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January 19, 2011

The American Right to Bear Arms

JAMA. 2011;305(3):255-256. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1958

To the Editor: I believe that the Commentary on the Second Amendment's right to bear arms by Mr Gostin1 demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of constitutional interpretation and of individual constitutional rights in a free society. Gostin seems to believe that the right to bear arms cannot be fundamental because guns are “designed to cause injury.” But the character of guns is entirely uninformative in determining the existence of constitutional rights. Rights, like democracies, can be dangerous. The world might be safer if police could search homes for illegal guns without warrants, but that says nothing about the existence of the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.