Amendment II
Right to Bear Arms

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.

Right to Bear Arms: The principal debate surrounding the Second Amendment concerns whether the right to use and buy guns belongs to individuals or only to a militia. Although the courts generally have held that the right applies to individuals, they have permitted the government to limit some rights of gun manufacturers, owners and sellers. Today, questions about the Second Amendment center on bans on assault weapons, mandatory background checks, waiting periods, and other restrictions on gun sales or use.

With the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment and subsequent Supreme Court rulings, states were prohibited from making or enforcing laws that infringe on most of the rights set out in the Bill of Rights.

However, this prohibition does not extend to the Second Amendment. This means that the Second Amendment applies only to actions by the federal government. It does not protect people from state actions that interfere with their right to bear arms. As a result, gun control legislation varies widely among the fifty states.

Annenberg Classroom
Linda Monk

Independence Mall

525 Arch Street

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106