The Second Amendment is NOT absolute.

It wasn’t until 2010, roughly 130 years after the Bill of Rights was drafted, that the Supreme Court first ruled that the 2nd Amendment, through the 14th Amendment, is a right bestowed upon the individual.[1]  The Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment to mean that individuals have the right to keep and bear arms, including handguns, for self-defense. This right, like many others (ie. voting; free speech; to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures), is not absolute.  Many feel that it is entirely reasonable to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, convicted criminals, and those on the terror watch list. In the wake of the mass killing of almost 50 party-goers at Pulse nightclub in Orlando by Omar Mateen[2], a gun access bill languishes on the Senate floor. The debate is deadlocked largely surrounding ‘’different approaches to resolving instances in which someone feels they’ve been wrongly put on a watch list and therefore cannot purchase a gun.”[3] The dispute boils down to the Republican approach that “would allow a judge to arbitrate people who mistakenly end up on the terrorism watch list and want to buy guns, while Democrats prefer giving the Justice Department such authority.”[4]

The devil, as they say, is in the details.  As the terror watch list is a tool used in counter terrorism investigations by the FBI, alerting the suspect that they are being watched by denying them the sale of a firearm, could effectively blow the whole investigation. As FBI director Comey told Congress in 2015 “It’s somebody we’re investigating, so we don’t want to, obviously, blow our investigation. Sorry.”[5] Either way, Mateen had twice been on the terror watch list, and was still allowed to purchase the weapons he used to slaughter innocents. The irony is that while lawmakers are even now arguing to fix loopholes within the current laws “they had no definitive answer for whether [the new proposals] would have stopped the killing in Orlando.”[6]


 By Derek A. Jordan, Esq., Barnes Law

Derek A. Jordan is an associate attorney with Barnes Law, licensed to practice law and land surveying in Tennessee.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.

[1] See: McDonald v. Chicago, and District of Columbia v. Heller

[2] See:

[3] See:

[4] Ibid.

[5] See:

[6] See: