What Is the Full 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

The full Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads that “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.” It was ratified on Dec. 17, 1791.

One of the 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment’s meaning and applicability to the rights of Americans in the 21st century is a hotly debated issue. As of 2015, its interpretation extends to give a person the right to own a gun for the purpose of self-defense. In the wake of many tragic shootings, some citizens have called for more stringent laws applying to gun ownership. Those who disagree cite the Second Amendment as reason to fight the restriction of ownership.