The Second Amendment Right to Redefine the Meaning of the Constitution

Eitches, Eliana Rae

With more than 200-250 million privately-owned guns in circulation, the United States has more privately own guns than any other country. Not incidentally, they also have an inordinately high number of gun-related deaths and injuries – in a given day, an average of 276 people are shot. Of those shot, 84 will die as a result of their wounds. Since 1982, 62 mass murders have been committed via firearms, and over 75% of the 142 guns used in those 62 mass murders were obtained legally. The necessity for more stringent gun laws is at an all-time high. In the course of writing this paper, another mass shooting occurred wherein at least 28 people, many of whom were not yet it their first ten years of life and all of whom were shot multiple times, were killed at an elementary school in Connecticut. Despite this pressing need to control the violence, the Supreme Court, in the 5-4 decision District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), struck down an ordinance restricting the ownership of handguns within the District of Columbia. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Heller, codifying an individual’s fundamental right to own a gun for the purpose of self-defense through a peculiar interpretation of the meaning of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, and in McDonald v. City of Chicago, incorporating Heller’s newly-determined Second Amendment Right through the Fourteenth Amendment to apply and “to some extent limit the legislative freedom of the States” display an appalling level of indifference to the “general welfare” and to the meaning of the Constitution that they are supposed to be expounding. These decisions curtailed the hotly contested debate surrounding Gun Control in the United States, giving a Constitutional justification to the proponents of one side. Instead of exercising judicial restraint concerning issues of national discourse or properly interpreting the Constitution, they ruled in accordance with their own agenda to give a Constitutional foundation to one side of a hotly contested social issue.


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Political Science
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February 4, 2013