The scope of the Second Amendment has been one of the most hotly contested constitutional issues for a long time in the United States. While the Supreme Court continues to rule that the Second Amendment protects the rights of citizens to bear arms, it also has clearly stated that the amendment isn’t necessarily unlimited. The highest court our country continues to uphold most, but not all, federal, state, and local gun control laws.
The Root Of The Argument Over The Second Amendment
The root of the argument over the Second Amendment stems from its language, primarily at its beginning. The amendment states 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.”
Many courts and scholars interpreted the Second Amendment as preserving states’ authority to keep militias, and these militias have the right to have firearms. However, in 2008, the Supreme Court opted for a broader interpretation of the amendment’s language, finding that it gives individuals a right to have arms, with no connection to a militia needed. With this finding, the court considered bearing arms as a means of self-defense a constitutional right.
The Second Amendment Is Not Unlimited
While the Second Amendment grants U.S. citizens the right to keep and carry firearms, it does not do so under what so ever manner and for whatever purposes. The court has found that reasonable gun regulations don’t violate the Second Amendment and have singled out some circumstances under which this fact may be true. For instance, prohibitions exist on guns considered to be “dangerous and unusual weapons”, limits on where guns can be carried, and restrictions on who may purchase firearms.
Both Federal And State Laws Regulate Who Can Carry Firearms Legally
Both Federal and State laws regulate gun possession. Federal law outlaws possession of a firearm by convicted felons, people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, people who have a restraining order, undocumented immigrants, illegal drug users, and those dishonorably discharged by the military.
States tend to further restrict gun possession and carry laws by prohibiting or restricting gun possession by minors, juvenile offenders, and people convicted of an alcohol or drug-related crimes. States also set parameters on open carry restrictions such as carrying guns across certain state lines, where open carry is permissible, and the protocols for gun owners to follow if the firearm is discharged.
What is most important for gun owners to remember about the Second Amendment is that its power is not only limited, further limitations could be placed on the freedom to bear arms by the U.S. Supreme Court and state and federal legislatures.