Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has a long history, and its essence is “the right of people to keep and bear arms”. The gist of this amendment is providing people with weapon in order to be able to protect themselves and the country. The time has passed, and there arises the question whether this right is still relevant today. If yes, who needs it?
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To start with, the history of the Second Amendment’s creation should be discussed. It helps to understand the initial goal of this right and its primary mission. This Amendment appeared in 1787 by the James Madison’s initiative (Sloan and Parcell 126). Its gist represents the history of England since the XII century when King Henry II ordered his people to carry guns in to protect the community. The thing is that police appeared in England in 1829, and there was no regular army in the country. For that reason, people had to carry weapon. In 1671, the situation changed as English Parliament allowed carrying weapon for rich people only. This information is essential as the Second Amendment included the gist of these laws, which were introduced in England. James Madison is considered to be the founder of this Amendment; at that time, there were serious reasons for its introducing. A lot of people have come to the newly created country, and it needed police for the state’s defense and its citizens’ protection. The thing is that citizen-soldiers turned out to be non-proficient soldiers (Massaro 161). Moreover, they did not know how to use the weapon accurately, and it was one of the main reasons for the Second Amendment’s creation. The Amendment reflected the idea that citizens had a duty to participate in the militia. While writing the text of the Second Amendment, James Madison assumed that militia service was a citizen’s duty. It should be emphasized that citizen-oriented interpretation is olstered by the Amendment’s reference to a “well-regulated” militia. At the same time, just as citizens had the duty to participate in the militia, governments had a duty to train the citizen-soldiers and provide them with the arms when they could not do so on their own. After the creation of the Second Amendment, in 1792, the Congress has passed the Militia Act. It required all the states to enroll male citizens of the age between 18 and 45 to the army.
Therefore, the history confirms that the Second Amendment resulted in the development of two principal schools of thought: the “individualist” and the “collectivist’. Individualist school considers that this Amendment guarantees individuals the right to possess arms for different reasons (Rogers 32). This results in the controversial understanding of this Amendment.
For example, it is worth mentioning The District of Columbia vs Heller Court case. In this case, policeman Heller applied to register a gun, which he wanted to keep at home. However, the District of Columbia banned handgun possession, and the District refused that man to keep gun at home. On June 26, 2008, the Supreme Court has handed down the landmark decision, according to which, the District’s ban on handgun possession violated the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In his book “The Second Amendment: The intent and its Interpretation by the States and Supreme Court” (2009), researcher Patrick Charles points out that this decision is “significant for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it interpreted the amendment’s prefatory and operative clauses in a manner that supports the individual rights. Second, it overtuned a ban on handguns in Washington, D.C. one the highest crime-rated cities in the United States” (5).
It should be stated that Charless is partially right; however, it should be acknowledged that with the course of time, people have changed as well as their perception of the world and reality. For that reason, weapon possession right is not the fundamental individual right. One should understand that the words “the right of people” concern not every citizen of the U.S., but policemen only. The gist of the Second Amendment is providing military workers with weapon, but not to give everyone a gun. It is not a toy; if everyone had the gun, then the level of murders would definitely increase.
While discussing the meaning of the Second Amendment today, it should be stated that it is rather difficult to understand it taking into account the philosophical, moral, and legal perspectives. Those people, who own guns, perceive this Amendment as their legal guarantee to some issues, which are extremely significant to them, like the issue of self- and state protection. Existence of this Amendment today seems to be the confirmation that the rights of those people are preserved and guarantees are sacred. However, there is other side of the medal, which should be also discussed as there exist people, who perceive it to be irrelevant. They consider that there is a need to preserve it any more. However, if the Second Amendment is obsolete today, what Amendment would turn out to be outdated tomorrow?
In conclusion, it should be stated that people should understand that the Second Amendment is essential for the U.S. Constitution and the whole country in general. However, it should be taken into account that it does not presuppose giving guns to everybody; there exist special organs, which are obliged to possess weapon. This Amendment concerns policemen and military men, but not ordinary people. The thing is that there is a great risk that gun possession by ordinary people might result in murders and violence increase.
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