The Text of the Second Amendment

The text of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution is stark. It 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”.

The right to bear arms is, by far, the most controversial right enshrined in the US Constitution. For many, the right to bear arms is a fundamental human right, integral to US heritage and hunting traditions. For others, it is an outdated relic of a by-gone era, which needs to be repealed. In this article, we will examine President Trump’s views on the Second Amendment and how a reformed US Supreme Court may approach future cases invoking Second Amendment rights.

President Trump’s Views on the Second Amendment

During his Presidential campaign, President Trump was vocal in his support of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Trump advocated the elimination of gun-free zones and proposed to legislate for a national right to carry concealed weapons. In addition, he pledged to allow loaded handguns in schools.

Unfortunately, it seems increasingly likely that gun controls will indeed be relaxed under the Trump administration. On 3rd February 2017 the Republican-led House of Representatives voted to repeal a regulation introduced under the Obama administration, requiring the Social Security Administration to disclose information about people with mental health issues to the national gun background check system.

The regulation was introduced by the previous US Government in response to the Sandy Hook massacre, to safeguard the safety of members of the public and promote the public interest.  Without the regulation, it will be easier for people who pose a threat to members of the public to obtain a gun. Worryingly, there does not appear to be any plans to replace the regulation with further safeguards.

The US Supreme Court

Justice Scalia’s tragic death in February 2016 has left a vacancy in the US Supreme Court. President Trump’s nominee, Judge Gorsuch, is supported by the National Rifle Association and is therefore likely to strike down any attempt by individual States to restrict or regulate gun ownership as unconstitutional.

Moreover, it is anticipated that up to three further Supreme Court Justices may retire during President Trump’s term in office. There is, therefore, a real possibility that President Trump may be required to nominate four Supreme Court Judges – nearly half of the total composition of the Supreme Court – during his term in office. If four pro Second Amendment Judges are selected, it may significantly alter the complexion of judgments regarding restrictions placed on Second Amendment rights and could signal a seismic shift in US gun ownership policy.

 

The Future of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution?

As David S Cohen, a Constitutional Law Professor, cogently argued in a recent Rolling Stone article, it is arguably time for the Second Amendment to be repealed. In recent years, there have been multiple tragedies, all of which could have been avoided with tighter gun controls or a ban on gun ownership. Indeed, it is ironic that gun ownership is considered a “civil liberty” under the US Constitution, when the concept of mass gun ownership threatens the greatest civil liberty of all – the right to life.

Published: 7th March 2017

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