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Constitution of the United States

NRA: No Second-Guessing the Second Amendment

In 1776, America’s Founders came together in Philadelphia to draw up a “Declaration of Independence,” ending political ties to Great Britain. Written by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration explains people’s rights and how people create governments:

WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness-That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.

By Robert Pew

In modern English: We don’t get our rights from the government; we’re born with those rights, and the government should protect them.

Eleven years later, after independence had been won, our Founders assembled once again to draw up a plan for governing the new nation. That plan became the Constitution of the United States of America.

Constitution of the United States

During the debate over the Constitution, many Americans were worried that a strong federal government would trample on the individual rights of citizens, as the British had done. To protect the basic rights of Americans, the Founders added the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. Those amendments are known as the Bill of Rights. They represent the fundamental freedoms that are at the heart of our society, including the First Amendment freedoms of speech and religion, and the Second Amendment right of the people to keep and bear arms.

The meaning of the Second Amendment has been debated for decades. Does the Second Amendment protect an individual right for all Americans? Or does it only protect the right to keep and bear arms while participating in an organized force, such as the National Guard? Or does it only protect the “right” of the states to have a National Guard in the first place?

Some people have claimed there was no individual right to keep and bear arms. However, anyone who understands the Declaration of Independence knows that rights-by definition-belong to individuals. And in the Bill of Rights, the freedoms of religion, freedom of speech and the rest all refer to individual liberties.

The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is no different. The first Congress had no doubt about its meaning. Most of the Founders were gun owners and hunters. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson exchanged letters about their gun collections. The Founders had just finished winning their freedoms with guns in their hands, and soon passed a law requiring most male citizens to own at least one gun and 30 rounds of ammunition. They believed citizens should be able to protect themselves and their country against attacks on life and liberty.

So, where did anyone get the idea that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect an individual right? That theory was invented in the 20th century, by people who rejected what seemed like common sense to our Founding Fathers. Instead, they claimed that the Second Amendment only protects the government.

Now, the Supreme Court has thrown out that idea.

In 1975, Washington, D.C. passed some of the most extreme gun laws in the nation. Handguns were banned. All guns had to be stored disassembled and locked, making them useless for self-defense. City leaders claimed it would make the city safer. But Washington’s murder rate soared, and our nation’s capital soon became known as America’s murder capital.

In 2003, a group of Washington residents filed a lawsuit challenging these harsh gun laws. They said that Washington’s gun laws violated the Second Amendment because the laws took away the right to use firearms for self-defense, even in their own homes.

The first court that heard the case said that D.C.’s laws were constitutional. The residents appealed, and the appeals court agreed that the laws violated the right to keep and bear arms, after all.

Now, the city appealed. By 2008, the case, which by then was known as D.C. vs. Heller, had gone to the Supreme Court. To make their decision, the Supreme Court justices studied the words and history of the Second Amendment. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court agreed with the citizens: The Second Amendment protects an individual right, not a “state’s right.” The decision struck down the District’s laws that banned handguns and that kept people from using guns for self-defense in their homes.

No Supreme Court decision ever ends a political debate, though. Now, the NRA and citizens around the country are going to court to challenge states and cities with restrictive gun laws. But the landmark Heller decision provided a key answer to the most important part of the debate: The Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.

Thompson Center Contender handgun left on groundhog paper target

Reader Comments of the Week — April 8, 2017

Even regular readers of The Shooter’s Log can’t read or respond to all of the comments, so we have started a new weekly feature that will recap a sampling of the most active, interesting, or on occasion, randomly selected comments from the previous weeks. Feel free to respond with your two cents at the bottom of this article or by clicking the story link and adding it directly to the discussion.

Several pistols on display at a show

NRA: New York Wants Handguns to be Rationed in Virginia

Whenever a politician or anti gunner proposes legislation and explains it as common sense, there is one thing you can be sure of, it is anything but common sense to gun owners or those who believe in the Second Amendment. Such is the case of the call from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe for the enactment of a new one-handgun-a-month law to mimic a handgun rationing law that was repealed in 2012.

Springfield EMP4 pistol right angled

Reader Comments of the Week — April 1, 2017

Even regular readers of The Shooter’s Log can’t read or respond to all of the comments, so we have started a new weekly feature that will recap a sampling of the most active, interesting, or on occasion, randomly selected comments from the previous weeks. Feel free to respond with your two cents at the bottom of this article or by clicking the story link and adding it directly to the discussion.

Thompson Center Contender handgun left on groundhog paper target

Review: Thompson Contender — The Specialist’s Handgun

Among the most interesting of hobbies is the pursuit of accuracy. Some handguns have it and some do not—the level of accuracy varies widely. I have often mentioned that I do not own a machine rest as I prefer to keep in touch with reality. I do own a couple of devices that help me shoot well such as the Bull Shooters pistol rest.

Walther Creed 9mm pistol left with spare magazine on bed of rocks

Review: Walther Creed 9mm Pistol

The new face of Walther is far more than just a legacy of James Bond’s Walther PPK but a company offering real innovation. The company has leapt into cutting edge designs, which some gun buyers get right away like the fabulous little PPS M1 and M2. Other designs are a bit tougher to understand for the seasoned shooter… that is until they handle them.

Matt Morrett with turkey and turkey decoy

10 Season-Long Turkey Decoy Strategies

10 Questions With Expert Turkey Hunter, Matt Morrett

Along with good calling and proper concealment, most turkey hunters agree that employing decoys is one of the most effective strategies for coaxing a gobbler within range. However, decoying a fickle longbeard isn’t as simple putting out a phony bird or two and pulling the trigger. There’s a correct time, place and way to do almost anything.