I can’t tell you how many times over the last week or so that I’ve heard somebody say, “I support the Second Amendment, but…”
This is a prime example of the principle that you can pretty much ignore everything a person says before the “but.”
They don’t mean it.
If there is a “but” in a statement of support for the Second Amendment, the person doesn’t really support the Second Amendment.
I can’t emphasize this enough. There is no “but” in the Second Amendment. It simply says, “shall not infringe.”
End of story.
This leads me to a second important point. I hear stuff like this all the time. “The Second Amendment does not give you the right to own an AR-15.”
This is actually true. It doesn’t give you the right to own an AR-15. The Second Amendment doesn’t give you any rights at all. It actually prohibits the federal government from infringing on a right you already have – the right to keep and bear arms. And yes. That includes an AR-15.
The first 10 amendments are restrictions on the federal government. They really should have called the Bill of Rights the “Bill of Restrictions.” That would have eliminated a lot of confusion.
Here’s the key point: these restrictions on federal power are absolute. There are no exceptions. There are no asterisks. There are no “buts.”
Shall not infringe means shall not infringe!
Keep in mind, even without the Second Amendment, the federal government would have very little authority to enforce firearms regulations. It can only exercise delegated powers, with all other power and authority reserved to the states and the people. We find the only power delegated to Congress relating to weaponry in Art. I Sec. 8 – “arming…the Militia.” The Constitution nowhere authorizes any general federal firearms regulating authority.
Even so, under the original Constitution, the federal government could conceivably regulate firearms in the process of exercising another legitimate power – particularly regulating interstate commerce. The Second Amendment slams that door closed.
…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Infringe – v: Act so as to limit or undermine (something); encroach on.
Simply put, the federal government may not constitutionally act in any way that limits the right to keep and bear arms.