Breaking Down the Interpretation of the 2nd Amendment

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EDINBURG – It’s a 27 word sentence that's challenged every time a mass shooting takes place.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS examined the second amendment, what it states and how it's applied in present day.

The amendment is broken in two parts; separated by a comma.

One part refers to a militia or citizen soldiers, the other, the right to keep and bear arms. 

The second amendment states:

"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."

A decision, made nearly 10 years ago, in the United States Supreme Court refined the amendment's meaning.

Assistant professor of political science, James Wenzel, from the University of the Rio Grande Valley explains the 2008 Supreme Court case, District of Columbia V.S. Heller.

Justices decided in a 5 to 4 vote, the second amendment is an individual right, not a collective right.

"They essentially defined that first phrase away. They focused on the second clause which is 'the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,' and so essentially by ignoring that first clause, they create an individual right. The prefatory clause sounds like it creates a collective right and it's somehow tied back to a militia, but that's not how the court saw it," explained Wenzel.

The interpretation of the amendment by the Supreme Court puts limitations on states when it comes to regulating an individuals’ right to "keep and bear arms.”


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