Second Amendment

The second amendment 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.” Since these words were put in the Bill of Rights, there have been many Supreme Court cases arguing either side of this issue from the United States v. Miller to the landmark case of the District of Columbia v. Heller.

Advocates of the second amendment point to a “well-regulated militia” to make their point. Proponents state that when the Constitution was written, “well-regulated” was a commonly used phrase meaning to “function as expected” or “calibrated correctly.” At that time as well, the word “militia” described the citizens of the country, not a government army. Second amendment advocates conclude that a “well-regulated militia” was not to have the government restrict gun rights, but to have an armed citizenry to stand up to a tyrannical government.

Opponents of the second amendment or those who want to limit its scope point to “well-regulated militia” as well to make their point as well. They believe that “well-regulated” means “reasonably limited” and “militia” refers to a standing army. Opponents states that the words of the second amendment should be viewed through the idea of a “living and breathing Constitution.”

Through the years, there have been activists on both sides of the issues seek to pass legislation to either further gun rights or limit them. Many proposals from an all-out ban on assault weapons (passed in 1994, then repealed) to the passage of “stand your ground” laws, allowing citizens to take action when they feel threatened. There have been many landmark Supreme Court cases, issuing varying opinions on the second amendment, most recently Caetano v. Massachusetts (2016).

Second Amendment

Point

Advocates of the second amendment point to a "well-regulated militia" to make their point. Proponents state that when the Constitution was written, "well-regulated" was a commonly used phrase meaning to "function as expected" or "calibrated correctly." At that time as well, the word "militia" described the citizens of the country, not a government army. Second amendment advocates conclude that a "well-regulated militia" was not to have the government restrict gun rights, but to have an armed citizenry to stand up to a tyrannical government. Proponents point to District of Columbia v. Heller where the court ruled that citizens had the right to have a firearm for lawful purposes.

Counter

Opponents of the second amendment or those who want to limit its scope point to "well-regulated militia" as well to make their point as well. They believe that "well-regulated" means "reasonably limited" and "militia" refers to a standing army. Opponents states that the words of the second amendment should be viewed through the idea of a "living and breathing Constitution."

What Students Think

The second amendment 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." Since these words were put in the Bill of Rights, there have been many Supreme Court cases arguing either side of this issue from the United States v. Miller to the landmark case of the District of Columbia v. Heller. What do you think?

Candidate Positions

Donald Trump

Republican Candidate for President

We need to get serious about prosecuting violent criminals. The Obama administration’s record on that is abysmal. Violent crime in cities like Baltimore, Chicago and many others is out of control. Drug dealers and gang members are given a slap on the wrist and turned loose on the street. This needs to stop.

Several years ago there was a tremendous program in Richmond, Virginia called Project Exile. It said that if a violent felon uses a gun to commit a crime, you will be prosecuted in federal court and go to prison for five years – no parole or early release. Obama’s former Attorney General, Eric Holder, called that a “cookie cutter” program. That’s ridiculous. I call that program a success. Murders committed with guns in Richmond decreased by over 60% when Project Exile was in place – in the first two years of the program alone, 350 armed felons were taken off the street.

Why does that matter to law-abiding gun owners? Because they’re the ones who anti-gun politicians and the media blame when criminals misuse guns. We need to bring back and expand programs like Project Exile and get gang members and drug dealers off the street. When we do, crime will go down and our cities and communities will be safer places to live.

Here’s another important way to fight crime – empower law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves. Law enforcement is great, they do a tremendous job, but they can’t be everywhere all of the time. Our personal protection is ultimately up to us. That’s why I’m a gun owner, that’s why I have a concealed carry permit, and that’s why tens of millions of Americans have concealed carry permits as well. It’s just common sense. To make America great again, we’re going to go after criminals and put the law back on the side of the law-abiding.

Fix Our Broken Mental Health System

Let’s be clear about this. Our mental health system is broken. It needs to be fixed. Too many politicians have ignored this problem for too long.

All of the tragic mass murders that occurred in the past several years have something in common – there were red flags that were ignored. We can’t allow that to continue. We need to expand treatment programs, because most people with mental health problems aren’t violent, they just need help. But for those who are violent, a danger to themselves or others, we need to get them off the street before they can terrorize our communities. This is just common sense.

And why does this matter to law-abiding gun owners? Once again, because they get blamed by anti-gun politicians, gun control groups and the media for the acts of deranged madmen. When one of these tragedies occurs, we can count on two things: one, that opponents of gun rights will immediately exploit it to push their political agenda; and two, that none of their so-called “solutions” would have prevented the tragedy in the first place. They’ve even admitted it.

We need real solutions to address real problems. Not grandstanding or political agendas.

Defend The Rights of Law-Abiding Gun Owners

GUN AND MAGAZINE BANS. Gun and magazine bans are a total failure. That’s been proven every time it’s been tried. Opponents of gun rights try to come up with scary sounding phrases like “assault weapons”, “military-style weapons” and “high capacity magazines” to confuse people. What they’re really talking about are popular semi-automatic rifles and standard magazines that are owned by tens of millions of Americans. Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice. The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own.

BACKGROUND CHECKS. There has been a national background check system in place since 1998. Every time a person buys a gun from a federally licensed gun dealer – which is the overwhelming majority of all gun purchases – they go through a federal background check. Study after study has shown that very few criminals are stupid enough to try and pass a background check – they get their guns from friends/family members or by stealing them. So the overwhelming majority of people who go through background checks are law-abiding gun owners. When the system was created, gun owners were promised that it would be instant, accurate and fair. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case today. Too many states are failing to put criminal and mental health records into the system – and it should go without saying that a system’s only going to be as effective as the records that are put into it. What we need to do is fix the system we have and make it work as intended. What we don’t need to do is expand a broken system.

NATIONAL RIGHT TO CARRY. The right of self-defense doesn’t stop at the end of your driveway. That’s why I have a concealed carry permit and why tens of millions of Americans do too. That permit should be valid in all 50 states. A driver’s license works in every state, so it’s common sense that a concealed carry permit should work in every state. If we can do that for driving – which is a privilege, not a right – then surely we can do that for concealed carry, which is a right, not a privilege.

MILITARY BASES AND RECRUITING CENTERS. Banning our military from carrying firearms on bases and at recruiting centers is ridiculous. We train our military how to safely and responsibly use firearms, but our current policies leave them defenseless. To make America great again, we need a strong military. To have a strong military, we need to allow them to defend themselves.

Hillary Clinton

Democratic Candidate for President

As president, Hillary will increase the number of gun sales subject to background checks:
-Comprehensive federal background check legislation. Background checks reduce gun trafficking, reduce the lethality of domestic violence, and reduce unlawful gun transfers to dangerous individuals. It is reprehensible that bipartisan legislation supporting background checks failed in Congress after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But Hillary is not giving up—she will continue to fight for legislation to build on the Brady Bill’s success.
Closing the “Charleston Loophole.” Hillary will push Congress to close the loophole that allows a gun sale to proceed without a completed background check if that check has not been completed within three days. This loophole allowed the alleged Charleston shooter to purchase a gun even though he had a criminal record.
Tightening the gun show and Internet sales loophole if Congress won’t. If Congress refuses to act, Hillary will take administrative action to require that any person attempting to sell a significant number of guns abide by the same commonsense rules that apply to gun stores—including requiring background checks on gun sales.
To ensure that the safety of our communities is prioritized over the profits of the gun lobby, Hillary will also:
-Repeal the gun industry’s unique immunity protection. Hillary believes the gun industry must be held accountable for violence perpetrated with their guns. Hillary will lead the charge to repeal the so-called “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act,” a dangerous law that prevents victims of gun violence from holding negligent manufacturers and dealers accountable for violence perpetrated with their guns.
-Revoke the licenses of bad-actor dealers. Hillary believes we must do more to crack down on gun stores that flood our communities with illegal guns. As president, she will provide funding to increase inspections and aggressively enforce current law by revoking the licenses of dealers that knowingly supply straw purchasers and traffickers.
-Hillary will fight to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, other violent criminals, and the severely mentally ill:
-Support legislation to stop domestic abusers from buying and possessing guns. Although federal law generally prohibits domestic abusers from purchasing or possessing guns, this protection does not apply to people in dating relationships or convicted stalkers. Hillary will fight for legislation to prohibit all of these domestic abusers and stalkers from buying guns.
-Make straw purchasing a federal crime. When an individual with a clean record buys a gun with the intention of giving it to a violent felon—only so that felon can avoid a background check—it should be a crime. Hillary will fight to make so-called “straw purchasing” a federal crime.
-Close loopholes that let persons suffering from severe mental illness purchase and possess guns. Hillary will fight to improve existing law prohibiting persons suffering from severe mental illness from purchasing or possessing a gun. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives should finalize its rulemaking to close loopholes in our laws and clarify that people involuntarily committed to outpatient treatment, such as the Virginia Tech shooter, are prohibited from buying guns.
-Keep military-style weapons off our streets. Military-style assault weapons do not belong on our streets. They are a danger to law enforcement and to our communities. Hillary will work to keep assault weapons off our streets and supports reinstating the assault weapons ban.

Jill Stein

Green Party Candidate for President

For public safety, gun ownership should be appropriately regulated.

Text pulled from On The Issues