As part of our Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment was based on the right to keep and bear arms as stated in the English Bill of Rights (1689). These rights supported the natural rights of self-defense and the civic duty to act in concert in defense of country.
Our Supreme Court has made various interpretations on the meaning of this amendment. In 1939, the court, in United States v. Miller, ruled that the federal government and the states could limit any weapon types not having a “reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia.”
In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the court handed down a landmark decision, expressly holding the Second Amendment to protect an individual’s right to possess and carry firearms. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, stated, “The right of the whole people, ... and not militia only, to keep and bear arms of every description, not such merely as are used by the militia, shall not be infringed, curtailed, or broken in upon …”
Justice John Paul Stevens, in dissent, said, “When each word in the text is given full effect, the Amendment is most naturally read to secure to the people a right to use and possess arms in conjunction with service in a well-regulated militia. So far as appears, no more than that was contemplated by its drafters …”
Folks, I believe Justice Stevens got it right.
This 2008 ruling launched a storm clash between gun-control and gun-rights groups. All polls show a vast majority of Americans want gun safety laws. I salute former Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his crusade to elevate gun safety in America.