Letter: 2nd Amendment wasn’t always an individual right


Those who love quoting the Second Amendment as authorizing individual gun ownership and as a barrier to gun regulation are only partially – and probably temporarily – correct. They need to study the history of Supreme Court decisions on the Second Amendment. This amendment was very poorly written and has been subject to multiple interpretations.

Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court has obliged with multiple interpretations. At one time, they ruled the 2nd Amendment only applied to the federal government and states could regulate as they saw fit. They have ruled that it applies primarily to militia and not an individual right. During the 20th century, many gun laws were passed and the Supreme Court let them stand.

Today, people act like this amendment has always been interpreted as individual rights. This has come about only because of the NRA and Republican presidents appointing conservative Supreme Court judges – the same politicalization as the recent about-face on abortion. So if more liberal judges eventually replace the current judges, it is very possible the pendulum will swing back to viewing this as a militia right or some hybrid of that.

Read your history. Know that you are interpreting the Second Amendment in a way not done until the 21st century. Know that a less conservative Supreme Court may say the Second Amendment doesn’t afford a carte blanche individual right to own a gun – or at least certain types of guns. The Supreme Court can exhibit biases, and it can cut both ways. The Constitution doesn’t interpret itself. Political appointees do that.

Jackie Pritchard