Of the 10 amendments within the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution, the Second Amendment, ratified in 1791, has been the most publicly contentious of late. With the spate of mass shooting tragedies that made headlines in the past year, the meaning and intentions of the Second Amendment is once again being openly debated.
Why did the Founding Fathers believe so strongly about gun ownership that they included it within the Bill of Rights, which guarantees the freedoms of every American against tyranny?
The Second Amendment reads:
"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."
As Voice of America reports, the framers of the Constitution wanted to ensure the protected basic rights, including the right to bear arms, that they enjoyed as Englishmen. In fact, English laws even required that men practice using their firearms should they ever be called to defend the nation.
When the colonists began to rise up against British authority, early American revolutionaries were denied these basic rights, including that to carry firearms. As Aaron Burger writes for the Christian Science Monitor, the Founding Fathers recognized through the success of their Revolution the potential benefits of an armed citizenry in dispelling a distant government.