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Rights and Freedoms: The U.S. Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights is a document written to protect the rights of all Americans. It is important that every U.S. Citizen read this document to know what rights are available to them. Citizens will find that most of the original 10 amendments have daily applications, and the knowledge will keep them better prepared for life in general.

The First Amendment

The most recognized amendment, the First Amendment, guarantees that U.S. citizens have the right to free speech, which shares a close relationship to having choice in religion. This was a concept heavily guarded by the founders of the nation, who, having seen tyranny of the English government, sought to prevent beliefs being dictated to the new American citizens. The right to peaceably assemble, and the ability to petition the government are also covered in this landmark amendment.

The Second Amendment

“The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

 

The writing of the Second Amendment has seen quite a bit of controversy since it’s creation over 200 years ago. Modern day groups, such as the National Rifle Association, hold a literal interpretation of the right to bear arms, and contend that this amendment has already been heavily infringed upon. Among their arguments, they complain that the expectation of licensing, registering, and weapon regulation interferes with the ability to bear arms.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is a government office aimed at keeping citizens safe from the most dangerous weapons. The bureau maintains laws to prevent criminals from accessing weapons, as well as laws that prevent unsafe modifications to weapons that are already owned.

The Fourth Amendment

Citizens have the right to refuse unreasonable searches and seizures of their own persons, houses, papers, and effects. Only a warrant allows a government officer into one’s home, and the fourth amendment requires that a warrant describe the objects and people to be found and seized. This protects privacy and property of Americans from tyrannical government, as well as defining a line between public and private ownership.

The Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendments

The authors of the Bill of Rights felt that answering for a crime without a trial by jury would compromise justice being served. The Bill of Rights asserts that “all criminal prosecutions” are grounds for a public trial.

Relatively few crimes are tried before a jury today, due to the time and the cost of prosecuting such a large number of cases. Traffic courts, for example, will ask the defendant to waive their rights so that the matter may be resolved within that day. Waiving rights means that the citizen no longer claims the right to a trial by impartial jury for that case, agreeing instead to resolve the matter by following the immediate court judgment.

A thorough understanding of the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendment gives citizens the full implications of the rights that they may be asked to give up.

Rights and Freedoms Protected by Knowledge and Understanding

The amendments in the Bill of Rights are important to know so that every citizen can enjoy the protection of rights for themselves, as well as respecting the freedoms of others. To read an archived copy, the document can be found by search or through the link below.

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