Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of citizens to keep and bear arms, also known as the right to bear arms. The amendment entered into force on 15 December 1791, together with the other nine amendments included in the Bill of Rights.
In 2008 and 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two historic decisions relating to the second amendment. In the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 570 US 2008, the Court said that the Second Amendment protects the right of citizens to bear arms, regardless of being part of the militia, and gives them the right to use guns for lawful purposes such as self-defense in home.
In the case McDonald v. Chicago, 561 US 3025 2010, the Court ruled to prohibit state governments and local governments to exceed the limits established by the federal government bans.
Since at least the second half of XIX century, around the Second Amendment there is a lot of debate in many cases ended in the Supreme Court of the United States. One of the first cases of consideration by this Court of the Second Amendment applies to the 1820.
In most cases, the U.S. courts have two approaches in the interpretation of the Second Amendment – “individual” approach, meaning the right of individual citizens to keep and bear arms in private, and “collective” as the rights of citizens to take part in a “well-organized militia.” In this case, it is generally understood that such militias provides itself with arms and ammunition, which corresponds to the historical model in the United States.
One of the first attempts to significantly limit the effect of the Second Amendment refers to 1875. After the massacre in the city of Colfax, Louisiana (when white militia clashed with freed slaves, supported by the state militia manned up with blacks) the white population demanded not to extend the Second Amendment to the black. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the appeal, stating that such a ban would be a violation of the rights for which, in accordance with the Fourteenth Amendment, he has no right. In the same time, the Court found in this case the use of the “Anti-Ku Klux Klan” law as unconstitutional.
In 1886, the Court considered the case of an American citizen of German origin Hermann Presser (Presser v. Illinois), which organized the German-speaking citizens in the paramilitary organization Lehr und Wehr Verein (the association of education and protection), which carried out military training with clearly expressed intention to fight in Chicago and organized military parades of up to 400 people. Such activity was banned by the authorities of Illinois, stating that under state law public paramilitary parades should be banned if organized without the consent of the governor.
Presser appealed the ban to the Supreme Court, arguing that it violated the constitutional rights identified by the Second Amendment. However, the Court found that the Second Amendment limits only the intervention of the federal government, not limiting the state governments nor the Congress. However, the Court pointed out that all citizens capable of bearing arms constitute the reserve of the militia of both individual states and the U.S. as a whole, and government regulation should not lead to indiscriminate disarmament, which would leave the central government completely without any militia.
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