2nd Amendment Explanation
With all the discussion going on regarding guns, gun control, the 2nd Amendment and the like recently. We thought this breakdown by an unknown author gave a perfect dissection and 2nd Amendment explanation that can be shared with those in your life that rattle on about how the 2nd Amendment only refers to the right of the National Guard to bear arms.
First of all, the right to keep and bear arms was not “given” by the Constitution. The Constitution did not create or grant any rights. It simply states and declares rights that people have (such rights were “self evident”), and seeks to protect them, but we possess all of our rights independent of the Constitution or any other document.
The 2nd Amendment was intended to ensure that people were not deprived of their rights and actual ability to protect themselves, their families, property, liberty and state–from criminals, foreign threats and their own government, should it become tyrannical (such as the one they had just fought a bloody war to remove).
Let’s not forget that the catalyst for the actual fighting of the American War for Independence was the British attempts to confiscate the colonists’ arms and munitions at Concord and Lexington, Mass.
The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution 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”
Some folks want to say that “the people” means the STATE, but this is not so… it means individuals, in the same context as the 1st Amendment, which guarantees that “the people” have a right to assemble peaceably, and the 4th Amendment’s protection of “the people” from unreasonable searches and seizures. Moreover, the 10th Amendment makes it clear that “the states” and “the people” are not synonymous.
Some folks want to say that because the word “regulated” appears in the 2nd Amendment, this somehow gives government the power to control the right to keep and bear arms. This is not so. “Regulated,” in this sense, should be understood to mean, well disciplined, practiced and organized–in other words efficient and orderly. By people exercising their rights to keep and bear arms, this leads to a well regulated militia through their practice and shooting activities, and keep in check the ability of any other military force to threaten our free country.
It is true, that the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the authority to regulate the militia, but (until very recent gun-control legislation) this was always considered to be a prescriptive power, and never a prescriptive power. A prescriptive power could require men to keep arms and practice or drill every so often, while a prescriptive power might prohibit certain activities. Certainly, the civil authority had the power to require the militia to keep itself well-equipped and drilled, but the wording of the 2nd Amendment clearly shows that the Constitution did not intend to allow the government any authority to restrict or infringe upon the peoples’ ability and right to arm themselves and drill.
The 2nd Amendment states generally that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed–that means by anyone, or any level of government (city, municipal, county, state or federal).
Moreover, the grammar of the 2nd Amendment needs to be read as two distinct clauses. The first clause is a statement of fact:
Whereas, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state …” [That means: A well-equipped, organized and disciplined militia (all able-bodied men over the age of 16) is A NECESITY for the security of A FREE STATE] …
The second clause is the conclusion:
… therefore, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” [That means … the RIGHT of the each person to keep (possess, own, hold) and bear (carry, wear and use) arms (weapons capable of defending people, their families, property and state) SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.]
Moreover, it is important to point out that a government might be able to create security in a state by some other means, but this is the manner in which security is preserved in a FREE state.
And just for fun, because the wording of the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was influenced by some state constitutions, let’s see what the Virginia and Pennsylvania constitutions of 1776 has to say on the matter:
“Sec. 13. That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; 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.” (Virginia Constitution, June 29, 1776)
“XIII. That 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.” (Pennsylvania Constitution of Sept. 28, 1776)
Our “founding fathers” knew that these issues were directly linked and important. I hope that gives you a better perspective on what the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution of the United States is supposed to protect and prohibit.