Understanding the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Recent high mass shooting incidents have reignited the national discussion over the 2nd Amendment once again. Gun ownership and firearm homicide rates are significantly higher in the U.S.than in any other industrialized country, but surprisingly, gun violence has declined over recent years even while overall gun ownership may still be growing. The reason for this is that in many states, concealed carry is now a legal option for firearm owners, thus rendering guns much more readily accessible to minors. While some may view this as a benefit rather than a problem, some wish to retain the Second Amendment as a means of self-defense, and there is no reason to deny people this right.
the United States constitutional amendment was added to the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights contained a guarantee of rights against “unjust seizures and cruel and unusual punishment.” Among those protections is the right to keep and bear arms, which is the right that is protected in today’s amendment.
Some would argue
that the amendment was written to limit those rights of individual citizens in mind. They would like to see the Second Amendment expanded to include all citizens, rather than just the ones that are enumerated in the first half of the amendment. Others would prefer to see the amendment restricted to law-abiding citizens, rather than everyone except those in the armed forces, the police, and national guards. Still, others would like to see no limitations on the rights at all. Regardless of one’s position on the matter, it is important to understand why the amendment was included in the Bill of Rights.
The First Amendment,
as interpreted by the Supreme Court, protects speech and press from undue government regulation. It does not, however, protect against libel or slander. For the First Amendment to have any protection, it must be understood to protect the rights of the people as a whole, rather than a particular segment of the population such as the press or political figures. It does allow the press to publish falsehoods and rumors, but it does not guarantee them the right to publish anything. The right to free speech applies to everyone, even to those who are considered to be unlawful aliens. This means that if someone is arrested for vagrancy or loitering, they can still legally defend themselves in court and fight for their right to stay in the country.
The Second Amendment
also protects the right to keep and bear arms, but only up to a point. It does not guarantee a right to carry a gun all the time, but it does prevent the government from banning it. Citizens are allowed to keep a concealed weapon in their home for self-defense, but they must have an adult over 18 years of age carry it with them at all times. In other words, children cannot be granted a firearm, because of the safety risks associated with them.
The rights guaranteed by
the second amendment is limited, however. Citizens are not allowed to carry guns unless they have a license, and they are not allowed to carry firearms if they are “unlawfully discharged” from a police station, prison, or mental hospital. They are not, however, allowed to commit crimes of violence with a gun, or possess weapons in places where they have a right to be protected such as school zones, open-air firing ranges, public parks, and other areas with firearms. People who have been convicted of a felony may not own a gun, nor may people who are on the National Sex Offender Registry.