Essay on Bill of Rights and Federalism

Submitted By ksheets33
Words: 343
Pages: 2

The Second Amendment reads: “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.” These words have generated considerable controversy as part of the broader debate over gun control. Proponents of stricter controls generally contend that the amendment was meant to protect the collective right of states to maintain militia units. Their opponents respond that the amendment was intended to protect an individual right, noting that in the eighteenth century the militia was composed of the entire free white male population, who were expected to muster bearing their own arms.
This lively debate notwithstanding, the Supreme Court has only considered Second Amendment claims in a handful of cases. One reason is that for much of American history there were few regulations concerning firearms ownership. The settlers of colonial America were heirs to the English tradition of distrust of standing armies and professional police forces as dangerous to individual liberty. The English tradition of relying on the armed yeomanry both to enforce laws and protect the realm from external enemies was reinforced in the colonial era. The need to defend settlements against Native Americans and the armies of other European powers led to the deputization of the entire white population. Colonial statutes required all white men, with few exceptions, to both keep arms and bear them in militia formations. The…