What are US gun laws?
What is the Second Amendment?
The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: ‘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.’
Under this ‘individual right theory,’ the United States Constitution restricts legislative bodies from preventing firearm possession, or at the very least, the Amendment renders prohibitory and restrictive regulation presumptively unconstitutional.
On the other hand, some scholars highlight the prefatory language of ‘a well regulated Militia’ to argue that the Framers intended only to restrict Congress from legislating away a state’s right to self-defense. Scholars call this theory ‘the collective rights theory’.
A collective rights theory of the Second Amendment asserts that citizens do not have an individual right to possess guns and that local, state, and federal legislative bodies therefore have the authority to regulate firearms without implicating a constitutional right.
Historical surveys of the Second Amendment often trace its roots, at least in part, through the English Bill of Rights of 1689, which declared that subjects, which are protestants, may have arms for their defence suitable to their condition, and as allowed by law.
That provision arose from friction over the English Crown’s efforts to use loyal militias to control and disarm dissidents and enhance the Crown’s standing army, among other things, prior to the Glorious Revolution that supplanted King James II in favor of William and Mary.
The early American experience with militias and military authority would inform what would become the Second Amendment as well.
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