The Second Amendment and Stand Your Ground

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The Second Amendment was added to the Constitution with its ratification of the Bill of Rights 1791. It 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. **At this time, our founding fathers were setting up the United States and creating our Constitution.

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In the United States there were two major groups of power: Federalists and Anti-Federalists. The Federalists aspired to have a strong central government. The Anti-Federalists”fearing monarchy and tyranny” desired strong state governments of the individual thirteen states. This dispute progressed into the United States military: would we have a powerful army needed to protect from foreign attacks as the Federalists urged for, or, would the Anti-Federalists idea of state militias be the answer. Because of the oppression from the British army both before and during the Revolution, Anti-Federalists were concerned with the idea of one large military force. At this time in 1775, gun ownership was already well-established; however, guns were used to protect the United States from a dictatorship, as well as keeping power over colonist’s slaves.

Southern militias were less worried about protecting themselves against an oppressive military, and more concerned with making sure their slaves knewthat they could not leave. If they tried to leave, they would be shot. Guns were also used to prevent rebellions against slave-owners. It was necessary to keep in mind the Federalists, Anti-Federalists, Northern Militia, and Southern Militia, when drafting the Second Amendment. Because the Constitution established a Federal army, the Second Amendment was created as a compromise in hopes to prevent the Federalists army from rebellion against the government. The Second Amendment was made to releive tension between the states and Federal government. Unlike the hotly debate of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, during this time it was used to enable citizens to be part of a collective militia that would avert the use of the nation’s military at home. With the country growing, contrasting opinions and perceptions arose about the Second Amendment.

The right to gun ownership”beyond the context of military use” was established in the Supreme Court cases District of Columbia v. Dick Anthony Heller. This case was a landmark case for gun-owners in the United States. Heller, A D.C. police officer, applied and was ultimately denied a permit to carry a handgun with him at home. The Supreme Court ruled that this was in violation of his Second Amendment rights, and the ruling was overturned. Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion explained: the Second Amendment Guaranteed an individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation***. In this case, the court placed limits on firearm propriety for convicted felons, school campuses, as well as governmental buildings. This standing diverged from legal precedent, which is one of the reasons Heller’s case is so monumental when it comes to gun rights.

Stand Your Ground Laws are the legal validation of using self-defense to protect oneself from a threat, and using deadly force if necessary. Stand Your Ground Laws originate from the Castle Doctrine, which names a person’s residency their castle. According to the Castle Doctrine, a vulnerable person has no duty to retreat from his home, as they did in English Common Law. Now-a-days, a person’s castle extends from not only there home, but someone’s hotel room, garage, car, and workplace. In the 2000s, with the help of the National Rifle Association and the American Legal Exchange Council, Stand Your Ground Laws were expanded in the South.

Florida’s Stand Your Ground Laws have been noted as some of the harshest. In 2005, Governor Jeb Bush passed the Stand Your Ground Law, basically exempting then from prosecution, as long as he can prove that the use of weapon was needed to prevent death. Even more despicably, in some states, Stand Your Ground Laws require prosecution to prove that the individual who was threatened was not in the right for defending their property. According to Giffords Law Center, thirty-three states have enacted and interpreted their own Stand Your Ground policies. In 1895, the Supreme Court case Beard v. United Statesstated that an individual who is threatened on his own premises but has not provoked the assault or potential assault is not obliged to retreat, nor to consider whether he could safely retreat, but is entitled to stand his ground**. This case is precedent for the Castle Doctrine. The success of Stand Your Ground Laws in preventing acts of violent crime is hard to calculate. It is difficult to name Stand Your Ground Laws as the sole reason from decrease in crime, as demographic shifts, the imposition of harsher sentencing rules, or improving economic conditions all have contributed as well.

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