It’s hard to overstate the power of the phrase “Second Amendment” in the current political
environment. Despite the awe-inspiring events of mass shootings, a close insurrection, and the
growing public awareness of militias opposed to the government as well as the indisputable
strength that is the National Rifle Association — these two words are employed to stifle
discussion on guns, and treat any restrictions on access to firearms as an infringement of the
rights that the amendment provides.
In the wake of the horrendous mass shootings that took place in Buffalo, New York, Uvalde,
Texas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, calls for a federal gun control law are being met by gun holders
and groups such as The National Rifle Association that the Second Amendment, the
Constitutional right to bear arms is unaffected.
The most committed gun advocates include Texas Senator. Ted Cruz, NRA CEO Wayne
LaPierre, and participants at the annual NRA convention that was which was held in Houston,
Texas just days after a gunman who carried the AR-15-style rifle shot two teachers and 19
children on the campus of Robb Elementary School. are blaming mass shootings for everything
from inadequate police presence in schools, as well as mental illnesses, and the perception of
an absence in Christian influence in everyday American life.
“If you allow somebody to defend themselves the way our Second Amendment was intended…
you’ll stop a lot of this,” an attendee at the conference identified as Anna spoke to The Texas
Tribune. The other, Lyndon Boff, blamed the system of education for mass shootings and said,
“…”The first element you’ll need is a president who states “we must take action and that’s
because guns killed people. But no. It’s the programs they teach children at school that the
country is a shambles.” LaPierre, for his part, claimed that restraint on an individual’s
“fundamental rights of the human” of each person to safeguard themselves and their
possessions in order to stop the spread of mass violence “is not the solution and never has
previously been” in his address to this convention.
“The rhetorical power of the Second Amendment shouldn’t be understated,” Eric Ruben,
Professor at SMU’s Dedman School of Law and associate at the Brennan Center for Justice,
spoke to Vox. The power, he added was well-understood by former Supreme Court Justice John
Paul Stevens who wrote in 2018. New York Times op-ed of the 2008 Supreme Court case
District of Columbia v. Heller, “That decision — which I remain convinced was wrong and
certainly was debatable — has provided the NRA with a propaganda weapon of immense
In his op-ed Stevens was in favor of a repeal of the Second Amendment, which, said Stevens,
“would be simple and would do more to weaken the NRA’s ability to stymie legislative debate
and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option.” Democratic
lawmakers in Congress are calling for this debate following recent mass shootings. They plan to
solicit testimony from the victims and their families during a hearing scheduled for the near
future. However, efforts to pass laws to regulate guns on an international scale are likely to face
obstacles this time, just as they did after mass shootings during the last 10 years and a half.
District of Columbia v. Heller and popular constitutionalism
As Ruben stated in Vox and as Stevens mentioned in his 2018 op-ed Heller was the case that
changed the concept of the Second Amendment in judicial terms and gave express permission
for the individual to possess guns for personal protection. The precedents of the courts, such as
the 1939 case of United States v. Miller, focused on the first section of the Second Amendment,
which places guns within a properly-regulated militia. The case allowed Congress to adopt
legislation that aimed at shotguns that were sawed off, because they, as Stevens stated, “that
weapon had no reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a ‘well-regulated militia.'”
However, according to what Ruben stated to Vox at that time Heller was was ruled, a majority of
Americans believed the idea that it was the Second Amendment bestowed upon individuals the
right to carry guns for self-defense prior to the decision had even been made. Ruben identified
that shift in thinking to be a shift in the reason why people had guns — since the popularity of the
sport of hunting declined over the last several years, more people were buying firearms to
defend themselves against crime within their homes.
“An often changing public opinion on what is meant by a particular Constitutional provision can
lead to changes in interpretations by the courts. Heller could be interpreted as popular
constitutionalism in this way.”
Popular constitutionalism, which is essentially the law’s interpretation in line with current values
and concepts is a large part of the reason for the Heller decision according to Yale Law School
professor and scholar Reva Siegel wrote in the Harvard Law Review. However, this Heller
decision is fascinating in the sense that the argument on the basis of popular constitutionalism
is also based on the contemporary conception of the Second Amendment as the original
purpose of the amendment or, in other words, the majority of Second Amendment advocates
believe that their current interpretation of the Second Amendment is the original intent of the
“These practices of democratic constitutionalism enable mobilized citizens to contest and shape
popular beliefs about the Constitution’s original meaning and so confer upon courts the authority
to enforce the nation’s foundational commitments in new ways,” Siegel wrote about the activism
that surrounded guns rights movements throughout the 20th century and how this activism was
framed American conception of the originalist significance in the Second Amendment.
It’s an intriguing challenge to the issue of whether the public or the Court believes the
Constitution as an ever-changing document, one that must be interpreted according to current
preferences and requirements or that is judged solely by its legal content and not influenced by
current political issues. According to Siegel’s opinion that his argument is that the Heller
decision is a blurring of this line.
Gun control may be implemented on an individual level
“The second Amendment is really important, but that alone isn’t the bogeyman,” Ruben stated
to Vox. Although it’s true Hellerand specifically McDonald is a significant case, particularly
McDonald’s. Chicago, a 2010 case in which Otis McDonald and others challenged the city of
Chicago’s handgun ban. The Court concluded it was there was a valid Second Amendment right
for an individual to own and carry arms to defend themselves is protected by the due process
clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. clause. This means that it incorporates it into the Heller
decision on behalf of the States.
A combination of decisions that were made in Heller and McDonald The combination of the
decisions in Heller and McDonald opened the door to opposition to state gun control laws. While
gun rights and culture wars activism transformed the phrase into a noxious and ad-hoc
soundbite. Gun control legislation remains a possibility at the state level, Rubin added.
“The vast majority of states have their own constitutions, and their own rights to keep and bear
arms, and a lot of those state constitutional rights to keep and bear arms had already been
interpreted or were explicit, that they protected a private right to have a gun for self-defense,”
the judge stated to Vox. Additionally, it’s important to note that the Heller decision does not restrict the rights of states to create limitations and laws on a wide range of firearms such as the M16 the AR-15 is basically the model sold to civilians.
This means that Ruben claimed that in the nearly 1400 cases challenging state gun laws during
the time after the Heller decision 90 percent of those cases did not change the gun control laws,
according to his estimates.
Legislation to regulate guns has been enacted in aftermath of mass shootings. Following the
deaths of 17 students during an attack on the school in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High
School in Parkland, Florida in 2018 the then-governor Rick Scott, a Republican, passed a
package of gun control laws that included a provision to raise the age at which you can
purchase the shotgun or rifle by 18 years to 21,
A New York state legislature adopted a similar bill after an 18-year-old shooter who was carrying
an AR-15-style weapon went into the Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York in May, killing 10
people in the store, all of them Black as part of the case of a race-motivated crime. The new
laws that have been passed in New York include requiring people to undergo a background
check and undergo a gun safety course for obtaining authorization to possess an AR-15
semiautomatic weapon, according to the New York Times reports.
Sure, they’re incremental laws that were passed only after irreparable harm has been done to
communities and families, however, it’s crucial to consider the locations and the ways to make
change possible — and also to recognize it’s possible that it is possible that the Second
Amendment, even as read as it is in Heller, could actually support these needed changes, at a
minimum in the short term.
However, that doesn’t mean the majority of conservatives of the Supreme Court won’t issue a
more extreme interpretation of the Second Amendment in the near future. New York State Rifle
& Pistol Association v Bruen, a case that contests the constitutionality of a New York law
requiring people who want to carry guns in public areas to get a permit and be at least 21 years
old, have “good moral character” and no criminal record and prove the necessity of carrying the
weapon in public this could open up some gun laws that are already in place in various states to
legal challenge, based on the outcome, Darrell Miller, a Second Amendment expert at Duke
Law School, said in an interview with Brennan Center’s Andrew Cohen.
“The justices at oral argument seemed genuinely concerned that a broad ruling on public carry
would embroil them in all kinds of minutiae about where guns can be prohibited — campuses,
subway cars, Times Square on New Year’s Eve, etc.,” He stated, describing how complex it
could require federal judges in federal court to monitor and decide on where guns should be
allowed in their jurisdictions.
However, Miller said, the influence of conservative politics, in this case, cannot be denied. “That
said, there’s a conservative supermajority on the Court that is clearly ready to flex its muscles
on issues that conservatives have long cared about — from abortion restrictions, to free
exercise, to gun rights — so I can’t rule out a broad and broadly disruptive ruling that would upend not only New York’s regulations but would call into question the constitutionality of nearly
every gun regulation, in every state, at every level of government.”