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"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 Supreme Court, in the Heller decision, focused on the second clause. For a moment, let's forget about the issue of whether the right to bear arms is exclusively connected to service in the militia, an argument presumably settled in the negative by Heller. Is there any question in interpreting the language of the Second Amendment that it is AT LEAST connected to service in the militia?

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If one uses a narrowly historical/contextual approach to interpreting the Second Amendment, then yes, it is certainly possible to connect it to service in some kind of militia.

At the time when the Second Amendment was passed, citizen militias were a normal part of everyday American life. Furthermore, they were subject to regulation by the states. Whether such militias were “well-regulated” is a matter of dispute, but at the very least, the framers of the Second Amendment posited the ideal as one to which militias should aspire.

Those who cleave to a narrowly historical/contextual interpretation of the Second Amendment leave it at that. They argue that gun rights were only intended to apply to those citizens identifiable as part of a “well-regulated” militia.

In maintaining this position, of course, they are opposing the settled view of the Supreme Court as set down by Justice Scalia in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008). Scalia ruled that individuals have a right to own a gun to protect themselves and their families. Naturally, this expansive interpretation of gun ownership goes way beyond the notion that only members of a well-regulated militia should be allowed to own guns.

Even so, if one tries to place the Second Amendment firmly within its historical context, then it becomes possible to see that the narrow interpretation of gun rights does, on the whole, more closely correspond to the framers' original intentions than the Supreme Court's ruling in the Heller case.

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