Honoring the Second Amendment compels citizens to know its fundamentals. Perhaps a quick quiz will help citizens understand the Second Amendment in all its rights, responsibilities and — above all — its public purpose of "the security of a free State" which is currently threatened by recent mass shootings.

Michael R. May

Michael R. May

(5) comments


Mr. May ignored the main holding of the Heller decision: i.e. that the Second Amendment  "guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation." District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 592, 595.  The language of the Second Amendment makes clear that right "shall not be infringed". The right is neither limited nor expanded by the clause referring to a militia, and is not limited to the bearing of arms for militia purposes.  Id. at 577, 578, 580-81, 599-600.

The Heller decision held that the right applied to arms in common use. Id. at 628. That specifically included handguns in Heller, Id. at 629, and would undoubtedly include the civilian AR-15 and other semi-automatic rifles. Semi-automatic rifles have been in common use for well over a century and were used by civilians for 30 years prior to their use by the military in World War II. It would not include "M–16 rifles and the like" which is a reference to selective fire weapons capable of full automatic fire. Id. at 628. Such automatic weapons have been strictly regulated, and even banned, since the 1930s.

Heller struck down a Washington D.C. law prohibiting possession of handguns in the home and requiring that all firearms be disabled with a trigger lock or disassembled so they could not be immediately available self-defense. Id. at 628-29, 636. A federal district court in California, following the analysis of Heller, recently struck down a ban on possession of high capacity (over 10 round) gun magazines as it violated the Second Amendment.

Michael R May

I have not looked at that question specifically, but I am skeptical that the claim could find support either in the language of the Second Amendment or the case law. I could be wrong, so help me understand by answering this question: Does the Hannah-Jones article specify any authority for her statement. If so, please post it and I can take a look. Thanks for your comment.

Michael R May

To Mary Donaghy Richards, thank you for honoring the Second Amendment.


I really appreciate your clarification of the 2nd amendment.....very clear and easy to understand.


Nikole Hannah-Jones writes in the NYT Magazine on August 18 that the second amendment "allowed Congress to mobilize the militia to put down insurrections by the enslaved." Was this it's real purpose?

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