This is a follow-up to our post last week about the implementation of Gun Laws in Australia, which you can read here.
The Second Amendment was originally introduced in 1791 by President James Madison. It was meant to give citizens the opportunity to fight back against a tyrannical federal government. It 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.
Originally it was always about states maintaining militias to protect against federal government, or an overseas government like Britain.
One of the first rulings came in 1876 in US v Cruikshank, where the Ku Klux Klan tried to prevent black citizens from the right to bear arms. The Supreme Court said at that time that the right of each individual to bear arms was not granted under the Constitution, but only for militias.
This was backed up by the case of Miller v Texas in 1894, where the court again said that states could restrict guns in the hands of individuals.
In 1939 the case of US v Miller confirmed again that the relationship must be “of a well regulated militia”, but not in relation to guaranteeing the right of individuals to keep and bear arms.
It was not until 2008 in the case of District of Columbia v Heller that the court ruled that despite state laws, individuals who were not part of the state militia did have an individual right to possess a firearm, and they can use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defence within the home.
So, it was only in 2008 that the right to bear arms was regarded as an individual right. Prior to that time, each individual state had the right to restrict ownership of arms, but rarely did so because of the influence and power of the NRA and other gun owning lobbyists.
In a 1992 opinion piece, six former American attorneys general wrote:
For more than 200 years, the federal courts have unanimously determined that the Second Amendment concerns only the arming of the people in service to an organized state militia; it does not guarantee immediate access to guns for private purposes. The nation can no longer afford to let the gun lobby’s distortion of the Constitution cripple every reasonable attempt to implement an effective national policy toward guns and crime.
The Supreme Court is now stacked with Republicans for the next 20 years or more. No change will take place.
It is a fraud imposed on the gullible, conspiracy-prone Americans. It is a continuing tragedy with almost no hope for change.