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(1) The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Pp. 2–53.
(a) The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms. Pp. 2–22.
(b) The prefatory clause comports with the Court’s interpretation of the operative clause. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved. Pp. 22–28.
(c) The Court’s interpretation is confirmed by analogous arms-bearing rights in state constitutions that preceded and immediately followed the Second Amendment. Pp. 28–30.
(d) The Second Amendment’s drafting history, while of dubious interpretive worth, reveals three state Second Amendment proposals that unequivocally referred to an individual right to bear arms. Pp. 30–32.
(e) Interpretation of the Second Amendment by scholars, courts and legislators, from immediately after its ratification through the late 19th century also supports the Court’s conclusion. Pp. 32–47.
(f) None of the Court’s precedents forecloses the Court’s interpretation. Neither United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542 , nor Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252 , refutes the individual-rights interpretation. United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174 , does not limit the right to keep and bear arms to militia purposes, but rather limits the type of weapon to which the right applies to those used by the militia, i.e., those in common use for lawful purposes.
2) Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. Pp. 54–56
Why do you think the Obama administration scares you more?
People are foaming at the mouth scared to death that Obama is going to ban guns and come door to door somehow and seize them. We read the hysteria daily here on ATS and elsewhere online. Well the truth is Obama is the complete opposite…
The government is not coming for your guns. Neither are the leftists, the peaceniks, the socialists, no one.
reply to post by mwood
So, you believe that the 2nd provides a carte blanche license to any and all Americans to own and carry any firearm anywhere they want, any time they want?
And no registration, licensing, permits, or restrictions on prior criminal record, or mental capacity, or ... any measure have any effect?
"Shall not infringe" means government has nothing to say about firearms?
reply to post by macman
Just an FYI, the private ownership of cannons was not excluded by the US at the time the Constitution was ratified, nor afterwards.
I am one of those oddballs who believe the Constitution should be interpreted as written, and when it is left behind by technology or society then it should be changed via the mechanism provided. Not merely "interpreted". The living document philosophy leaves much to be desired, IMO, since it's interpretation is soooo subjective.
"Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion" is the basis for every decision regarding the separation of state and church. I firmly support the separation as absolutely necessary, but that is not what the constitution states. Ergo...it is simply a matter of who interprets the clause and when. This is wrong, IMO