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Video:What Is the Second Amendment?

with Jonathon Stewart

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is a controversial one that remains hotly debated by gun advocates and gun-control advocates alike.See Transcript

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Transcript:What Is the Second Amendment?

The Bill of Rights is comprised of the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, designed to address specific issues that impact its citizens and limit the rights of the federal government.

Information About the Second Amendment

The Second Amendment is one that is often the subject of controversy and one that divides public opinion on the subject of gun law. The Second Amendment reads: "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." Adopted on December 15, 1791, the basis of such rights is thought to have originated in English law, which has always purported that men have the right to bear arms.

More Information About the Second Amendment

The debate has raged between those who want stricter controls over guns and take the perspective that the Second Amendment was intended to protect a collective right among the states to maintain militia units, and others who maintain that it is an individual right to be able to have guns.

Additional Information About the Second Amendment

There is a third interpretation which suggests that the Second Amendment does allow individuals to bear arms, but in a way that is restricted by the militia language in some way. This is known as the median interpretation, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in the only decision in history specifically related to the Second Amendment in US Vs. Miller, in 1939. This was an admittedly vague opinion, and various interpretations lend support to both sides of the argument. In recent years, however, there have been a few other relevant rulings.In the 2008 DC Handgun Case, the Supreme Court ruled that this amendment does protect individual rights to possess a firearm and that it can be used for lawful purposes like self-defense.

Recent New About the Second Amendment

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment limits state and local governments in the same way that the federal government is limited in making decisions about gun control. However, the implications of these rulings are still hotly debated. From staunch and vocal supporters of gun rights to those that see guns as playing a fundamental role in routine shooting deaths and outright public massacres, the controversy rages on year after year.

I'm Jonathon Stewart, with About.com.

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