US Constitution, 2nd Amendment - index

Supreme Court's interpretations
of Constitution's 2nd Amendment

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.

In DC vs Heller (2008), US Supreme Court demystified 2nd Amendment, explained it phrase-by-phrase, suggesting this phrasing to help understand it:

Because a well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state,
the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Supreme Court explained first (preface) and second (operative) clauses are separate,
first clause does not limit second clause, second clause can stand alone:

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

In their conclusion of DC vs Heller, (majority of) Supreme Court:
1. Recognized natural right-to-defense.
2. Related 2nd Amendment with right-to-defense.

"Held: The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense."

In McDonald vs Chicago (2010), Supreme Court ruled Constitution and 2nd Amendment also limits state governments, and reaffirmed:

[..] this Court held that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense [..]

"District of Columbia v. Heller" (case 07-290) -
"McDonald v. Chicago" (case 08-1521) -



  • philosophy of natural rights
  • State's predecessors to 2nd Amendment:
    Virginia: That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state ["well-regulated militia" written by same author, James Madison]
    Pennsylvania: XIII. That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state
  • Supreme Court (DC vs Heller): "Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications [..] the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding."
  • Even if 2nd Amendment had been omitted, judicial branch still could've invalidated a gun ban, by relating 9th Amendment (would've been 8th) to natural right-to-defense.
  • Supreme Court judge Joseph Story, appointed by James Madison, wrote:
    [§1890] The importance of this article [2nd Amendment] will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject.
    [..] The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic;

    Predicted future generations will have this problem:
    [..] There is certainly no small danger, that indifference may lead to disgust, and disgust to contempt; and thus gradually undermine all the protection intended by this clause of our national bill of rights;