Passions run very high in the United States over guns - never more so than when someone uses them to wreak unthinkable carnage, such as the massacres that happened in a school in Connecticut last month, or in a crowded theatre in Colorado six months ago today.
In a country so traumatized by gun violence, many Americans seek comfort and security in ever more guns. Ever since the Sandy Hook shooting that killed 20 young children, guns have been flying off store shelves across the US. Teachers have been signing up for shooting classes. And more than 900 people have been murdered by killers using guns in the month since the Newtown massacre. That, as it turns out, is an average month in the US.
The Second Amendment is brandished by gun advocates as a formidable brick wall against any attempts at gun control legislation. The Second Amendment, written in 1791, states, "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."
The Second Amendment is the foundation of the contemporary gun rights lobby, and we'll be hearing it referenced a lot more as the debate over gun control rages on. But it may not mean quite what its more fervent devotees believe.
Michael Enright talks to Saul Cornell, the Paul and Diane Gunther Chair in History at Fordham University. He's the former Director of the Second Amendment Research Center, and the author of A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America.