The Bill of Rights: the Story Behind the Amendments

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Part 3: Amendments II, III, and IV
Amendment II
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.

Under British rule, Americans were not allowed to form their own army; most Americans, if they weren't soldiers in the British Army, weren't allowed to have guns at all.

Amendment III
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

In the years leading up to the Revolutionary War (and especially during the French and Indian War), British soldiers demanded and usually got, under force of threat, food and lodging from Americans, many of whom protested but went unheard. This happened even in peacetime.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

This was particularly troubling to a great many Americans. British soldiers and government officials very often entered American houses, without warning, and searched for whatever they wanted to find, in many cases carrying whatever they wanted to carry. The searchers said they were looking for signs of treasonous activity, but they often ended up taking things like food and jewels.

Next page > Amendments V, VI, and VII > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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David White