The Second Amendment guarantees our right to self-defense — not only against outlaws (the right to bear arms and to use those arms for lawful purposes including self-defense) but also those who would seek to use the power of the state against us.
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.
The Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791. Since then, there has been plenty of debate over the Second Amendment. Most of it has centered around the word “militia.” Second Amendment opponents argue that because the United States has a standing military and we no longer depend on civilians volunteering to associate with their neighbors for the general security of our nation, the Second Amendment is obsolete.
Don’t be misled. Our Founding Fathers saw far into the future. What would matter then, as always, was not the definition of “militia,” but rather the threat of tyranny. They knew the history of the ancients and had lived history as well.
The framers of the Constitution had waged war and gave their flesh and blood for nearly a decade to free themselves from the tyranny of the British crown. And since it was through force of arms that they won their liberty, guns were necessary to defend it as well — or else forfeit freedom.
Consider for instance the words of Patrick Henry, patriot and the first governor of Virginia: “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.”
The framers of the Constitution understood the Second Amendment as a bulwark against tyranny. The Supreme Court of the United States further explained the Second Amendment guarantees and protects an individual right to self-defense, along with lawful defenses of family and property in the landmark case, District of Columbia v Heller 554 U.S. 570 (2008). The Second Amendment is essential to protecting life, liberty and our pursuit of happiness.