“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.”
That is the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
I am an enthusiastic but fairly recent convert to emphasizing the Second Amendment or believing that it protects an important right. I have learned to treasure it.
In fact, helping clients protect their gun rights or get them back is a huge part of my law practice. So far, I have a 100% success rate in those cases.
Why did I change from placing little emphasis on the Second Amendment to placing a great deal of emphasis on it?
The answer has a great deal to do with Dr. John Lott.
When I was the debate coach for Centre Middle School, we were assigned to debate a topic about gun rights. I believe the proposal was “The State of Alabama should ban the concealed carry of firearms.” We had to effectively present both sides of that proposal, but the side called the Negative, meaning the side on which we were assigned to oppose the proposal, won me over, and Dr. Lott’s research was the main force that did so.
Dr. Lott has been a professor at several institutions, including the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago and Yale Law School.
In his book MORE GUNS, LESS CRIME, Dr. Lott examines an enormous data set to conclude that the more legally-owned firearms there are in a community, the lower the violent crime rate in that community will be.
Dr. Lott’s research provided me with the evidence it took to win me over to enthusiasm for the Second Amendment.
Furthermore, Dr. Lott’s conclusion makes fundamental sense. Predators are drawn to soft targets. In a town where most citizens have the means to defend themselves, predators will either restrain themselves or go elsewhere.
There was a period when many argued that the opening words of the Second Amendment, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” limit the Amendment so that only the National Guard has the right to keep and bear arms. This never made any sense, because the Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment, protects rights of citizens from government. There would be no reason to protect a part of government, the National Guard, from itself.
The Supreme Court of the United States formally obliterated this misguided argument in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, of 2008, holding that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to possess firearms independent of service in a state militia.