The Supreme Court and the Second Amendment: Understanding the Court’s Landmark Decisions

The Second Amendment is one of most fundamental provisions of the Bill of Rights, and one of the most fiercely debated. Since it was first put to paper, legal scholars, gun owners and anti-gun activists have engaged in an endless discussion over the meaning and scope of the Second Amendment, and for most of that time, gun owners have been on the losing side of the argument.

Time and again, the pro- and anti-gun factions of American society have appealed to the Supreme Court, the last judge of the law, for a resolution of their differences. Except in its earliest ruling on the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court held that American citizens had no inherent right to bear arms. According to the highest court in the land, the Second Amendment only protected the states’ right to maintain a militia, not an individual’s right to possess firearms.

Gun owners were not the only ones affected by the Supreme Court’s earliest interpretation of the Second Amendment. Under the same ruling that allowed states to restrict gun ownership, states were also allowed to pass laws to favor certain religions, ban certain kinds of speech and outlaw certain kinds of assembly. By restricting the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court left the First Amendment seriously weakened for many years. In a very real way, the right to bear arms is the guarantor of all other rights, and any threat to the Second Amendment endangers the entire Bill of Rights.

It was only in 1925 that the Supreme Court ruled that states had to respect the First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of speech, press, religion and assembly. It would take nearly another century for the Supreme Court to protect the Second Amendment from the states and to guarantee an individual’s inviolable right to keep and bear arms for hunting and self-defense.

As a gun owner and an American citizen, you have a duty to defend your rights. Simply exercising your right to gun ownership is not enough. It’s also imperative you learn the history of landmark Second Amendment Supreme Court cases that have decided and will continue to decide the scope of our gun rights in the years to come.

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Brian Miller

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Brian Miller is the publisher at Ammo.com. Work from Ammo.com‘s Resistance Library has been featured by USA Today, Reason, Bloomberg’s Business Week, Zero Hedge, The Guardian, and National Review as well as many other prominent news and alt-news publications.

As publisher, Brian shares Ammo.com’s belief that arming our fellow Americans – both physically and philosophically – helps them fulfill our Founding Fathers’ intent with the Second AmendmentTo serve as a check on state power. That the rights codified in our Bill of Rights were not given to us in a document, but by our Creator. That an unalienable right is God-given. It isn’t granted by a president, a king, or any government – otherwise it can be taken away. Brian is a proud supporter of that mission, and shares the belief that our Second Amendment rights exist to preserve all our others.

To date, Ammo.com has voluntarily donated almost $100,000 to a variety of liberty-loving organizations including the Second Amendment FoundationMises Institute, the National Rifle Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Institute for Justice. Such donations would not have been possible without customers choosing the company for their ammunition needs.

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