The Second Amendment

The Second Amendment is one of the U.S. Bill of Rights protecting the right of legal residents and citizens to keep and bear firearms. It was adopted together with the other Bill of Rights on 15th December, 1791. The Second Amendment states that, “[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” (U.S. Constitution, 2007, p. 1193). Ever since it was introduced in the U.S. Constitution, the Amendment has been received with mixed reactions, with some throwing their full weight behind it while others opposing it zealously. These varied thoughts are perhaps attributable to the difference in the understanding of the Amendment. This paper will thus address the arguments in favor of and against the Second Amendment with the support of credible sources.

Historical Background

The U.S. was once a colony of the British under their imperialist rule; therefore, the Second Amendment was most probably nurtured by the English Bill of Rights of 1689. As the Americans Revolution against the British began, the Patriots resorted to equipping their militia with independent arsenals. The British Parliament on noticing this build up in their armory initiated an arms embargo. These efforts by the British to disarm the Patriot colonist made them remind the British government of the Declaration of Rights, the British laws on militia and the rights to self defense.

After winning the Revolution, another impasse was imminent. The Federalists were of the notion of a militarized state exclusively under the authority of the Congress while on the other hand, anti-federalists where of contrary opinion since they opposed acquisition of power belonging to the states by the federal government . However, a proposition at the Philadelphia Convention in 1787 gave the Congress the sole mandate to militarize the United States with an unlimited size of an army and navy (Pole & Greene, 2007, p. 386). The unrelenting efforts by the anti-federalists to prevent a power shift from the states to the Congress never carried the day; they instead strategized the creation of a Bill of Rights that would ensure some checks and balances to the federal government (Merkel & Uviller, 2002, p. 79).

The founding fathers of the Bill of Rights like James Madison are said to have framed it as a moderator of military power between the states, the nation and the people (Millis, 1981, p. 49). Even after ratification of the Constitution by most states, conflicts and compromises with regard to the Amendment were still rife. A Madison proposal of the Bill of Rights on 8th June, 1789, contained a passage relating to the possession of arms. Later on, in July 21st the same year, he drew the attention of the House of Representatives on the Bill and requested that a committee be created to give a report on it. His request sailed and on July 28th, the committee brought to the House a rewording of the Second Amendment. This never ended ongoing debates about the Amendment in the House which resulted into further modifications of the Second Amendment. After being passed to the Senate in on 25th August, it was entered in the Senate Journal but was later, on 4th September, changed by the Senate which removed a conscientious objector clause and the definition of the militia. The last of all transformations of the Second Amendment saw the introduction of the words “necessary to” resulting into the birth of the current version of the Amendment that was later ratified as part of the Bill of Rights on 15th December, 1791, by three-quarters of the states.



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