The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. This founding document, originally comprising seven articles, delineates the national frame of government. Its first three articles embody the doctr ...

United States Constitution
protects the right to keep and bear arms. It was ratified on December 15, 1791, along with nine other articles of the
Bill of Rights A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is a list of the most important rights Rights are law, legal, social, or ethics, ethical principles of Liberty, freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are th ...
. In '' District of Columbia v. Heller'' (2008), the
Supreme Court The supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of ...

Supreme Court
affirmed for the first time that the right belongs to individuals, for
self-defense Self-defense (self-defence in some varieties of English) is a countermeasure that involves defending the health and well-being of oneself from harm. The use of the right of self-defense The right of self-defense (also called, when ...
in the home, while also including, as '' dicta'', that the right is not unlimited and does not preclude the existence of certain long-standing prohibitions such as those forbidding "the possession of
firearm A firearm is any type of gun designed to be readily carried and used by an individual. The term is legally defined further in different countries (see Legal definitions). The first firearms originated in 10th-century China China, offi ...
s by felons and the mentally ill" or restrictions on "the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons". In '' McDonald v. City of Chicago'' (2010) the Supreme Court ruled that
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governments are limited to the same extent as the
federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under a central federal government ( federalism). In a federation, the self-gover ...
from infringing upon this right. The Second Amendment was based partially on the right to keep and bear arms in English common law and was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Sir William Blackstone described this right as an auxiliary right, supporting the natural rights of self-defense and resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to act in concert in defense of the state. Any labels of rights as auxiliary must be viewed in the context of the inherent purpose of a Bill of Rights, which is to empower a group with the ability to achieve a mutually desired outcome, and not to necessarily enumerate or rank the importance of rights. Thus all rights enumerated in a Constitution are thus auxiliary in the eyes of Sir William Blackstone because all rights are only as good as the extent they are exercised in fact. While both
James Monroe James Monroe (; April 28, 1758July 4, 1831) was an American statesman, lawyer, diplomat and Founding Father who served as the fifth president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head ...
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John Adams
supported the Constitution being ratified, its most influential framer was James Madison. In Federalist No. 46, Madison wrote how a federal army could be kept in check by state militias, "a standing army... would be opposed [by] a militia." He argued that state militias "would be able to repel the danger" of a federal army, "It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops." He contrasted the federal government of the United States to the European kingdoms, which he described as "afraid to trust the people with arms", and assured that "the existence of subordinate governments... forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition". By January 1788, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia and Connecticut ratified the Constitution without insisting upon amendments. Several amendments were proposed, but were not adopted at the time the Constitution was ratified. For example, the Pennsylvania convention debated fifteen amendments, one of which concerned the right of the people to be armed, another with the militia. The Massachusetts convention also ratified the Constitution with an attached list of proposed amendments. In the end, the Virginia Ratifying Convention, ratification convention was so evenly divided between those for and against the Constitution that the Federalist Party, federalists agreed to the Bill of Rights to assure ratification. In ''United States v. Cruikshank'' (1876), the Supreme Court ruled that, "The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second Amendments means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress, and has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the National Government." In ''United States v. Miller'' (1939), the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment did not protect weapon types not having a "reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia".CRS Report for Congress ''District of Columbia v. Heller: The Supreme Court and the Second Amendment'' April 11, 2008 Congressional Research Service T.J. Halsted, Legislative Attorney, American Law Division. Order Code RL34446 . In the 21st century, the amendment has been subjected to renewed Second Amendment to the United States Constitution#Late 20th century commentary, academic inquiry and Firearm case law in the United States, judicial interest. In ''Heller'', the Supreme Court handed down a List of landmark court decisions in the United States#The right of the people to keep and bear arms, landmark decision that held the amendment protects an individual's right to keep a gun for self-defense. This was the first time the Court had ruled that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual's right to own a gun. In ''McDonald v. Chicago'' (2010), the Supreme Court clarified that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporated the Second Amendment against state and local governments. In ''Caetano v. Massachusetts'' (2016), the Supreme Court reiterated its earlier rulings that "the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding" and that its protection is not limited to "only those weapons useful in warfare". Gun politics in the United States, The debate between various organizations regarding gun control and Right to keep and bear arms#United States, gun rights continues.


There are several versions of the text of the Second Amendment, each with capitalization or punctuation differences. Differences exist between the version passed by United States Congress, Congress and put on display and the versions ratified by the states. These differences have been a focus of debate regarding the meaning of the amendment, particularly regarding the importance of what the courts have called the prefatory clause. The final, handwritten original of the Bill of Rights as passed by Congress, with the rest of the original prepared by scribe William Lambert (writer), William Lambert, is preserved in the National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives. This is the version ratified by DelawareDavies, pp. 209–16. and used by the Supreme Court in ''District of Columbia v. Heller'': Some state-ratified versions omitted the first or final commas, such as Maryland's: The ratification acts from New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina contained only one comma, but with differences in capitalization. Pennsylvania's act states: The ratification act from New Jersey has no commas:

Pre-Constitution background

Influence of the English Bill of Rights of 1689

The right for Protestantism, Protestants to bear arms in History of England, English history is regarded in English common law as a subordinate auxiliary right of the primary rights to personal security, personal liberty, and private property. According to Sir William Blackstone, "The... last auxiliary right of the subject... is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is... declared by... statute, and is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the Natural and legal rights, natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression."Blackstone's Commentaries Book1 Ch1"The fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject... is that of having arms for their defence". The English Bill of Rights of 1689 emerged from a tempestuous period in English politics during which two issues were major sources of conflict: the authority of the King to govern without the consent of Parliament, and the role of Catholics in a country that was becoming ever more Protestant. Ultimately, the Catholic James II of England, James II was overthrown in the Glorious Revolution, and his successors, the Protestants William III of England, William III and Mary II of England, Mary II, accepted the conditions that were codified in the Bill. One of the issues the Bill resolved was the authority of the King to disarm his subjects, after King Charles II and James II had disarmed many Protestants that were "suspected or knowne" of disliking the government, and had argued with Parliament over his desire to maintain a standing (or permanent) army.From the English Civil War until the Glorious Revolution militias occasionally disarmed Catholics, and the King, without Parliament's consent, likewise occasionally disarmed Protestants. Malcolm, "The Role of the Militia", pp. 139–51. The bill states that it is acting to restore "ancient rights" trampled upon by James II, though some have argued that the English Bill of Rights created a new right to have arms, which developed out of a duty to have arms. In ''District of Columbia v. Heller'' (2008), the Supreme Court did not accept this view, remarking that the English right at the time of the passing of the English Bill of Rights was "clearly an individual right, having nothing whatsoever to do with service in the militia" and that it was a right not to be disarmed by the Crown and was not the granting of a new right to have arms. The text of the English Bill of Rights of 1689 includes language protecting the right of Protestants against disarmament by the Crown, stating: "That the Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law." It also contained text that aspired to bind future Parliaments, though under English constitutional law no Parliament can bind any later Parliament. The statement in the English Bill of Rights concerning the right to bear arms is often quoted only in the passage where it is written as above and not in its full context. In its full context it is clear that the bill was asserting the right of Protestant citizens not to be disarmed by the King without the consent of Parliament and was merely restoring rights to Protestants that the previous King briefly and unlawfully had removed. In its full context it reads:
Whereas the late King James the Second by the Assistance of diverse evil Councillors Judges and Ministers employed by him did endeavour to subvert and extirpate the Protestant Religion and the Laws and Liberties of this Kingdom ''(list of grievances including)''... by causing several good Subjects being Protestants to be disarmed at the same time when Papists were both Armed and employed contrary to Law, ''(Recital regarding the change of monarch)''... thereupon the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons pursuant to their respective Letters and Elections being now assembled in a full and free Representative of this Nation taking into their most serious Consideration the best means for attaining the Ends aforesaid Doe in the first place (as their Ancestors in like Case have usually done) for the Vindicating and Asserting their ancient Rights and Liberties, Declare ''(list of rights including)''... That the Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defense suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law.
The historical link between the English Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment, which both codify an existing right and do not create a new one, has been acknowledged by the U.S. Supreme Court."This meaning is strongly confirmed by the historical background of the Second Amendment. We look to this because it has always been widely understood that the Second Amendment, like the First and Fourth Amendments, codified a pre-existing right. The very text of the Second Amendment implicitly recognizes the pre-existence of the right and declares only that it 'shall not be infringed'. As we (the United States Supreme Court) said in ''United States v. Cruikshank'', , '[t]his is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed ...' Between the Restoration and the Glorious Revolution, the Stuart Kings Charles II and James II succeeded in using select militias loyal to them to suppress political dissidents, in part by disarming their opponents. See J. Malcolm, ''To Keep and Bear Arms'' 31–53 (1994) (hereinafter Malcolm); L. Schwoerer, ''The Declaration of Rights'', 1689, p. 76 (1981). Under the auspices of the 1671 Game Act, for example, the Catholic James II had ordered general disarmaments of regions home to his Protestant enemies. See Malcolm 103–06. These experiences caused Englishmen to be extremely wary of military forces run by the state (regulars) and to be jealous of their arms. They accordingly obtained an assurance from William and Mary, in the ''Declaration of Right'' (which was codified as the ''English Bill of Rights''), that Protestants would never be disarmed: 'That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defense suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law.' 1 W. & M., c. 2, §7, in 3 Eng. Stat. at Large 441 (1689). This right has long been understood to be the predecessor to our Second Amendment. See E. Dumbauld, ''The Bill of Rights and What It Means Today'' 51 (1957); W. Rawle, ''A View of the Constitution of the United States of America'' 122 (1825) (hereinafter Rawle)." From the Opinion of the Court in District of Coöimbia versus Heller Justice Antonin Scalia, wrote that "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" was a just a controlling one and referred to it as a pre-existing right of individuals to possess and carry personal weapons for
self-defense Self-defense (self-defence in some varieties of English) is a countermeasure that involves defending the health and well-being of oneself from harm. The use of the right of self-defense The right of self-defense (also called, when ...
and intrinsically for defense against tyranny. As with the English law "like most rights, the Second Amendment is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."
The English Bill of Rights includes the proviso that arms must be as "allowed by law". This has been the case before and after the passage of the Bill. While it did not override earlier restrictions on the ownership of guns for hunting, it is subject to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, parliamentary right to implicitly or explicitly repeal earlier enactments. There is some difference of opinion as to how revolutionary the events of 1688–89 actually were, and several commentators make the point that the provisions of the English Bill of Rights did not represent new laws, but rather stated existing rights. Mark Thompson wrote that, apart from determining the succession, the English Bill of Rights did "little more than set forth certain points of existing laws and simply secured to Englishmen the rights of which they were already posessed ." Before and after the English Bill of Rights, the government could always disarm any individual or class of individuals it considered dangerous to the peace of the realm.Malcolm, ''To Keep and Bear Arms'', p. 51. In 1765, William Blackstone wrote the ''Commentaries on the Laws of England'' describing the right to have arms in England during the 18th century as a subordinate auxiliary right of the subject that was "also declared" in the English Bill of Rights.Ely and Bodenhamer, pp. 89–91.Heyman, pp. 253–59. "Finally, we should note that (contrary to Kates's assertion), Blackstone nowhere suggests that the right to arms derives from 'the common law'. Instead, this is a right that is secured by 'the constitution', and in particular by the Bill of Rights." Although there is little doubt that the writers of the Second Amendment were heavily influenced by the English Bill of Rights, it is a matter of interpretation as to whether they were intent on preserving the power to regulate arms to the states over the federal government (as the English Parliament had reserved for itself against the monarch) or whether it was intent on creating a new right akin to the right of others written into the Constitution (as the Supreme Court decided in ''Heller''). Some in the United States have preferred the "rights" argument arguing that the English Bill of Rights had granted a right. The need to have arms for self-defence was not really in question. Peoples all around the world since time immemorial had armed themselves for the protection of themselves and others, and as organized nations began to appear these arrangements had been extended to the protection of the state. Without a regular army and police force, it had been the duty of certain men to keep watch and ward at night and to confront and capture suspicious persons. Every subject had an obligation to protect the king's peace and assist in the suppression of riots.Levy, pp. 136–37.

Experience in America prior to the U.S. Constitution

Settlers in Colonial history of the United States, Colonial America viewed the ''right to arms'' and/or ''the right to bear arms'' and/or ''state militias'' as important for one or more of these purposes (in no particular order):Hardy, p. 1237. "Early Americans wrote of the right in light of three considerations: (1) as auxiliary to a natural right of self-defense; (2) as enabling an armed people to deter undemocratic government; and (3) as enabling the people to organize a militia system."Malcolm, "That Every Man Be Armed", pp. 452, 466. "The Second Amendment reflects traditional English attitudes toward these three distinct, but intertwined, issues: the right of the individual to protect his life, the challenge to government of an armed citizenry, and the preference for a militia over a standing army. The Founding Fathers of the United States, framers' attempt to address all three in a single declarative sentence has contributed mightily to the subsequent confusion over the proper interpretation of the Second Amendment."Levy, p. 136.Merkel and Uviller, pp. 62, 179 ff, 183, 188 ff, 306. "[T]he right to bear arms was articulated as a civic right inextricably linked to the civic obligation to bear arms for the public defense."Spitzer, pp. 155–59.Dulaney, p. 2.Merkel and Uviller, pp. 62, 179 ff, 183, 188 ff, 306. * enabling the people to organize a militia system * participating in law enforcement * safeguarding against tyrannical governments * repelling invasion * suppressing insurrection, allegedly including Slave rebellion#North America, slave revolts, though some scholars say these claims are factually incorrectPaul Finkelman, professor of law and public policy at Albany Law School; The Root (magazine) * facilitating a natural right of self-defense Which of these considerations were thought of as most important and ultimately found expression in the Second Amendment is disputed. Some of these purposes were explicitly mentioned in early state constitutions; for example, the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 asserted that, "the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state." During the 1760s pre-revolutionary period, the established colonial militia was composed of colonists, including many who were loyal to Thirteen Colonies, British rule. As defiance and opposition to British rule developed, a distrust of these Loyalist (American Revolution), Loyalists in the militia became widespread among the colonists known as Patriot (American Revolution), Patriots, who favored independence from British rule. As a result, some Patriots created their own militias that excluded the Loyalists and then sought to stock independent armories for their militias. In response to this arms build up, the Parliament of Great Britain, British parliament established an embargo of firearms, parts and ammunition against the American colonies. King George III also began disarming individuals who were in the most rebellious areas in the 1760s and 1770s. British and Loyalist efforts to disarm the colonial Patriot militia armories in the early phases of the American Revolution resulted in the Patriot colonists protesting by citing the Bill of Rights 1689, Declaration of Rights, Blackstone's summary of the Declaration of Rights, their own militia laws and Self-defence in English law#Common law, common law rights to self-defense. cited in Halbrook, ''A Right to Bear Arms'', p. 7. While British policy in the early phases of the Revolution clearly aimed to prevent coordinated action by the Patriot militia, some have argued that there is no evidence that the British sought to restrict the traditional common law right of self-defense. Patrick J. Charles disputes these claims citing similar disarming by the patriots and challenging those scholars' interpretation of Blackstone. The right of the colonists to arms and rebellion against oppression was asserted, for example, in a pre-revolutionary newspaper editorial in 1769 objecting to the Crown suppression of colonial opposition to the Townshend Acts: The armed forces that won the American Revolution consisted of the standing Continental Army created by the Continental Congress, together with France in the American Revolutionary War#French involvement, regular French army and naval forces and various state and regional militia units. In opposition, the List of British units in the American Revolutionary War, British forces consisted of a mixture of the standing British Army, Loyalist militia and Hessian (soldiers), Hessian Mercenary, mercenaries. Following the Revolution, the United States was governed by the Articles of Confederation. Federalists argued that this government had an unworkable division of power between Congress and the states, which caused military weakness, as the standing army was reduced to as few as 80 men.Anderson and Horwitz, pp. 91–92. They considered it to be bad that there was no effective federal military crackdown on an armed tax rebellion in western Massachusetts known as Shays' Rebellion. Anti-federalists on the other hand took the side of limited government and sympathized with the rebels, many of whom were former Revolutionary War soldiers. Subsequently, the Constitutional Convention (United States), Constitutional Convention proposed in 1787 to grant Congress exclusive power to raise and support a standing army and navy of unlimited size.Pole and Greene, p. 386.Vile, p. 30. Anti-Federalism, Anti-federalists objected to the shift of power from the states to the federal government, but as adoption of the Constitution became more and more likely, they shifted their strategy to establishing a bill of rights that would put some limits on federal power.Merkel and Uviller, p. 79. Modern scholars Thomas B. McAffee and Michael J. Quinlan have stated that James Madison "did not invent the right to keep and bear arms when he drafted the Second Amendment; the right was pre-existing at both common law and in the early state constitutions." In contrast, historian Jack N. Rakove, Jack Rakove suggests that Madison's intention in framing the Second Amendment was to provide assurances to moderate Anti-Federalists that the militias would not be disarmed.Rakove, p. ? One aspect of the gun control debate is the conflict between gun control laws and the right to rebel against unjust governments. Blackstone in his Commentaries alluded to this right to rebel as the natural right of resistance and self preservation, to be used only as a last resort, exercisable when "the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression". Some believe that the framers of the Bill of Rights sought to balance not just political power, but also military power, between the people, the states and the nation,Millis, p. 49. "The founders sought to balance military, as they did political, power, between people, states, and nation[.]" as Alexander Hamilton explained in his Federalist No. 29, Concerning the Militia essay published in 1788: Some scholars have said that it is wrong to read a right of armed insurrection in the Second Amendment because clearly the founding fathers sought to place trust in the power of the ordered liberty of democratic government versus the anarchy of insurrectionists. Other writers, such as Glenn Reynolds, contend that the framers did believe in an individual right to armed insurrection. They cite examples, such as the United States Declaration of Independence, Declaration of Independence (describing in 1776 "the Right of the People to... institute new Government") and the Constitution of New Hampshire (stating in 1784 that "nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind"). There was an ongoing debate beginning in 1789 about "the people" fighting governmental tyranny (as described by Anti-Federalists); or the risk of Ochlocracy, mob rule of "the people" (as described by the Federalists) related to the increasingly violent French Revolution. A widespread fear, during the debates on ratifying the Constitution, was the possibility of a military takeover of the states by the federal government, which could happen if the Congress passed laws prohibiting states from arming citizens,Cooke, p. 100. "This is another protection against a possible abuse by Congress. The right protected is really the right of a state to maintain an armed militia, or national guard, as we call it now. In the eighteenth century people feared that Congress might, by passing a law, prohibit the states from arming their citizens. Then having all the armed strength at its command, the national government could overwhelm the states. Such a circumstance has never happened, but this amendment would prevent it. The Second Amendment does not give anybody or everybody the right to possess and use firearms. The states may very properly prescribe regulations and permits governing the use of guns within their borders." or prohibiting citizens from arming themselves. Though it has been argued that the states lost the power to arm their citizens when the power to arm the militia was transferred from the states to the federal government by ArticleI, Section8 of the Constitution, the individual right to arm was retained and strengthened by the Militia Acts of 1792 and the similar act of 1795.

State Constitutional Precursors to the Second Amendment

Drafting and adoption of the Constitution

In March 1785, delegates from Virginia and Maryland assembled at the Mount Vernon Conference to fashion a remedy to the inefficiencies of the Articles of Confederation. The following year, at Annapolis Convention (1786), a meeting in Annapolis, Maryland, 12 delegates from five states (New Jersey, New York (state), New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia) met and drew up a list of problems with the current government model. At its conclusion, the delegates scheduled a follow-up meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for May 1787 to present solutions to these problems, such as the absence of:Schmidt et al., p. 39. * interstate arbitration processes to handle quarrels between states; * sufficiently trained and armed intrastate security forces to suppress insurrection; * a national militia to repel foreign invaders. It quickly became apparent that the solution to all three of these problems required shifting control of the states' militias to the federal Congress and giving that congress the power to raise a standing army.Williams, pp. 41–44. Article One of the United States Constitution#Section 8: Powers of Congress, Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution codified these changes by allowing the Congress to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States by doing the following: * raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years; * provide and maintain a navy; * make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces; * provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions; * 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. Some representatives mistrusted proposals to enlarge federal powers, because they were concerned about the inherent risks of centralizing power. Federalist#United States, Federalists, including James Madison, initially argued that a bill of rights was unnecessary, sufficiently confident that the federal government could never raise a standing army powerful enough to overcome a militia.s:The Federalist Papers/No. 46, ''The Federalist Papers'' No. 46 (James Madison) (concerning the influence of state and federal governments). Federalist Noah Webster argued that an armed populace would have no trouble resisting the potential threat to liberty of a standing army. Anti-Federalism, Anti-federalists, on the other hand, advocated amending the Constitution with clearly defined and enumerated rights providing more explicit constraints on the new government. Many Anti-federalists feared the new federal government would choose to disarm state militias. Federalists countered that in listing only certain rights, unlisted rights might lose protection. The Federalists realized there was insufficient support to ratify the Constitution without a bill of rights and so they promised to support amending the Constitution to add a bill of rights following the Constitution's adoption. This Massachusetts Compromise, compromise persuaded enough Anti-federalists to vote for the Constitution, allowing for ratification. The Constitution was declared ratified on June 21, 1788, when nine of the original thirteen states had ratified it. The remaining four states later followed suit, although the last two states, North Carolina and Rhode Island, ratified only after Congress had passed the Bill of Rights and sent it to the states for ratification. James Madison drafted what ultimately became the Bill of Rights, which was proposed by the first Congress on June 8, 1789, and was adopted on December 15, 1791.

Debates on amending the Constitution

The debate surrounding the Constitution's ratification is of practical importance, particularly to adherents of Originalism, originalist and Strict constructionism, strict constructionist legal theories. In the context of such legal theories and elsewhere, it is important to understand the language of the Constitution in terms of what that language meant to the people who wrote and ratified the Constitution. Robert Whitehill (Pennsylvania politician), Robert Whitehill, a delegate from Pennsylvania, sought to clarify the draft Constitution with a bill of rights explicitly granting individuals the right to hunt on their own land in season, though Whitehill's language was never debated.

Argument for state power

There was substantial opposition to the new Constitution, because it moved the power to arm the state militias from the states to the federal government. This created a fear that the federal government, by neglecting the upkeep of the militia, could have overwhelming military force at its disposal through its power to maintain a standing army and navy, leading to a confrontation with the states, encroaching on the states' reserved powers and even engaging in a military takeover. Articles of Confederation#Article summaries, Article VI of the Articles of Confederation states:
No vessel of war shall be kept up in time of peace by any State, except such number only, as shall be deemed necessary by the united States in congress assembled, for the defense of such State, or its trade; nor shall any body of forces be kept up by any State in time of peace, except such number only, as in the judgement of the united States, in congress assembled, shall be deemed requisite to garrison the forts necessary for the defense of such State; but every State shall always keep up a well-regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and accoutered, and shall provide and constantly have ready for use, in public stores, a due number of field pieces and tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition and camp equipage.
In contrast, Article One of the United States Constitution#Section 8: Powers of Congress, Article I, Section 8, Clause 16 of the U.S. Constitution states:
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.

Government tyranny

A foundation of American political thought during the Revolutionary period was concerned about political corruption and governmental tyranny. Even the federalists, fending off their opponents who accused them of creating an oppressive regime, were careful to acknowledge the risks of tyranny. Against that backdrop, the framers saw the personal right to bear arms as a potential check against tyranny. Theodore Sedgwick of Massachusetts expressed this sentiment by declaring that it is "a chimerical idea to suppose that a country like this could ever be enslaved... Is it possible... that an army could be raised for the purpose of enslaving themselves or their brethren? Or, if raised whether they could subdue a nation of freemen, who know how to prize liberty and who have arms in their hands?" Noah Webster similarly argued:
Before a standing army can rule the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States.
George Mason also argued the importance of the militia and right to bear arms by reminding his compatriots of the British government's efforts "to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them... by totally disusing and neglecting the militia." He also clarified that under prevailing practice the militia included all people, rich and poor. "Who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers." Because all were members of the militia, all enjoyed the right to individually bear arms to serve therein. Writing after the ratification of the Constitution, but before the election of the first Congress,
James Monroe James Monroe (; April 28, 1758July 4, 1831) was an American statesman, lawyer, diplomat and Founding Father who served as the fifth president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head ...
included "the right to keep and bear arms" in a list of basic "human rights", which he proposed to be added to the Constitution. Patrick Henry argued in the Virginia ratification convention on June 5, 1788, for the dual rights to arms and resistance to oppression:
Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.

To maintain slavery

Preserving slave patrols

In the Slave states and free states, slave states, the Slave patrol, militia was available for military operations, but its biggest function was to police the slaves. According to Carl T. Bogus, Dr Carl T. Bogus, Professor of Law of the Roger Williams University Law School in Rhode Island, the Second Amendment was written to assure the Southern states that Congress would not undermine the slave system by using its newly acquired constitutional authority over the militia to disarm the state militia and thereby destroy the South's principal instrument of slave control. In his close analysis of James Madison's writings, Bogus describes the South's obsession with militias during the ratification process: This preoccupation is clearly expressed in 1788 by the slaveholder Patrick Henry: Therefore, in a compromise with the slave states, and to reassure Patrick Henry, George Mason and other slaveholders that they would be able to keep their slave control militias independent of the federal government, James Madison (also slave owner) redrafted the Second Amendment into its current form "for the specific purpose of assuring the Southern states, and particularly his constituents in Virginia, that the federal government would not undermine their security against slave insurrection by disarming the militia." Also, Patrick Henry argued against the ratification of both the Constitution and the Second Amendment. Most Southern white men between the ages of 18 and 45 were required to serve on "slave patrols" which were organized groups of white men who enforced discipline upon enslaved blacks. Bogus writes with respect to Georgia laws passed in 1755 and 1757 in this context: "The Georgia statutes required patrols, under the direction of commissioned militia officers, to examine every plantation each month and authorized them to search 'all Negro Houses for offensive Weapons and Ammunition' and to apprehend and give twenty lashes to any slave found outside plantation grounds." Legal historian Paul Finkelman recognises that James Madison "drafted an amendment to protect the right of the states to maintain their militias."

To avoid arming free blacks

According to Pennsylvania attorney Anthony Picadio, the Southern slave states would never have ratified the Second Amendment if it had been understood as creating an individual right to own firearms because of their fear of arming free blacks, hence the emphasis on the phrase "well regulated Militia", introducing the Second Amendment. Firstly, slave owners feared that enslaved blacks might be emancipated through military service. A few years earlier, there had been a precedent when Lord Dunmore offered freedom to slaves who escaped and joined his forces with "Liberty to Slaves" stitched onto their jacket pocket flaps. Freed slaves had also served in General Washington's army. Secondly, they also greatly feared "a ruinous slave rebellion in which their families would be slaughtered and their property destroyed." When Virginia ratified the Bill of Rights on Dec. 15, 1791, the Haitian Revolution, Haitian revolution, a successful slave rebellion, was under way. The right to bear arms was therefore deliberately tied to membership in a militia by the slaveholder and chief drafter of the Amendment, James Madison, because only whites could join militias in the South. In 1776, Thomas Jefferson had submitted a draft constitution for Virginia that said "no freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms within his own lands or tenements". According to Picadio, this version was rejected because "it would have given to free blacks the constitutional right to have firearms".

Conflict and compromise in Congress produce the Bill of Rights

James Madison's initial proposal for a bill of rights was brought to the floor of the House of Representatives on June 8, 1789, during the first session of Congress. The initial proposed passage relating to arms was: On July 21, Madison again raised the issue of his bill and proposed that a Select or special committee (United States Congress), select committee be created to report on it. The House voted in favor of Madison's motion, and the Bill of Rights entered committee for review. The committee returned to the House a reworded version of the Second Amendment on July 28. On August 17, that version was read into the ''Journal'': In late August 1789, the House debated and modified the Second Amendment. These debates revolved primarily around risk of "mal-administration of the government" using the "religiously scrupulous" clause to destroy the militia as British forces had attempted to destroy the Patriot militia at the commencement of the American Revolution. These concerns were addressed by modifying the final clause, and on August 24, the House sent the following version to the Senate: The next day, August 25, the Senate received the amendment from the House and entered it into the Senate Journal. However, the Senate scribe added a comma before "shall not be infringed" and changed the semicolon separating that phrase from the religious exemption portion to a comma: By this time, the proposed right to keep and bear arms was in a separate amendment, instead of being in a single amendment together with other proposed rights such as the due process right. As a representative explained, this change allowed each amendment to "be passed upon distinctly by the States". On September 4, the Senate voted to change the language of the Second Amendment by removing the definition of militia, and striking the conscientious objector clause: The Senate returned to this amendment for a final time on September 9. A proposal to insert the words "for the common defence" next to the words "bear arms" was defeated. A motion passed to replace the words "the best", and insert in lieu thereof "necessary to the" . The Senate then slightly modified the language to read as the fourth article and voted to return the Bill of Rights to the House. The final version by the Senate was amended to read as: The House voted on September 21, 1789 to accept the changes made by the Senate. The enrolled original Joint Resolution passed by Congress on September 25, 1789, on permanent display in the Rotunda, reads as: On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution) was adopted, having been ratified by three-fourths of the states, having been ratified as a group by all the fourteen states then in existence except Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Georgiawhich added ratifications in 1939.

Militia following ratification

During the first two decades following the ratification of the Second Amendment, public opposition to standing armies, among Anti-Federalists and Federalists alike, persisted and manifested itself locally as a general reluctance to create a professional armed police force, instead relying on county sheriffs, constables and night watchmen to enforce local ordinances. Though sometimes compensated, often these positions were unpaidheld as a matter of civic duty. In these early decades, law enforcement officers were rarely armed with firearms, using Baton (law enforcement), billy clubs as their sole defensive weapons. In serious emergencies, a ''Posse comitatus (common law), posse comitatus'', militia company, or group of vigilantes assumed law enforcement duties; these individuals were more likely than the local sheriff to be armed with firearms. On May 8, 1792, Congress passed "[a]n act more effectually to provide for the National Defence, by establishing an Uniform Militia throughout the United States" requiring: The act also gave specific instructions to domestic weapon manufacturers "that from and after five years from the passing of this act, muskets for arming the militia as herein required, shall be of bores sufficient for balls of the eighteenth part of a pound." In practice, private acquisition and maintenance of rifles and muskets meeting specifications and readily available for militia duty proved problematic; estimates of compliance ranged from 10 to 65 percent.Merkel and Uviller, pp. 293–94. Compliance with the enrollment provisions was also poor. In addition to the exemptions granted by the law for custom-house officers and their clerks, post-officers and stage drivers employed in the care and conveyance of U.S. mail, ferrymen, export inspectors, pilots, merchant mariners and those deployed at sea in active service; state legislatures granted numerous exemptions under Section 2 of the Act, including exemptions for: clergy, conscientious objectors, teachers, students, and jurors. Though a number of able-bodied white men remained available for service, many simply did not show up for militia duty. Penalties for failure to appear were enforced sporadically and selectively. None is mentioned in the legislation. The first test of the militia system occurred in July 1794, when a group of disaffected Whiskey Rebellion, Pennsylvania farmers rebelled against federal tax collectors whom they viewed as illegitimate tools of tyrannical power.Szatmary, p. 107. Attempts by the four adjoining states to raise a militia for nationalization to suppress the insurrection proved inadequate. When officials resorted to drafting men, they faced bitter resistance. Forthcoming soldiers consisted primarily of draftees or paid substitutes as well as poor enlistees lured by enlistment bonuses. The officers, however, were of a higher quality, responding out of a sense of civic duty and patriotism, and generally critical of the rank and file. Most of the 13,000 soldiers lacked the required weaponry; the war department provided nearly two-thirds of them with guns. In October, President George Washington and General Henry Lee III, Harry Lee marched on the 7,000 rebels who conceded without fighting. The episode provoked criticism of the citizen militia and inspired calls for a universal militia. Secretary of War Henry Knox and Vice President
John Adams John Adams (October 30, 1735 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat, writer, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the second president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. Before ...

John Adams
had lobbied Congress to establish federal armories to stock imported weapons and encourage domestic production. Congress did subsequently pass "[a]n act for the erecting and repairing of Arsenals and Magazines" on April 2, 1794, two months prior to the insurrection. Nevertheless, the militia continued to deteriorate and twenty years later, the militia's poor condition contributed to several losses in the War of 1812, including the sacking of Washington, D.C., and the burning of the White House in 1814.Merkel and Uviller, p. 12. In the 20th century, Congress passed the Militia Act of 1903. The act defined the militia as every able-bodied male aged 18 to 44 who was a citizen or intended to become one. The militia was then divided by the act into the United States National Guard and the unorganized Reserve Militia. Federal law continues to define the militia as all able-bodied males aged 17 to 44, who are citizens or intend to become one, and female citizens who are members of the National Guard. The militia is divided into the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and Naval Militia, and the unorganized militia.

Scholarly commentary

Early commentary

Richard Henry Lee

In May of 1788, Richard Henry Lee q:Richard Henry Lee, wrote in Additional Letters From The Federal Farmer #169 or Letter XVIII regarding the definition of a "militia":

George Mason

In June of 1788, George Mason q:George Mason, addressed the Virginia Ratifying Convention regarding a "militia:"

Tench Coxe

In 1792, Tench Coxe made the following point in a commentary on the Second Amendment:


The earliest published commentary on the Second Amendment by a major constitutional theorist was by St. George Tucker. He annotated a five-volume edition of Sir William Blackstone's ''Commentaries on the Laws of England'', a critical legal reference for early American attorneys published in 1803.Tucker, p. 490 Tucker wrote: In footnotes 40 and 41 of the ''Commentaries'', Tucker stated that the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment was not subject to the restrictions that were part of English law: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Amendments to C. U. S. Art. 4, and this without any qualification as to their condition or degree, as is the case in the British government" and "whoever examines the forest, and game laws in the British code, will readily perceive that the right of keeping arms is effectually taken away from the people of England." Blackstone himself also commented on English game laws, Vol. II, p. 412, "that the prevention of popular insurrections and resistance to government by disarming the bulk of the people, is a reason oftener meant than avowed by the makers of the forest and game laws." Blackstone discussed the right of
self-defense Self-defense (self-defence in some varieties of English) is a countermeasure that involves defending the health and well-being of oneself from harm. The use of the right of self-defense The right of self-defense (also called, when ...
in a separate section of his treatise on the common law of crimes. Tucker's annotations for that latter section did not mention the Second Amendment but cited the standard works of English people, English jurists such as Hawkins' Treatise of Pleas of the Crown, Hawkins.For two radically different views of Blackstone on the Second Amendment, ''see'' Heyman, Chicago-Kent, and Volokh, Senate Testimony. Further, Tucker criticized the Bill of Rights 1689, English Bill of Rights for limiting gun ownership to the very wealthy, leaving the populace effectively disarmed, and expressed the hope that Americans "never cease to regard the right of keeping and bearing arms as the surest pledge of their liberty."

William Rawle

Tucker's commentary was soon followed, in 1825, by that of William Rawle in his landmark text ''A View of the Constitution of the United States of America''. Like Tucker, Rawle condemned England's "arbitrary code for the preservation of game", portraying that country as one that "boasts so much of its freedom", yet provides a right to "protestant subjects only" that it "cautiously describ[es] to be that of bearing arms for their defence" and reserves for "[a] very small proportion of the people[.]"Rawle, p. 126. In contrast, Rawle characterizes the second clause of the Second Amendment, which he calls the corollary clause, as a general prohibition against such capricious abuse of government power. Speaking of the Second Amendment generally, Rawle said: Rawle, long before the concept of Incorporation of the Bill of Rights, incorporation was formally recognized by the courts, or Congress drafted the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Fourteenth Amendment, contended that citizens could appeal to the Second Amendment should either the state or federal government attempt to disarm them. He did warn, however, that "this right [to bear arms] ought not... be abused to the disturbance of the public peace" and, paraphrasing Edward Coke, Coke, observed: "An assemblage of persons with arms, for unlawful purpose, is an indictable offence, and even the carrying of arms abroad by a single individual, attended with circumstances giving just reason to fear that he purposes to make an unlawful use of them, would be sufficient cause to require him to give surety of the peace."

Joseph Story

Joseph Story articulated in his influential ''Commentaries on the Constitution'' the orthodox view of the Second Amendment, which he viewed as the amendment's clear meaning: Story describes a militia as the "natural defence of a free country", both against foreign foes, domestic revolts and usurpation by rulers. The book regards the militia as a "moral check" against both usurpation and the arbitrary use of power, while expressing distress at the growing indifference of the American people to maintaining such an organized militia, which could lead to the undermining of the protection of the Second Amendment.

Lysander Spooner

Antislavery Movement In America, Abolitionist Lysander Spooner, commenting on bills of rights, stated that the object of all bills of rights is to assert the rights of individuals against the government and that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms was in support of the right to resist government oppression, as the only security against the tyranny of government lies in forcible resistance to injustice, for injustice will certainly be executed, unless forcibly resisted. Spooner's theory provided the intellectual foundation for John Brown (abolitionist), John Brown and other radical abolitionists who believed that arming slaves was not only morally justified, but entirely consistent with the Second Amendment. An express connection between this right and the Second Amendment was drawn by Lysander Spooner who commented that a "right of resistance" is protected by both the right to Jury trial, trial by jury and the Second Amendment. The congressional debate on the proposed Fourteenth Amendment concentrated on what the Southern United States, Southern States were doing to harm the newly freed slaves, including disarming the former slaves.

Timothy Farrar

In 1867, Judge Timothy Farrar published his ''Manual of the Constitution of the United States of America'', which was written when the Fourteenth Amendment was "in the process of adoption by the State legislatures":

Judge Thomas Cooley

Judge Thomas M. Cooley, perhaps the most widely read constitutional scholar of the nineteenth century, wrote extensively about this amendment, and he explained in 1880 how the Second Amendment protected the "right of the people":
It might be supposed from the phraseology of this provision that the right to keep and bear arms was only guaranteed to the militia; but this would be an interpretation not warranted by the intent. The militia, as has been elsewhere explained, consists of those persons who, under the law, are liable to the performance of military duty, and are officered and enrolled for service when called upon. But the law may make provision for the enrolment of all who are fit to perform military duty, or of a small number only, or it may wholly omit to make any provision at all; and if the right were limited to those enrolled, the purpose of this guaranty might be defeated altogether by the action or neglect to act of the government it was meant to hold in check. The meaning of the provision undoubtedly is, that the people, from whom the militia must be taken, shall have the right to keep and bear arms; and they need no permission or regulation of law for the purpose. But this enables the government to have a well-regulated militia; for to bear arms implies something more than the mere keeping; it implies the learning to handle and use them in a way that makes those who keep them ready for their efficient use; in other words, it implies the right to meet for voluntary discipline in arms, observing in doing so the laws of public order.

Commentary since late 20th century

Until the late 20th century, there was little scholarly commentary of the Second Amendment. In the latter half of the 20th century, there was considerable debate over whether the Second Amendment protected an Individual and group rights, individual right or a collective right. The debate centered on whether the prefatory clause ("A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State") declared the amendment's only purpose or merely announced a purpose to introduce the operative clause ("the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"). Scholars advanced three competing theoretical models for how the prefatory clause should be interpreted. The first, known as the "states' rights" or "collective right" model, held that the Second Amendment does not apply to individuals; rather, it recognizes the right of each state to arm its militia. Under this approach, citizens "have no right to keep or bear arms, but the states have a collective right to have the National Guard". Advocates of collective rights models argued that the Second Amendment was written to prevent the federal government from disarming state militias, rather than to secure an individual right to possess firearms. Prior to 2001, every circuit court decision that interpreted the Second Amendment endorsed the "collective right" model. However, beginning with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Fifth Circuit's opinion ''United States v. Emerson'' in 2001, some circuit courts recognized that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms. The second, known as the "sophisticated collective right model", held that the Second Amendment recognizes some limited individual right. However, this individual right could be exercised only by actively participating members of a functioning, organized state militia. Some scholars have argued that the "sophisticated collective rights model" is, in fact, the functional equivalent of the "collective rights model". Other commentators have observed that prior to ''Emerson'', five circuit courts specifically endorsed the "sophisticated collective right model". The third, known as the "standard model", held that the Second Amendment recognized the personal right of individuals to keep and bear arms. Supporters of this model argued that "although the first clause may describe a general purpose for the amendment, the second clause is controlling and therefore the amendment confers an individual right 'of the people' to keep and bear arms". Additionally, scholars who favored this model argued the "absence of founding-era militias mentioned in the Amendment's preamble does not render it a 'dead letter' because the preamble is a 'philosophical declaration' safeguarding militias and is but one of multiple 'civic purposes' for which the Amendment was enacted". Under both of the collective right models, the opening phrase was considered essential as a pre-condition for the main clause.Merkel and Uviller, p. 150. "The linguistically correct reading of this unique construction is as though it said: 'Congress shall not limit the right of the people (that is, the potential members of the state militia) to acquire and keep the sort of arms appropriate to their military duty, so long as the following statement remains true: "an armed, trained, and controlled militia is the bestif not the onlyway to protect the state government and the liberties of its people against uprisings from within and incursions or oppression from without."'" These interpretations held that this was a grammar structure that was common during that era and that this grammar dictated that the Second Amendment protected a collective right to firearms to the extent necessary for militia duty. However, under the standard model, the opening phrase was believed to be prefatory or amplifying to the operative clause. The opening phrase was meant as a non-exclusive exampleone of many reasons for the amendment. This interpretation is consistent with the position that the Second Amendment protects a modified individual right.Frey and Wellman, p. 194. The question of a collective right versus an individual right was progressively resolved in favor of the individual rights model, beginning with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Fifth Circuit ruling in ''United States v. Emerson'' (2001), along with the Supreme Court's rulings in ''District of Columbia v. Heller'' (2008), and ''McDonald v. Chicago'' (2010). In ''Heller'', the Supreme Court resolved any remaining circuit splits by ruling that the Second Amendment protects an individual right.Shapiro, p. 148. Although the Second Amendment is the only Constitutional amendment with a prefatory clause, such linguistic constructions were widely used elsewhere in the late eighteenth century.Volokh, "Commonplace", p. 793. "The Second Amendment is widely seen as quite unusual, because it has a justification clause as well as an operative clause. Professor Volokh points out that this structure was actually quite commonplace in American constitutions of the Framing era: State Bills of Rights contained justification clauses for many of the rights they secured." Warren E. Burger, a conservative Republican appointed Chief Justice of the United States, chief justice of the United States by President Richard Nixon, wrote in 1990 following his retirement:
The Constitution of the United States, in its Second Amendment, guarantees a "right of the people to keep and bear arms". However, the meaning of this clause cannot be understood except by looking to the purpose, the setting and the objectives of the draftsmen... People of that day were apprehensive about the new "monster" national government presented to them, and this helps explain the language and purpose of the Second Amendment... We see that the need for a state militia was the predicate of the "right" guaranteed; in short, it was declared "necessary" in order to have a state military force to protect the security of the state.
And in 1991 Burger stated:
If I were writing the Bill of Rights now, there wouldn't be any such thing as the Second Amendment... that a well regulated militia being necessary for the defense of the state, the peoples' rights to bear arms. This has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraudI repeat the word 'fraud'on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.
In a 1992 opinion piece, six former American attorneys general wrote:
For more than 200 years, the federal courts have unanimously determined that the Second Amendment concerns only the arming of the people in service to an organized state militia; it does not guarantee immediate access to guns for private purposes. The nation can no longer afford to let the gun lobby's distortion of the Constitution cripple every reasonable attempt to implement an effective national policy toward guns and crime.
Research by Robert Spitzer (political scientist), Robert Spitzer found that every law journal article discussing the Second Amendment through 1959 "reflected the Second Amendment affects citizens only in connection with citizen service in a government organized and regulated militia." Only beginning in 1960 did law journal articles begin to advocate an "individualist" view of gun ownership rights. The opposite of this "individualist" view of gun ownership rights is the "collective-right" theory, according to which the amendment protects a collective right of states to maintain militias or an individual right to keep and bear arms in connection with service in a militia (for this view see for example the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution#Meaning_of_"well_regulated_militia", quote of Justice John Paul Stevens in the Meaning of "well regulated militia" section below). In his book, ''Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution'', Justice John Paul Stevens for example submits the following revised Second Amendment: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms when serving in the militia shall not be infringed."

Meaning of "well regulated militia"

An early use of the phrase "well-regulated militia" may be found in Andrew Fletcher (patriot), Andrew Fletcher's 1698 ''A Discourse of Government with Relation to Militias'', as well as the phrase "ordinary and ill-regulated militia". Fletcher meant "regular" in the sense of regular military, and advocated the universal conscription and regular training of men of fighting age. Jefferson thought well of Fletcher, commenting that "the political principles of that patriot were worthy the purest periods of the British constitution. They are those which were in vigour." The term "regulated" means "disciplined" or "trained".Merkel, p. 361. "Well-regulated meant well trained, rather than subject to rules and regulations." In ''Heller'', the U.S. Supreme Court stated that "[t]he adjective 'well-regulated' implies nothing more than the imposition of proper discipline and training."''Heller'', Opinion of the Court, Part II-A-2. In the year prior to the drafting of the Second Amendment, in Federalist No. 29 Alexander Hamilton wrote the following about "organizing", "disciplining", "arming", and "training". of the militia as specified in the enumerated powers: Justice Scalia, writing for the Court in ''Heller'': "In ''Nunn v. Georgia, Nunn v. State'', 1 Ga. 243, 251 (1846), the Supreme Court of Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia Supreme Court construed the Second Amendment as protecting the 'natural right of self-defence' and therefore struck down a ban on carrying pistols openly. Its opinion perfectly captured the way in which the operative clause of the Second Amendment furthers the purpose announced in the prefatory clause, in continuity with the English right": Justice Stevens in dissent:

Meaning of "the right of the People"

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority in ''Heller'', stated: Scalia further specifies who holds this right: An earlier case, ''United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez'' (1990), dealt with nonresident aliens and the Fourth Amendment, but led to a discussion of who are "the People" when referred to elsewhere in the Constitution: According to the majority in ''Heller'', there were several different reasons for this amendment, and protecting militias was only one of them; if protecting militias had been the only reason then the amendment could have instead referred to "the right of the ''militia'' to keep and bear arms" instead of "the right of the ''people'' to keep and bear arms".

Meaning of "keep and bear arms"

In ''Heller'' the majority rejected the view that the term "to bear arms" implies only the military use of arms: In a dissent, joined by justices David Souter, Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer, Breyer, Justice Stevens said: A May 2018 analysis by Dennis Baron contradicted the majority opinion:
A search of Brigham Young University's new online Corpus of Founding Era American English, with more than 95,000 texts and 138 million words, yields 281 instances of the phrase "bear arms". BYU's Corpus of Early Modern English, with 40,000 texts and close to 1.3 billion words, shows 1,572 instances of the phrase. Subtracting about 350 duplicate matches, that leaves about 1,500 separate occurrences of "bear arms" in the 17th and 18th centuries, and only a handful don't refer to war, soldiering or organized, armed action. These databases confirm that the natural meaning of "bear arms" in the framers' day was military.
However, a paper from 2008 found that before 1820, the use of the phrase "bear arms" was commonly used in a civilian context, such as hunting and personal self-defense, in both American and British law.

Supreme Court cases

In the century following the ratification of the
Bill of Rights A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is a list of the most important rights Rights are law, legal, social, or ethics, ethical principles of Liberty, freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are th ...
, the intended meaning and application of the Second Amendment drew less interest than it does in modern times. The vast majority of regulation was done by states, and the first case law on weapons regulation dealt with state interpretations of the Second Amendment. A notable exception to this general rule was ''Houston v. Moore'', , where the U.S. Supreme Court mentioned the Second Amendment in an aside.Justice Story "misidentified" it as the "5th Amendment". Several public officials, including James Madison and Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, retained the confusing practice of referring to each of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights by the enumeration found in the first draft; the fifth article is the Second Amendment. In the Dred Scott v. Sandford, ''Dred Scott'' decision (1857), the Majority opinion, opinion of the court stated that if African Americans were considered Citizenship in the United States, U.S. citizens, "It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognised as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right... to keep and carry arms wherever they went." State and federal courts historically have used two models to interpret the Second Amendment: the "individual rights" model, which holds that individuals hold the right to bear arms, and the "collective rights" model, which holds that the right is dependent on militia membership. The "collective rights" model has been rejected by the Supreme Court, in favor of the individual rights model. The Supreme Court's primary Second Amendment cases include ''United States v. Miller'', (1939); ''District of Columbia v. Heller'' (2008); and ''McDonald v. Chicago'' (2010). ''Heller'' and ''McDonald'' supported the individual rights model, under which the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms much as the First Amendment protects the right to free speech. Under this model, the militia is composed of members who supply their own arms and ammunition. This is generally recognized as the method by which militias have historically been armed, as the Supreme Court in ''Miller'' said:
The signification attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. 'A body of citizens enrolled for military discipline.' And further, that ordinarily when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.
Of the collective rights model that holds that the right to arms is based on militia membership, the Supreme Court in ''Heller'' said:
A purposive qualifying phrase that contradicts the word or phrase it modifies is unknown this side of the looking glass (except, apparently, in some courses on Linguistics). If "bear arms" means, as we think, simply the carrying of arms, a modifier can limit the purpose of the carriage ("for the purpose of self-defense" or "to make war against the King"). But if "bear arms" means, as the petitioners and the dissent think, the carrying of arms only for military purposes, one simply cannot add "for the purpose of killing game". The right "to carry arms in the militia for the purpose of killing game" is worthy of the The Hatter, mad hatter.

''United States v. Cruikshank''

In the Reconstruction Era case of ''United States v. Cruikshank'', , the defendants were white men who had killed more than sixty black people in what was known as the Colfax massacre and had been charged with conspiring to prevent blacks from exercising their right to bear arms. The Court dismissed the charges, holding that the Bill of Rights restricted Congress but not private individuals. The Court concluded, "[f]or their protection in its enjoyment, the people must look to the States." The Court stated that "[t]he Second Amendment... has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government..." Likewise, the Court held that there was no State actor, state action in this case, and therefore the Fourteenth Amendment was not applicable: Thus, the Court held a federal Enforcement Act of 1871 (third act), anti-Ku-Klux-Klan statute to be unconstitutional Facial challenge, as applied in that case.Doherty, p. 14.

''Presser v. Illinois''

In ''Presser v. Illinois'', , Herman Presser headed a German-American paramilitary shooting organization and was arrested for leading a parade group of 400 men, training and drilling with military weapons with the declared intention to fight, through the streets of Chicago as a violation of Illinois law that prohibited public drilling and parading in military style without a permit from the governor. At his trial, Presser argued that the State of Illinois had violated his Second Amendment rights. The Supreme Court reaffirmed ''Cruikshank'', and also held that the Second Amendment prevented neither the States nor Congress from barring private militias that parade with arms; such a right "cannot be claimed as a right independent of law". This decision upheld the States' authority to regulate the militia and that citizens had no right to create their own militias or to own weapons for semi-military purposes. However the court said: "A state cannot prohibit the people therein from keeping and bearing arms to an extent that would deprive the United States of the protection afforded by them as a reserve military force."

''Miller v. Texas''

In ''Miller v. Texas'', , Franklin Miller was convicted and sentenced to be executed for shooting a police officer to death with an illegally carried handgun in violation of Texas law. Miller sought to have his conviction overturned, claiming his Second Amendment rights were violated and that the Bill of Rights should be applied to state law. The Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment did not apply to state laws such as the Texas law: "As the proceedings were conducted under the ordinary forms of criminal prosecutions there certainly was no denial of due process of law."

''Robertson v. Baldwin''

In ''Robertson v. Baldwin'', , the Supreme Court stated in ''Dictum, dicta'' that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms (Art. II) is not infringed by laws prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons."

''United States v. Miller''

In ''United States v. Miller'', , the Supreme Court rejected a Second Amendment challenge to the National Firearms Act prohibiting the interstate transportation of unregistered Any Other Weapon, Title II weapons: In a unanimous opinion authored by James Clark McReynolds, Justice McReynolds, the Supreme Court stated "the objection that the Act usurps police power reserved to the States is plainly untenable." As the Court explained: Gun rights advocates claim that the Court in ''Miller'' ruled that the Second Amendment protected the right to keep arms that are part of "ordinary military equipment". They also claim that the Court did not consider the question of whether the sawed-off shotgun in the case would be an applicable weapon for personal defense, instead looking solely at the weapon's suitability for the "common defense". Law professor Andrew McClurg states, "The only certainty about ''Miller'' is that it failed to give either side a clear-cut victory. Most modern scholars recognize this fact."

''District of Columbia v. Heller''


According to the syllabus prepared by the U.S. Supreme Court Reporter of Decisions, in ''District of Columbia v. Heller'', , the Supreme Court held: :1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. pp. 2–53. ::(a) The Amendment's prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause's text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms. pp. 2–22. ::(b) The prefatory clause comports with the Court's interpretation of the operative clause. The "militia" comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens' militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens' militia would be preserved. pp. 22–28. ::(c) The Court's interpretation is confirmed by analogous arms-bearing rights in state constitutions that preceded and immediately followed the Second Amendment. pp. 28–30. ::(d) The Second Amendment's drafting history, while of dubious interpretive worth, reveals three state Second Amendment proposals that unequivocally referred to an individual right to bear arms. pp. 30–32. ::(e) Interpretation of the Second Amendment by scholars, courts and legislators, from immediately after its ratification through the late 19th century also supports the Court's conclusion. pp. 32–47. ::(f) None of the Court's precedents forecloses the Court's interpretation. Neither ''United States v. Cruikshank'', 92 U.S. 542, nor ''Presser v. Illinois'', 116 U.S. 252, refutes the individual-rights interpretation. ''United States v. Miller'', 307 U.S. 174, does not limit the right to keep and bear arms to militia purposes, but rather limits the type of weapon to which the right applies to those used by the militia, i.e., those in common use for lawful purposes. pp. 47–54. :2. Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court's opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. ''Miller''s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those "in common use at the time" finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. pp. 54–56. :3. The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment. The District's total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of "arms" that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense. Under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibitionin the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acutewould fail constitutional muster. Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional. Because Heller conceded at oral argument that the D. C. licensing law is permissible if it is not enforced arbitrarily and capriciously, the Court assumes that a license will satisfy his prayer for relief and does not address the licensing requirement. Assuming he is not disqualified from exercising Second Amendment rights, the District must permit Heller to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home. pp. 56–64. The ''Heller'' court also stated (''Heller'', 554 U.S. 570 (2008), at 632) its analysis should not be read to suggest “the invalidity of laws regulating the storage of firearms to prevent accidents.” The Supreme Court also defined the term arms used in the Second Amendment. "Arms" covered by the Second Amendment were defined in '' District of Columbia v. Heller'' to include "any thing that a man wears for his defence, or takes into his hands, or useth in wrath to cast at or strike another". 554 U. S., at 581." The Michigan Court of Appeals 2012 relied on ''Heller'' in the case ''People v. Yanna'' to state certain limitations on the right to keep and bear arms:
In some respects, these limitations are consistent with each other. However, they are not identical, and the United States Supreme Court neither fully harmonized them nor elevated one over another. First, the Court stated that "the Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes." ''Id.'' at 625, 128 S.Ct. 2783. The Court further stated that "the sorts of weapons protected were those `in common use at the time.'" ''Id.'' at 627, 128 S.Ct. 2783 (citation omitted). As noted, however, this included weapons that did not exist when the Second Amendment was enacted. ''Id.'' at 582, 128 S.Ct. 2783. Third, the Court referred to "the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of `dangerous and unusual weapons.'" ''Id.'' at 627, 128 S.Ct. 2783 (citation omitted).
There are similar legal summaries of the Supreme Court's findings in ''Heller'' as the one quoted above. For example, the Supreme Court of Illinois, Illinois Supreme Court in ''People v. Aguilar'' (2013), summed up ''Heller''s findings and reasoning:

Notes and analysis

''Heller'' has been widely described as a Lists of landmark court decisions, landmark decision because it was the first time the Court affirmed an individual's right to own a gun. To clarify that its ruling does not invalidate a broad range of existing firearm laws, the majority opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, said: The Court's statement that the right is limited has been widely discussed by lower courts and the media. The majority opinion also said that the amendment's prefatory clause (referencing the "militia") serves to clarify the operative clause (referencing "the people"), but does not limit the scope of the operative clause, because "the 'militia' in colonial America consisted of a subset of 'the people'.... " John Paul Stevens, Justice Stevens' dissenting opinion, which was joined by the three other dissenters, said: Stevens went on to say the following: This dissent called the majority opinion "strained and unpersuasive" and said that the right to possess a firearm exists only in relation to the militia and that the D.C. laws constitute permissible regulation. In the majority opinion, Justice Stevens' interpretation of the phrase "to keep and bear arms" was referred to as a "hybrid" definition that Stevens purportedly chose in order to avoid an "incoherent" and "[g]rotesque" idiomatic meeting. Stephen Breyer, Justice Breyer, in his own dissent joined by Stevens, Souter, and Ginsburg, stated that the entire Court subscribes to the proposition that "the amendment protects an 'individual' righti.e., one that is separately possessed, and may be separately enforced, by each person on whom it is conferred". Regarding the term "well regulated", the majority opinion said, "The adjective 'well-regulated' implies nothing more than the imposition of proper discipline and training." The majority opinion quoted Spooner from ''The Unconstitutionality of Slavery'' as saying that the right to bear arms was necessary for those who wanted to take a stand against slavery. The majority opinion also stated that: The dissenting justices were not persuaded by this argument. Reaction to ''Heller'' has varied, with many sources giving focus to the ruling referring to itself as being the first in Supreme Court history to read the Second Amendment as protecting an individual right. The majority opinion, authored by Justice Scalia, gives explanation of the majority legal reasoning behind this decision. The majority opinion made clear that the recent ruling did not foreclose the Court's prior interpretations given in ''United States v. Cruikshank'', ''Presser v. Illinois'', and ''United States v. Miller'' though these earlier rulings did not limit the right to keep and bear arms solely to militia purposes, but rather limits the type of weapon to which the right applies to those used by the militia (i.e., those in common use for lawful purposes). ''Heller'' pertained to three District of Columbia ordinances involving restrictions on firearms amounting to a total ban. These three ordinances were a ban on handgun registration, a requirement that all firearms in a home be either disassembled or have a trigger lock, and licensing requirement that prohibits carrying an unlicensed firearm in the home, such as from one room to another.
Under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibitionin the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acutewould fail constitutional muster.... Because Heller conceded at oral argument that the District's licensing law is permissible if it is not enforced arbitrarily and capriciously, the Court assumed that a license will satisfy his prayer for relief and did not address the licensing requirement. Assuming he is not disqualified from exercising Second Amendment rights, the District must permit Heller to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home."
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Ginsburg was a vocal critic of ''Heller''. Speaking in an interview on public radio station WNYC, she called the Second Amendment "outdated", saying: According to adjunct Professor of Law at Duquesne University School of Law Anthony Picadio, who said he's not anti-gun but rather "anti-bad-judging", Justice Scalia's reasoning in ''Heller'' is the product of an erroneous reading of Colonial history of the United States, colonial history and Second Amendment to the United States Constitution#Debates_on_amending_the_Constitution, the drafting Second Amendment to the United States Constitution#Conflict_and_compromise_in_Congress_produce_the_Bill_of_Rights, history of the Second Amendment. He argued that the Southern Slave states and free states, slave states would never have ratified the Second Amendment if it had been understood as creating an individual right to own firearms because of their fear of arming Free Negro, free blacks. After a lengthy historical and legal analysis Anthony Picadio concluded: “If the Second Amendment had been understood to have the meaning given to it by Justice Scalia, it would not have been ratified by Virginia and the other slave states.” Picadio pointed out that the right acknowledged in ''Heller'' was not originally to be Fundamental rights#United_States, an enumarated right. Instead, he argues, there would be more respect for the ''Heller'' decison, if the right acknowledged in ''Heller'' would have been forthrightly classified as Unenumerated rights, an unenumerated right and if the issue in ''Heller'' would have been analysed under the Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution. He finished with the following observation: "The pre-existing right that the ''Heller'' Court incorporated into the Second Amendment is very narrow. As recognized by Samuel Alito, Justice Alito in the McDonald v. City of Chicago, ''McDonald'' case, it protects only "the right to possess a handgun in the house for the purposes of self-defense." This narrow right has never been extended by the Supreme Court."

''McDonald v. City of Chicago''

On June 28, 2010, the Court in '' McDonald v. City of Chicago'', , held that the Second Amendment was Incorporation of the Bill of Rights, incorporated, saying that "[i]t is clear that the Framers and ratifiers of the Fourteenth Amendment counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty." This means that the Court ruled that the Second Amendment limits state and local governments to the same extent that it limits the federal government. It also remanded a case regarding a Chicago handgun prohibition. Four of the five justices in the majority voted to do so by way of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution#Due Process Clause, Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, while the fifth justice, Clarence Thomas, voted to do so through the amendment's Privileges or Immunities Clause. Justice Thomas, in his concurring opinion, noted that the Privileges or Immunities Clause refers to "citizens" whereas the Due Process Clause refers more broadly to any "person", and therefore Thomas reserved the issue of non-citizens for later decision. After ''McDonald'', many questions about the Second Amendment remain unsettled, such as whether non-citizens are protected through the Equal Protection Clause. In ''People v. Aguilar'' (2013), the Supreme Court of Illinois, Illinois Supreme Court summed up the central Second Amendment findings in ''McDonald'':

''Caetano v. Massachusetts''

On March 21, 2016, in a per curiam decision the Court vacated a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision upholding the conviction of a woman who carried a Electroshock weapon, stun gun for self-defense. The Court reiterated that the ''Heller'' and ''McDonald'' decisions saying that "the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding", that "the Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the States", and that the protection is not restricted to "only those weapons useful in warfare". The term "bearable arms" was defined in '' District of Columbia v. Heller'', 554 U.S. 570 (2008) and includes any "[w]eapo[n] of offence" or "thing that a man wears for his defence, or takes into his hands", that is "carr[ied]... for the purpose of offensive or defensive action". 554 U. S., at 581, 584 (internal quotation marks omitted)."

''New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, New York''

The Court heard ''New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, New York'' on December 2, 2019, to decide whether a New York City ordinance that prevents the transport of guns, even if properly unloaded and locked in containers, from within city limits to outside of the city limits is unconstitutional. The New York Rifle & Pistol Association challenged the ordinance on the basis of the Second Amendment, the Dormant Commerce Clause, and the Freedom of movement, right to travel. However, as the city had changed its rule to allow transport while the case was under consideration by the Court, the Court ruled the case Mootness#U.S. federal courts, moot in April 2020, though it Remand (court procedure), remanded the case so the lower courts could review the new rules under the petitioners new claims.

United States Courts of Appeals decisions before and after ''Heller''

Before ''Heller''

Until ''District of Columbia v. Heller'' (2008), ''United States v. Miller'' (1939) had been the only Supreme Court decision that "tested a congressional enactment against [the Second Amendment]".CRS Report for Congress ''District of Columbia v.Heller: The Supreme Court and the Second Amendment'' April 11, 2008 Congressional Research Service T.J. Halsted, Legislative Attorney, American Law Division. Order Code RL34446 ''Miller'' did not directly mention either a collective or individual right, but for the 62-year period from ''Miller'' until the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Fifth Circuit's decision in ''United States v. Emerson'' (2001), federal courts recognized only the collective right, with "courts increasingly referring to one another's holdings... without engaging in any appreciably substantive legal analysis of the issue". ''Emerson'' changed this by addressing the question in depth, with the Fifth Circuit determining that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. Subsequently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Ninth Circuit conflicted with ''Emerson'' in ''Silveira v. Lockyer'', and the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, D.C. Circuit supported ''Emerson'' in ''Parker v. District of Columbia''. ''Parker'' evolved into '' District of Columbia v. Heller'', in which the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the Second Amendment protects an individual right.

After ''Heller''

Since ''Heller'', the United States courts of appeals have ruled on many Second Amendment challenges to convictions and gun control laws.Winkler, "Heller's Catch 22", p. 14. The following are post-''Heller'' cases, divided by Circuit, along with summary notes:

D.C. Circuit

* ''Heller v. District of Columbia'', Civil Action No. 08-1289 (RMU), No. 23., 25On March 26, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, D.C. Circuit denied the follow up appeal of Dick Heller who requested the court to overturn the new District of Columbia gun control ordinances newly enacted after the 2008 ''Heller'' ruling. The court refused to do so, stating that the firearms registration procedures, the prohibition on assault weapons, and the prohibition on large capacity ammunition feeding devices were found to not violate the Second Amendment. On September 18, 2015, the D.C. Circuit ruled that requiring gun owners to re-register a gun every three years, make a gun available for inspection or pass a test about firearms laws violated the Second Amendment, although the court upheld requirements that gun owners be fingerprinted, photographed, and complete a safety training course. * ''Wrenn v. District of Columbia'', No. 16-7025On July 25, 2017, the D.C. Circuit ruled that a District of Columbia regulation that limited conceal-carry licenses only to those individuals who could demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the chief of police, that they have a "good reason" to carry a handgun in public was essentially designed to prevent the exercise of the right to bear arms by most District residents and so violated the Second Amendment by amounting to a complete prohibition on firearms possession.

First Circuit

* ''United States v. Rene E.'', On August 31, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, First Circuit affirmed the conviction of a juvenile for the illegal possession of a handgun as a juvenile, under and , rejecting the defendant's argument that the federal law violated his Second Amendment rights under ''Heller''. The court cited "the existence of a longstanding tradition of prohibiting juveniles from both receiving and possessing handguns" and observed "the federal ban on juvenile possession of handguns is part of a longstanding practice of prohibiting certain classes of individuals from possessing firearmsthose whose possession poses a particular danger to the public."

Second Circuit

* ''Kachalsky v. County of Westchester'', 11-3942On November 28, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Second Circuit upheld New York's may-issue concealed carry permit law, ruling that "the proper cause requirement is substantially related to New York's compelling interests in public safety and crime prevention."

Fourth Circuit

* ''United States v. Hall'', On August 4, 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Fourth Circuit upheld as constitutional the prohibition of possession of a concealed weapon without a permit.Winkler, "Heller's Catch 22", p. 15. * ''United States v. Chester'', 628 F.3d 673 (4th Cir. 2010)On December 30, 2010, the Fourth Circuit vacated William Chester's conviction for possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, in violation of . The court found that the district court erred in perfunctorily relying on ''Heller's'' exception for "presumptively lawful" gun regulations made in accordance with "longstanding prohibitions". * ''Kolbe v. Hogan'', No. 14-1945 (4th Cir. 2016)On February 4, 2016, the Fourth Circuit vacated a United States district court, U.S. District Court decision upholding a Maryland law banning high-capacity magazines and semi-automatic rifles, ruling that the District Court was wrong to have applied intermediate scrutiny. The Fourth Circuit ruled that the higher strict scrutiny standard is to be applied on Remand (court procedure), remand. On March 4, 2016, the court agreed to rehear the case ''en banc'' on May 11, 2016.

Fifth Circuit

* ''United States v. Dorosan'', 350 Fed. Appx. 874 (5th Cir. 2009)On June 30, 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Fifth Circuit upheld , which bans weapons on postal property, sustaining restrictions on guns outside the home, specifically in private vehicles parked in employee parking lots of government facilities, despite Second Amendment claims that were dismissed. The employee's Second Amendment rights were not infringed since the employee could have instead parked across the street in a public parking lot, instead of on government property. * ''United States v. Bledsoe'', 334 Fed. Appx. 771 (5th Cir. 2009)The Fifth Circuit affirmed the decision of a U.S. District Court decision in Texas, upholding , which prohibits "straw purchases". A "straw purchase" occurs when someone eligible to purchase a firearm buys one for an ineligible person. Additionally, the court rejected the request for a strict scrutiny standard of review. * ''United States v. Scroggins'', On March 4, 2010, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the conviction of Ernie Scroggins for possession of a firearm as a convicted felon, in violation of . The court noted that it had, prior to ''Heller'', identified the Second Amendment as providing an individual right to bear arms, and had already, likewise, determined that restrictions on felon ownership of firearms did not violate this right. Moreover, it observed that ''Heller'' did not affect the longstanding prohibition of firearm possession by felons.

Sixth Circuit

* ''Tyler v. Hillsdale Co. Sheriff's Dept.'', On December 18, 2014, the Sixth Circuit ruled that strict scrutiny should be applied to firearms regulations when regulations burden "conduct that falls within the scope of the Second Amendment right, as historically understood". At issue in this case was whether the Second Amendment is violated by a provision of the Gun Control Act of 1968 that prohibits possession of a firearm by a person who has been Involuntary commitment, involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital. The court did not rule on the provision's constitutionality, instead remanding the case to the United States district court that has earlier heard this case. On April 21, 2015, the Sixth Circuit voted to rehear the case ''en banc'', thereby vacating the December 18 opinion.

Seventh Circuit

* ''United States v. Skoien'', Steven Skoien, a Wisconsin man convicted of two misdemeanor domestic violence convictions, appealed his conviction based on the argument that the prohibition violated the individual rights to bear arms, as described in ''Heller''. After initial favorable rulings in lower court based on a standard of intermediate scrutiny, on July 13, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Seventh Circuit, sitting ''en banc'', ruled 10–1 against Skoien and reinstated his conviction for a gun violation, citing the strong relation between the law in question and the government objective. Skoien was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison for the gun violation, and will thus likely be subject to a lifetime ban on gun ownership. Editorials favoring gun rights sharply criticized this ruling as going too far with the enactment of a lifetime gun ban, while editorials favoring gun regulations praised the ruling as "a bucket of cold water thrown on the 'gun rights' celebration". * ''Moore v. Madigan'' (Circuit docket 12-1269)On December 11, 2012, the Seventh Circuit ruled that the Second Amendment protected a right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense. This was an expansion of the Supreme Court's decisions in ''Heller'' and ''McDonald'', each of which referred only to such a right in the home. Based on this ruling, the court declared Illinois's ban on the concealed carrying of firearms to be unconstitutional. The court Stay of execution, stayed this ruling for 180 days, so Illinois could enact replacement legislation. On February 22, 2013, a petition for rehearing ''en banc'' was denied by a vote of 5–4. On July 9, 2013, the Illinois General Assembly, overriding Pat Quinn (politician), Governor Quinn's veto, passed a law permitting the concealed carrying of firearms.

Ninth Circuit

* ''Nordyke v. King'', 2012 WL 1959239 (9th Cir. 2012)On July 29, 2009, the Ninth Circuit Vacated judgment, vacated an April 20 panel decision and reheard the case ''en banc'' on September 24, 2009. The April 20 decision had held that the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments, while upholding an Alameda County, California ordinance that makes it a crime to bring a gun or ammunition on to, or possess either while on, county property. The ''en banc'' panel remanded the case to the three-judge panel. On May 2, 2011, that panel ruled that intermediate scrutiny was the correct standard by which to judge the ordinance's constitutionality and remanded the case to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. On November 28, 2011, the Ninth Circuit vacated the panel's May2 decision and agreed to rehear the case ''en banc''. On April 4, 2012, the panel sent the case to mediation. The panel dismissed the case on June 1, 2012, but only after Alameda County officials changed their interpretation of the challenged ordinance. Under the new interpretation, gun shows may take place on county property under the ordinance's exception for "events", subject to restrictions regarding the display and handling of firearms. * ''Teixeira v. County of Alameda'', (Circuit docket 13-17132)On May 16, 2016, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the right to keep and bear arms included being able to buy and sell firearms. The court ruled that a county law prohibiting a gun store being within 500 feet of a "[r]esidentially zoned district; elementary, middle or high school; pre-school or day care center; other firearms sales business; or liquor stores or establishments in which liquor is served" violated the Second Amendment. * ''Peruta v. San Diego'' No. 10-56971 (9th Cir. 2016), (Circuit docket 13-17132)On June 9, 2016, pertaining to the legality of San Diego County's restrictive policy regarding requiring documentation of "good cause" before issuing a concealed carry permit, the Ninth Circuit upheld the policy, finding that "there is no Second Amendment right for members of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public." * ''Young v. State of Hawaii'' No. 12-17808 (9th Cir. 2021)An ''en banc'' ruling of the Ninth Circuit on March 26, 2021 upheld the validity of Hawaii's law that barred open carry of guns outside of one's home without a license. The Ninth Circuit ruled that there was no right to carry weapons in public spaces, and states have a compelling interest for public safety to restrict public possession of guns.

See also

* 2nd Amendment Day * Gun ownership#United States gun ownership, Gun ownership – United States gun ownership * Gun culture in the United States * Gun law in the United States#Second Amendment, Gun law in the United States – Second Amendment * Gun politics in the United States * List of amendments to the United States Constitution * Right to keep and bear arms – international views on the concept by country * Second Amendment Caucus – a Congressional caucus dedicated to supporting the right to bear arms * Uniform Firearms Act – a set of statutes in Pennsylvania that define and amplify the ''right to bear arms'' in that state's Constitution.





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