The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is the amendment that guarantees the right of everyone to bear arms. In summary, this means that in general owning a gun is not a crime. Although the Second Amendment was passed as a part of the Bill of Rights over 200 years ago on December 15, 1791, the meaning of the right to bear arms is still a controversial topic today, with various gun control laws on the books that can have criminal implications when violated.
The original wording of the Second Amendment is as follows:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
The original intent of the Second Amendment was to help ensure the average American citizen could own firearms in order to defend themselves, protect against insurrection, and stave off possible tyranny from the government itself.
In the latter half of the 20th century and continuing into recent years, the right to bear arms has been a controversial topic, as it was possible to interpret the wording of the Second Amendment in several different ways that might allow for a certain amount of gun control. These interpretations related to possible gun control include the following:
- That the government had the right to arm a military force, not that individuals had the right to bear arms
- That individuals could bear arms but only when they were part of a military force
- That individuals could bear arms as part of a personal right
As a result of these different interpretations, the District of Columbia among other locations had enacted gun control laws that restricted the right of residents to own handguns.
Supreme Court Rulings
The Supreme Court of the United States has issued two rulings in recent years related to the Second Amendment to clarify the meaning of the Second Amendment.
In 2008, in the District of Columbia vs. Heller, the Supreme Court ruled that people have the right to own and posses firearms on certain federal lands even if those people are not presently serving in the militia, so long as they use those firearms for a lawful purpose. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in McDonald vs. Chicago that the previous decision reached in District of Columbia vs. Heller applies to the states as well.
As a result of these rulings, the District of Columbia gun control law that restricted gun rights was struck down as unconstitutional. In general, these rulings severally limited the ability of states and the federal government to create laws related to gun control.
While the recent rulings by the Supreme Court have upheld the right to bear arms, there are still various gun control laws in effect. These gun control laws include that a person convicted of a felony cannot own a firearm, that when firearms are carried in public they must generally be concealed, that certain types of firearms and explosives are considered too dangerous to be owned by the average citizen, and that businesses have the right to limit who can carry a firearm on their premises.
Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of or arrested for violation of a gun control law, you should immediately seek the help of a criminal defense attorney. A criminal defense attorney can help make sure your right to bear arms as provided by the Second Amendment is not being violated and that you receive the best defense available against whatever crimes you are accused of.
- Castle Law and Defending Your Home (criminaldefensehome.com)
- Gun Control Laws (criminaldefensehome.com)
- Concealed Carry and Crime (criminaldefensehome.com)
- Gun Sales and The Brady Law (criminaldefensehome.com)