The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, “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.”
Probably something a high school junior could comprehend, wouldn’t you agree? Especially if one were to strip away the prefatory clause and emphasize the operative portion: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
For further edification, an educator can quickly back up that interpretation by pointing to the landmark Heller decision, 2008, when the Supreme Court made it clear that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, and that a firearm may be used for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense inside the home.
It is not, despite what some gun control advocates have argued, a limited individual right that applies only in the context of militia service or a collective right that refers to a state government’s right to keep well-regulated militias.
So, to reiterate, if one is teaching eleventh-graders about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, one’s best bet is to give them the full, original text, but to also explain that the real nuts and bolts of the amendment is that every law-abiding citizen has an individual right to keep and bear arms unconnected with militia service.
Yet, as TheBlaze reported, a South Carolina high school is using a textbook that summarizes the first 10 amendments listed in the Bill of Rights, and defines the Second Amendment so it would be interpreted as if militia participation is necessary for one to keep and bear arms.
Teachers at Hillcrest High School in Simpsonville are using a textbook called “The Americans,” which the right to keep and bear arms thusly, “The Second and Third Amendments — grant citizens the right to bear arms as members of a militia of citizen-soldiers and prevent the government from housing troops in private homes in peacetime.”
It also paraphrases the 2A as “the right to bear arms,” notably omitting the word “keep.”
According to The American Textbook Council, “The Americans” is a “widely adopted history textbook” in the U.S. for “general-level eleventh grade classrooms.” It would appear that Hillcrest High is not the only school using the book.
TheBlaze reached out to Vice Principal Ken Ashworth at Hillcrest to get his thoughts on the book and the way in which it interprets the 2A. Ashworth said he would not be able to comment on the matter.
This is not the first textbook to mangle the Constitution. On Monday, TheBlaze reported on a book used in Denton, Texas, as well as other cities around the country, that states in a summary definition, “The people have the right to keep and bear arms in a state militia.”
But school officials there told TheBlaze that the book is only used as “supplemental” material and the Denton Independent School District is currently “disseminating the correct information on the Second Amendment” from other texts.
Hopefully, by other texts they mean the U.S. Constitution and the Heller decision.