Do You Know Your Second Amendment Rights?

The Second Amendment is an addition to the Constitution of the U.S which protects the right of ordinary people to bear arms. The amendment was adopted in 1791, on December 15th, and is a part of the Bill of Rights.

Under the amendment, state and local governments must follow the same rules as the federal government, in other words, not infringing upon this right. The intention of the Second Amendment comes from the English common-law right to keep and bear arms. This purpose was described by Sir William Blackstone as an auxiliary right, and it existed to empower people for self-defence, their civic duty to defend the state, and their ability to resist oppression.

The Second Amendment has been inspected and reviewed on many occasions since it was made, and even in recent years. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that the amendment does indeed protect the right of an individual to possess and carry a firearm. In 2010, the McDonald vs. Chicago case led to the Supreme Court clarifying its decisions to limit the impact of the amendment to a restriction on the federal government. They made it clear that, in their view, the Fourteenth Amendment means that the Second Amendment will apply to both state and local governments. 

There are still questions about the meaning of certain statements, however, and debate about what constitutes a ‘well-regulated militia’. The capitalisation and punctuation differences in the text and the differences between the draft and the ratified copies are something that is the subject of much debate. How important are those differences, and what did the people who signed the amendment think they were signing? Even small changes to punctuation can make a big difference to how the law could be interpreted now, hundreds of years later.