"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."

Inspired by the students of #NeverAgainMSD, let's contextualize #2A using the Heller decision and dissent: oyez.org/cases/2007/07-…
When summarizing #2A, many say it is “the right to bear arms” but that shorthand ignores the other 22 words, plus two heavily debated commas. In District of Columbia v. Heller on June 26, 2008, the Supreme Court decision supplanted centuries of precedents with this shorthand.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”

The preamble identifies the purpose of the amendment as the preservation of the militia. It is important to look at the preamble with historical context: contemporary State Declarations of Rights.
Despite the fact that public interest has placed little importance on State militias for the past two centuries, with a little context we can easily recognize the contemporary concerns about militias that were held by the framers:
Like #2A, the declarations highlighted above make no mention of the right to use firearms for hunting or self-defense. There were, however, several that did make specific mention of these civilian uses, which the dissenting Justices in the Heller case found particularly striking:
This contrast shows the Framers’ single-minded focus in the constitutional guarantee “to keep and bear arms,” that their intent was to provide this guarantee for the military use of firearms which they felt must be maintained in the context of service in state militias.
The majority read the preamble second, returning to it only to find a “logical connection” between the preamble and the operative provision. This defies precedent set in cases previously interpreting #2A, and also precedent set in any interpretation of the constitution by SCOTUS.
The dissent cites Marbury v. Madison (1803) for “[i]t cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect,” however that is how the majority chose to view the preamble, as entirely without effect on the ensuing text.
On the subject of the preamble, dissent author Justice Stevens concludes:
"the right of the people"

The now-common interpretation of the Second Amendment centers on the weight given to this segment which defines “the class of persons within its reach.”
The decision argues that “the people” is the same as in #1A and #4A, that “the term unambiguously refers to all members of the political community, not an unspecified subset,” in spite of later claims that this protected class is limited to “law-abiding, responsible citizens.”
This sort of limitation on who “the people” refers to does not exist in either the First or the Fourth Amendment. As the dissent highlights, “even felons (and presumably irresponsible citizens as well) may invoke the protections of those constitutional provisions.”
To declare that #2A is not limited by its preamble to “the people” who are members of a well-regulated militia because other Amendments apply “the people” to all citizens, WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY limiting these rights to “law-abiding, responsible citizens” is a clear discrepancy.
"to keep and bear arms."

The decision interpreted this clause as separate phrases, “to keep arms” and “to bear arms." The dissent argued that they describe a unitary right, “to possess arms if needed for military purposes and to use them in conjunction with military activities.”
The phrase “bear arms” is an idiom historically meaning “to serve as a soldier, do military service, fight,” from the Latin arma ferre or “to bear war equipment” (Oxford English Dictionary, 1989).
This historical definition can be refuted and argued for days. In truth, it is often used now to mean simply “carry firearms.”
The dissent argues that if the Framers wanted to change the meaning of “bear arms” to include civilian possession and use, they could have done so by adding a phrase like “for the defense of themselves,” as in the Pennsylvania and Vermont Declarations of Rights.
On this subject, Justice Stevens writes:
I started trying to understand #2A in 2016, after the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Looking through my Medium draft history, I returned to it after Sutherland Springs, then Las Vegas, and now in the wake of Stoneman Douglas. I never knew how to conclude it. I still don't.
This isn't an easy subject to conclude tidily, but here's where I'm at:
Historically, #2A was largely ignored. Virtually no one argued about it or legislated it. The militia-centric interpretation from Stevens' dissent was widely accepted. Then something changed.
If you'd like to learn more about the background of this decision, and the years of NRA lobbying and propaganda efforts that preceded it, I highly, highly recommend listening to @WNYC's @moreperfect's 'Gun Show'.

My other #evergreen recommendation is the following two episodes of @ScienceVs, from @Gimlet.


Arm yourself with context, with history, with facts. We have a long fight ahead of us. #NeverAgain #MarchForOurLives
Before I forget, if you're interested in this SCOTUS case or any other, check out @oyez. Their multimedia archive is a treasure for #SCOTUSheads everywhere:

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