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“How would you answer an interviewer who stated that the Second Amendment is outdated?”
“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 Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is one of 10 amendments collectively known as the Bill of Rights. It is nestled among such greats as the First, guaranteeing freedom of religion, speech and press, and the Fourth, preventing unreasonable search and seizure. There is no doubt when studying the Bill of Rights that our Founding Fathers were intent on providing our new country and its citizens the freedom to make their own choices as Americans and enjoy those freedoms that had just cost many of its people their very lives!
Yet you would be hard pressed to find an amendment that has garnered so much debate and had its validity so thoroughly questioned over the past 223 years. My answer to the question above involves many facets, and I will touch on a few close to me.
First, I understand that after the First Amendment guaranteeing our right to even speak freely about these issues today, the very next one involved our Founding Fathers giving us the means necessary to defend any of the other amendments and the freedoms protected by them. Without the means necessary to guarantee and protect your rights, they are only as good as the pen they were written with. The Second Amendment prevents a complete erosion of our rights, and in my mind that will never become outdated.
Second, as a sworn law enforcement officer, I see firsthand the changing social climate in our nation and the threats facing our citizens. All you have to do is turn on your television to see current events in Ferguson, Mo., or Baltimore, Md., and witness the destruction caused by the few in our society not interested in social change. Rather, they seem more interested in the opportunity for looting, destruction and thievery, with no consideration given to innocent third parties’ lives or property.
I am sworn to serve and protect—a responsibility that I take on with a sense of pride as a calling, not simply a job. Yet I firmly believe that the first person in charge of your freedoms and self-preservation is you. I know that my brothers and sisters in law enforcement are willing to stand watch in the night against the evil in our society, but recent events have proven again and again that your personal safety can only be absolutely guaranteed by one person—and that person is you! That ability to protect oneself can never become outdated, or the very freedoms and individuality this great nation was founded upon would all be for naught.
Lastly, how can an amendment become “outdated” when it is under frequent review by the highest court in our land—the U.S. Supreme Court? In 2008, that court, made up of 21st century living and breathing Supreme Court justices, decided 5-4 in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects an INDIVIDUAL right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
Then in 2010, in McDonald v. Chicago, the Supreme Court overturned an earlier decision by the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which had previously upheld Chicago’s ban on the possession of handguns, among other gun regulations. The Court held that the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms” protected by the Second Amendment is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment and thus applies to the states. The decision cleared up the uncertainty left in the wake of the Heller case as to the scope of gun rights in regard to the states.
Long story short, this 223-year-old guarantee of freedom has been reviewed several times in recent years, and the Supreme Court has made itself clear. The Second Amendment—then and now—means that firearms are an individual right to be exercised for lawful self-defense. That means as much or more today as it did many years ago!
Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Rifle Association.