The Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment

Second Amendment

What makes the Second Amendment controversial?

There are two very different interpretations of the Second Amendment, which provides: “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.” The Second Amendment consists of two clauses—the prefatory clause speaking of a “well-regulated militia” and an operative clause speaking of the “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

One interpretation of the Second Amendment focuses on the militia clause, emphasizing that the amendment was only designed to protect a collective right to bear arms through a militia. This collective-rights interpretation does not believe that the amendment was designed to give individuals a constitutional right to bear arms. The other interpretation of the Second Amendment—the individual-rights model—believes that the amendment gives individuals the right to bear arms.


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