KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: ARTICLE 2, UNITED STATES BILL OF RIGHTS
The Second Amendment protects the individual right to keep and bear arms.
The concept of such a right existed within English common law long before the enactment of the Bill of Rights. First codified in the English Bill of Rights of 1689 (but there only applying to Protestants), this right was enshrined in fundamental laws of several American states during the Revolutionary era, including the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776. Long a controversial issue in American political, legal, and social discourse, the Second Amendment has been at the heart of several Supreme Court decisions.
In United States v. Cruikshank (1876), the Court ruled that “[t]he right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second Amendment means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress, and has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the National Government.”
In United States v. Miller (1939), the Court ruled that the amendment “[protects arms that had a] reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia.”
In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Court ruled that the Second Amendment “codified a pre-existing right” and that it “protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home” but also stated that “the right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
In McDonald v. Chicago (2010), the Court ruled that the Second Amendment limits state and local governments to the same extent that it limits the federal government.