Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Andrew Busch

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© 2019 Marie E Hardwick


This thesis explores the creation of the Second Amendment and how it has been interpreted over time. The purpose of this thesis is to understand present-day debates over gun control and offer an interpretation of the right that best suits the modern era. By analyzing the history of gun ownership in the United States, it is clear that the intention of the Second Amendment was to extend the right to the individual and should not be limited to collective use. As the Bill of Rights was extended to protect the people from state governments, the history of states’ rights in the regulation of firearms should be taken into account. With a country divided in their views on gun control policy, states should maintain the power to regulate arms, with federal courts intervening only when legislation is particularly radical. This thesis offers an interpretation of the Second Amendment best suited for the nation on both historical and practical by investigating the most prominent debates today: individual vs. collective rights, federal vs. states’ rights. With all things considered, this thesis concludes the most suitable interpretation of the Second Amendment for the people is: a right of the people protected, as individuals, from federal infringement, and regulated by the states, that are checked by the federal courts only when deemed necessary.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.