I went to a Quaker school as a kid. Moses Brown taught me precisely nothing about the Second Amendment. Nor did the school (motto “For the Honor of Truth”) teach my daughter anything about the place of gun rights in American history. It’ll be interesting to see how the Texas public school system instructs Lola on the role of the Second Amendment. In Missouri, the state now “allows” schools to offer first-graders the NRA’s Eddie the Eagle program. What did you learn about 2A when you were in grade school?

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59 Responses to Question of the Day: What Did You Learn About the Second Amendment in School?

  1. In public school between kindergarten to graduating high school, absolutely nothing. And this was in a good district in western WA.

    • Same here. I’m 29 and went to school in western WA, greater Seattle area.

      I don’t remember being taught anything at all about the second amendment, and not that much about the US constitution at all – even the lessons I remember from US history classes were sparse, and focused mainly on the politically-correct history of the settlement of the US and westward expansion under manifest destiny.

      However I was naturally interested in history and politics, so I did a lot of learning regarding those subjects on my own outside of the classroom. It would be interesting to look back through some of my school work to see if there was any mention – my parents kept a lot of my grade school work.

      The only thing I really remember was during the Bush Sr. era, when what I believe was a conservative group came to our school to give a speech, and handed out nice little printed copies of the Bill of Rights to all the students. I still think I may have that little book somewhere.

      Anyone else remember the Desert Storm trading cards for kids?
      http://images.comiccollectorlive.com/covers/9a9/9a988cbf-ff82-4a24-af0a-71fd9c20f18a.jpg

      This was even in a military town, no less.

  2. Believe it or not, here in the People’s Republic of New Jersey i was actually taught in 8th grade(in 2005, yes i’m a youngin), the last time in my school career we took a serious look at the Constitution as a whole, that the 2A was an individual right to possess firearms for the purpose of overthrowing a tyrannical government. It gets crazier though, we weren’t just told that, we were made to think about it for ourselves and arrived at that conclusion as a bunch of idiot kids who knew NOTHING about anything let alone the Constitution. Our teacher did that with all 10 amendments in the bill of rights. We had to figure out why they were put there and relate them to the struggles the Founding Fathers had during the revolution. I will never forget that lesson.

    • I also had a great 8th grade history (American History) teacher, (a decade or so before yours) In the People’s Republic of California. He did a brilliant job getting even a dumbass rabble-rouser like me to understand exactly what he wanted us to learn. My High School American History teacher was very similar, though I think she had me figured out and wasn’t that impressed by my shenanigans.

      I’ve actually tried off and on to search them out recently. There are a few teachers I had that I want to both thank and apologize to. They were incredible, and I was a douchebag. I appreciate what they did for me despite my best efforts to sabotage them.

    • Idk what school you went to, but my experience in The People’s Republick Of New Jersey’s school system was as follows
      Guns are bad
      Self defense is the same as being a bully
      Never fight back
      Die in an alleyway instead of protecting yourself.
      Glad I just graduated And got out of that crap.

      • Oh i was of course taught that as well. Idk if it was a statewide policy or not, but i remember that if anyone ever hit you, the rule was you had to crawl into the fetal position or find a corner to hide in while the person was beating you until an adult arrived, otherwise you were suspended for 2 weeks. Kid in middle school got suspended for putting a guard up instead of the fetal position. Yes, self defense is actually considered being worse than being a bully in NJ… We had all the same statewide brainwashing as everyone else but this one history teacher actually taught us the real history of the 2A and the the teacher’s union/Democrat version. I remember every year we had to watch the same video where the kid that’s involved in target shooting and hunting decides to kill everyone and we were told to report suspicious behavior. I don’t know your age but you’ll definitely remember it, it starts out with showing all the kids marksmanship trophies in his room and ends with him in the band room deciding whether or not to kill all his classmates or not. That video is burned into my memory forever.

  3. I learned that the Second Amendment was somewhere between the First and the Third. I thought that was very logical.

    There was no instruction on 2A until Con Law in Law School. We were taught that the Second Amendment had something to do with a militia. I thought that was a crock of sh1t. My professors weren’t really against 2A; they were just repeating the same crock that they’d been taught.

    • I graduated law school in 2000. Never came up. Not once. Ironically, Randy Barnett now teaches at my alma mater.

  4. I think we got Eddie Eagle in 4th or 5th grade.

    Beyond that, nothing until high school, when it was mentioned in passing in American History.

  5. Teachers are teachers regardless of state, you seriously need to keep tabs on what they have your kids doing. Case in point one Texas school having kids wear burkas for role play teaching that muslim terrorists are freedom fighters and the founding fathers are terrorists. Texas definitely isn’t immune what with the CSCOPE crap. At least it finally got killed off. They want your kids, and they want to use them to turn Texas blue like Colorado.

    • I would have preferred that for my daughter than what she came home and told me one day.8yr old daughter came home and I asked the age old question…what did you learn in school today? my teacher said guns are only for poor ppl who need to hunt for and other than that they are “BAD” that perplexed my daughter because she has always been around guns and other weapons like bows. are we poor dad?? had to explain to her that her teacher was a nut and didn’t know what she was talking about, want to talk about being pissed….I was.

      i went to school and had a loooonnnggggg talk and let them know I didn’t agree with them trying to warp my kids views! and if they were going to teach to @least use the right documents(constitution) so they can do it right. i learned @ the same school but the typing didn’t stick. hah hah

  6. I actually remember getting a pretty good overview of the history behind the 2A for Government and American History in High School; we read the Federalist Papers for history and I was in High School when Heller began its trek through the court system. My Government teacher actually saw the case at the time as possibly changing the interpretation of the 2A, so we talked about it for at least a few days.

  7. My 7th grade history teacher used that overused argument about how the 2nd amendment isn’t as relevant as it used to be, because they used muskets back then and SMGs are too dangerous to own, etc. etc. etc.

  8. It was never really brought up in my schools other than it was part of the BOR. I had sme pro-gun teachers but they kept it pretty quiet. . I don’t think it was ever brought up at all until my senior year and then only because of the ’94 AWB.

  9. In school I remember almost nothing of being taught about the 2A. This could be because I don’t remember. My parents were the ones who taught me about the 2A that I remember. They gave me the reasons for it etc. I grew up in a hunting family so firearms were a part of my life from a young age.

  10. What did I learn about the 2A while in grade school? Absolutely nothing! Isn’t that
    a crying shame, coming from an Iowa boy?
    And as far as I can tell, it’s not getting any better either. Maybe it’s time for me to step up instead of being a bystander.

    • This. However …

      When I was in college, I was assigned to read a lovely little book called “In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action”, by Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy. (Yes, that one.) It’s got a chapter for each of the first ten amendments, discussing cases in which they’ve been infringed, limited, and upheld.

      Oh, wait — I’m sorry. It has such a chapter for nine of the first ten amendments. The odd amendment out warrants a review of one case that concludes that no, the amendment does not protect the right to keep and bear arms, and Morton Grove was perfectly within their rights to ban handguns.

  11. I graduated High School in 2004 and what they would teach us about US history pretty much was limited to things like “The bill of rights existed, this is what they were. The end” They barley discussed the 1st amendment and totally ignored the second. With the sad state of public education no wonder each generation is more fookered than the last.

  12. I was lucky, I had a history/government teacher in 11th and 12th grade that was, shall we say, unorthodox? He was all about debating the role of government in personal life, and emphasized strongly the duty of a citizen not to rely on the government. He had us debate the merits of the 2nd amendment several times, looking through the lens of personal defense as well as the duty of the militia to protect against government tyranny. The guy was, in clinical terms, f$cking insane, but he was also the best teacher I had. He had a strange way of making perfect sense but sounding absolutely batshit crazy along the way. The world needs more teachers like him.

    • Glad you had someone like that in school. Strangely my high school history teacher and P.E. teachers were both like that. Maybe the history teachers have a better perspective of how the world repeats itself over and over, and howthe 2nd is an important amendment. Need more teachers like that. Teaching personal responsibility today, nah most people want to tell you it’s okay to take from others and give it to you, or it’s not your fault, someone or something else is to blame.

  13. When I went to school we had the pledge of alliegence and school prayer at the start of the day. We learned duck and cover and that America was the good guys and the commies were the bad guys.

    I don’t remember being taught about the 2a but i remember kids bringing guns to school for class presentations and to use as props in a school play. In high school I remember the student parking lot being full of pick ups and a good many of those had rifles and shotguns in the window racks.

    My old man had a ford pickup and when I asked him why he didn’t have a gun rack he said having a gun behind his head distracted him while driving. He kept his behind the seat in a cowboy style saddle scabbard.

  14. Vaguely remember first grade (1st time around) teacher telling us about the new Brady Law that was coming into affect and how great they were. How this poor man was confined to a wheelchair because of guns and guns bad. Mind you, I was brought up in a ‘Jews don’t use guns’ house (Although my Pa secretly loves them, bought me a BB for my 16th and did not tell Ma).

  15. Nothing in school. And I actually paid attention. I did letter in small bore marksmanship in H.S. That was back in ’76.
    Didn’t fully understand the issue until the late 80’s when I started hanging out with a bunch of crazy, right leaning, radical, awesome people.
    Life long friends they are. They helped open my eyes. I’m still learning though. One of the reasons I like this site. I get to learn more.

  16. Nothing until high school where we watched Michael Moore movies, begining with Bowling for Columbine. We even learned that the First Amendment applies only to politicians and the press.

  17. It never came up in grade school. The Constitution was brought up in passing but otherwise it wasn’t mentioned.

    In high school history we were forbidden by our teacher SPECIFICALLY to not discuss the Second Amendment or gun control. We were never given a reason.

  18. I remember once, I don’t recall the age, who believed in gun ownership, who didn’t, and who was uncertain. We were asked to physically go to corners for our view. Most went to didn’t believe. A few went to uncertain. Me, being the son of a hunter, and, I believe, two others went to believe. The teacher looked shocked at us. She then started with the person to my side drilling apart their views. That person was told to go to uncertain. Then it was me. “Well do you believe children should have guns?” was the question. “Well of course not,” I started. “Then go to uncertain.” Being a young kid I wasn’t able to respond and explain if that was the test to cars, alcohol, voting, or freedom of speech, her stance would argue for complete tyranny. I went to undecided unhappy about this.

    Today I know that I wouldn’t stand for that and would be able to hold my ground. Today I’m a gun owner myself and I have spent a significant amount of time researching firearm ownership in history and concepts for and against gun ownership. Today I stand my ground and fight for my right to bear arms because today I’m not told to go and be “uncertain”….today I know my views and I can and will defend them. I’ve also spent a lot of time learning on how to control my wording in such a way so when the debate comes up at work, I’m able to not come off as a nutcase but as a person who sees both sides of things.

  19. We just learned the general idea so we could “memorize” (regurgitate) them on am exam. For some reason the direct election of senators stood out to me. I now have a rather “old-fashioned” (read: originalist) view of this amendment.

  20. Very little in public school. But, to be fair, it got no better or worse treatment than the first, third or fifth. I don’t know that they ever even mentioned the fourth.
    It wasn’t until college, and a ballsy classmate going the rounds with your typical revisionist history teacher that I considered what the 2nd meant.
    At home, while my mom never liked guns (that’s fixed now), she always respected the need for them, and the right to have them. Didn’t take long to have her standing at my side, with my whole family, at the rally this January.
    So, maybe its best that public school does a shit job. Family and friends are much better at setting it straight.

  21. The private Christian school I went to made us memorize the
    Bill of Rights along with the Declaration of Independence and
    preamble to the Constitution. Little did I know that this set me
    and my classmates, mere 6th graders, leagues ahead of most
    college grads let alone students in public schools. Our teacher
    had a replica copies of these documents and they were
    prominently displayed on the wall next to the Ten
    Commandments. No amendment was specifically focused on.
    However, given that more than one teacher would tell us about
    their hunting trips or a new firearm (including a few of the
    female teachers), it wasn’t hard to figure out where they fell on
    the issue.

  22. Nothing much that I remember. We were all in a rural area. Hell, I even remember someone trying to shoot a crop duster. We would shoot in the woods. No one bothered us. So, I learned more from friends and family about firearms than school.

  23. Only time I recall anything being taught about the Second Amendment was in the fifth grade. The teacher asked us what it meant and I said it was for self-defense reasons. She proceeded to tell me that it’s actually so the US can have a military. Even when I was ten that stood out as being nonsense. Though I will say this, I did at some point later in that year write an anti-gun control essay and she didn’t penalize me for it. Oddly enough, I did have to take a government and economics class when I was a high school senior, and I don’t remember anything being mentioned about the Second Amendment. Closest we came was the fallacious ‘guns or butter’ thing in economics. So this is what one Texan learned in school about the Second Amendment. Don’t know what other schools teach.

  24. I vaguely remember a NRA hunter safety course in grade school, maybe 4th or 5th grade. That would have been ~1964 in a small town in SW Virginia, public school.

  25. Aren’t you in Austin? You ain’t in Texas yet.

    I got my hunting liscense at highschool 2 years ago got taught all about gun saftey.

  26. i remember nothing directly about the 2a but in 7th grade we talked a lot about ww2 and firearms from the ww2 era. parents were allowed to bring in guns from that era and show the kids. but this was a private school. however surprisingly not to long ago. (2000s)

  27. My teachers just breezed right over the 2A. They would read the text verbatim, and then would just say “in layman’s terms, American citizen can own guns.” That’s it. Nothing else. It’s sad really.

  28. Can’t remember what I learned way back when, but I know my 8th grade students get a well rounded lesson.

  29. I honestly can’t remember learning about the Constitution at all. We had an 8th grade civics class, maybe we touch on it then but nothing resonates. I did go to school in a very rural district and it was not unusual for kids to leave their rifles in their cars so they could go hunting after school. It was not a big deal at all. I can’t imagine that would be okay now and that was only 20 years ago.

  30. I can’t remember what we learned precisely about the 2nd amendment in history, but I do remember in high school gym we all got bussed out to the local NG armory to shoot these 10lb. single shot .22 short rifles. I don’t suppose they do that any more.

    If they can teach sex ed to 1st graders why not gun safety? (And by gun safety I mean ACTUAL gun safety, not hoplophobia.)

  31. There are other amendments than the 2nd. Also the 2nd with the 3rd is a little anachronistic, dated… The 2nd amendment is not the greatest amendment ever written. It was written in late 1700’s when USA had no military; a gun was black powder flint lock. Read the 2nd amendment, it starts off with “well organized militia”. Yes that is called the NATIONAL GAURD today. Along with Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, FBI, CIA, ATF, Fed Marshal’s, local Police & SWAT the USA Gov has enough hired guns…. You and your little gun is: A) Never going to defend the shores of USA from the British or anyone else, B) Overthrow the Gov in some violent revolution (we vote to make change and we keep voting for the same partisan self serving idiots who are beholding to the Gun lobby, yes the Gun Lobby is big business).

    I own guns, reload my own ammo, have and use my carry permit daily…. I use it for personal protection and a HOBBY, not to protect anyone else. A hobby does not make me or you a patriot because we own a gun. Oh yea that is another things, who ever conflated Patriotism and guns is a marketing genius. I mentioned 3rd Amendment, that is where in a time of war (the Brits are coming) the Army can take you home and make camp on your land. Just like the 2nd it was written in a different time and we need to be responsible or society will demand Gov take the guns; Society will not tolerate another Sandy Hook… LOCK YOUR GUNS UP FOR GOSH SAKES…. I am also for mandatory training, thorough back ground check, including a philological profile. Some gun owners are nuts. Go on YouTube, it is embarrassing.

    • The 2nd amendment was not added to the Constitution to provide the government a standing army. It was not added to the Constitution to give the government a reserve army. The government’s rights and responsibilities regarding armed forces for national defense and war are clearly stated in the actual Constitution before the amendments were written. The militia or National Guard, as you have called it, is not the same as what is called the National Guard today. The 2nd amendment is protection for private individuals and organizations to arm themselves.

  32. It was probably mentioned in my junior high civics class, but not much despite me growing up in a pro-gun town in a pro-gun state.

    My con law class covered Heller, but for some reason I wasn’t in class that time, so I have no idea how that went down.

  33. I remember going over The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, but not in any real detail. We were encouraged to study the Declaration… and that was back in grade school I believe.

  34. I was homeschooled through 8th grade…I remember when the AWB passed, my dad missed the boat and ended up buying a shotgun around ’97. Shot it once, kept it locked under his bed, told us about it and showed it to us (I was about 8 or 9) and told us not to touch it. Nothing else until senior year of high school, enrolled in a Running Start college civics class and we had simulated debates before the SCOTUS, one of which was whether the 2nd recognized an individual right. If I remember correctly, the vote came out slightly in favor of individual right.

  35. Nothing at at all. I can not remember one instance where anyone at any of the public schools I attended taught may anything about or even acknowledge the existence of the Second Amendment.

  36. That it came between the one about Free Speech and Press and the one about not being forced to give soldiers free room and board.

  37. It was called “civics” when I went to High School, and at Culpeper County High School, in Virginia, we had but one civics teacher, the best any school was ever blessed with, the Rev. Floyd T. Binns. Originally a segregationist, when schools were integrated, he never said a word, and never looked back.

    He coached the girls’ softball team to several state championships, and when games or practices ended, he drove the girls that had no ride home, all over the county. Black or white.

    And he taught us the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. EVERY DAMN ONE OF THEM. Over and over and over.

    That school is now the middle school, and it proudly bears his name.

  38. We read one case about the 2nd A in law school at the University of Missouri back in 1978. US vs. Miller (S.Ct.1939). It was about a shady guy caught with a sawed off shotgun. The professor said it taught us reasonable regulation was ok. No wonder lawyers and judges are so ignorant of our 2nd Amendment rights. I recently reread US vs. Miller. It holds that that since a well regulated militia was essential to a free state that THE PEOPLE were entitled to keep and bear arms applied to MILITARY WEAPONS. They said that there was no evidence that the military used sawed off shotguns so they could be regulated. I guess Supreme Court Judges don’t know about Cavalry weapons of the American Civil War.
    Well, now you understand why I quit practicing law and now teach “Civics” and American History at the local school district.

  39. High school class of 1978 in California. In a required government class we dissected the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments. It was a small class and we took turns researching portions of documents and making presentations to the class followed by often heated discussions. The teacher was an outstanding facilitator who forced us to discover things on our own.

    We concluded that the 2nd Amendment existed to ensure that the concept of government by the consent of the people would never be forgotten by elected officials. We also reflected that no foreign would-be-occupier would be able to take US territory for the simple reason that an armed population would prevent it even if the military could not.

    But to really understand the constitution I had to wait a few more years until the game of Nomic came out. You can find the rules online–those along with a few friends, a supply of index cards and a few hours of time will teach you things about government that cannot be learned any other way.

  40. All we hear in Commiefornia is “waah, waah, I wanna be a disarmed victim”. I have had many antigun teachers preach anti-2A garbage in class, and the admins never batted an eye. The only time I was taught the truth and benefits of the 2A was in a small country town in Norcal where every other house had a gun in it.

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