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The Second Amendment

 

The Second Amendment

 

The second amendment is one of the most important for guaranteeing the freedoms established in the Constitution. Those who oppose this amendment resort to all manner of creative interpretations of the wording. But the only "true" interpretation is in terms of common word usage at the time of first publication. Only then is the real meaning of the amendment made clear.

 

The definition of "well-regulated":

From: Brian T. Halonen

 

The following are taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, and bracket in time the writing of the 2nd amendment:

 1709: "If a liberal Education has formed in us well-regulated Appetites and worthy Inclinations."

 1714: "The practice of all well-regulated courts of justice in the world."

 1812: "The equation of time ... is the adjustment of the difference of time as shown by a well-regulated clock and a true sun dial."

 1848: "A remissness for which I am sure every well-regulated person will blame the Mayor."

 1862: "It appeared to her well-regulated mind, like a clandestine proceeding."

 1894: "The newspaper, a never wanting adjunct to every well-regulated American embryo city."

The phrase "well-regulated" was in common use long before 1789, and remained so for a century thereafter. It referred to the property of something being in proper working order. Something that was well-regulated was calibrated correctly, functioning as expected. Establishing government oversight of the people's arms was not only not the intent in using the phrase in the 2nd amendment, it was precisely to render the government powerless to do so that the founders wrote it.

 

Analysis of the second amendment from the founder's perspective:

 From the Tenth Amendment web site

When the Constitution was signed on September 17, 1789, federalists claimed the new government would only have limited powers expressly delegated to it. This wasn’t enough for anti-federalists like George Mason, who wanted explicit guarantees to certain rights in order to prevent any potential encroachment by the federal government.

One of them was the right to keep and bear arms. Mason wrote: “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”

The Founding Fathers, having just broken away from Great Britain, understood the new federal government they were ratifying might one day become just as tyrannical. If it had the authority to control citizen access to firearms, then it could disarm them, just as the British attempted to do. This would make any attempts to restore liberties futile.

The Second Amendment was specifically included in the Bill of Rights to prevent this.

Two centuries later, we are in an ideological struggle with gun control advocates attempting to alter the meaning of the Second Amendment in order to allow for federal restrictions on our right to bear arms. Not surprisingly, they completely ignore what the ratifiers of the Constitution and the Second Amendment had to say, because all pertinent historical documents contradict them.

For example, when the Founders wrote of a “well regulated” militia, they meant militias needed to be well regulated through training and drilling in order to be effective in battle. This could only happen if citizens had unrestricted access to firearms.

James Madison, the father of the Constitution, said in 1789 that “A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country.”

An example of a well regulated militia under Madison’s definition were the Minutemen at Concord and Lexington, who had drilled on fields in preparation for war.

As to the meaning of the word “militia,” it has nothing to do with the National Guard. There is already a clause in the Constitution that specifically authorizes arming them.

So what is a militia as defined by the Founders? Mason said they were “the whole people, except for a few public officials.”

In fact, there was a universal acceptance among both federalists and anti-federalists as to the importance of the right to bear arms.

Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 28 that “if the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense,” a right which he declared to be “paramount.”

And then there is clause “shall not be infringed.” There is no exception to this contained anywhere in the amendment.

Zacharia Johnson, a delegate to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, summed up the meaning of the Second Amendment when he declared that “The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them.”

Full possession. Not some. Not most. Full possession of their weapons. The feds were to keep their hands off entirely.

The Founders made it very clear what the Second Amendment means. But if we do not fight against any and all attempts by the feds to infringe upon our right to keep and bear arms, then it loses all relevant meaning.

 


Other references:

The 'Lectric Law Library

The Daily KOS