Does the Second Amendment Give the Private Right to Gun Ownership?
My husband and I were debating whether the Second Amendment offers a private right to bear arms. I argued that while U.S. legislation clearly allows for private ownership, it shouldn’t be extrapolated from the Second Amendment. He argued the Second Amendment gives the private right to gun ownership based on judicial interpretation. The Second Amendment states:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
For me, this amendment addresses a “well regulated militia.” We cannot extract words for interpretation. Legislation in any form must be read facially and intrepreted as a whole; otherwise, we’ll be reading the Constitution like Nostradamus’ predictions or a Magic Eight Ball — we’ll read anything into it by parsing the language and picking our favorite bits.
I am wrong.
In D.C. v. Heller, a landmark case, a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court held the Second Amendment affirmatively protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. The Court also held that D.C.’s handgun ban and requirement that lawfully-owned rifles and shotguns be kept “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock” violated this guarantee. The Supreme Court not only has upheld the Second Amendment as guaranteeing these rights, but also has banned any law requiring responsible storgage of guns as violative of the Constitution.
I am not anti-gun. I am against banning laws requiring responsible ownership and storage. At the end of the day, weapons must be used to be dangerous. It will be interesting to see if this 2008 case is revisited with the intense scrutiny over gun control and school shootings — we can only hope. 554 U.S. 570 (2008).