Argument: The second clause of the 2nd Amendment is broader than the first

Issue Report: Right to bear arms in the US

Supporting quotes

  • Oral arguments in DC vs. Heller. March 19th, 2008 – “JUSTICE GINSBURG: If you were thinking of “the people,” what those words meant when the Second Amendment was adopted, it was males between the ages of what — 17 and 45? People who were over 45 had no –they didn’t serve in the militia.
MR. GURA: Well, certainly, there were many people who were not eligible for militia duty, or not subject to militia service, who nevertheless were expected to, and oftentimes did, in fact, have guns.
JUSTICE SCALIA: Which shows that maybe you’re being unrealistic in thinking that the second clause is not broader than the first. It’s not at all uncommon for a legislative provision or a constitutional provision to go further than is necessary for the principal purpose involved.
The principal purpose here is the militia, but the — but the second clause goes beyond the militia and says the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
Now, you may say the kind of arms is colored by the militia. But it speaks of the right of the people. So why not acknowledge that it’s — it’s broader than the first clause?”