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Second Amendment/Gun Rights

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Second Amendment/Gun Rights

“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.” That is what the Second Amendment of the United State Constitution says.

As part of the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment allows US citizens to bear and keep firearms as a constitutional right. However, some states may have different gun laws than others.

Are these laws infringing on the gun rights stated in the Second Amendment? What are the statistics on gun ownership? These questions and more will be answered in this article.

The Second Amendment and Gun Laws

In 1791, the first 10 amendments of the United States Constitution were adopted into the Bill of Rights. This included the Second Amendment– the right to keep and bear arms. James Madison proposed the Second Amendment to allow the creation of civilian forces counteracting a tyrannical federal government.

However, what does the Second Amendment mean in modern times? Some current Supreme Court rulings can answer this question.

In 2008, the US Supreme Court’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller claimed that the Second Amendment included the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. Two years later, in McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Supreme Court extended the prior ruling from federal to state and local laws. Many consider this a controversial ruling.

As of 2022, three Justices (Clarence Thomas, John G. Roberts, Jr., and Samuel A. Alito, Jr.) voted in favor of District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago.

In the US, citizens can own many types of guns, but assault weapons did not use to be one of them. In 1994, the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act banned the private use of assault weapons like semiautomatic rifles. This federal ban expired a decade later, but some states still prohibit assault weapons.

These laws apply to individuals, but what about militias? Are they considered in modern times? Modern militias exist; they’re known as State Defense Forces (SDFs). SDFs are the only jurisdiction of state or territorial governments; the federal government can’t command them like the National Guard. 23 states and territories have SDFs as of 2010.

Americans and Guns

Guns are popular in the United States, and the Second Amendment is a big reason for this. They are deeply ingrained in American culture and politics. So, what is it about Americans and guns? How many Americans own them?

As of June 2021, 40% of American adults claimed to own a gun, with 30% saying they live with someone who owned one. Guns seem to be more popular among Republicans (44%), Southerners (35%), men (39%), and people living in rural areas (41%).

Some popular reasons for owning a gun are:

  • Personal safety or protection (63%)
  • Hunting (40%)
  • Recreation or sport (11%)
  • Antique or heirloom (6%)
  • Part of work (5%)

Many people cite gun violence as a huge problem– around 48%, to be exact. That sentiment is stronger among black people (82%) than white people (39%). As of April 2021, 53% of people favor stricter gun laws, which is lower than in 2019. However, they’re conflicted on whether further gun control would lead to fewer mass shootings.




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