AMERICA’S latest school shooting on February 14th has renewed calls for the repeal of the Second Amendment, the constitutional provision protecting the right “to keep and bear arms”. Critics claim the Second Amendment has helped make America the world leader in mass shootings. In the 227 years since the amendment was added to the constitution, as one student said after the massacre at her high school in Parkland, Florida, “guns have developed at a rate that leaves me dizzy”. But while “the guns have changed”, she said—alluding to the difference between a musket and an AR-15, the semi-automatic weapon with which the Parkland shooter killed 17 people—“our laws have not”.
For most of America’s history, the Second Amendment stood as an uninterpreted relic of the founding era. It was not until 2008 that the Supreme Court gave serious thought to the nature of the right it protects. In Heller v District of Columbia, four justices insisted that the right to bear arms made sense only in the context of a “well regulated...Continue reading