Gun Ownership and the Second Amendment of the Constitution

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Gun Ownership and the Second Amendment

Over the centuries, the Supreme Court has always ruled that the 2nd Amendment protects the states' militia's rights to bear arms, and that this protection does not extend to individuals. In fact, legal scholars consider the issue "settled law." For this reason, the gun lobby does not fight for its perceived constitutional right to keep and bear arms before the Supreme Court, but in Congress. Interestingly, even interpreting an individual right in the 2nd Amendment presents the gun lobby with some thorny problems, like the right to keep and bear nuclear weapons.

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."

Pro-gun advocates claim that this amendment guarantees their individual right to own a gun, and that gun control laws are therefore a violation of their constitutional rights. In fact, the term "violation of our Second Amendment rights" has become a battle cry in gun lobbyist literature, repeated everywhere in their editorials and essays.

However, this raises a fascinating observation. If gun control laws are so obviously a violation of the Second Amendment, then why doesn't the National Rifle Association challenge them on constitutional grounds before the Supreme Court? The answer is that they know they face certain defeat, for reasons we shall explore below. Consequently, the NRA has abandoned all hope in the courts.

Instead, the NRA has chosen to lobby Congress to prevent gun control legislation, and has become in fact one of the most powerful lobbies on Capital Hill. This is a supreme and exquisite irony, given the conservative and ...

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...'t need nuclear weapons to achieve the feared results; the U.S. already has the high murder statistics to prove it with handguns alone.

The argument is also strange because the gun lobby fervently hopes to avoid public mobilization on a constitutional amendment limiting the right to keep and bear arms. A huge majority of Americans favor stricter gun control laws; and as long as they're excluding nuclear weapons they might as well throw in assault weapons and Saturday Night Specials.

But ultimately, calling for a constitutional amendment banning the ownership of nuclear weapons is moot. Individuals do not even have a guaranteed right to keep and bear firearms, much less modern military weapons. To overcome the Supreme Court on this issue, the gun lobby would have to promote fundamental changes in our political structure that would surely be disimprovements.

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