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Second Amendment

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noun
an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights, guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms as necessary to maintain a state militia.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

MORE ABOUT SECOND AMENDMENT

What is the Second Amendment?

The Second Amendment is an amendment to the US Constitution that gives American citizens the right to bear arms in order to form state militias.

The Constitution of the United States is the document that serves as the  fundamental law of the country. An amendment is a change to something. An amendment to the Constitution is any text added to the original document since its ratification in 1788. The Constitution has been amended 27 times in American history.

The entire text of 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.”

While the Second Amendment is short, it has been fiercely debated, especially in modern times. Among scholars, there are two major schools of thought as to what the Second Amendment actually means. The first is that the government cannot in any way prevent a citizen from owning any weapon they want. The second is that citizens are only supposed to own weapons in order to serve in a militia. Therefore, state and local governments have the authority to regulate weapon use and ownership.

Today, the Second Amendment allows people to possess weapons in private homes and businesses, if they follow local and state laws and regulations on owning and carrying weapons.

Why is the Second Amendment important?

The Second Amendment is one of 10 amendments included in the Bill of Rights, a set of 10 amendments added to the Constitution almost immediately after that document was put into law. On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified by the required three-fourths of the state legislatures and added to the Constitution.

Weapon technology has advanced considerably since the Second Amendment was ratified, a fact pointed out by many people who support stricter weapon regulations. When the Second Amendment was ratified, firearms were not mass produced and were mostly limited to single-shot muskets. The argument goes that the Second Amendment was never intended to allow citizens to own automatic, military-grade weaponry that is widely available today.

Guns-rights supporters have often argued that changes in technology are irrelevant, claiming that the text of the Second Amendment is straightforward. Additionally, they argue that citizens have the right to own weapons for self-defense, a point that the modern Supreme Court has supported.

Did you know … ?

While the Second Amendment is often cited in reference to guns, it also protects the right to own a variety of other weapons. In most states, this includes dangerous and bizarre weapons, such as switchblades, flamethrowers, miniguns, crossbows, medieval swords and maces, and homemade guns.

What are real-life examples of Second Amendment?

In modern times, the Second Amendment is a hotly debated topic because of increasing gun violence. Many Americans are staunchly opposed to any perceived criticism of the Second Amendment or to any limits to their right to own weapons.

Quiz yourself!

The Second Amendment states that a citizen has the right to own:

A. property
B. a business
C. weapons
D. a vehicle

How to use Second Amendment in a sentence

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