The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

The US Constitution is widely considered one of the premier legal documents of our time, and surely the number one most important document in the eyes of most American citizens. The most heralded part of this charter is the portion containing the first ten amendments, which we refer to as the Bill of Rights. Our founders explained the purpose of the Bill of Rights in their Preamble to the charter which states:

“THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”

It is clear by this statement that the intent of these amendments was to secure the right of life and liberty to the citizens for which this document was designed to protect. And upon deeper investigation into the history of the second amendment, it becomes quite clear that it holds status as a major individual right of American citizens. The actual text of the Second Amendment is really quite short and to the point, as you can see:

"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." (Second Amendment to the Constitution.)

Although there has been extensive and ongoing debate over the validity, and even necessity, of the Second Amendment, the US Supreme Court found in favor of the Second Amendment in two recent landmark cases. First, in 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller, the high court held that the Second Amendment did “protect an individual's right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes in federal enclaves, such as self-defense within the home.”

The decision did not, however, address the question of whether the Second Amendment extends beyond federal enclaves to the states. Then, in 2010, during McDonald v. Chicago, the court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, regardless of whether the person resides in a federal enclave or not.