The Right to Bear Arms

"Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence - from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable - the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good." -- George Washington

 

OVERVIEW

 

For most of our Nation's history, the Second Amendment was clearly understood to mean one thing: it preserved our individual right to keep and bear arms. The language of the Constitution, the historical evidence, and legislative history all point to solemn affirmance of this sacred right. Unfortunately, recent decades have seen a widespread assault on the right to bear arms. Those who push for "gun control" ultimately seek to disarm the civilian population for the sake of establishing a tyrannical State.

 

The fundamental  purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure the natural right of self-defense. Not only from criminal predators; but also from an outlaw government. As Thomas Jefferson once said, "What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms."

 

CURRENT LEGAL POSITION / STATUS ON GUN RIGHTS

 

Several recent landmark Supreme Court decisions were Second Amendment victories. In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that forbade nearly all civilians from possessing a handgun in Washington, D.C. In 2010, in McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Court struck down a similar law in Illinois. However, their specifically and only invalidated bans on people possessing handguns in their homes. There still exists a non-exclusive list of “presumptively lawful” regulations that include:

  • Bans on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill;
  • Bans on carrying firearms in “sensitive places such as schools and government buildings”; 
  • Laws restricting the commercial sale of arms;
  • Bans on the concealed carry of firearms; and
  • Bans on weapons “not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.”

 

In the above decisions, the Supreme Court did not address a lot of other regulations, such as bans on carrying weapons in public and bans on the possession of firearms by violent misdemeanants. Consequently, the federal appellate courts have put together a rough set of approaches: 

  1. Some “long-standing” regulations -- that is, laws that have been in effect for awhile -- are not presumed to violate the Second Amendment. For example, in D.C. gun owners are still required to register each of their weapons with the government.
  2. The courts really scrutinize any regulation that substantially restricts the fundamental right of self-defense. To pass a court's review, the government must have an extremely compelling purpose for the regulation. For example, the Seventh Circuit found that the City of Chicago had absolutely no justification for banning firing ranges. Ezell v. City of Chicago (2011).
  3. With regulations that do not substantially restrict the right to self-defense, courts are not as strict. Still, the government has to show that its regulation be substantially related to an important government objective. For example, a federal appeals court found that a ban on possessing a handgun with a destroyed serial number did not violate the Second Amendment. United States v. Marzzarella (2010).
Not All American's Have the Right to Bear Arms
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