For Founder’s Sake! What the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution IS and ISN’T

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

To quote the Reverend DJ Kool, “Let Me Clear My Throat,” as  I wish to disclaim.  The closing idea of the following paragraph may be misleading, if you harbor any closeted assumptions as per what I believe.  Special interest and extremism can come from any outlet, and for or against, the cessation of reasoned thought is the prelude to extremism.  Within this digital dialog, and specific to this particular topic, to establish reasoned thought is to utilize those resources which are without extremism.  Rather, those resources that are accepted without consequence.

Recently, over the past month, and less than recently, over the past two decades, much has been made about personal armaments and their role in society.  More often than not the conversation breaks into the moral v. constitutional argument, with either player centralizing focus on the intention of the Founding Fathers.  It is this focus that provides me with great consternation, as the focus is so oft perverted by the damning forces of special interest and extremism.

That being said, it has been my current goal to shine light and reason on the discussion centering around gun control.  To realize this goal, I have utilized three distinct, official sources, without which my thoughts would feel as lost as those that so erroneously pervade popular thought:  The digital resources of the Library of Congress; judicial opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court as it relates to the issue, the  “Founders’ Constitution” and the Federalist and Antifederalist Papers.

If You’re Still With me…Thanks.  This took some time to compile, and I feel it is essential to the current debate.  If for nothing else, it will help to provide historical context to anyone’s position on the matter.

To kick-start this breakdown it is far easier and shorter to establish…

What the second amendment is

First I will let the Virginia Delegation(circa 1789), as represented by John Jones and Thomas Matthews, explain the accepted desire for amendments to the Constitution

“…In making known to you the objections of the People of the Commonwealth to the new plan of Government, we deem it necessary to enter into a particular detail of its defects, which they consider as involving all the great and unalienable rights of free men…”

and in order to establish concurrence, I will equally allow representatives from New York, the opportunity to request amendment as written by John Lansing…

“…who all united in opinion that such a revision was necessary to recommend the said Constitution to the approbation and support of a numerous body of their constituents; and a majority of the members of which conceived several articles of the Constitution so exceptionable, that nothing but such confidence, and an invincible reluctance to separate from our sister States, could have prevailed upon a sufficient number to assent to it, without stipulating for previous amendments…”

I highlight these two states for one main reason, that immediately following the American Revolution, they were the two richest states in the union best representing the interests for Industry, Agronomy and Trade.  This is important to remember, as it was the will of the states to amend the constitution, in an effort to best establish reflection of the will of the people of the states contained within the union, or a reflection of the constitutions of the states themselves.  To be specific, how do these states’ constitutions reflect on the idea of public arms…

Virginia Declaration of Rights, June 12, 1776That a well-regulated Militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free State; that Standing Armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”

Delaware Declaration of Rights, September 11, 1776That every member of society hath a right to be protected in the enjoyment of life, liberty and property, and therefore is bound to contribute his proportion towards the expense of that protection, and yield his personal service when necessary, or an equivalent thereto; but no part of a man’s property can be justly taken from him or applied to public uses without his own consent or that of his legal Representatives: Nor can any man that is conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms in any case be justly compelled thereto if he will pay such equivalent.”

Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776, Declaration of RightsThat the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”

Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, pt.1The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defence. And as in time of peace armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature; and the military power shall always be held in an exact subordination to the civil authority, and be governed by it.

New York Ratification of Constitution, July 26, 1788That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well-regulated militia, including the body of the people capable of bearing arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free stateThat the militia should not be subject to martial law, except in time of war, rebellion, or insurrection.  That standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and ought not to be kept up, except in cases of necessity; and that at all times the military should be under strict subordination to the civil power.

North Carolina Ratifying Convention, August 1, 1788That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

If the idea of the “militia” are all able-bodied peoples acting in concert of common defense, and well-regulated implies discipline and training, then a well-regulated militia can be accepted as all disciplined and trained, able-bodied individuals, in concert for common defense.  State constitutions routinely listed  some version of the amendment, with variation, while centralizing on the common theme of innate right towards self-defense.  Self-defense being the key indicator as it was generally accepted fear of standing armies and tyrannical government, in addition to wild animals, Native Americans and slaves.  It is specific to mention as this leads to a contextual argument later…

Let’s advance to the 21st century as I will illustrate how the second amendment is currently interpreted within the majority opinion of the landmark 2008 case District of Columbia et al v. Heller.

The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.

The Court’s interpretation is confirmed by analogous arms-bearing rights in state constitutions that preceded and immediately followed the Second Amendment.

Well-Regulated Militia.” In United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174, 179 (1939), we explained that “the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense.” That definition comports with founding-era sources.  Finally, the adjective “well-regulated” implies nothing more than the imposition of proper discipline and training.  Va. Declaration of Rights§13 (1776), in 7 Thorpe 3812, 3814 (referring to “a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people,trained to arms.

While U.S. Supreme Court decree is taken as accepted, it is derived from the research and interpretation of justices.

“SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and KENNEDY,   THOMAS, and ALITO, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SOUTER, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ., joined. BREYER, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which STEVENS, SOUTER, and GINSBURG, JJ., joined.”

What has initiated my desire to post on the topic centralizes on…

What the second amendment isn’t

As an advocate for self-defense and ownership of firearms, and personally containing exceptional reverence for constitutional history, understand that I respect what our framers had in mind when establishing the basis for our unalienable rights.  However, what it wasn’t was a blanket call to establish personal armories, regardless of intention.  As included in the U.S. Supreme Court case above, the majority opinion tends to agree with me…

 “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”

Important are the opening and closing lines, and the ties they share with constitutional history.  Reference the thought implied in the Court’s accepted definition of Well-Regulated Militia as also contained with the case.

the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense.  The adjective “well-regulated” implies nothing more than the imposition of proper discipline and training.  Va. Declaration of Rights§13 (1776), in 7 Thorpe 3812, 3814 (referring to “a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people,trained to arms.

Essentially, when we, as a society, allow anyone access to whichever arms they choose, without assurance to their able-bodied nature and design for common defense, we are actively allowing the proliferation of national terrorism.

Contextually, within the frame of constitutional history, one of their greatest fears was internal insurrection and government tyranny through the use of a standing army.  See, not tyranny from legislation, as this is actively regulated by the will of the people through common elections.  These fakes who continue to exclaim tyranny through legislation, within our current frame of history, know neither tyranny nor insurrection, both commonalities within the historical context.

What continues to be, as it was then, should be a fear of a standing army, but not in the sense that our national army poses a threat.  The same people who claim liberty through a singular amendment will equally express support of our military.  They do this while espousing the need to protect our liberty through force in spite of government tyranny, which does not exist without military tyranny.  In this sense, one cannot have their cake, and eat it too.  It is my belief that our current military is not under such absolute control as would be necessary to suppress these free people.  Therefore, the current standing army exists within our borders, contained within a subset of those who fall under the protection of the very subject amendment.

Tyranny comes from the subjective judgement of those with the power.  In this case, the regional power would come from those whose subjective views equally carry the most armaments.  Just as one would require armament for self-defense, a subjective view of self-defense could just as easily be used for offense.  Offense as the best defense, as they say.  This is exhibited within our major centers of commerce, most notably small arms, as it is in the more agricultural areas with larger arms.  The danger of a standing army comes from within, and no, it does not receive a government paycheck.  I do not fear often, but my largest fear is a small group of nationalists who subjectively decide that my ideas or way of life is a threat to the way they live, and they take up arms against me in self-defense.  This was neither the intention of our framers, or the accepted judicial view of the amendment; and until they take up arms, their actions are  protected under a blanket view of this amendment.

Somewhere along the line, “legitimate” men are performing illegitimate action

It is my personal view, that weapon manufacturers are the ones complicit in every tragedy.  Legislators could remove all restrictions on firearms, or ban every one, and nothing would change.  In direct relation to the popular thought that criminals don’t often follow the law, it requires a supplier to provide these criminals with the supply to meet demand.  Economics has a funny way of not minding legality.  Theories hold regardless.  Why is it that in no variation of legislation, any action is taken to ensure that manufacturers of weapons adhere to some code of conduct?  Follow the Money.  When demand exists, there will always exist a supply to appease it.  Why is it that so many handguns are used for homicide(pg. 27)?

There exists a reality now, where criminals have access to weapons, and we are encouraged as a society to defend ourselves from these criminals with weapons.  Additionally, this cycle is protected by political money to all manner of candidates that influences their ability to make good legislation that would assist in the removal of weapons from the hands of criminals.  This has provided a boon to weapon manufacturer profits.  Somewhere, weapons are being provided not just to the lawful, but to the unlawful, and those weapons are being produced within out borders.

See, it’s not the second amendment that is under attack, it’s not the weapon that’s the issue, it’s not even mental health.  While all these are actors, the real problem is what is always has been…the constant erosion of our liberties by  the few with the power to control our legislators.  The tragedies that occur are the result of a society complicit.  As it is with most national errs, we allow these moneyed interests to profit off of our blood.  This is not an issue set for election day politics.  We have allowed, under the protection of our constitution, a terrorist organization to profit on the blood of our children, based on the guise that our own self-defense is what is at stake, and regardless of that truth that the right to self-defense is self evident, we fail at the protection of that right by allowing these organizations to subsist.

So forget your notion that some politician is coming to take away your second amendment rights, or those who wish to “protect” your second amendment right.  Forget the idea that meaningful legislation can be had through banning or restriction.  That is propaganda.  Look to those who would profit from the right itself, in defense or objection to it.  They care very little about your rights, your protection, or your capability.  Someone, with access to large numbers of armaments, is supplying people who have no place owning firearms…and they sure aren’t falling off the back of a truck.

If you took the time to make it here…Thanks.  I hope you enjoyed.


One response to “For Founder’s Sake! What the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution IS and ISN’T

  1. Pingback: It Was the Heat of the Moment: Misplaced Weapons Policy and the Monied Interests | The Independent's Party·

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