The Second Amendment and the Inalienable Right to Self-Defense

Contemporary debates about the meaning of the Second Amendment—is it a collective right or an individual right?—would have been incomprehensible to the Founders. Everyone at the time agreed that the federal government had no power to infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Contemporary debates for the most part also fail to address the essential question of why the right to bear arms was enshrined in the Constitution in the first place. The right to self-defense and to the means of defending oneself is a basic natural right that grows out of the right to life. The Second Amendment therefore does not grant the people a new right; it merely recognizes the inalienable natural right to self-defense. Lawmakers may outlaw certain types of weapons, but they may not disarm the citizenry.

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