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Second Amendment and the Right to Bear Arms

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What Does the Second Amendment Say?

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says: "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."

How Has the Supreme Court Interpreted the Second Amendment?

The Supreme Court has not rendered many decisions about the meaning of the Second Amendment. In 1876, the Court ruled that the Second Amendment only applies to limit the federal government. This means that the rights that are granted by the Second Amendment can be limited by state governments.

In 1939, the Court held that the "obvious purpose of the Second Amendment was to protect the continuation and effectiveness of state militia organizations. This decision, therefore, struck down the idea that there is an individual right to bear arms that is separate from the promotion of state militias.

Although the Court has not recently ruled directly on the scope of the Second Amendment, it has heard many challenges to federal and state gun control laws. The Court has never struck down a law limiting possession of guns based on the "right to bear arms" in the Second Amendment.

Is there an Individual Right to Bear Arms?

Although there is no individual right to bear arms under the Second Amendment of the federal constitution, many states have created an individual right to bear arms in their state constitutions. Currently all states but six(California, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York)have a constitutional right to bear arms.

Do I Need a Criminal Defense Attorney?

If you have been charged with illegal gun possession or another state or federal firearms violation, speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. There are many defenses and rights available to assist in your case, and a criminal defense attorney will guide you through the complicated legal process.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 05-04-2012 01:22 PM PDT

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