The Second Amendment

The Second Amendment to the Constitution says, "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 wording of this amendment has caused much confusion in American history. The Supreme Court, which has the job of interpreting the meaning of the Constitution, ruled in 1939 that the amendment mostly protected the right to have a militia, or a civilian army. However, over time, the Court has given more strength to the idea that the amendment protects a person's right to own guns and not simply be part of a militia.

Since the amendment was written in 1791, modern society has developed many types of guns and other weapons that the Founding Fathers could not have imagined. This has created more confusion about what the amendment does and does not protect. Because of this, many states have their own laws about the type of guns and ammunition that can be owned, as well as the types of licenses and permits a person must have to legally own a gun. This means that gun laws are often very different from one state to the next.

While the Second Amendment may protect the right to own a gun, it does not protect your right to carry a gun anywhere at any time. For example, a private business, such as a restaurant or a shopping mall, can forbid the possession of guns on its property. Americans have the right to forbid the possession or use of guns in their home or yards. Most schools and many churches have rules against bringing a gun into the building, as do courthouses and other government offices. In many cases, gun laws do not apply to police officers as they are expected to carry a gun as part of their job.


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