Deconstructing the Second Amendment




It’s only a sentence long; 27 words that barely take up a full line on the Bill of Rights.

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.

And yet, for years, those 27 brief words have been the source of contentious debate — seen by some as an inalienable protection against tyranny; by others as a dangerous anachronism.

Here’s a look at the Second Amendment, its phrases parsed and placed in legal and historical context.

Our guides will be Constitutional experts Jeffrey Rosen and Jack Rakove.


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