Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states:
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
There has been much legal argument about the exact meaning of the words of the Second Amendment, especially the "militia clause" preceding the comma. "Militia" and "arms", for example, may have had a quite different meaning to the framers of the Constitution than in present society, or they may indeed represent universal aspects of rights.
Second Amendment rights are an intense issue in American politics. The National Rifle Association, which strongly supports individual gun ownership, is among the most potent interest groups in American politics. Other prominent groups want much stricter controls over private ownership of firearms, on the grounds they contribute to crime or are a hazard to safety.
The NRA position is that the Constitution is authoritative, and arms are needed both for personal protection and to protect the citizens against government tyranny. Many people, however, differ on the plausibility of needing personal defense, versus armed citizens deterring the military of a modern nation.
Especially in rural areas, however, citizens regard firearms as simple tools for hunting, including for the table, for sport, and for protection against both human and animal dangers. This is well-embedded into cultural tradition.
- The Constitution of the United States of America: Second Amendment--Bearing Arms, Government Printing Office