The Second Amendment is viewed by many as Americas first freedom. The United States of America is one of the only countries to have an Amendment regarding the right to bear arms. However, it has been surrounded by controversy, especially in the recent years. The Second Amendment is the butt of discussion among all walks of life, and as more shootings are occurring, tensions are rising and people are beginning to question if the Second Amendment does more harm than good, and if we should alter it to fit modern day views.
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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.” (Constitution of the United States of America) Since the Amendment was ratified into the Bill of Rights in 1791, it has been surrounded by controversy. Most of this is in regards to the wording of the text. People have been arguing if these rights apply to the states or individuals, and whether it is referring to the individual person, or the “well-regulated militia” it refers to. These issues have been hacked out in many court cases, and is a large discussion point in politics. 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump shares his view on the second amendment by stating, “The Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right that belongs to all law-abiding Americans. The Constitution doesn’t create that right – it ensures that the government can’t take it away. Our Founding Fathers knew, and our Supreme Court has upheld, that the Second Amendment’s purpose is to guarantee our right to defend ourselves and our families. This is about self-defense, plain and simple.” (PROTECTING OUR SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN) Many other politicians hold different views on the issue, such as the idea that we should not have guns at all in attempts to lessen gun related violence. This is a huge talking point among politicians, especially presidential candidates.
The case of McDonald v City of Chicago was a large stepping stone for the Second Amendment and having a clearer definition of what the Second Amendment rights actually entail. 76-year-old Otis McDonald believed his rights were not given to him when he went to have possession of a firearm. McDonald believed his neighborhood to be unsafe, as it was crime ridden and he had been broken into by his neighbor. However, the city of Chicago outlawed the registration of handguns. Opposing this law, McDonald paired up with three other plaintiffs who had similar views and pursued the case. This case challenged whether the second amendment applied to individual states. Ultimately, after four months of hearings, the court ruled that the Second Amendment would apply to state and local governments in addition to the federal government. The court reversed a Seventh Circuit decision that enacted the dismissal of Second Amendment challenges to handgun bans in Chicago. (Landmark Supreme Court Cases and the Constitution: McDonald v. Chicago) This court case was a landmark case for discussions around the Second Amendment, and clearing up controversy surrounding it.
There have been many court cases related to the rights proposed in the Second Amendment. One of these cases, the case of Miller v Texas, was a milestone in understanding the Amendment. In the case, Franklin Miller was going to be executed for shooting a police officer. However, in attempts to get the charges overthrown, he claimed that his right had been violated and the Second Amendment should apply to the state law. But, after the case, the court ruled that the Second Amendment did not apply to state laws. (Miller v. Texas) The 1875 case of the United States v. Cruikshank was one of the earliest to deal with the Bill of Rights. This case came about when William Cruikshank was charged with surrounding a courthouse and murdering a large amount of African Americans. Cruikshank was found guilty of violating the Enforcement Acts, which included conspiring to deprive the blacks of their rights to bear arms. This case ended with the primary holding that “the right to keep and bear arms exists separately from the Constitution and is not to be found in the Second Amendment.” (This Day in Supreme Court History) Both of these cases have been substantial mile markers in developing the understanding of what the Second Amendment entails for the citizens.
To many Americans, the Second Amendment is the most important liberty we have as citizens. By having the Second Amendment, we are able to personally defend ourselves against harm, unlike many other countries. It is often considered a basic human right to bear arms, yet some disagree and believe it should be more regulated. This idea is especially prevalent in the recent years. As the times have changed, it is obvious that problems have stemmed from the Second Amendment, and it is being considered that maybe the right should be altered to accommodate the changes in society. Ultimately, people have different viewpoints, and discussion around the Amendment is sure to continue throughout the upcoming years.
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