Location: Texas

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Whether The Second Amendment Secures An Individual Right

The Justice Department has rendered an opinion.

This is very long but a necessary read.

Here is a sample:

[..] the text of the Second Amendment points to a personal right of individuals: A "right of the people" is ordinarily and most naturally a right of individuals, not of a State and not merely of those serving the State as militiamen. The phrase "keep arms" at the time of the Founding usually indicated the private ownership and retention of arms by individuals as individuals, not the stockpiling of arms by a government or its soldiers, and the phrase certainly had that meaning when used in connection with a "right of the people." While the phrase "bear arms" often referred to carrying of arms in military service, it also sometimes denoted carrying arms for private purposes. The Amendment's prefatory clause, considered under proper rules of interpretation, could not negate the individual right recognized in the clear language of the operative clause. In any event, the prefatory clause - particularly its reference to the "Militia," which was understood at the Founding to encompass all able-bodied male citizens, who were required to be enrolled for service - is fully consistent with an individual-right reading of the operative language. Moreover, the Second Amendment appears in the Bill of Rights amid amendments securing numerous individual rights, a placement that makes it likely that the right of the people to keep and bear arms likewise belongs to individuals. Finally, a consideration of the powers that the original Constitution grants or allows over the militia makes it unlikely that the Second Amendment would secure a collective or quasi-collective right.

Read the whole thing.


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