It was not until 2008, when the Supreme Court sitting in 2008 in the District of Columbia v. Heller2, clearly defined the legal interpretation of the legal scope and depth of the meaning of the Second Amendment’s interpretation regarding an individual’s right to posses guns, creating the first open space ever for regulating various forms of arms to be possessed by American citizens. In a historic ruling, the court upholding a unanimous judgment argues that the Second Amendment in that as it were in the current form, the provisions assured an individual right towards gun ownership, further consolidating that this said right also extended to include gun possession in the home for reasons of self defense. This paper looks into context, the Second Amendment’s “Right to Bear Arms” in light of American social set-up and the applicability, substance and relevance of the issues as a topic of ongoing debate. Before the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the right to bear arms, there was no definite agreement as to the extent to which the Second Amendment really meant. However, opposing arguments to the Second Amendment have consistently argued that in light to gun ownership, the court overstated their mandate to guarantee individuals rights to own guns and that it is only the state who bears rights to own firearms, or to engage in any activity purported to support gun ownership through any means defined by law under organized State militia. Not until then, there was a general notion that the Second Amendment was a mere block to federal action, and applied in exception to State jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court in 2008 re-affirmed that the interpretation of the Second Amendment provided an individual with rights to own a gun not related to the organization of the militia, further extending the right to gun ownership’s right to use in a lawful process for purposes including but not limited to self defense. This right was also extended to federal governments, states and municipalities. Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the courts prohibited individual ownership of any form of firearm. In their interpretation of the Amendment, the District of Columbia law did not provide for citizens to carry any unregistered gun and from registering any firearm. Additionally, the law provided a different provision that guarded against carrying of guns without a legal government issued license, transferring the entire authority to license at the discretion to the chief of police. In was therefore seen that the court therefore provided a de facto prohibition on any individual owning a gun. The Second Amendment: an in-context examination The United State’s Second Amendment is part of the US Bill or Rights that seeks to uphold the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. The bill was adopted in the US in 1791 on December the 15th with other additional Bill of Rights. This right to posses’ firearms has an earlier origin than the Bill of Rights; the right was informed partly by the citizen’s right to own a firearm and derived from the English-law, and greatly influenced by the English Bill of
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Introduction Christine Cadena in a recent online paper entitled “Presidential Campaign Platforms 2008: Issues of Gun Control, Associated Content” reported that just about forty million Americans posses a gun. In her report, Cadena goes ahead to report that an estimated population of about 55,000 and 120,000 cases are reported annually in the US of situations where an American uses a gun in pretence of self defense (Cadena, 2008)…
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