Home > Gun Rights, Historico, Politico, Second Amendment, Uncategorized, US Constitution > Taking a real look at the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States

Taking a real look at the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States

Second Amendment

The right to bear arms?

As passed by the Congress: “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.” As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State.

When looking at the Second Amendment, in its totality, one can get only one understanding from it; that is if one has an understanding of constitutional history. It has essentially has two parts that make up its whole. I find it amazing that most people, especially those I call the “gun-stupid”, only choose to read and adopt the second part of the Second Amendment. Its intent is utterly clear when one reads the entirety of the Second Amendment in conjunction with the Federalist Papers. The Federalist Papers are the written text explaining the arguments for and against the constitution thereby seeking to persuade the states to ratify the Constitution. See; http://tinyw.in/y3IV. The contention that surrounded the Second Amendment was not based on an argument over the rights of people to have arms; it had/has its roots in a disagreement over whether or not this nation would have a standing army or not.

Based on my interpretation of the Second Amendment and the Federalist Papers (29), I get the following meaning from it “In order to have a well regulated militia in the defense of the United States (or states at that time) the rights of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.  Now this understanding of the 2nd Amendment is a far cry from what the gun-stupid would argue today. If you really want to get a better understanding of what the Founding Fathers meant you will really have to read the Federalist papers, but if you just want a quick rundown here it goes.

The Founding Fathers argued heavily about the whether America should establish of an army during times of peace and at the end of their debate it was settled, that America would not have a standing army during times of peace. This decision would remain as policy until the early 20th century when Congress broke from the original intent of the Founding Fathers and established a standing army. The original Constitution allowed for a standing army for a period of TWO years (which is why today, military appropriations happen every two years; it is a means to circumvent the Constitution) and that was how it was until the early 20th century. It has long been established that the Fathers feared a standing army. They were well versed historians which had seen that countries with standing armies were often times over-thrown by its military, which soon oppressed its people. This has happened  time and time again throughout history, and thus the Founders agreed that America would not have a standing army. Of course this approach to the military would not last, but this was the agreement at the time.

In light of this, the Founding Fathers decided that America would consist of armed citizens which they referred to as “militia”. In fact the definition of militia during that time was “all able bodied men”, but their intent was to have citizens be citizens until the moment that the nation needed their service in its defense.

There are basically two views on the Second Amendment which explain the massively oppositional interpretations of its meaning. The names of the two views of interpretation are the We and Me view, as established for reference sake. The Me view sees the Second Amendment as guaranteeing a person the right to own a gun without restrictions, regulations, and responsibility. It completely ignores the preconditions that are set forth in the beginning 13 words of the  Second Amendment, “A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state,…“. It completely discounts the original arguments (Federalist Papers 46 and 29) that were debated in the construction of the Second Amendment which were centered around the establishment or non-establishment of a standing army. The Second Amendment was a compromise between those that wanted a standing army and those that were extremely fearful of it.

The We view is a more traditional view which sees the Second Amendment as protecting the rights of individuals to bear arms in conjunction with state-run militias. The Founders used “state” instead of nation in the 2nd Amendment for a specific reason; to satisfy Virginia and their slave patrol militias.  With that stated, there is a hybrid version of the views. The Hybrid We version accepts the misinterpretation of the Founders original intent and guarantees the individual the right to bear arms within the limitations that are set forth by either the state or federal government. The Hybrid We view attempts to reconcile the differences of the Me and We views.

The intent of the Second Amendment is being deliberately distorted for sake of gun and ammo sales. This is what is behind the blind “history ignoring” belief in the right to bear arms or is a form of outright dishonesty and has not base in history. The NRA and alike are showing a level of contempt for its members by continuing to project their false meme that the Second Amendment was to arm the people against its government.  No where in the Constitution does it establish, or even insinuate, that We The People have a right to go against the government. The Founders believed that the government is “We The People” and that the way to contest an unjust government was by voting.

With all this being said, I believe that we have the right to gun ownership, but within reason. Remember no right is absolute! The right to “keep and bear arms” comes with its caveats which are quite evident and plain when one reads the Federalist Papers. The Founding Fathers asserted without equivocation that the rights to bear and keep are were to be contingent on being or establishing a “well-regulated militia” which the Right and the gun stupid insist on ignoring. Get to know the real interpretation of the Second Amendment and you will love it. I may find myself under attack by the gun-stupid after they read this post. I contend that they are attacking the intent of the Founding Fathers when they attempt to conflate their love of guns, paranoia, and lack of historical knowledge with the Second Amendment.

I will revisit this subject later with more Gastonian perspectives….

  1. August 8, 2012 at 6:57 am

    Think you nailed it. it’s been awhile since I read the Federalist Papers so thanks for the reference, I will read up. I was thinking of this topic earlier today and am contemplating suggesting (after a bit more thought) That gun owners Must be a part of the militia (a new start up) for gun ownership. That should weed out a few whacos.

    • September 19, 2012 at 3:27 am

      I agree that making being part of a militia may lead to a level of ownership, discipline and sunshine to all gun owners and would great discourage the extremists from joining. Our country is well overdue for some form of gun limiting or regulating legislation. The NRA does should not own the conversation over guns and as one who respects guns; I want to see as a starting point for gun ownership registration, required training, and assault weapons ban.

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