gun manufacturers peddling ever more lethal weaponry under the cover of the Second Amendment. Media grown hysterical and trivial. Racial sores left to fester. The nation’s “social agenda” abandoned in favor of corporate greed. A general falling-off of virtue, so that the heroic Marines of World War II he wrote about in his first novel, “Battle Cry,” are grotesquely parodied by right-wing militiamen.


May 31, 1994

Your editorial “Fear of Gun Crime: Deeper Than Any Set of Statistics” (May 22) hits very wide of the bull’s-eye. Though criminal usage of firearms is up, so is successful civilian usage in justified self-defense, to over 2 million per annum. Regarding the meaning of the Second Amendment, you’re only half right. The constitutional framers were rightly afraid of a dictatorial central government; however, the Second Amendment does in fact confirm an individual right to own arms.


May 24, 1994

I was especially intrigued by the last paragraph of “Handgun Crime Soaring in U.S., Report Says,” May 17. I quote, “The survey also found that 38% of the victims who were armed attacked the individuals seeking to harm them. One-fifth of those attempting to protect themselves with a firearm were injured, compared to almost half who used other weapons or had no weapon at all.” I guess it comes as no surprise that the notoriously anti-gun Times would bury this intriguing bit of news at the very end. SAM BRUNSTEIN Glendale By now everyone knows the position of the National Rifle Assn.


May 8, 1994

In Paula Poundstone’s piece (“The Good Old Days? Somebody Stole ‘Em,” Laugh Lines, April 25) she makes the false statement regarding the Old West that “they didn’t have the evil NRA then because nobody was against guns to begin with.” In fact, the National Rifle Assn. was incorporated in 1871 during the relatively brief period between the Civil War and the turn of the century that we think of as the “Wild West” period. It was during this era that attempts were made to disenfranchise and leave defenseless newly freed blacks by not allowing them to possess firearms as all other Americans could.

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Second Amendment – Issue Statements – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson

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Sep 262015

Johnny Isaksons Position Statement on Second Amendment Rights

I firmly believe that we do not need more gun control in America; rather we need more criminal control. Therefore, I support instant background checks on all retail sales of guns to prevent convicted felons from obtaining them, but I do not support waiting periods or the registration of any firearm. I will continue to oppose any attempts to crack down on law-abiding firearms owners, rather than punishing criminals who use guns.

Additionally, the mass shootings by mentally unstable individuals over the past years should make us pause and take stock. After 9/11, we came together to see what we could do to prevent another attack. The work of the 9/11 Commission made flying safer and has helped us prevent another hijacking of a U.S. plane by terrorists. In the wake of these mass shootings, we should evaluate in a thoughtful process gun safety, mental health, school security and all other components that contributed to these horrendous acts of violence.

I have earned A ratings from the National Rifle Association since arriving in Congress for my consistent support of pro-Second Amendment legislation. I will continue to work for commonsense legislation that keeps our children safe without infringing upon our Second Amendment rights.

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The Second Amendment: The Framers Intentions

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Sep 262015

by Daniel J. Schultz

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution 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.” The reference to a “well regulated” militia, probably conjures up a connotation at odds with the meaning intended by the Framers. In today’s English, the term “well regulated” probably implies heavy and intense government regulation. However, that conclusion is erroneous.

The words “well regulated” had a far different meaning at the time the Second Amendment was drafted. In the context of the Constitution’s provisions for Congressional power over certain aspects of the militia, and in the context of the Framers’ definition of “militia,” government regulation was not the intended meaning. Rather, the term meant only what it says, that the necessary militia be well regulated, but not by the national government.

To determine the meaning of the Constitution, one must start with the words of the Constitution itself. If the meaning is plain, that meaning controls. To ascertain the meaning of the term “well regulated” as it was used in the Second Amendment, it is necessary to begin with the purpose of the Second Amendment itself. The overriding purpose of the Framers in guaranteeing the right of the people to keep and bear arms was as a check on the standing army, which the Constitution gave the Congress the power to “raise and support.”

As Noah Webster put it in a pamphlet urging ratification of the Constitution, “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe.” George Mason remarked to his Virginia delegates regarding the colonies’ recent experience with Britain, in which the Monarch’s goal had been “to disarm the people; that [that] . . . was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” A widely reprinted article by Tench Coxe, an ally and correspondent of James Madison, described the Second Amendment’s overriding goal as a check upon the national government’s standing army: As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.

Thus, the well regulated militia necessary to the security of a free state was a militia that might someday fight against a standing army raised and supported by a tyrannical national government. Obviously, for that reason, the Framers did not say “A Militia well regulated by the Congress, being necessary to the security of a free State” — because a militia so regulated might not be separate enough from, or free enough from, the national government, in the sense of both physical and operational control, to preserve the “security of a free State.”

It is also helpful to contemplate the overriding purpose and object of the Bill of Rights in general. To secure ratification of the Constitution, the Federalists, urging passage of the Constitution by the States had committed themselves to the addition of the Bill of Rights, to serve as “further guards for private rights.” In that regard, the first ten amendments to the Constitution were designed to be a series of “shall nots,” telling the new national government again, in no uncertain terms, where it could not tread.

It would be incongruous to suppose or suggest the Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment, which were proscriptions on the powers of the national government, simultaneously acted as a grant of power to the national government. Similarly, as to the term “well regulated,” it would make no sense to suggest this referred to a grant of “regulation” power to the government (national or state), when the entire purpose of the Bill of Rights was to both declare individual rights and tell the national government where the scope of its enumerated powers ended.

In keeping with the intent and purpose of the Bill of Rights both of declaring individual rights and proscribing the powers of the national government, the use and meaning of the term “Militia” in the Second Amendment, which needs to be “well regulated,” helps explain what “well regulated” meant. When the Constitution was ratified, the Framers unanimously believed that the “militia” included all of the people capable of bearing arms.

George Mason, one of the Virginians who refused to sign the Constitution because it lacked a Bill of Rights, said: “Who are the Militia? They consist now of the whole people.” Likewise, the Federal Farmer, one of the most important Anti-Federalist opponents of the Constitution, referred to a “militia, when properly formed, [as] in fact the people themselves.” The list goes on and on.

By contrast, nowhere is to be found a contemporaneous definition of the militia, by any of the Framers, as anything other than the “whole body of the people.” Indeed, as one commentator said, the notion that the Framers intended the Second Amendment to protect the “collective” right of the states to maintain militias rather than the rights of individuals to keep and bear arms, “remains one of the most closely guarded secrets of the eighteenth century, for no known writing surviving from the period between 1787 and 1791 states such a thesis.”

Furthermore, returning to the text of the Second Amendment itself, the right to keep and bear arms is expressly retained by “the people,” not the states. Recently the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed this view, finding that the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right held by the “people,” — a “term of art employed in select parts of the Constitution,” specifically the Preamble and the First, Second, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments. Thus, the term “well regulated” ought to be considered in the context of the noun it modifies, the people themselves, the militia(s).

The above analysis leads us finally to the term “well regulated.” What did these two words mean at the time of ratification? Were they commonly used to refer to a governmental bureaucracy as we know it today, with countless rules and regulations and inspectors, or something quite different? We begin this analysis by examining how the term “regulate” was used elsewhere in the Constitution. In every other instance where the term “regulate” is used, or regulations are referred to, the Constitution specifies who is to do the regulating and what is being “regulated.” However, in the Second Amendment, the Framers chose only to use the term “well regulated” to describe a militia and chose not to define who or what would regulate it.

It is also important to note that the Framers’ chose to use the indefinite article “a” to refer to the militia, rather than the definite article “the.” This choice suggests that the Framers were not referring to any particular well regulated militia but, instead, only to the concept that well regulated militias, made up of citizens bearing arms, were necessary to secure a free State. Thus, the Framers chose not to explicitly define who, or what, would regulate the militias, nor what such regulation would consist of, nor how the regulation was to be accomplished.

This comparison of the Framers’ use of the term “well regulated” in the Second Amendment, and the words “regulate” and “regulation” elsewhere in the Constitution, clarifies the meaning of that term in reference to its object, namely, the Militia. There is no doubt the Framers understood that the term “militia” had multiple meanings. First, the Framers understood all of the people to be part of the unorganized militia. The unorganized militia members, “the people,” had the right to keep and bear arms. They could, individually, or in concert, “well regulate” themselves; that is, they could train to shoot accurately and to learn the basics of military tactics.

This interpretation is in keeping with English usage of the time, which included within the meaning of the verb “regulate” the concept of self- regulation or self-control (as it does still to this day). The concept that the people retained the right to self-regulate their local militia groups (or regulate themselves as individual militia members) is entirely consistent with the Framers’ use of the indefinite article “a” in the phrase “A well regulated Militia.”

This concept of the people’s self-regulation, that is, non-governmental regulation, is also in keeping with the limited grant of power to Congress “for calling forth” the militia for only certain, limited purposes, to “provide for” the militia only certain limited control and equipment, and the limited grant of power to the President regarding the militia, who only serves as Commander in Chief of that portion of the militia called into the actual service of the nation. The “well regula[tion]” of the militia set forth in the Second Amendment was apart from that control over the militia exercised by Congress and the President, which extended only to that part of the militia called into actual service of the Union. Thus, “well regula[tion]” referred to something else. Since the fundamental purpose of the militia was to serve as a check upon a standing army, it would seem the words “well regulated” referred to the necessity that the armed citizens making up the militia(s) have the level of equipment and training necessary to be an effective and formidable check upon the national government’s standing army.

This view is confirmed by Alexander Hamilton’s observation, in The Federalist, No. 29, regarding the people’s militias ability to be a match for a standing army: ” . . . but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights . . . .”

It is an absolute truism that law-abiding, armed citizens pose no threat to other law-abiding citizens. The Framers’ writings show they also believed this. As we have seen, the Framers understood that “well regulated” militias, that is, armed citizens, ready to form militias that would be well trained, self-regulated and disciplined, would pose no threat to their fellow citizens, but would, indeed, help to “insure domestic Tranquility” and “provide for the common defence.”


1. In constitutional or statutory construction, language should always be accorded its plain meaning. See, e.g., Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee, 14 U.S. (1 Wheat.) 304, 326 (1816).

2. “On every question of construction [of the Constitution] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823, The Complete Jefferson, p. 32.

3. “The Congress shall have Power . . . To raise and support Armies . . . .” U.S. Const., Article I, Section 8, cl. 12.

4. Senate Subcommittee On The Constitution Of The Comm. On The Judiciary, 97th Cong., 2d Sess., The Right To Keep And Bear Arms (Comm. Print 1982), at 5.

5. 3 J. Elliot, Debates In The Several State Conventions 380 (2d ed. 1836).

6. Originally published under the pseudonym “A Pennsylvanian,” these “Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution” first appeared in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789, at 2, col. 1. They were reprinted by the New York Packet, June 23, 1789, at 2, cols. 1-2, and by the Boston Centennial, July 4, 1789, at 1, col. 2. The U.S. Supreme Court, in U.S. v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, 83 L. Ed. 2d 1206, 59 S. Ct. 816 (1939), noted that the debates in the Constitutional Convention, the history and legislation of the colonies and states, and the writings of approved commentators showed that the militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense — a body enrolled for military discipline.

7. 11 Papers Of James Madison 307 (R. Rutland & C. Hobson ed. 1977) (letter of Oct. 20, 1788, from Madison to Edmund Pendleton)(emphasis added).

8. An examination of the other nine amendments of the Bill of Rights shows that they were designed, like the Second Amendment, to declare rights retained by the people (1-9), or the States (10), and to provide a clear list of powers not given to the national government: “Congress shall make no law . . . .” (Amendment I); “No soldier shall . . . .” (Amendment III); “The right of the people . . . shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue . . . .” (Amendment IV); “No person shall . . .; nor shall any person . . .; nor shall private property be taken . . . .” (Amendment V); “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy . . . .” (Amendment VI); “In Suits at common law . . . the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States . . . .” (Amendment VII); “Excessive bail shall not be required . . . .” (Amendment VIII); “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” (Amendment IX); “The Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” (Amendment X).

9. 3 J. Elliot, Debates In The General State Conventions 425 (3d ed. 1937) (statement of George Mason, June 14, 1788), reprinted in Levinson, The Embarassing Second Amendment, 99 Yale L. Rev. 637, 647 (1989). See supra note 6 and accompanying text.

10. Letters From The Federal Farmer To The Republican 123 (W. Bennet ed. 1978) (ascribed to Richard Henry Lee), reprinted in Levinson, supra note 9, at 647. See supra note 6 and accompanying text.

11. S. Halbrook, That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right, p. 83 (The Independent Institute, 1984).

12. U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259, 265 (1990) (“The Second Amendment protects ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms’….”).

13. “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Senators.” (Article I, Section 4); “The Congress shall have power . . . To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes . . . .” (Article I, Section 8, cl. 3); “The Congress shall have power . . . To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures . . . .” (Article I, Section 8, cl. 5); “No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.” (Article I, Section 9); “In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.” (Article III, Section 2, cl. 2); “No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.” (Article IV, Section 2, cl. 3); “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular state.” (Article IV, Section 3, cl. 2).

14. See supra, notes 6, 9 and 10 and accompanying text.

15. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the following examples of usage for the term “well regulated”: 1709: “If a liberal Education has formed in us . . . well-regulated Appetites, and worthy Inclinations.” 1714: “The practice of all well regulated courts of justice in the world.” 1812: “The equation of time . . . is the adjustment of the difference of time, as shown by a well-regulated clock and a true sun dial.” 1848: “A remissness for which I am sure every well-regulated person will blame the Major.” 1862: “It appeared to her well-regulated mind, like a clandestine proceeding.” 1894: “The newspaper, a never wanting adjunct to every well- regulated American embryo city.” One definition of the word “well” in the Oxford English Dictionary is “satisfactorily in respect of conduct or action.” One of The Oxford English Dictionary definitions for the term “regulated” is “b. Of troops: Properly disciplined.” The one example of usage is: “1690: Lond. Gaz. No. 2568/3 ‘We hear likewise that the French are in a great Allarm in Dauphine and Bresse, not having at present 1500 Men of regulated Troops on that side.'” The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1989).

16. “The Congress shall have Power . . . To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions . . . .” U. S. Const., Article I, Section 8, cl. 15.

17. “The Congress shall have Power . . . To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress . . . .” U.S. Const., Article I, Section 8, cl. 16.

18. “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States . . . .” U.S. Const., Article II, Section 2, cl. 1.

19. U.S. Const., Preamble. —– from: The “Well Regulated” Militia of the Second Amendment: An Examination of the Framers’ Intentions, THE LIBERTY POLE V.II, No.2, The Official Publication of The Lawyer’s Second Amendment Society.

Daniel J. Schultz is a practicing attorney in Los Angeles and President of LSAS, a nationwide network of pro-right to keep and bear arms attorneys. Contact the LSAS at (818)734-3066 or 18034 Ventura Boulevard, #329, Encino, CA 91316.

—– Brought to you by – The ‘Lectric Law Library The Net’s Finest Legal Resource For Legal Pros & Laypeople Alike.


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‘It’s his Second Amendment right,’ says mayor after CPL …

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Sep 262015

Alleged bank robber Henry Mann, 43, came out on the bad end of a one-sided gunfight with a lawful gun owner this week. (Photo: Gary Guyette via The Detroit Free Press)

A concealed carry permit holder in Warren, Michigan, found himself face to face with a bank robber and shot the man three times.

The permit holder, Ruben Kendrick, encountered the alleged armed robber Monday afternoon as the gunman was leaving the Citizens Bank near 9 Mile with $11,000 in cash garnered from the tellers.

Upon threatening the permit holder, the robber, Henry Mann, 43, picked up three gunshots from the citizen, as reported by the Detroit Free Press.

The 63-year-old responded in kind by defending himself, Warren Mayor Jim Fouts told Fox 2. Its his Second Amendment right.

Mann was subsequently handcuffed by responding officers and taken into custody with non-life threatening injuries. Recovered at the scene were the robbers loaded but unfired Colt Mark IV and the majority of the cash.

Addressing reports that the permit holder shot the robber once in each arm and one time in the legs with his Smith and Wesson Shield, Fouts commended the apparent marksmanship of the citizen.

Im happy that no one was seriously injured, Mayor Jim Fouts said. He apparently exercised some caution by not shooting the robber in a vital area.

Fouts, who made headlines last month for his move to ban flamethrowers for all but law enforcement and other official users, urged restraint in defensive gun uses.

I would caution people against using firearms unless absolutely necessary, he said.

Mann reportedly had an extensive criminal history including a conviction on second-degree murder and assault/bodily harm less than murder in 1989. It is unclear how he obtained the handgun used in this weeks robbery.

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Sep 132015

By SAF Admin on September 11, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA Responding to statements made by Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes Thursday to KING 5 News that the so-called gun violence tax is not too drastic, Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation which is (read more)

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By SAF Admin on August 24, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA The nations three leading firearms organizations joined forces today to sue the City of Seattle over adoption of a retail sales tax on guns and ammunition in what they allege is a clear violation of Washington States (read more)

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By SAF Admin on August 21, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA Attorneys for the Second Amendment Foundation and Florida Carry have asked a circuit court judge to assess fines of $5,000 against city officials in Tallahassee for failing to repeal local gun control ordinances that conflict with (read more)

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By SAF Admin on August 13, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and Calguns Foundation (CGF) today filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of a Santa Clara County resident, challenging the city, its police (read more)

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By SAF Admin on July 23, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA This weeks announcement by the Obama administration that new citizens can recite the Oath of Allegiance without declaring they will bear arms on behalf of the United States is another subtle swipe at the right to keep and bear (read more)

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By SAF Admin on July 20, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA The Second Amendment Foundation today responded to published reports that the Obama administration is pushing to prevent citizens collecting Social Security benefits from owning guns if they have problems managing their own affairs (read more)

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By SAF Admin on July 9, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA Criminal charges have been dropped against a Nebraska man whose expensive firearms collection was seized in a case involving a misdemeanor conviction some years ago for carrying a knife that was an eighth-inch too long, and the (read more)

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By SAF Admin on July 7, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA The Second Amendment Foundation has named Andrew Gottlieb as its new director of Outreach and Development, representing the second generation of family activism in promoting and defending the right to keep and bear arms.

Gottlieb (read more)

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By SAF Admin on June 24, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA The Second Amendment Foundation is encouraged that a federal appeals court has ruled 2-1 that Stephen Dearths challenge of a federal law that prevents citizens living abroad from buying firearms while visiting in the United States (read more)

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By SAF Admin on June 23, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA The auction of an 1849 Colt Baby Dragoon revolver that once belonged to the late James Brady will help the Second Amendment Foundation battle restrictive gun laws and educate the public about the right to keep and bear arms.

A (read more)

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Second Amendment | United States Constitution |

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Sep 022015

Second Amendment,Second AmendmentNARAamendment to the Constitution of the United States, adopted in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights, that provided a constitutional check on congressional power under Article I Section 8 to organize, arm, and discipline the federal militia. The Second Amendment reads, 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. Referred to in modern times as an individuals right to carry and use arms for self-defense, the Second Amendment was envisioned by the framers of the Constitution, according to College of William and Mary law professor and future U.S. District Court judge St. George Tucker in 1803 in his great work Blackstones Commentaries: With Notes of Reference to the Constitution and Laws of the Federal Government of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Virginia, as the true palladium of liberty. In addition to checking federal power, the Second Amendment also provided state governments with what Luther Martin (1744/481826) described as the last coup de grace that would enable the states to thwart and oppose the general government. Last, it enshrined the ancient Florentine and Roman constitutional principle of civil and military virtue by making every citizen a soldier and every soldier a citizen. (See also gun control.)

Until 2008 the Supreme Court of the United States had never seriously considered the constitutional scope of the Second Amendment. In its first hearing on the subject, in Presser v. Illinois (1886), the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment prevented the states from prohibit[ing] the people from keeping and bearing arms, so as to deprive the United States of their rightful resource for maintaining the public security. More than four decades later, in United States v. Schwimmer (1929), the Supreme Court cited the Second Amendment as enshrining that the duty of individuals to defend our government against all enemies whenever necessity arises is a fundamental principle of the Constitution and holding that the common defense was one of the purposes for which the people ordained and established the Constitution. Meanwhile, in United States v. Miller (1939), in a prosecution under the National Firearms Act (1934), the Supreme Court avoided addressing the constitutional scope of the Second Amendment by merely holding that the possession or use of a shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length was not any part of the ordinary military equipment protected by the Second Amendment.

For more than seven decades after the United States v. Miller decision, what right to bear arms that the Second Amendment protected remained uncertain. This uncertainty was ended, however, in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), in which the Supreme Court examined the Second Amendment in exacting detail. In a narrow 54 majority, delivered by Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court held that self-defense was the central component of the amendment and that the District of Columbias prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense to be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court also affirmed previous rulings that the Second Amendment ensured the right of individuals to take part in the defending of their liberties by taking up arms in an organized militia. However, the court was clear to emphasize that an individuals right to an organized militia is not the sole institutional beneficiary of the Second Amendments guarantee.

Because the Heller ruling constrained only federal regulations against the right of armed self-defense in the home, it was unclear whether the court would hold that the Second Amendment guarantees established in Heller were equally applicable to the states. The Supreme Court answered this question in 2010, with its ruling on McDonald v. Chicago. In a plurality opinion, a 54 majority held that the Heller right to possess a handgun in the home for the purpose of self-defense is applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendments due process clause.

However, despite the use of person in the Fourteenth Amendments due process clause, the McDonald plurality opinion did not extend to noncitizens. Clarence Thomass fifth and decisive vote only extended the Second Amendment right recognized in Heller to citizens. Thomas wrote, Because this case does not involve a claim brought by a noncitizen, I express no view on the difference, if any, between my conclusion and the plurality with respect to the extent to which States may regulate firearm possession by noncitizens. Thomas further came to this conclusion because he thought the Second Amendment should be incorporated through the Fourteenth Amendments privileges or immunities clause, which only recognizes the rights of citizens.

The relatively narrow holdings in the McDonald and Heller decisions left many Second Amendment legal issues unsettled, including the constitutionality of many federal gun-control regulations, whether the right to carry or conceal a weapon in public was protected, and whether noncitizens are protected through the equal protection clause.

The origins of the Second Amendment can be traced to ancient Roman and Florentine times, but its English origins developed in the late 16th century when Queen Elizabeth I instituted a national militia where individuals of all classes were required by law to take part in defending the realm. Although Elizabeths attempt to establish a national militia failed miserably, the ideology of the militia would be used as a political tool up to the mid-18th century. The political debate over the establishment and control of the militia was a contributing factor in both the English Civil Wars (164251) and the Glorious Revolution (168889).

Despite recognition in the early 21st century by the Supreme Court that the Second Amendment protected armed individual self-defense in the home, many constitutional historians disagreed with the court that the Second Amendment protected anything but the right to participate in a militia force as the means of defending their liberties. For over two centuries there was a consensus that the Second Amendment protected only the right of individuals to keep and bear Arms in order to take part in defending their liberties as a militia force. However, by the late 20th century the popular consensus had shifted, many believing that the Second Amendment was framed to protect armed self-defense in the home.

In England, following the Glorious Revolution, the Second Amendments predecessor was codified in the British Bill of Rights in 1689, under its Article VII, which proclaimed that the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law. Often misinterpreted as a right to defend ones person, home, or property, the allowance to have arms ensured that Parliament could exercise its sovereign right of self-preservation against a tyrannical crown by arming qualified Protestants as a militia.

The framers of the U.S. Constitution undoubtedly had in mind the English allowance to have arms when drafting the Second Amendment. The constitutional significance of a well regulated Militia is well documented in English and American history from the late 17th century through the American Revolution; it was included in the Articles of Confederation (1781), the countrys first constitution, and was even noted at the Constitutional Convention that drafted the new U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787. The right to keep and bear Arms was thus included as a means to accomplish the objective of a well regulated Militiato provide for the defense of the nation, to provide a well-trained and disciplined force to check federal tyranny, and to bring constitutional balance by distributing the power of the sword equally among the people, the states, and the federal government.

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7th Circuit Court: Illegal Immigrants Have Second …

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Aug 292015

In a wordillegal immigrants have Second Amendment rights too.

The case was titled United States v. Meza-Rodriguez, and the decision was handed down on August 20.

The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports that the decision was written by Judge Diane Wood for a panel that included Judges Frank Easterbrook and Joel Flaum.

As for the background to the case, Wood explained that Mariano Meza-Rodriguez, a citizen of Mexico, was arrested in August 2013 [and found to be] carrying a .22 caliber cartridge. Because he did not have documentation to show that he was in the United States lawfully, he was charged as being in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5), which forbids illegal immigrants from possessing firearms in the United States.

Meza-Rodriquez was indicted. He then challenged the indictment by claiming 922(g)(5) impermissibly infringed on his rights under the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin rejected Meza-Rodriquezs claim, thereby upholding the indictment. He appealed the District Courts decision, thus bringing the case to the 7th Circuit.

In working through the case, Wood indicated that certain aspects of the language inDistrict of Columbia v. Heller (2008) support the view that all people, including non-U.S. citizens, whether or not they are authorized to be in the country, enjoy at least some rights under the Second Amendment.

She elaborated:

In a post-Heller world, where it is now clear that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is no second-class entitlement, we see no principled way to carve out the Second Amendment and say that the unauthorized (or maybe all noncitizens) are excluded.No language in the Amendment supports such a conclusion, nor, as we have said, does a broader consideration of the Bill of Rights.

Yet the 7th Circuit upheld the District Courts rulingwhich upheld Meza-Rodriguezs indictmenton the grounds that the Second Amendment does not preclude certain restrictions on the right to bear arms, including the one imposed by 922(g)(5).

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7th Circuit Court: Illegal Immigrants Have Second …

Court Rules Illegal Aliens Have Second Amendment Rights …

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Aug 272015

A recent decision by theU.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that says illegalalienswhat the left likes to call undocumented immigrantsenjoy a Second Amendment right to bear arms, even if their presence in this nation is criminal.

In the case of a Milwaukee man deported over a single .22 caliber cartridge, a federal appeals court ruled last week that even unlawful immigrants can be part of the public that enjoys a Second Amendment right to keep a gun for self defense.

The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeas said even undocumented immigrants can be part of the people protected by the Bill of Rights, though it upheld the mans conviction on a specific law that prohibits most such persons from having guns.

It is now clear that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is no second-class entitlement, (and) we see no principled way to carve out the Second Amendment and say that the unauthorized (or maybe all noncitizens) are excluded, Judge Diane Wood wrote for a panel that included judges Richard Easterbrook and Joel Flaum.

No language in the Amendment supports such a conclusion, nor, as we have said, does a broader consideration of the Bill of Rights.

Because four other federal circuit courts have come to the opposite conclusion, legal commentators were quick to suggest the issue of whether undocumented immigrants have Second Amendment rights could now be headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

While rejecting the idea that undocumented immigrants could never have any rights under the Second Amendment, Wood noted that even for citizens, those rights are not unlimited. She found that a federal law tailored to keep guns out of the hands of undocumented immigrants like gun restrictions imposed on felons and those convicted of domestic violence was constitutional, and upheld the conviction on those grounds.

My basic, over-riding belief on the Second Amendment is that any case involving the right to keep and bear arms should be held to the legal standard of strict scrutiny, and that all law-abiding citizens and legal resident aliens should have the right to keep and bear arms.

This case, however, is stating that criminals who arent citizens nor legal resident aliens have Second Amendment rights and Im having a hard problem with that. Im apparently not alone, as the Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Circuit court arent buying the argument, either. The split among the courts suggests that the basic issue will head to the U.S. Supreme court at some point.

Something that makes me even more leery about this case is that the progressives at Think Progress gleefully predict that if the Seventh Circuits views hold, they could use it to win even more rights for illegal aliens. In specific, theyre hoping these illegals will get expanded First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment protections if United States vs. Meza-Rodriguez holds. Put another way, theyre hoping this Second Amendment case will turn into an anchor baby that makes it more difficult to send criminal aliens back home.

Call me a butter if you want, but I dont think for a second that the Founding Fathers would support the concept of granting criminal invaders the same legal status as legal immigrants, legal resident aliens, and citizens. Lets hope that when this case makes it to the Supreme Court that the justices with the Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth circuit courts.

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The five extra words that can fix the Second Amendment …

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Aug 132015

By John Paul Stevens April 11, 2014

Following the massacre of grammar-school children in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012, high-powered weapons have been used to kill innocent victims in more senseless public incidents. Those killings, however, are only a fragment of the total harm caused by the misuse of firearms. Each year, more than 30,000 people die in the United States in firearm-related incidents. Many of those deaths involve handguns.

The adoption of rules that will lessen the number of those incidents should be a matter of primary concern to both federal and state legislators. Legislatures are in a far better position than judges to assess the wisdom of such rules and to evaluate the costs and benefits that rule changes can be expected to produce. It is those legislators, rather than federal judges, who should make the decisions that will determine what kinds of firearms should be available to private citizens, and when and how they may be used. Constitutional provisions that curtail the legislative power to govern in this area unquestionably do more harm than good.

The first 10 amendments to the Constitution placed limits on the powers of the new federal government. Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of the Second Amendment, which provides that 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.

For more than 200 years following the adoption of that amendment, federal judges uniformly understood that the right protected by that text was limited in two ways: First, it applied only to keeping and bearing arms for military purposes, and second, while it limited the power of the federal government, it did not impose any limit whatsoever on the power of states or local governments to regulate the ownership or use of firearms. Thus, in United States v. Miller, decided in 1939, the court unanimously held that Congress could prohibit the possession of a sawed-off shotgun because that sort of weapon had no reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated Militia.

When I joined the court in 1975, that holding was generally understood as limiting the scope of the Second Amendment to uses of arms that were related to military activities. During the years when Warren Burger was chief justice, from 1969 to 1986, no judge or justice expressed any doubt about the limited coverage of the amendment, and I cannot recall any judge suggesting that the amendment might place any limit on state authority to do anything.

Organizations such as the National Rifle Association disagreed with that position and mounted a vigorous campaign claiming that federal regulation of the use of firearms severely curtailed Americans Second Amendment rights. Five years after his retirement, during a 1991 appearance on The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, Burger himself remarked that the Second Amendment has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.

In recent years two profoundly important changes in the law have occurred. In 2008, by a vote of 5 to 4, the Supreme Court decided in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects a civilians right to keep a handgun in his home for purposes of self-defense. And in 2010, by another vote of 5 to 4, the court decided in McDonald v. Chicago that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment limits the power of the city of Chicago to outlaw the possession of handguns by private citizens. I dissented in both of those cases and remain convinced that both decisions misinterpreted the law and were profoundly unwise. Public policies concerning gun control should be decided by the voters elected representatives, not by federal judges.

In my dissent in the McDonald case, I pointed out that the courts decision was unique in the extent to which the court had exacted a heavy toll in terms of state sovereignty. . . . Even apart from the States long history of firearms regulation and its location at the core of their police powers, this is a quintessential area in which federalism ought to be allowed to flourish without this Courts meddling. Whether or not we can assert a plausible constitutional basis for intervening, there are powerful reasons why we should not do so.

Across the Nation, States and localities vary significantly in the patterns and problems of gun violence they face, as well as in the traditions and cultures of lawful gun use. . . . The city of Chicago, for example, faces a pressing challenge in combating criminal street gangs. Most rural areas do not.

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Second Amendment March

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Aug 102015

Second Amendment March was founded in 2009 for the purpose of organizing a nationwide pro-Second Amendment Rally in Washington, D.C. The original event took place in 2010.Since that event we have focused on Michigan events, working in conjunction with Michigan’s largest gun rights organizations.

What:A peaceful gatheringto demonstrate the political strength of Michigan’s legal gun owners and Second Amendment advocates

When:Wednesday, April 29 2015 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Where:Lansing State Capitol lawn

The Details:

Michigan’s Second Amendment March will be held on Wednesday, April 29th at Michigan’s Capitol.The event will begin at 10:00 a.m. on the Capitol lawn. Unlike previous years, the actual march part of the event will be around the Capitol Building and it will be midway through the event. Legislature is in session that day. We’ll be showing them the political strength of Michigan’s legal gun owners. The march is being organized by Skip Coryell’s Second Amendment March and jointly promoted and funded by the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners, Michigan Open Carry, and Michigan Gun Owners. Please visit our Facebook event page for the most updated information.

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Second Amendment March

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So You Think You Know the Second Amendment? – The New Yorker

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Jul 222015

Does the Second Amendment prevent Congress from passing gun-control laws? The question, which is suddenly pressing, in light of the reaction to the school massacre in Newtown, is rooted in politics as much as law.

For more than a hundred years, the answer was clear, even if the words of the amendment itself were not. The text of the amendment is divided into two clauses and is, as a whole, ungrammatical: 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 courts had found that the first part, the militia clause, trumped the second part, the bear arms clause. In other words, according to the Supreme Court, and the lower courts as well, the amendment conferred on state militias a right to bear armsbut did not give individuals a right to own or carry a weapon.

Enter the modern National Rifle Association. Before the nineteen-seventies, the N.R.A. had been devoted mostly to non-political issues, like gun safety. But a coup dtat at the groups annual convention in 1977 brought a group of committed political conservatives to poweras part of the leading edge of the new, more rightward-leaning Republican Party. (Jill Lepore recounted this history in a recent piece for The New Yorker.) The new group pushed for a novel interpretation of the Second Amendment, one that gave individuals, not just militias, the right to bear arms. It was an uphill struggle. At first, their views were widely scorned. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, who was no liberal, mocked the individual-rights theory of the amendment as a fraud.

But the N.R.A. kept pushingand theres a lesson here. Conservatives often embrace originalism, the idea that the meaning of the Constitution was fixed when it was ratified, in 1787. They mock the so-called liberal idea of a living constitution, whose meaning changes with the values of the country at large. But there is no better example of the living Constitution than the conservative re-casting of the Second Amendment in the last few decades of the twentieth century. (Reva Siegel, of Yale Law School, elaborates on this point in a brilliant article.)

The re-interpretation of the Second Amendment was an elaborate and brilliantly executed political operation, inside and outside of government. Ronald Reagans election in 1980 brought a gun-rights enthusiast to the White House. At the same time, Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican, became chairman of an important subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he commissioned a report that claimed to find clearand long lostproof that the second amendment to our Constitution was intended as an individual right of the American citizen to keep and carry arms in a peaceful manner, for protection of himself, his family, and his freedoms. The N.R.A. began commissioning academic studies aimed at proving the same conclusion. An outr constitutional theory, rejected even by the establishment of the Republican Party, evolved, through brute political force, into the conservative conventional wisdom.

And so, eventually, this theory became the law of the land. In District of Columbia v. Heller, decided in 2008, the Supreme Court embraced the individual-rights view of the Second Amendment. It was a triumph above all for Justice Antonin Scalia, the author of the opinion, but it required him to craft a thoroughly political compromise. In the eighteenth century, militias were proto-military operations, and their members had to obtain the best military hardware of the day. But Scalia could not create, in the twenty-first century, an individual right to contemporary military weaponslike tanks and Stinger missiles. In light of this, Scalia conjured a rule that said D.C. could not ban handguns because handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid.

So the government cannot ban handguns, but it can ban other weaponslike, say, an assault rifleor so it appears. The full meaning of the courts Heller opinion is still up for grabs. But it is clear that the scope of the Second Amendment will be determined as much by politics as by the law. The courts will respond to public pressureas they did by moving to the right on gun control in the last thirty years. And if legislators, responding to their constituents, sense a mandate for new restrictions on guns, the courts will find a way to uphold them. The battle over gun control is not just one of individual votes in Congress, but of a continuing clash of ideas, backed by political power. In other words, the law of the Second Amendment is not settled; no law, not even the Constitution, ever is.

Photograph by Mario Tama/Getty.

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So You Think You Know the Second Amendment? – The New Yorker

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