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The 9th amendment of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution addresses rights, retained by the people, that are not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.

The 9th amendment of the Bill of Rights

The enumeration of the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


The constitutional right of private gun ownership stands even without the Second Amendment. Suppose, against all evidence, that its drafters really did mean state governments instead of individuals when they wrote that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” In that case, the right to gun ownership would still be protected, but under the Ninth Amendment. That amendment was drafted to address the concerns of those who feared that if certain rights were singled out for protection in the Bill of Rights, all other rights not singled out would be insecure. This amendment made clear that the enumeration of certain rights in the Bill of Rights was not exhaustive, and was not meant to imply that they were the only rights that the people enjoyed.

The connection to the right to bear arms is clear: Since a common-law right to bear arms for self-protection and hunting was part of the British inheritance that Americans brought with them to these shores, it would have been protected by the Ninth Amendment. The reason for mentioning the importance of the militia in the Second Amendment was probably to justify the Framers’ decision to make explicit mention of the right to bear arms rather than to leave it as an unenumerated right protected by the 9th amendment of the Bill of Rights.

This article is part of our extensive collection of articles on Civil Rights in the United States. Click here to see our comprehensive article on Civil Rights in the United States.

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