The Second Amendment: Controversial, Volatile, and Misunderstood

Second Amendment supporter and gun enthusiast Shade Haddox displays an unloaded rifle being sold in an impromptu auction across the street from a gun buy back program in Dallas, TX, Jan 19, 2013

The Second Amendment was written to calm public fear that the new national government would crush state militias made up of adult men—who were required to own a gun to serve. In the 20th century, with Prohibition and the rise of organized crime, the first federal gun control laws were passed. Decades later, the debate over our right to bear arms involves wrestling over the meaning of the Second Amendment. Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice, discusses the history of the Second Amendment and argues that it's been misinterpreted. His book The Second Amendment: A Biography, he shows that our view of the amendment is set not by the constitutional text, but by the political advocacy and public agitation, led by the NRA.