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To an­swer that ques­tion, we need to go back 226 years, to 1791. That’s when the US govern­ment agreed ten amend­ments (changes) to the US Con­sti­tu­tion. The Con­sti­tu­tion sets out how the govern­ment and laws work, and the ten amend­ments be­came known as the Bill of Rights.

The Sec­ond Amend­ment is the one that men­tions guns, and it has be­come one of the most de­bated sen­tences in the world. This is what it says:

“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.”

(A mili­tia is a col­lec­tion of armed peo­ple who aren’t pro­fes­sional sol­diers, and ‘in­fringed’ means to break or in­ter­fere with.)

Peo­ple were given the right to have guns so that they could pro­tect their fam­i­lies and prop­erty from crim­i­nals, or a govern­ment that tried to in­ter­fere with their rights.

In­ter­est­ingly, the idea was partly in­spired by Eng­land’s Bill of Rights, which was passed in Par­lia­ment in 1689.

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