The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
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.
There is one irrefutable fact, supported by contemporary writings of a number of the Founders: the 2nd amendment was written to enable the individual people of this nation, as a last resort, to overthrow a tyrannical government. Self-protection, hunting and shooting were well received by-products; however the original intent has never changed. The Founders themselves armed for war with smooth bore muskets, which at four shots per minute, were the commonly issued assault rifles of their day.
Contemporary rifled bore flintlock rifles, while having more far range in the hands of elite marksman only fired one shot per minute, and some took far longer to load. Hand grenades had been in military use in the United Kingdom as early as the Battle of Holt Bridge in 1643, and had been in widespread use for 100 years. Artillery, from swivel guns to cannon, howitzers, and mortars, were in common use and owed by private citizens and communities.
Warships, the most powerful weapons of the day, were often privately owned; in fact, the eight frigates of the Continental Navy performed pitifully, and were all sunk by 1781. The only real naval successes enjoyed by the rebellious Americans were from privateers, who made the best of the 1,697 letters of marque issued by Congress. (1)
This posting will cover the original intent of the second amendment as well as an introduction to a few of the many legislative attempts to place limitations on it. This document relies on vetted on-line information, books, and other available materials from institutes of higher education. Credit will be given to the best of the ability of this writer. Spelling will contain the spelling of the time of publication. I can only hope this post can lead to further discussion of the subject matter.
In order to gain a beginning to the meaning of the amendment as written, and dismiss one of the most egregious errors often repeated, we will start with a grammatical look at the actual terminology and the arguments within. The following comes from George Mason University, School of Law and in particular Nelson Lund, Patrick Henry Professor of Constitutional Law and the Second Amendment (2).
The one-sentence Second Amendment contains three commas, the first and last of which are not in dispute. The second comma, however, has given rise to an argument over the meaning of the clause that precedes it relative to the remainder of the sentence.
To those who view the opening clause as absolute, the Second Amendment is really about the right of militias, rather than individuals, to bear arms. That interpretation would save the D.C. gun ban and limit the force of the Second Amendment.
Nelson Lund, Patrick Henry Professor of Constitutional Law and the Second Amendment, disagrees with that interpretation, saying the militia portion of the sentence “is grammatically independent of the rest of the sentence.” In his view, “The Second Amendment has exactly the same meaning that it would have had if the preamble had been omitted.” Those following Lund’s reasoning would conclude that the Second Amendment protected an individual’s right to bear arms.
The US Supreme Court decided in 2008, Columbia v. Heller (Federal) and in 2010 with McDonald v. Chicago (States) with the view of Professor Lund on the side of the 2nd Amendment and the individual’s right to bear arms. The SCOTUS recognized in the Heller decision that just as television journalism is protected by the 1st Amendment, while only print journalism was known by the Founders, so are modern weapons protected by the 2nd.
Even if you still doubt of the scholar, or the Supreme Court, next I will present the law in codification that names everyone, with very few limitations, as ‘the Militia’ that many here will denounce and despise—it is us. Officially, the “National Guard and the Naval Militia” are one part of our Republic’s militia, formally identified in 10 USC § 311 (b) (1) as the “organized militia.” You and I, and others who are the too old, too young, or too female (not so much today) who are not formally part of the National Guard or Naval Militia or on active duty military, are codified in 10 USC § 311 (b) (2) as the “unorganized militia.”
The “Organized Militia” at the time of the revolution was the immortal “Minutemen” who were aided by the “Unorganized Militia” of the young, old and women alike. The beginning of the US regular forces was born in this time period which was known as the Continental Marines (10 November 1775) and better known today as the United States Marine Corps. This leaves us with the regular military, the organized, and the unorganized militias.
Today we call them the US Military (regulars & reserves) now including the Coast Guard, the organized militia–the National Guard, and the unorganized—the rest of us. This is codified in law. Just like Sweden, our population is expected to be fully armed with the same weapons of the current militarily; however, unlike Sweden–the government will not pay, nor arm your household; it is expected of each of us be fully armed of our own accord.
The founders were very clear on the intent of the 2nd amendment. Let me share a few quick quotes here:
The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence … From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to insure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable . . . the very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that is good.
The Constitution shall never be construed….to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.
Even though this should be a simple and straightforward amendment—it is worth noting that the first five amendments are all God given (Endowed by the Creator) and cannot be revoked by man. An additional note is the 2nd amendment is the one that that protects all of the other amendments and should be easily understood. Many in the community constantly misrepresent and construe this amendment to their wishes. One last quote should help clear that up. Tenche Coxe, Pennsylvania delegate to the Continental Congress twice explained the purpose of the Second Amendment to his fellow citizens, first writing in The Pennsylvania Gazette, on Feb. 20, 1788.
“The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American … the unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”
Coxe was explicit: the Founders held that the militia was the people, and that Congress had no power to disarm the people. Further he defined that the citizens of this Republic should have military arms, as checks and balances against over-reach by both state and local powers.
As a bit of history towards those folks that still believe that “Taxation without Representation” is more than a slogan for the license plates on Obama’s limousine (3) but also was the cause of the First American revolution. This may just be a shock because the “shot heard round the world”, “don’t fire till you see the whites of their eyes”, and other well-known phases were from our forefathers which were fighting against the confiscation of powder and shot, cannon, and community food stores—that is what started the First American Revolution.
Let us look into the incursions and restrictions that are in effect “feel good” measures against the Second Amendment. According to the latest available information–there were currently 243 pages of federal gun laws (4) , and 480 pages of state gun laws (5) in effect. I could go into to CDC studies and elsewhere but this would be to no avail to those that have closed their minds already.
“Shall not be infringed” has been infringed to some extent or another since 1934 in the name of “Public Safety”, “Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act”, or many other innocuous sounding names that are all restrictions of one sort or another. Please try to remember that the ultimate goal of the 2nd amendment is to defend against all enemies both foreign and domestic with the last resort being a means to overthrow a tyrannous government and not one of skeet shooting nor killing Bambi or Thumper for dinner.
From NFA ’34, to GCA ’68, to FOPA ’86, and the ’94 Crime Bill as just a couple of examples, the federal government has chipped away at the rights of gun owners in the name of “public safety.” Every one of these has restricted law abiding citizens while doing nothing but present “feel good” crap for the general population, and a basic zero effect to curb those, known as criminals, who do not follow the law.
There is no such idea of an “assault” weapon (closest is a selector switch multi-fire) available in the US for sale to the general public since 1934. Legally-owned assault rifles have never been used to commit murder in the United States. During the gang wars of the 1920s and early 1930s, bloody gangland shootouts inspired the National Firearms Act of 1934, to impose a tax (and substantial controls) over the sale of automatic weapons and destructive devices. It has been incredibly effective in removing legally-purchased firearms from the criminal element of society. Since that time, there has been only one confirmed and one possible murder with legally-acquired automatic weapons, and that one confirmed murder was when a corrupt police officer used his department-issued M-11 submachine pistol to murder an informant.
The first “assault rifle”, the German Sturmgewehr 44 (StG 44) wasn’t invented for another ten years after the NFA was passed. No assault rifles have been made for public purchase in 27 years. In 1986, Congress passed the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act–one provision of that act was the so-called Hughes Amendment. (6) I will admit that if you have over $15,000 dollars for application fees (non-refundable), can withstand a six-month plus investigation, and are approved as a class III firearms licensee—you can purchase one, if you can afford the cost on the limited basis (prior to 1986) availability, with an expected minimum of $5,000 USD for the “cheapest” multi-fire available.
In light of recent events, there can be no better time than the present to have a detailed and comprehensive discussion about the one freedom that is the final and ultimate guarantee of all other freedoms. Nevertheless, everyone has an opinion on restrictions to getting firearms and most of us will not disagree with restrictions put into place about availability of certain weapon types or the people that can purchase them prior to this latest power grab by President Obama, among others like Senator Diane “Good for me but not thee” Feinstein.
Honestly, if President Obama was half-truthful about Federal Gun laws he should start with the greatest “straw man” purchaser and gun trafficker to date—his Attorney General Eric Holder. However, I will leave this open to discussion in the comments but will leave you with a couple of statements left to us not by our founders but of those who some of the Liberals / Progressives both in and out of power idolize. One by the original “Bite Me” Joe—Joseph Stalin who said ““If the opposition disarms, well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves.” Or the Christmas Winter tree ornament (within the White House) believer of Mao (Mao Tze Tung) who stated “All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.”
America will never be disarmed as much as the resident Liberals and Progressives wish. Tread Lightly. Commence discussion.
(1) Owens, Bob, 2013, “Forget bans; where are my Constitutionally-protected suppressed machine guns?”, retrieved in part from: http://www.bob-owens.com/2013/01/forget-bans-where-are-my-constitutionally-protected-suppressed-machine-guns/#more-2671
(2) Lund, Nelson, 2007, “Much Ado About Commas: Lund on Second Amendment Grammar Debate”, George Mason, School of Law, Nelson Lund, Patrick Henry Professor of Constitutional Law and the Second Amendment retrieved from http://www.law.gmu.edu/news/2007/859
(3) Blaze.com, 2013, President Obama Will Make a Political Statement With New License Plates on His Limo, retrieved from http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/01/15/president-obama-will-make-a-political-statement-with-designer-license-plates-on-his-limo/
(6) Owens, Bob, 2013, “Assault rifles have been banned for 27 years. So why are politicians and the media lying to you?”. Retrieved in part from http://www.bob-owens.com/2013/01/assault-rifles-have-been-banned-for-27-years-so-why-are-politicians-and-the-media-lying-to-you/#more-2723