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Blog: Do You or Don't You Have a Second Amendment Right to Own a Gun?

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With President Obama and the National Rifle Association trading accusations, it seems like a good time to look into the real facts about the Second Amendment. What exactly did the U.S. Supreme Court say when it ruled on the right to own a firearm?

The justices said there is an individual right to own a gun, separate from any service in a militia. They also said the Second Amendment applies to the states, just as it applies to the federal government.

That's not as clear-cut as it sounds, though. A state law that restricts firearm ownership might still be constitutional, if the state can convince five justices on the Supreme Court that there is a compelling reason for the law, that it's necessary, and that it's narrowly tailored for the purpose. It's a very subjective test that the Court invented to get around the fact that the entire Bill of Rights was intended to apply only to the federal government, and not at all to the states.

Hard to believe, but true.

If you'd like to read more about the Court's decisions on the Second Amendment, download "How the First Amendment Came to Protect Topless Dancing," which is free on Amazon.com all day on Thursday, January 17. You can download a free Kindle reading app for your computer or other device here.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Brian Dzyak January 17, 2013 at 03:16 PM
The Heller decision was an illegal rewriting of the Second Amendment. Roberts' dissent sums up the Heller nonsense better than anyone could: In a strongly worded dissent, Justice Stevens, after conducting his own extensive analysis of the Second Amendment's text, history, and purpose, disparaged Scalia's historical analysis, stating that the Court had based its holding on "a strained and unpersuasive reading" of the amendment. In Stevens' opinion, the amendment protects the individual right to bear arms only for certain military purposes and does not limit the authority of legislatures to regulate private, civilian use of firearms (Id., at 2822). Stevens contends that not a word in the constitutional text supports the Court's “overwrought and novel description” of the Second Amendment as elevating above all other interests “the right of law-abiding responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home” (Id., at 2831).
Susan Shelley January 18, 2013 at 07:02 AM
Americans have become accustomed over the last 80 or 90 years to the idea that the Constitution is updated by the Supreme Court, while voters and lawmakers stand on the sidelines. But if the Supreme Court had ruled 5-4 that there is no individual right to own a firearm, I think people would have rediscovered the Article V process of amending the Constitution, and quickly. It takes two-thirds of the state legislatures to call for a constitutional convention to write an amendment, and it takes three-quarters of the state legislatures to approve an amendment in order to make it part of the Constitution. The state legislatures have the power to amend the Constitution even if the president, the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court and all fifty state governors oppose the idea. The Constitution represents the consent of the governed. Whatever the framers intended when they wrote the Second Amendment, Americans today have the power to amend the Constitution to secure the individual right to own a gun.

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