Could a Democratic President Take Away Second Amendment Rights?

Key takeaways

  • No. A president can’t take away Second Amendment rights.
  • The Second Amendment is in the Constitution.
  • Presidents can’t change the constitution.
  • Gun control is like requiring a driver’s license.
  • Most people — even gun owners — support gun control.

Q&A: Guns, 2nd Amendment and Gun Control.

What is the Second Amendment?

The Second Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution. It says:

“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.”

Can a president change a Constitutional Amendment?

No. There are only two ways Constitutional rights can change, and the president has no role in either.

First: The Supreme Court can decide how they apply to new issues.

The Supreme Court has already ruled on gun rights, saying that individuals have the right to own guns. The Supreme Court does not usually change its mind. Its a core element of the court that decisions they have made are very, very hard to change.

The Supreme Court may have some things to say about gun control laws, but probably won’t do anything to limit a general right to own guns.

Second: A new constitutional amendment.

It is REALLY hard to change the constitution. The president plays no role in it.

For a new amendment to become part of the constitution, two-thirds of the House of Representatives AND two thirds of Senators PLUS at least 33 states would have to agree. This is so unlikely that no serious politician has even suggested it.

Why are some politicians saying that Democrats want to “take away your guns”?

Most Democrats strongly favor more gun control laws. But so do most Republicans.

Do gun control laws limit second amendment rights?

No. Most gun control laws are more like driver’s licenses. They try to reduce accidents.

More detail:

Understanding gun control:

A driver’s license ensures that people know how to safely operate a car (gun), before they are allowed to have one, and don’t allow people who are likely to be unsafe to drive (own a gun).

Car (gun) owners have inspections to make sure their car (gun) is safe to operate. If you are a reckless driver (gun owner), or become incapacitated through age, eyesight or other issue, you can lose your license.

Most proposed gun control laws are very similar to driver’s licenses. Background checks are designed to prevent criminals or those with violent tendencies from owning a gun. Some gun control laws want gun owners to be safety certified. 93% of Democrats and 83% of republicans support background checks.

These too, are very popular with gun owners, Republicans and Democrats.

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What about assault weapons bans?

Assault weapons are generally not considered weapons for sport or self-defense. They are designed for soldiers to kill a lot of people quickly. Many people think they should be classified as weapons of war. Regular citizens aren’t allowed to have bombs or rocket launchers. People who support assault weapons bans think assault weapons should be treated like bombs. They pose too much threat to innocent bystanders.

They unregulated citizens. The Supreme Court has not yet ruled on this issue. They may or may not in the next few years. The president won’t have a say either way.

Nearly all mass shootings involve assault weapons.

Why do some people think gun control is important?

Roughly 40,000 Americans die from gun violence every year in the U.S — and that’s been rising quickly in recent years. Two thirds of gun deaths every year are suicides. Accidents are another 20%. Over 11,000 are intentional homicides.

Most gun control advocates want to respect the rights to sport and self-defense, but cut down on suicides, homicides, and accidents.

What is Joe Biden’s position on gun control and gun rights?

According to his campaign website, Biden supports:

  • Background checks — including provisions for banning people with mental health issues, those convicted of domestic violence and hate crime from owning guns.
  • Red flag laws — these are meant for people to alert police when they believe that someone who owns guns has become mentally unstable or otherwise poses a threat to innocent people.
  • Assault weapons bans. People don’t like mass shootings.
  • Accountability for gun owners and manufacturers — kind of how both drivers are responsible for accidents and auto-manufacturers are responsible for problems with cars.
  • Biden DOES NOT SUPPORT restricting legal gun ownership or changing the constitution.

References

If you’d like to fact check this piece or learn more about these topics, these are the references we used to put this explainer together.

FiveThirtyEight: Gun Deaths in America

Brennan Center for Justice: What the Supreme Court’s Latest Second Amendment Ruling Means for Future Cases

Pew Research Center: 7 facts about guns in the U.S.

National Archives: Constitutional Amendment Process

Cato Institute: Why the Anti‐​Tyranny Case for the 2nd Amendment Shouldn’t Be Dismissed So Quickly

Nature: The psychology of guns: risk, fear, and motivated reasoning

The Washington Post: Does the Second Amendment really protect assault weapons? Four courts have said no.