Academic journal article Social Education

Understanding Individual and Collective Rights Interpretations of the Second Amendment

Academic journal article Social Education

Understanding Individual and Collective Rights Interpretations of the Second Amendment

Article excerpt

1. Identify and share a recent news story about gun violence with the class. Ask the students what they think should be done about gun violence. Elicit and discuss a range of options.

2. Share the text of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: "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." Ask the students what they think the text means. Explain unfamiliar terms (e.g., militia) and explain that the manner in which the Second Amendment is interpreted is central to gun control debates.

3. Have the class read the interview with Mark Tushnet (see pages 237-240). Have pairs of students answer the following questions:

* What is the collective rights interpretation of the Second Amendment?

* What is the individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment?

Historically, in which direction has interpretation of the Second Amendment moved as reflected in laws and case precedent--in the direction of individual or collective rights?

Review answers as a whole group.

4. Assign students to research and deliver a persuasive speech, some supporting and some opposing the gun control law struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (Parker v. the District of Columbia, Docket No. 04-7041), without referring to the decision or the D.C. law. Key components of that law included a near-total ban on handgun ownership; a ban on moving a handgun from room to room in one's own home; and a requirement that any registered gun be kept unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock. (1)

5. Have each group present its speech. Identify the issues and concerns of each group, and the individual v. collective rights interpretations of the Second Amendment underlying argument components presented by the groups. …

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