In an emotional speech on Tuesday, President Obama announced new measures he said will help rein in gun violence.
The move comes after several high-profile mass shootings last year in Colorado, California, and Oregon, which collectively left 28 people dead and many others injured. New data released this year by researchers at Harvard University shows that these kinds of mass shootings are on the rise — and are just a small fraction of total U.S. gun deaths.
Despite these startling numbers, many conservative groups — especially the National Rifle Association (NRA) — oppose new gun regulations, which they argue violate citizens’ Second Amendment right to bear arms. Responding to Obama’s announcement on Tuesday, the NRA said the Obama administration “made no secret of its contempt for the Second Amendment.”
Obama predicted that criticism in his speech, and said in his announcement, “I believe in the Second Amendment. It’s there, written on the paper.”
But what is the Second Amendment, and what does “the right to bear arms” really mean? More importantly, why do some people feel it is more important than our right to life and general safety?