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1791: Congress adopts 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, including the 10 that are known as the Bill of Rights. Among those rights is the Second Amendment, or the right to keep and bear arms. It reads: "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."
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One of the earliest arguments over gun rights in America was whether slaves should be allowed to carry them. In its historic 1856 Dred Scott decision, the U.S. Supreme Court stated it would give slaves who are recognized as U.S. citizens the "full liberty" to keep and carry guns wherever they went.
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In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act into law. The act, which instituted federal background checks on firearm purchasers in the United States, was named after James Brady (left), who was shot by John Hinckley Jr. during an attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981.
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