The "Second Amendment," more than a right, has become a rhetorical device. It's a counterargument in two words, a rallying cry designed to end debate. Want to restrict firearms, or regulate their sale, or limit which kinds Americans can buy?
Meet the Second Amendment, the simplest rebuttal goes. It creates the unfettered right to own guns in America. Full stop.
This claim -- prominent among gun-rights advocates -- implies that the Second Amendment establishes not just a right to own guns, but a right that the government cannot legally limit. The problem with this argument: None of our rights work this way.
"The Supreme Court has said repeatedly that no right under the Constitution is absolute," says Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA and the author of "Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America. "In general, where the government has very strong reasons to restrict a right, it can."