THIS IS A DAMN SHAME THE U.S. GOVERNMENT WOULD CHANGE THE CONSTITUTION TO SUIT THEIR
I GUESS THAT’S CORPORATE GOVERNMENT FOR YOU ! ! ! !
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 spite of extensive recent discussion and much legislative action with respect to regulation of the purchase, possession, and transportation of firearms, as well as proposals to substantially curtail ownership of firearms, there is no definitive resolution by the courts of just what right the Second Amendment protects. The opposing theories, perhaps oversimplified, are an “individual rights” thesis whereby individuals are protected in ownership, possession, and transportation, and a “states’ rights” thesis whereby it is said the purpose of the clause is to protect the States in their authority to maintain formal, organized militia units.1 Whatever the Amendment may mean, it is a bar only to federal action, not extending to state2 or private3 restraints. The Supreme Court has given effect to the dependent clause of the Amendment in the only case in which it has tested a congressional enactment against the constitutional prohibition, seeming to affirm individual protection but only in the context of the maintenance of a militia or other such public force.
In United States v. Miller,4 the Court sustained a statute requiring registration under the National Firearms Act of sawed–off–shotguns. After reciting the original provisions of the Constitution dealing with the militia, the Court observed that “[w]ith obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted with that end in view.”5 The significance of the militia, the Court continued, was that it was composed of “civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.” It was upon this force that the States could rely for defense and securing of the laws, on a force that “comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense,” who, “when called for service . . . were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.”6 Therefore, “[i]n the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a ‘shotgun having a barrel of less than 18 inches in length’ at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well– regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense.”7
Since this decision, Congress has placed greater limitations on the receipt, possession, and transportation of firearms,8 and proposals for national registration or prohibition of firearms altogether have been made.9 At what point regulation or prohibition of what classes of firearms would conflict with the Amendment, if at all, the Miller case does little more than cast a faint degree of illumination toward an answer.
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Pointing out that interest in the “character of the Second Amendment right has recently burgeoned,” Justice Thomas, concurring in the Court’s invalidation (on other grounds) of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, questioned whether the Second Amendment bars federal regulation of gun sales, and suggested that the Court might determine “at some future date . . . whether Justice Story was correct . . . that the right to bear arms ‘has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic.’ ” 1
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It was not until 2008 that the Supreme Court definitively came down on the side of an “individual rights” theory.1 Relying on new scholarship regarding the origins of the Amendment, the Court in District of Columbia v. Heller2 confirmed what had been a growing consensus of legal scholars – that the rights of the Second Amendment adhered to individuals. The Court reached this conclusion after a textual analysis of the Amendment,3 an examination of the historical use of prefatory phrases in statutes, and a detailed exploration of the 18th century meaning of phrases found in the Amendment. Although accepting that the historical and contemporaneous use of the phrase “keep and bear Arms” often arose in connection with military activities, the Court noted that its use was not limited to those contexts.4 Further, the Court found that the phrase “well regulated Militia” referred not to formally organized state or federal militias, but to the pool of “able-bodied men” who were available for conscription.5 Finally, the Court reviewed contemporaneous state constitutions, post-enactment commentary, and subsequent case law to conclude that the purpose of the right to keep and bear arms extended beyond the context of militia service to include self-defense.
Using this “individual rights theory,” the Court struck down a District of Columbia law that banned virtually all handguns, and required that any other type of firearm in a home be dissembled or bound by a trigger lock at all times. The Court rejected the argument that handguns could be banned as long as other guns (such as long-guns) were available, noting that, for a variety of reasons, handguns are the “most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home.”6 Similarly, the requirement that all firearms be rendered inoperable at all times was found to limit the “core lawful purpose of self-defense.” However, the Court specifically stated (albeit in dicta) that the Second Amendment did not limit prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, penalties for carrying firearms in schools and government buildings, or laws regulating the sales of guns. The Court also noted that there was a historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons” that would not be affected by its decision. The Court, however, declined to establish the standard by which future gun regulations would be evaluated.7 And, more importantly, because the District of Columbia is a federal enclave, the Court did not have occasion to address whether it would reconsider its prior decisions that the Second Amendment does not apply to the states.
The latter issue was addressed in McDonald v. Chicago,8 where a plurality of the Court, overturning prior precedent, found that the Second Amendment is incorporated through the Fourteenth Amendment and is thus enforceable against the states.9 Relevant to this question, the Court examined whether the right to keep and bear arms is “fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty”10 or “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”11 The Court, relying on historical analysis set forth previously in Heller, noted the English common law roots of the right to keep arms for self-defense12 and the importance of the right to the American colonies, the drafters of the Constitution. and the states as a bulwark against over-reaching federal authority.13 Noting that by the 1850s the perceived threat that the National Government would disarm the citizens had largely faded, the Court suggested that the right to keep and bear arms became valued principally for purposes of self-defense, so that the passage of Fourteenth Amendment, in part, was intended to protect the right of ex-slaves to keep and bear arms. While it was argued by the dissent that this protection would most logically be provided by the Equal Protection Clause, not by the Due Process Clause,14 the plurality also found enough evidence of then-existent concerns regarding the treatment of blacks by the state militia to conclude that the right to bear arms was also intended to protect against generally-applicable state regulation.
1 A sampling of the diverse literature in which the same historical, linguistic, and case law background is the basis for strikingly different conclusions is: Staff of Subcom. on the Constitution, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 97th Congress, 2d Sess., The Right to Keep and Bear Arms (Comm. Print 1982); Don B. Kates, Handgun Prohibition and the Original Meaning of the Second Amendment (1984); Gun Control and the Constitution: Sources and Explorations on the Second Amendment (Robert J. Cottrol, ed. 1993); Stephen P. Halbrook, That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right (1984); Symposium, Gun Control, 49 Law & Contemp. Probs. 1 (1986); Sanford Levinson, The Embarrassing Second Amendment, 99 Yale L.J. 637 (1989).
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Joyce Lee Malcolm, To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo–American Right (1994); Glenn Harlan Reynolds, A Critical Guide to the Second Amendment, 62 Tenn. L. Rev. 461 (1995); William Van Alystyne, The Second Amendment and the Personal Right to Bear Arms, 43 Duke L.J. 1236 (1994).
2 Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252, 265 (1886) . See also Miller v. Texas, 153 U.S. 535 (1894) ; Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275, 281–282 (1897) . The non–application of the Second Amendment to the States is good law today. Quilici v. Village of Morton Grove, 695 F. 2d 261 (7th Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 863 (1983) .
4 307 U.S. 174 (1939) . The defendants had been released on the basis of the trial court determination that prosecution would violate the Second Amendment and no briefs or other appearances were filed on their behalf; the Court acted on the basis of the Government’s representations.
5 Id. at 178.
6 Id. at 179.
7 Id. at 178. In Cases v. United States, 131 F. 2d 916, 922 (1st Cir. 1942), cert. denied, 319 U.S. 770 (1943) , the court, upholding a similar provision of the Federal Firearms Act, said: “Apparently, then, under the Second Amendment, the federal government can limit the keeping and bearing of arms by a single individual as well as by a group of individuals, but it cannot prohibit the possession or use of any weapon which has any reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well–regulated militia.” See Lewis v. United States, 445 U.S. 55, 65 n.8 (1980) (dictum: Miller holds that the “Second Amendment guarantees no right to keep and bear a firearm that does not have ‘some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia”’).
If a parent did this to their own child, they would be ARRESTED!
If a police officer does this to your child, he’s a HERO!
This behavior is frowned upon in Gitmo, why are we allowing it in our schools?
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See also Hickman v. Block, 81 F.3d 98 (9th Cir.) (plaintiff lacked standing to challenge denial of permit to carry concealed weapon, because Second Amendment is a right held by States, not by private citizens), cert. denied 519 U.S. 912 (1996) ; United States v. Gomez, 92 F.3d 770, 775 n.7 (9th Cir. 1996) (interpreting federal prohibition on possession of firearm by a felon as having a justification defense “ensures that [the provision] does not collide with the Second Amendment”); United States v. Wright, 117 F.3d 1265 (11th Cir.), cert. denied 522 U.S. 1007 (1997) (member of Georgia unorganized militia unable to establish that his possession of machineguns and pipe bombs bore any connection to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia).
8 Enacted measures include the Gun Control Act of 1968. 82 Stat. 226 , 18 U.S.C. §§ 921 –928. The Supreme Court’s dealings with these laws have all arisen in the context of prosecutions of persons purchasing or obtaining firearms in violation of a provisions against such conduct by convicted felons. Lewis v. United States, 445 U.S. 55 (1980) ; Barrett v. United States, 423 U.S. 212 (1976) ; Scarborough v. United States, 431 U.S. 563 (1977) ; United States v. Bass, 404 U.S. 336 (1971) .
9 E.g., National Commission on Reform of Federal Criminal Laws, Working Papers 1031–1058 (1970), and Final Report 246–247 (1971).
1 Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898, 937–39 (1997) (quoting 3 Commentaries Sec. 1890, p. 746 (1833)). Justice Scalia, in extra–judicial writing, has sided with the individual rights interpretation of the Amendment. See Antonin Scalia, A Matter of Interpretation, Federal Courts and the Law, 136–37 n.13 (A. Gutmann, ed., 1997) (responding to Professor Tribe’s critique of “my interpretation of the Second Amendment as a guarantee that the federal government will not interfere with the individual’s right to bear arms for self–defense”).
1. E. Volokh, The Commonplace Second Amendment, 73 N.Y.U. L. REV. 793 (1998); R. 1 Barnett, Was the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Conditioned on Service in an Organized Militia?, 83 TEX. L. REV. 237 (2004); E. Volokh, “Necessary to the Security of a Free State,” 83 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 1 (2007); Note, What Did “Bear Arms” Mean in the Second Amendment?, 6 GEORGETOWN J. L. & PUB. POLICY (2008).
2. 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008).
3. The “right of the people,” for instance, was found in other places in the Constitu- tion to speak to individual rights, not to collective rights (those that can only be exercised by participation in a corporate body). 128 S. Ct. at 2790-91.
4. 128 S. Ct. at 2791-97.
5. 128 S. Ct. at 2799-2800. Similarly, the phrase “security of a free state” was found to refer not to the defense of a particular state, but to the protection of the national polity. 128 S. Ct. at 2800-01.
6. 128 S. Ct. at 2818.
7. 128 S. Ct. at 2817 n.27 (discussing non-application of rational basis review). See 7 id. at 2850-51 (Breyer, J., dissenting).
8. 130 S. Ct. 3020 (2010).
9. The portion of the opinion finding incorporation was authored by Justice Alito, 9 and joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Scalia and Justice Kennedy. Justice Thomas declined to join the plurality’s opinion as regards incorporation under the Due Process Clause. Instead, Justice Thomas, alone among the Justices, would have found that the Second Amendment is applicable to the states under the Privileges or Immunities Clause. For a more detailed discussion of incorporation and the Privileges or Immunities Clause, see supra Bill of Rights, Fourteenth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment, Privileges or Immunities.
10. Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U. S. 145, 149 (1968).
11. Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U. S. 702, 721 (1997)(internal quotation marks omitted).
12. McDonald, 130 S. Ct. At 3036 (noting that Blackstone had asserted that the right to keep and bear arms was “one of the fundamental rights of Englishmen”).
13. 130 S. Ct. at 3037-38.
14. 130 S. Ct. at 3132-3133 (Breyer, J., dissenting).
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” — Preamble to the Constitution
The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of the United States. Empowered with the sovereign authority of the people by the framers and the consent of the legislatures of the states, it is the source of all government powers, and also provides important limitations on the government that protect the fundamental rights of United States citizens.
Read the full text of the Constitution
Why a Constitution? | The Constitutional Convention
Ratification | The Bill of Rights
Why a Constitution?
The need for the Constitution grew out of problems with the Articles of Confederation, which established a “firm league of friendship” between the states, and vested most power in a Congress of the Confederation. This power was, however, extremely limited — the central government conducted diplomacy and made war, set weights and measures, and was the final arbiter of disputes between the states. Crucially, it could not raise any funds itself, and was entirely dependent on the states themselves for the money necessary to operate. Each state sent a delegation of between two and seven members to the Congress, and they voted as a bloc with each state getting one vote. But any decision of consequence required a unanimous vote, which led to a government that was paralyzed and ineffectual.
A movement to reform the Articles began, and invitations to attend a convention in Philadelphia to discuss changes to the Articles were sent to the state legislatures in 1787. In May of that year, delegates from 12 of the 13 states (Rhode Island sent no representatives) convened in Philadelphia to begin the work of redesigning government. The delegates to the Constitutional Convention quickly began work on drafting a new Constitution for the United States.
The Constitutional Convention
A chief aim of the Constitution as drafted by the Convention was to create a government with enough power to act on a national level, but without so much power that fundamental rights would be at risk. One way that this was accomplished was to separate the power of government into three branches, and then to include checks and balances on those powers to assure that no one branch of government gained supremacy. This concern arose largely out of the experience that the delegates had with the King of England and his powerful Parliament. The powers of each branch are enumerated in the Constitution, with powers not assigned to them reserved to the states.
Much of the debate, which was conducted in secret to ensure that delegates spoke their minds, focused on the form that the new legislature would take. Two plans competed to become the new government: the Virginia Plan, which apportioned representation based on the population of each state, and the New Jersey plan, which gave each state an equal vote in Congress. The Virginia Plan was supported by the larger states, and the New Jersey plan preferred by the smaller. In the end, they settled on the Great Compromise (sometimes called the Connecticut Compromise), in which the House of Representatives would represent the people as apportioned by population; the Senate would represent the states apportioned equally; and the President would be elected by the Electoral College. The plan also called for an independent judiciary.
The founders also took pains to establish the relationship between the states. States are required to give “full faith and credit” to the laws, records, contracts, and judicial proceedings of the other states, although Congress may regulate the manner in which the states share records, and define the scope of this clause. States are barred from discriminating against citizens of other states in any way, and cannot enact tariffs against one another. States must also extradite those accused of crimes to other states for trial.
The founders also specified a process by which the Constitution may be amended, and since its ratification, the Constitution has been amended 27 times. In order to prevent arbitrary changes, the process for making amendments is quite onerous. An amendment may be proposed by a two-thirds vote of both Houses of Congress, or, if two-thirds of the states request one, by a convention called for that purpose. The amendment must then be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures, or three-fourths of conventions called in each state for ratification. In modern times, amendments have traditionally specified a timeframe in which this must be accomplished, usually a period of several years. Additionally, the Constitution specifies that no amendment can deny a state equal representation in the Senate without that state’s consent.
With the details and language of the Constitution decided, the Convention got down to the work of actually setting the Constitution to paper. It is written in the hand of a delegate from Pennsylvania, Gouverneur Morris, whose job allowed him some reign over the actual punctuation of a few clauses in the Constitution. He is also credited with the famous preamble, quoted at the top of this page. On September 17, 1787, 39 of the 55 delegates signed the new document, with many of those who refused to sign objecting to the lack of a bill of rights. At least one delegate refused to sign because the Constitution codified and protected slavery and the slave trade.
The process set out in the Constitution for its ratification provided for much popular debate in the states. The Constitution would take effect once it had been ratified by nine of the thirteen state legislatures — unanimity was not required. During the debate over the Constitution, two factions emerged: the Federalists, who supported adoption, and the Anti-Federalists, who
James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay set out an eloquent defense of the new Constitution in what came to be called the Federalist Papers. Published anonymously in the newspapers The Independent Journal and The New York Packet under the name Publius between October 1787 and August 1788, the 85 articles that comprise the Federalist Papers remain to this day an invaluable resource for understanding some of the framers’ intentions for the Constitution. The most famous of the articles are No. 10, which warns of the dangers of factions and advocates a large republic, and No. 51, which explains the structure of the Constitution, its checks and balances, and how it protects the rights of the people.
The states proceeded to begin ratification, with some debating more intensely than others. Delaware was the first state to ratify, on December 7, 1787. After New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify, on June 22, 1788, the Confederation Congress established March 9, 1789, as the date to begin operating under the Constitution. By this time, all the states except North Carolina and Rhode Island had ratified — the Ocean State was the last to ratify on May 29, 1790.
The Bill of Rights
One of the principal points of contention between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists was the lack of an enumeration of basic civil rights in the Constitution. Many Federalists argued, as in Federalist No. 84, that the people surrendered no rights in adopting the Constitution. In several states, however, the ratification debate in some states hinged on the adoption of a bill of rights. The solution was known as the Massachusetts Compromise, in which four states ratified the Constitution but at the same time sent recommendations for amendments to the Congress.
James Madison introduced 12 amendments to the First Congress in 1789. Ten of these would go on to become what we now consider to be the Bill of Rights. One was never passed, while another dealing with Congressional salaries was not ratified until 1992, when it became the 27th Amendment. Based on the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the English Bill of Rights, the writings of the Enlightenment, and the rights defined in the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights contains rights that many today consider to be fundamental to America.
The First Amendment provides that Congress make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting its free exercise. It protects freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The Second Amendment gives citizens the right to bear arms.
The Third Amendment prohibits the government from quartering troops in private homes, a major grievance during the American Revolution.
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure. The government may not conduct any searches without a warrant, and such warrants must be issued by a judge and based on probable cause.
The Fifth Amendment provides that citizens not be subject to criminal prosecution and punishment without due process. Citizens may not be tried on the same set of facts twice, and are protected from self-incrimination (the right to remain silent). The amendment also establishes the power of eminent domain, ensuring that private property is not seized for public use without just compensation.
The Sixth Amendment assures the right to a speedy trial by a jury of one’s peers, to be informed of the crimes with which they are charged, and to confront the witnesses brought by the government. The amendment also provides the accused the right to compel testimony from witnesses, and to legal representation.
The Seventh Amendment provides that civil cases also be tried by jury.
The Eighth Amendment prohibits excessive bail, excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishments.
The Ninth Amendment states that the list of rights enumerated in the Constitution is not exhaustive, and that the people retain all rights not enumerated.