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Debate: Right to bear arms in the US

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Does the Second Amendment confer an individual right to bear arms?

Background and context:

The Second Amendment 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." The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on March 18th, 2008 in the case District of Columbia vs. Heller, regarding whether to uphold or overturn the District of Columbia's ban on handguns. The basis for overturning the ban would be that it violates a citizen's individual right to bear arms. As such, the Supreme Court asked specifically that the oral arguments heard on March 18th, 2008, address the question of whether there is an individual right to keep and bear arms secured by the Second Amendment, and whether the handgun ban, then, violates this individual right. This goes to the core of the meaning of the Second Amendment.
If the Court was to decide that the Second Amendment does not secure an individual right to bear arms, this would have wide-ranging implications for the future of gun laws in America. Gun rights advocates would lose substantial grounds and government regulation of firearms, including such moves as the banning of whole classes of firearms, would likely increase. The Supreme Court is set to decide in June, 2008. In attempting to answer the question of whether the Second Amendment secures an individual right to "keep and bear arms," we should ask a number of additional questions, of which many relate to historical context. Thus, we may have to look at the Constitution of the United States[1] in relation to another significant document, the American Declaration of Independence[2]. The United States Constitution was passed on September 17, 1787, being preceded by The United States Declaration of Independence, adopted on July 4, 1776 by the original Thirteen Colonies, declaring their independence from Britain. After the Constitution of the United States, on December 15th, 1791, the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the US Constitution [3] appeared. Importantly, James Madison's Bill of Rights comes at a time (since the 1780s) of an ongoing debate between the Federalists[4] and anti-Federalists[5], who were divided over the amount of power between the federal government and state bodies. All of these early documents and their debates continue today with issues such as determining the meaning and relevance of the various amendments, including the Second Amendment. These documents lead us to a series of important and inter-related questions. Does the "militia clause" (the first clause) dominate the purpose of the Second Amendment, indicating that there is only a right to "keep and bear arms" in the context of forming a militia? And, if there is a "right to keep and bear arms" for the purpose of forming a militia, would that right be an individual right or only a collective one (a right of the militia)? Do collective rights exist? Does "the people," in the text of the Second Amendment, indicate that the Second Amendment is referring to an individual or a collective right? Is it possible that both an individual and a collective-militia right exist? Can the first and second clauses of the Second Amendment be read somewhat independently? What does the Second Amendment mean by militia? Is the militia an independent organization of armed civilians, or is it a state-run organization such as the National Guard? Is the militia even an applicable concept in modern America, or was the militia only appropriate for the Revolutionary period in American history? How do we interpret "being necessary to the security of a fee State"? Was the militia intended to be an entity that would be a check against government tyranny, or an entity that would help preserve national security? If the intention was to check government tyranny, is there an explanation as to why it was not more explicitly stated in the Second Amendment? If the militia was to be a check on government tyranny, does this necessitate that the Second Amendment secure an individual and independent right to "keep and bear" arms? Is such an independent, individual right (versus a collective right) necessary to the integrity of the process of forming a civilian militia? Or, would a collective right be adequate to enable a militia to check government tyranny? Did the Second Amendment confer an individual right to "keep and bear" arms for self-defense? Can this be read into the Second Amendment, despite the fact that it is not explicitly stated? Was an individual right to arms for self-defense important in the context of the Revolutionary period? Would it have been unreasonable for the Framers to have deprived citizens of this capacity to protect themselves? And what about hunting? Was this essential at the time of the Constitution to individual survival, making an individual right to arms an obvious need? How do we interpret "keep and bear arms"? Can we interpret "keep" and "bear" separately? Here, again, does "keep" have an individual, personal connotation, or a collective-militia connotation? Does "bear" have an individual connotation or only a militia/military connotation? How do we interpret "shall not be infringed"? Does this indicate an individual right is at play here? Where did the Framers stand on all of these questions? What did they say? What have other relevant individuals said throughout American history? What have the courts ruled?

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Individual vs. collective: Does the 2nd confer an individual or a collective right to arms?

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Yes

  • 2nd amendment guarantees both militia and individual arms rights Oral arguments in DC vs. Heller. Justice Scalia. March l8th, 2008 - "JUSTICE SCALIA: I don't see how there's any, any, any contradiction between reading the second clause as a -- as a personal guarantee and reading the first one as assuring the existence of a militia, not necessarily a State-managed militia because the militia that resisted the British was not State- managed. But why isn't it perfectly plausible, indeed reasonable, to assume that since the framers knew that the way militias were destroyed by tyrants in the past was not by passing a law against militias, but by taking away the people's weapons -- that was the way militias were destroyed. The two clauses go together beautifully: Since we need a militia, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
  • The individual right to arms is an important symbol of individual freedom The right to bear arms has become an important, lasting expression to many American individuals of their individual freedom and liberty. There are few symbols as powerful, particularly as the right to bear arms for the purposes of, potentially, joining a militia and fighting a tyrannical government is such a tangible concept. The rights to free speech and religion are much less tangible, and lack the power and threat of violence as a check on government tyranny. Such a symbolic expression of freedom resonates too deeply with many Americans to be deprived.
  • The individual right to arms is necessary to a well-regulated militia Further, Tucker writes of the English Bill of Rights: "The bill of rights, 1 W. and M, says Mr. Blackstone, (Vol. 1 p. 143), secures to the subjects of England the right of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree. In the construction of these game laws it seems to be held, that no person who is not qualified according to law to kill game, hath any right to keep a gun in his house. Now, as no person, (except the game-keeper of a lord or lady of a manor) is admitted to be qualified to kill game, unless he has 100l. per annum, &c. it follows that no others can keep a gun for their defence; so that the whole nation are completely disarmed, and left at the mercy of the government, under the pretext of preserving the breed of hares and partridges, for the exclusive use of the independent country gentlemen. In America we may reasonably hope that the people will never cease to regard the right of keeping and bearing arms as the surest pledge of their liberty."
  • If 2nd amendment applied only to militias it would be useless today If the Second Amendment applied only to the collective right of the militia, it would be useless, as no militias exist today in America. It is highly unlikely that the Framers designed an amendment that could expire over time. Instead, their intention was to extend rights to individuals in the Constitution that are lasting.
  • The second clause of the 2nd Amendment is broader than the first The 2nd clause of the 2nd Amendment, which relates to the "right of the people to keep and bear arms" (for individual purposes such as self defense), is more important than the first clause, which emphasizes the militia-benefits of a right to bear arms. This interpretation is born out by a historical interpretation of the demands of this past era, in which many individuals owned guns that were not eligible for service in the militia and yet who owned guns and needed to use them for various purposes.
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No

  • 2nd Amendment applies only to the collective right of the militia to bear arms The language of the Second Amendment creates a situation in which the right to bear arms applies only to the militia. The second amendment reads, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The first clause clearly qualifies any right to bear arms as solely for the purpose of maintaining "a well regulated militia" for "the security of a free state".
  • If the 2nd amendment was to protect an individual right it would have clearly expressed it If the intentions of the framers had been to protect an individual right to bear arms, they would have clearly expressed this. Yet, the Second Amendment is not at all clear about an individual right to bear arms. The natural reading of the clause would indicate that the right relates only to the first, qualifying clause that states, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State..." It is a stretch to read into the language an individual right. If this were the case, why wouldn't they simply have explicitly stated that an "individual right to bear arms should not be infringed".
  • An individual right to bear arms cannot be absolute This argument is simply here to remind the reader that no individual right is unfettered and absolute. Reasonable regulations can be placed on an individual right to bear arms. This argument can go both ways in making an individual right to bear arms more moderate, and subsequently more tolerable to both sides in the debate.
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Framers: Did the framers of the Constitution support an individual right?

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Yes

GENERAL CLEMENT: I do, Justice Kennedy, and I think in that regard it is telling that -- I mean, there are a variety of provisions in our Bill of Rights that were borrowed from the English Bill of Rights. Two very principal ones are the right to petition the government and the right to keep and bear arms. I don't think it's an accident."
  • Historically, many US citizens could not serve in the militia but required guns It is unrealistic to believe that the framers of the constitution would, in creating the Second Amendment, limit the right to keep and bear arms to only those US citizens who were eligible for militia service. There were too many US citizens at the time that were not eligible for militia or military service - either because they were too old, too young, or because they were women - whom nevertheless needed to be able to use guns in self-defense against criminals, wildlife, or Indians and/or in order to hunt, eat, and survive.
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No

  • 2nd Amendment rights did not extend to all ethnic groups in terms of initial practice Although the early American documents proclaimed equality for all and a right for all to bear arms, in actuality, this was not the case. Native Americans, African Americans, and other visible minority groups were not given the same rights as those white Americans who immigrated from Europe. Lynchings and other acts of injustice based upon racial difference occurred well into the twentieth century, so it is a misrepresentation of the facts to say every individual had the right to bear arms for self-defense. For much of American history, a large segment of the American population did not even have basic human rights, let alone the right to bear arms.
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Courts: Have the courts ruled that the Second Amendment confers an individual right?

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Yes

  • Court rulings upholding the individual right to bear arms Blizz v. Commonwealth, in 1982, held that "the right of citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State must be preserved entire." Dred Scott v. Sanford (1856) ruling suggested a universal individual right to bear arms, writing "It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognized as citizens in any one State of the Union . . .the full liberty . . .to keep and carry arms wherever they went."
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No

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In US history: What have others said in American history on an individual right to arms?

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Yes

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No

  • The championing of gun rights has a disturbing historical association with fostering inequality through violence. The use of guns and violence is not a necessity, but a symptom of inequality and a culture of resolving conflict through violence. Arms and violence are a disturbing symptom of socio-political power used by a segment of the population (some white male citizens) to subordinate Native Americans and African-Americans, or to sustain class and gender divisions.
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Self-defense: Did the framers intend an individual right to arms for self-defense?

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Yes

  • 2nd Amendment conferred a right to defend against various historical threats. Self-defense was a very likely element of the Framers' thinking behind the second amendment. It conferred the right to bear arms for the sake of defending against wolves and bears. It also conferred the right to bear arms for the sake of defending against Indians. Additionally, concerns regarding crime and insecurity were very high in the uncertain first years of the Union, making it likely that the 2nd amendment was also intended by the framers to confer a right to protect against criminals.
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No

  • The 2nd Amendment does not express a right to bear arms for self-defense The 2nd Amendment does not explicitly refer to a right to bear arms for the purpose of self-defense. It only explicitly refers to a right to bear arms for the purpose of upholding "a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State." The 2nd Amendment should not be read as conferring a right that it does not clearly confer; a right to arms for the purpose of self defense. Inferences are insufficient, particularly as evidence can be gathered regarding the intentions of the framers of the Constitution that could cut both for and against the notion that the 2nd amendment was intended to confer an individual right to bear arms for the purpose of self-defense. Because neither inference can be definitely deemed correct, the Constitution must be taken at its explicit word, which gives no mention to self-defense.
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In modernity: Is the Second Amendment applicable in modern America?

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Yes

  • The individual right to arms is a lasting symbol of individual freedom The right to bear arms has become an important, lasting expression to many American individuals of their individual freedom and liberty. There are few symbols as powerful, particularly as the right to bear arms for the purposes of, potentially, joining a militia and fighting a tyrannical government is such a tangible concept. The rights to free speech and religion are much less tangible, and lack the power and threat of violence as a check on government tyranny. Such a symbolic expression of freedom resonates too deeply with many Americans to be deprived.
  • In modern America, the right to bear arms still helps check government power In the modern day, the importance of checking a tyrannical government remains important and relevant, even if the prospect of a citizen militia overthrowing the United States military is now effectively out of reach. There are numerous ways in which an armed citizen can check government power:
    • An armed citizen can place a check on abusive police power and the emergence of a police state.
    • An armed citizenry can ensure that government thinks twice before violating the rights of citizens, or that it considers the potential for violence and bloodshed to be an intolerable risk in the violation of rights.
    • An armed citizenry empowers citizens to protect themselves, so that a big government doesn't have to.
    • Finally, the right to bear arms is, in itself, an expression of liberty in the face of government power and control. Upholding this symbol is, perhaps, the most important check that the right to bear arms can place on government power, as it symbolically spills into other fields of individual freedom.
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No

  • In today's reality the Second Amendment cannot be applied to civilians The difference in the technology the military now employs versus the personal guns individual civilians can have access to is exponentially greater than in the framer's time. This means that in today's reality the Second Amendment cannot apply to civilians with the purpose of preparing them to be part of the militia at any day or time.The huge technological advances and military training make it impossible for everyday citizens to be part of a defense force like the " militia".
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Militia: Does the 2nd amendment secure an individual right to form an independent militia?

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Yes

  • An individual right to bear arms helps protect against domestic tyranny One of the primary purposes of the Second Amendment of the constitution was to protect against domestic tyranny. The reason for this is based, in large part, in history, but it remains relevant today. At the time of the drafting of the Constitution, one of the greatest fears was that a King-like figure would emerge in American government, or that the government would simply become despotic and tyrannical, like Britain was believed to have become leading up to the Revolutionary war. Hedging against the emergence of a tyranny in America, therefore, was of primary concern. The Second Amendment was designed to ensure that the people were fully empowered with the threat of violence to combat the emergence of a tyrant. This took the form of an individual right to bear arms and to form a militia to combat a tyrannical government.
  • In modern America, the right to bear arms still helps check government power In the modern day, the importance of checking a tyrannical government remains important and relevant, even if the prospect of a citizen militia overthrowing the United States military is now effectively out of reach. There are numerous ways in which an armed citizen can check government power:
    • An armed citizen can place a check on abusive police power and the emergence of a police state.
    • An armed citizenry can ensure that government thinks twice before violating the rights of citizens, or that it considers the potential for violence and bloodshed to be an intolerable risk in the violation of rights.
    • An armed citizenry empowers citizens to protect themselves, so that a big government doesn't have to.
    • Finally, the right to bear arms is, in itself, an expression of liberty in the face of government power and control. Upholding this symbol is, perhaps, the most important check that the right to bear arms can place on government power, as it symbolically spills into other fields of individual freedom.
  • 2nd amendment secures equally the right of the militia and the individual to arms. There is no need to adopt an either/or interpretation of the first and second clauses of the 2nd amendment. Rather, it is valid to consider both to be valid. This means that the right of the militia to exist and the right of the people to bear arms for this purpose is legitimate, and it also means that the right of the people to bear arms in a broader sense (for individual self-defense and so on...) is also legitimate.
  • "A well-regulated militia" can apply to a state-run as well as an independent militia. The National Guard is an example of the militia of Clauses 15 and 16. But, that does not mean that the National Guard was the sole version of the well-regulated militia described by the Second Amendment. Maryland v. United States does state that 'The National Guard is the modern Militia'. Pro-individual gun right advocates argue that an unorganized militia would be an equally 'well-regulated militia'.
  • In order to form a militia, citizens require guns and a right to own them The ability to form a militia is dependent on citizens owning guns and being able to bring them to a militia. If they do not individually own guns (perhaps because they are not offered this individual right), then they are not capable of bringing guns to bear in the formation of a militia. And, it should be acknowledged, that the contingency under consideration is one in which a militia is formed to fight or check a tyrannical government. This means that citizens must be able to form a militia outside of government control, which requires the individual possession of arms.
  • The 2nd amendment protects the ability to form a militia not the ongoing existence of one. Militias are relevant today as a symbol of preventing tyranny. Historically, the militia that resisted the British was a non state managed association of people that were fighting against tyranny. The wording of the second amendment preserves the spirit of that time and therefore the word "militia" can be relevant to nowadays as a symbol of the right of people to fight against tyranny.In this way the spirit of the time is reflected in the letter of the law.
  • If the militia clause is antiquated, than an individual right to arms is all that is left. It is entirely possible that the militia clause can have no modern relevance. One of the justifications for this argument is that it is considered unreasonable for citizens to hold tanks and bazookas, which are the only arms that would enable a militia to legitimately check the power of the United States government and its military. It is, therefore, unreasonable for a militia, in the modern day, to become "well regulated" such that it could achieve the purpose initially set forth by the founders. This line of logic effectively invalidates the militia clause, and leaves the second clause to stand alone, which secures the "right of the people to keep and bear arms". If this second clause is invalidated, then there is nothing left of the Second Amendment that would have any validity in the modern day. As such, the second clause should not be invalidated, and the individual right of the people to keep and bear arms should be upheld.
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No

  • 2nd amendment cannot offer a right to form a militia when Congress can disarm it Congress has the power and authority to disarm a militia. This is necessary to uphold the monopoly on military force in the state and to protect the integrity of the state. It also should be recognized that a militia could take a form that is entirely "inappropriate" and contrary to the interests of the vast majority of the citizenry. Such a militia might claim that the state is acting "tyrannically" because it is acting "democratically", instead of according to the prescripts of God, for instance. 99% of citizens might oppose the existence of this militia. Is the Second Amendment meant to protect the existence of such a militia? No. Congress has the authority to disband it. If Congress has the authority to disband something entirely, then that thing cannot be considered a right in the Constitution.
  • The individual right to form a militia has been eliminated in America In 1903, Theodore Roosevelt passed the Militia Act. This created the National Guard as it exists today, elevating this militia to a fully state-run and regulated militia. At this point, the idea of an independent, citizen-run militia was effectively ended, and replaced by a more advanced, capable, and useful militia. With this state-run militia becoming the only legitimate militia, it became impossible that citizens would have an individual right to bear arms in order to form an independent militia. No such independent militia is allowable in modern America.
  • The US Constitution recognizes the militia only as an organization of the state The Second Amendment is not the only part of the Constitution that speaks of the militia and its place in America. Clauses 15 and 16 of the Constitution are: "To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress." In 1965, in Maryland v. United States, 381 U.S. 41 (1965), the need for a definition of the militia arose when an airliner collided with a National Guard jet. In this ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court wrote, "The National Guard is the modern Militia reserved to the States by Art. I. 8, cl. 15, 16, of the Constitution." The militia is "well regulated" by the state in modern America. There is no longer a right to form an independent militia to combat the state.
  • No US citizens are in a militia and so none have a right to keep and bear arms The purpose of the Second Amendment - being defined by the "militia" clause ("A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State") - is related to the upkeep of the militia. Rights are offered to citizens only in so far as they might enable the upkeep of the militia. Yet, no US citizens are currently in a "well regulated militia". Therefore, there is not present context in which citizens would have the "right to keep and bear arms"; there is no militia in which that context would exist.
  • America's modern military makes the militia unnecessary for national security. The initial intent of the militia was, in large part, to provide for national security. The concern at the time of drafting the constitution was that the federal government and its military would be incapable of providing for national security. The militia was seen, subsequently, as a means to fill the gaps left by a deficient national military. In modern America, however, it is clear that the military is fully capable of providing for the national defense. As such, the militia is no longer needed to fill in the gaps. The national security context in which the Second Amendment was created, therefore, no longer exists. This means both that the Second Amendment may no longer apply in modern America and also that any individual rights that had applied for the purpose of upholding the militia and national security, may no longer exists as well.
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"The people": Does "the people" confer an individual right or a collective right?

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Yes

  • The Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment confer only individual rights, not collective rights. There is no such thing is a collective right to bear arms? How would it be exercised and upheld? Moreover, this notion that the Second Amendment confers only a collective, not an individual right, is entirely contrary to the purpose of the Bill of Rights, which confers only individual rights. Certainly, these individual rights may be shared universally, but they cannot be divided from the individual.
  • Founding Fathers saw a universal right to militia and arms George Mason, the father of the Bill Rights, considered the militia to consist of all of the people, expressing this in Virginia's U.S. Constitution ratification convention on June 16, 1788[4] - "I ask, who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers. But I cannot say who will be the militia of the future day. If that paper on the table gets no alteration, the militia of the future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor..." This expression clearly denotes the militia as something that should not be altered into an exclusive form. In other words, it must be representative of the whole people and preserved as a universal right.
  • The right to keep and bear arms must be an individual right. It is commonplace for people to argue against the individual right concept by separating the two phrases of the Second Amendment so that “the people” can then be interpreted to be some collective group such as a state sponsored and run militia. However, if one reads the Bill of Rights starting with the First Amendment, skips the Second Amendment, and reads the remainder, you will see that all of the rights guaranteed are specifically aimed at preventing abuse of the rights of individuals. It would be quite a stretch to imagine the founding fathers would write a document that starts out defining an individual right to freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly; next defines a right that is only collective to a specific group (the militia) and then reverts back to defining the rights of individuals to not have troops quartered in their homes or be subject to unreasonable search and seizure of property. Therefore it can only be concluded that the right to keep and bear arms is a right secured to the individual citizen.
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No

  • The people" in the Second Amendment refers to a collective right to arms Regarding a meaning of "the People" in another context, the U.S. Supreme Court commented in United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259 (1990)- " "the people" seems to be a term of art used in select parts of the Constitution and contrasts with the words "person" and "accused" used in Articles of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments regulating criminal procedures. This suggests that "the people" refers to a class of persons who are part of a national community or who have otherwise developed sufficient connection with this country to be considered part of that community."[7]
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"Keep": Does "keep" in the 2nd amendment refer to an individual right to "keep"?

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Yes

  • Why would the framers be so misleading as to conflate "keep" with "upkeep"? If we are to read "keep" as meaning "upkeep" or maintain in the 2nd Amendment, we are, to some extent, accusing the framers of being highly misleading. The common meaning of "keep" at the time was not "clean" and "maintain", but possess and store. Why would the framers choose to be so misleading? It seems highly unlikely that they would.
  • If "bear" has a military-connotation, "keep" can still retain an individual meaning. "Keep and bear arms" could mean that the people have both an individual right to keep arms as well as a collective right to bear them. There is no reason to exclude this option, particularly as reference to "the people" is given in the second clause.
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No

  • "Keep" could confer only a collective right to keep and store, not a personal right. It is possible that the intention of the Second Amendment was for communities to collectively "keep" in storage their weapons, but not necessarily for them to keep these weapons in their homes as personal possessions. It should be considered that a keep is noun, referring to a place of safe storage. To keep, then, to some extent has the notion of safe storage associated with it. Thus, a right to keep arms could simply mean the right to keep weapons in community safe storage.
  • If the concern was to have a militia for national security or to combat tyranny, the collective meaning of "keep" would make sense. If collective security was the goal, and the existence of a militia was toward this end, then "keeping" weapons collectively would make sense. Why would it matter that individuals keep their weapons in their homes? It's the collective, communal, militia possession that matters.
  • If "bear" was commonly taken in a military sense, "keep" should also be considered in military, collective sense. The right of the people is to "keep and bear arms". It is difficult to separate "keep" and "bear" when they are structured in this way. It would appear that they were meant to be read in the same context. If we conclude that "bear" likely has a military/militia meaning, then it is logical to take "keep" in the same vein. "Keep" would then be considered part of the militia's "keeping" of weapons, rather than in a more individual, home-storage sense.
  • To "keep" arms could only mean to "upkeep" them in a collective sense. Some interpretations of "keep" have hinted that it is simply to clean, maintain, and "upkeep" arms. This could be done in a barracks, in which case, the right to "keep" arms would have nothing to do with a right to individual possess. In Parker v. District of Columbia (to be reviewed by the United States Supreme Court under the name District of Columbia v. Heller), this argument was made.
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"Bear": Does bear arms have an individual or a collective, militia meaning?

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Yes

  • The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stated in 2001 that, "there are numerous instances of the phrase "bear arms" being used to describe a civilian's carrying of arms. Early constitutional provisions or declarations of rights in at least some ten different states speak of the right of the "people" [or "citizen" or "citizens"] "to bear arms in defense of themselves [or "himself"] and the state", or equivalent words, thus indisputably reflecting that under common usage "bear arms" was in no sense restricted to bearing arms in military service.[72]
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No

  • "Bear arms" means a military/militia, not individual right Relative to the "bear arms" meanings, one study found "...that the overwhelming preponderance of usage of 300 examples of the 'bear arms' expression in public discourse in early America was in an unambiguous, explicitly military context in a figurative (and euphemistic) sense to stand for military service".[8] Further, the Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles declares that a meaning of "to bear arms" is a figurative usage meaning "to serve as a soldier, do military service, fight".
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"Arms": Does "arms" refer to personal weapons or only military/militia weapons?

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Yes

  • "Arms" in the US 2nd Amendment does not exclude personal "arms" While it is possible to argue that the natural interpretation of the language "arms" refers to a military weapon, it is not clear that the framers of the constitution meant for the use of the language "arms" to necessarily exclude an individual right to bear arms.
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No

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International viewpoint: Would gun-laws internationally advise an individual right to own guns?

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Yes

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No

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"Bear": Does "bear" refer to an individual or a militia right?

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Yes

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No

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"Shall not be infringed": Does this clause indicate that the 2nd is an individual right?

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Yes

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No

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Pro/con videos

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Yes

"Mike Huckabee on the Second amendment". Posted August 17th, 2007.

District of Columbia vs Heller and Gun Control Posted March 23, 2008[9]

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No

See also

External links and resources

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