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Second amendment examination: Right to bear arms?

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  1. Introduction
  2. The Fourth Amendment
  3. The Second Amendment
  4. The issue in Parker
  5. The court in Parker
  6. U.S. v. Emerson
    1. The court in Emerson
  7. The textual and contextual evidence
  8. The district court decision
  9. Conclusion

Words are not just ?foolish semantics? as they may so often seem. Words can be placed and interpreted in so many different ways that finding meaning can be quite challenging. The language of the Second Amendment is at the core of the debate between those who believe in the individual right to arms and those who believe only militia personnel have right. Literal interpretations of the U.S. Constitution reveal that the Second Amendment protects the individual's right to arms; the arms protected are limited, however, to those that an individual might operate in a militia.

The interpretation of the phrase ?the people? has come into controversy. These two words have been examined in both U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259 (1990) and Parker v. District of Columbia, 478 F.3d 370 (D.C. Cir. 2007). U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez is a case whose facts are unrelated to the Second Amendment, but whose interpretation of ?the people? is important to the argument of the individual right to arms.

[...] In their reasoning, they found that the original intent of its existence in the First, Second, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth amendments was indeed to ensure those certain rights to people? of the United States. The reason that those rights must be protected, according to the Court's interpretation of the Constitution's original intent, was to protect individual citizens of the United States from the tyranny of the government F.3d at 388. The Second Amendment gives all individuals the right to bear arms because people? must be afforded the opportunity to protect themselves from government intrusion. [...]


[...] The manner in which the words of the Second Amendment have been interpreted in the courts, from as far back as 1939, to as recently as this year show that the right to keep and bear arms is, in fact, an individual right. Verdugo-Urquidez and Parker examined who people? really are and found that all citizens have the individual right, not just a militia. Simply by virtue of being in the Bill of rights and finding the language of other amendments specify individual rights, the Second Amendment should be considered an individual right, as consistent with the rest of the structure of the Bill of Rights. [...]

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