The Right to Bear Arms

Authored By: American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia


Reviewed December 2005

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states, "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."

Although this language says that people shall not be infringed from keeping and bearing Arms, or weapons, the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that the Second Amendment does not allow people to keep and maintain any weapons they wish. Instead, in U.S. v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939), the U.S. Supreme Court said that the Second Amendment stands for the proposition that each state is guaranteed the right to maintain and train a militia. The Court said, "In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a shotgun having a barrel of less than 18 inches in length at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument."

Therefore, the Second Amendment means that the right to keep and bear arms extends only to states and their right to maintain weapons for a well-trained militia. The Second Amendment does not give every person the right to keep and bear any weapon. This area of the law is controversial, and courts continue to define the rights of people to bear arms.

However, there are laws that do allow people the right to have weapons, such as certain guns. There are also many laws that limit what kinds of weapons a person can have, how those weapons must be registered, what kind of licenses are needed to have weapons, etc. There are federal laws, and there are state laws.

For more information on these laws, gun control, and the right to bear arms please view the information from organizations at the links below.

United States Code
Federal laws of the United States. You must enter a keyword, such as "weapon" or "license."

Georgia Code
Laws for the State of Georgia. You must enter a keyword, such as "weapon" or "license."

Georgia State Government, Laws and Regulations,1036,6-41,00.html
Georgia's State Government Home Page where you can access the Georgia Constitution, rules and regulations, and other legislative materials related to Georgia.

National Rifle Association Defense Fund
The NRA Defense Fund provides legal and financial assistance for selected citizens to defend their right to bear arms.

National Rifle Association
This site provides information regarding the right for citizens to bear arms, current politics, and updated laws and regulations across the U.S.

Handgun Control Inc.
This site provides information for advocates of stricter gun control laws.

Brady Campaign
This site provides good information and frequently asked questions about Georgia's gun laws.

Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Articles and information, legal issues, and current legislation regarding citizens' right to bear arms.

To learn more information about gun laws in other states, try
contacting that state's government,, or

Last Review and Update: Dec 22, 2005