A Major Setback for Gun Control?

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The Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to reconsider its interpretation of the Second Amendment that has stood since 1939.

In the words of the Second Amendment, "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."

So does that mean that anyone has the absolute right to own a gun? Or just those guns that are related to a "well regulated amendment?"

Back in 1939, the Court ruled that the amendment protects only those rights that have "some reasonable relationship to the preservation of efficiency of a well-regulated militia."

Now, in briefs filed in relation to two new cases before the Court, the Justice Department is arguing its position that all individuals have the right the own firearms. While the Bush Administration's top lawyer is saying that the Supreme Court does not need to weigh in on that assertion in these two cases, the briefs represent a major shift in the government's official view of the Second Amendment.

This hour, do all Americans have the right to bear arms?


Laurence Tribe, professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School

Nelson Lund, law professor at George Mason University

Matthew Nosanchuk, Litigation Director at The Violence Policy Center

This program aired on May 10, 2002.


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