Second Amendment to US Constitution

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is one of the ten amendments that make up the Bill of Rights. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the Bill of Rights, which were added to the Constitution to protect individual liberties and limit the power of the federal government.

"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 can be divided into two main clauses: the prefatory clause "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State", and the operative clause "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

The prefatory clause introduces the purpose or rationale behind the Second Amendment. It states that a well-regulated militia is essential for the security of a free state. In the context of the late 18th century, when the amendment was written, militias were seen as a means of defending the new nation against external threats and maintaining internal order.

The operative clause is the core of the amendment. It affirms the right of the people to keep and bear arms and declares that this right should not be infringed upon by the government. However, the interpretation of the Second Amendment has been the subject of significant debate and legal interpretation over the years.

The individual rights interpretation emphasises the Second Amendment as protecting an individual's right to own and carry firearms for self-defence, sport, and other lawful purposes. According to this interpretation, the right to bear arms is a fundamental individual right, distinct from any connection to a militia.

Advocates of the collective rights interpretation argue that the Second Amendment's primary focus is on the collective right of state militias to bear arms rather than an individual's right. Under this interpretation, it does not necessarily protect an unrestricted right to personal firearm ownership unrelated to militia service.

The interpretation of the Second Amendment has been the subject of numerous legal cases and Supreme Court rulings, including the landmark cases of District of Columbia v Heller (2008) and McDonald v City of Chicago (2010). These rulings clarified that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to own firearms for self-defence and other lawful purposes, separate from militia service.

The Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms, but it does not provide an absolute or unlimited right. Various federal and state laws regulate firearms ownership and use, including background checks, waiting periods, restrictions on certain types of firearms, and limitations on who may possess firearms.
Back to blog

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
INSEAD
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham
ESSEC Business School

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law

    Terminology

    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory

    Exam-focused

    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.