Perspective: 2nd Amendment’s original intent clear

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution contains one sentence, the only subject of which is a “well regulated Militia.” Here it is: “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.”

The Second Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791. In 1876, the Supreme Court ruled and clarified that the “individual right to bear arms was not granted by the Constitution”.

Again, in 1939, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government and the states could limit any weapon types not having a “reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia.” The Court then explained that the Framers included the Second Amendment to ensure the effectiveness of the military for the existing (1791), thirteen state militias. The Federal and State governments at that time did not furnish arms to members of the state militias (mostly referred to today as the National Guard) and the members at that time thereof were expected to furnish their own weapons when called to perform their civic duty to protect the state. The interpretations of 1876 and 1939 clarified the original meanings of the Second Amendment for well over 200 years, in that it referred only to “well regulated” state militias as it was 240 years ago.

Fast forward to 2008, when certain members of Congress, influenced by large “campaign donations” from the NRA and certain NRA friendly Supreme Court Justices who were appointed by U.S. Presidents, former members of the NRA themselves, ruled that bearing arms was an individual right. Unbelievably, the Court even suggested that the United States Constitution would not disallow regulations prohibiting criminals and the mentally ill from firearm possession. We should all work to have this 2008 interpretation, so favored by the money-hungry gun manufacturing industry, reversed, even if a clarifying constitutional amendment becomes necessary to amend the Second Amendment.

Dan Barrett

13 Responses to Perspective: 2nd Amendment’s original intent clear

  1. Tom M. United States Army Retired October 9, 2017 at 9:18 am #

    The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms and was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the first ten amendments contained in the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the right belongs to individuals, while also ruling that the right is not unlimited and does not prohibit all regulation of either firearms or similar devices. State and local governments are limited to the same extent as the federal government from infringing this right per the incorporation of the Bill of Rights.

    The Second Amendment was based partially on the right to keep and bear arms in English common law and was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Sir William Blackstone described this right as an auxiliary right, supporting the natural rights of self-defense, resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to act in concert in defense of the state.
    In United States v. Cruikshank (1876), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that, “The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence” and limited the scope of the Second Amendment’s protections to the federal government. In United States v. Miller (1939), the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment did not protect weapon types not having a “reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia.”

    In the twenty-first century, the amendment has been subjected to renewed academic inquiry and judicial interest. In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision that held the amendment protects an individual right to possess and carry firearms. In McDonald v. Chicago (2010), the Court clarified its earlier decisions that limited the amendment’s impact to a restriction on the federal government, expressly holding that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment against state and local governments. In Caetano v. Massachusetts (2016), the Supreme Court reiterated its earlier rulings that “the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding” and that its protection is not limited to “only those weapons useful in warfare”.

    America’s Founding Fathers on the Individual Right to Keep and Bear arms

    Thomas Jefferson of Virginia:
    “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” Proposed Virginia Constitution, 1776

    Samuel Adams of Massachusetts:
    “The said Constitution (shall) be never be constructed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms.” Massachusetts’ U.S. Constitution ratification convention, 1788

    Thomas Paine of Pennsylvania:
    “Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property…Horrid mischief would ensure were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.” Thoughts on Defensive War, 1775

    George Mason of Virginia:
    “When the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually.” I ask, who are the militia? They consist of the whole people, except a few public officers.” Virginia’s U.S. Constitution ratification convention, 1788

    If anything in this country needs to be amended its the snowflakes trying to destroy our American way of life.

  2. Rogor Kaputnik October 9, 2017 at 9:24 am #

    Dan, your far left ranting is becoming particularly tiresome. Yes, I understand that today’s rant was inspired by the Las Vegas shooting. So now you would have guns confiscated from all law-abiding citizens because of the evil perpetrated by one. And once all guns are taken away in your fantasyland, who does that leave with guns (beside the military)?

    Remember the bumper stickers of the 1970s – “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns”?

    Think about it.

    No possible way to defend yourself against intruders and those who would try to injure or kill you.

    Criminals are not going to listen to reason. They are going to rob, rape, murder, etc.

    And without the means to protect yourself, they will consider you even more of a prime target.

    No thanks.

  3. Sopater October 9, 2017 at 4:10 pm #

    The “subject” of the one sentence 2nd Amendment is the “right of the people” to keep and bear arms, not the well regulated militia, which in this case is the “reason” that the subject of the sentence is not to be infringed by the newly formed federal government.

    Perhaps you should ask one of the framers, George Mason, who the militia are?

    “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.” — George Mason, in Debates in Virginia Convention on Ratification of the Constitution, Elliot, Vol. 3, June 16, 1788

  4. Matthew October 9, 2017 at 5:22 pm #

    Here is my problem with your rant. The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution, and does not rely on that document for it’s existence. The 2nd does not grant the right, regulate the right, define the right, or state the purpose of the right. It is a limitation on the federal government. It seems our justices have the idea that “Shall not be infringed,” means “Shall not be infringed unless we figure out a way to get around it.”

    But those are the words that you and other liberals want to focus on, instead of a few words in the middle. I wonder why you ignore them. Given that all ten of the Bill of Rights were penned at the same time, even if they were collections of demands by the states, it is not surprise you’re terrified of the truth.

    The 9th amendment reads, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” This is interesting, considering that the term, Retained by the people, Right of the People, Or the People is pretty clear.

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    The right to bear arms was not enumerated. It was retained by the people. Do you know what disparage means? Let me help you. It means to, “regard or represent as being of little worth.” The right to bear arms, retained by the people and not granted to the Constitution to be regulated, should never be rendered worthless or even represented as being worthless by the federal or state governments.

    But that doesn’t even cover the 10th. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”

    So was the Right to bear arms delegated to the United States? No.
    Did the Constitution prohibit the right from being regulated by the states? Yes, in the 9th amendment when it declared the right to be held by the People.
    Was the right reserved to the states? No.
    Was the right reserved by the people? Yes.

    So the right is individual. This means that there is NO subject matter jurisdiction. What THIS means is that there is no provision in the Constitution to allow for the writing of any laws, rules, limits, regulations, or other instruments. The right belongs to the people, exclusively.

    So I honestly don’t care about the 2nd. So what? I means NOTHING in the grand scheme of things, and go ahead and erase it for all I care. Because…

    When it’s all said and done, it makes no difference. The right belongs to me, and me along. Your right belongs to you, and you alone. If you don’t want to carry, that is your right, unless you are called up to serve in the militia, then you are required to bring your own guns and ammo.

  5. Mrs. Ima Ruth Green October 10, 2017 at 11:44 am #

    Well said by Tom, Rogor and Sopater in replies to original “rant”, and while a bit of a reply rant on its own from Matthew, in the end it echoes the same bottom line…”from my cold, dead hands…” All this said, there ARE some improvements needed in the background checks if we could get all the systems and data bases integrated together to include the medical and drug clearinghouse(s). If that breaks with or from the NRA, “sorry Charlie” (Wayne) – I’m a strong supporter, lifetime member and licensed carrier even as a woman at my old age – but common sense says we MUST prohibit those being treated and medicated for and with histories of mental illness from legal purchase. Understand no way to ever totally eliminate loopholes for illegal procurement and possession – life just isn’t perfect, folks – but it’s the ludicrous pursuit of such perfection that causes us not to able to reach realistic, common sense changes.

    • Matthew October 11, 2017 at 11:49 am #

      What gets me is that almost all the gun laws in this nation were not written to protect anyone from guns, but to disarm black people. Every year nearly 900,000 blacks are in prison. They only have a population of 37 million, so nearly one in 37 is jailed at any one time. That seems high until you use the correct figures that about 53% of those are adults then just to round it off, 20 million blacks live in the USA at any given time, and 1/20th are in jail. The number of blacks with felonies, who are not allowed to vote or own a gun, is nearly 50%, or 10 million. Are you starting to see what I see? These laws were not designed to prevent crime, they were never intended for tht purpose. These laws are racist based, passed by democrats, to disarm as many blacks people as possible.

  6. Daryl Hensley October 10, 2017 at 9:01 pm #

    Statistical analysis website analyzed years of homicides in the United States. Each year 33,000 gun related deaths occur. 22,000 deaths are a result of suicide each year. 6600 deaths are of men between the ages of 18-34, almost all are a result of gang violence or drug related crime. Another 1700 are women who died as a result of domestic violence. That leaves 2700 random gun related deaths per year.

    If law makers aren’t willing to deal with preventing 22,000 gun related suicides or 6600 gang related deaths or 1700 women who are tragically killed by domestic violence each year, how are we going to prevent the random murder of innocent people killed by irrational evil people?

    If we try to regulate weapons that cause mass destruction, we would have to ban fertilizer (188 deaths in Oklahoma City). Airplanes ( 2900 lives 9/11 ). In fact knives are used to commit more murders each year versus assault rifles, in fact five times more murders. (1500 to 250).

    Daryl Hensley – Jasper

    • Matthew October 11, 2017 at 11:38 am #

      Where is it written that the government has a job preventing suicide? Is that a function of government? To force you to live, if you don’t want to? How about just put the person in cells and use violence, drugs, and psychological manipulation against them. Suicide is legal in this nation. How people go about it is different from person to person, but while I agree that a gun is a messy way to go (that’s how my son did it) it’s his or her choice. The ultimate choice. YOU don’t get to make that decision for him, no more than I had the right, or the chance, to do it for my son. You may not like it, but I an damned sick of you anti-gun psychopaths trying to use people who don’t want to live, to support your anti-gun, Anti-American agenda.

      Gang violence is a product of our border issue. Almost all of the drugs come up from our southern border, where they cannot control the crime they have, because only the police are armed and the criminals know it. Mexico has the gun laws you sick people want, and it’s getting hundreds killed every week, all across the nation, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. No one can, they were all disarmed by law. So if you want the rest of the USA to look like Mexico, that’s your choice, but I don’t.

      AS for domestic violence, that’s nothing to do with guns, never was. But when a wife killed her abusive husband, or vice-versa, statistics STILL count that as a domestic violence death. Most of these murders also happen in poverty stricken areas and in young poor families. Many of the people involved had criminal records already and many are not allowed to own the gun they shoot with, anyway. So this is nothing but grandstanding on the bodies of people your laws would not help, to make more laws that would not help.

      Fertilizer is banned. It takes an FBI check to get some types. Getting into a plane is a complicated process that is extremely invasive and rife with abuses by the TSA. Are you asking for police to be like the TSA? Perhaps stop you on all off ramps for a nice pat down a full body cavity search?

      I might have misunderstood your post and if I did, apologies. But I support the right to bear arms, even if I don’t support the 2nd amendment. After all, they are two different things.

  7. Dan Barrett October 11, 2017 at 8:36 am #

    I keep firearms. I grew up on a farm with my own personal rifle at age 10. Not once did I mention we are to give up our firearms. This, along with name calling, is the false scare rhetoric of extremist viewpoints. Like when I was living in Wyoming, a lot of folks saying don’t vote for Obama, he will take away our guns – be afraid…be afraid …(still have mine). However, When it comes to weapons that can fire 600-800 rounds per minute and when one person can easily kill over 50 innocent people and wound over 500 in a matter of a few minutes, I ask, is it not time to take a look at the situation where even the mentally ill can purchase weapons of mass killing. There is no magic solution, but airplanes, fertilizers, cars, buses, trains, trucks and knives, all of which can be used in some way to commit violence, are not specifically designed to murder as many people as possible in the shortest amount time. The assault rifle is. It is simply a murdering machine designed to kill people. Lets use common sense to find appropriate solutions

    Lets go back to President Reagans ban on assault rifles at least and past more rigid background reviews for criminality and mental abilities before allowing legal gun ownership. I challenge anyone to ask their favorite representative how much money is given to them by the gun manufacturing lobby (NRA). Is there no difference between a muzzle loader of the seventeenth century (when the Bill of Rights were written) and todays firearms? So I guess the term “A well regulated Militia” means nothing? Does it make since as a stand alone phrase?

  8. Matthew October 11, 2017 at 11:26 am #

    I love it when you people show up.

    “I have a black friend, therefore I know all black issues.”
    I own a gun, therefore you should listen to me, I know what I’m talking about.”

    What you are, is an anti-gunner who speaks, “We are not trying to take your guns,” and on the other side of your mouth, “Well, we are not trying to take ALL of your guns, just the ones we don’t like.”

    Then you drop in some Brady Campaign catch words, “Common sense,” “I still have mine.” ‘Reagan’s assault weapons ban,” and Murdering machine.”

    Reagan’s ban was in California, where you really live. You do not live in Wyoming, probably never have. You pick it as your state because of the lax weapons laws, and low murder rate. You feel it will give you more credence than saying your an anti-gun Californian.

    Yes, weapons are machines of death, but not murdering machines. Who would not want to ban a murdering machine. but you know that. It’s called putting out a straw argument – you change the argument in a way that will get people on your side by perverting the first argument in an outlandish way. Folks, this is how these anti-gun goons are taught to argue. They don’t say, “A man can fire back at his attacker,” they say, “You drunk hillbilly gunnuts spray bullets at everything that moves.” It’s deceitful, dishonest, and disgusting, but it allows you to control the argument. The person you write to feels he MUST defend his stance and most people waste their time trying. I don’t. I point out that the writer is a liar.

    Lastly, you think you have people on your side because of your disgraceful arguments, so you drop in two more Brady Campaign nonsense arguments… muzzle loaders and well regulated militia,” and hope that THAT will sway someone to your side.

    The Gun Free School Zone act of 1995 banned guns in schools. Teachers who normally carried, left them at home, scared because they KNEW what would eventually happen to them and the kids they were supposed to take care with no way to do it. Many of the teachers I spoke with after the first school shooting said, “We didn’t have any weapons, there was nothing we could do.” Then your ilk decided to start the argument, “Gun nuts caused this killing, LOOK AT THEM,” to cover up that you were the ones that created the scenario that made the shooting possible.

    What gets me is how cowardly you are. You don’t want to confront gun owners because we would kick your rump. So instead, you pretend to be someone you’re not, buy politicians, and kill, rob, and steal our weapons using the law.

    And even as you claim, “No one is coming for your guns,” in NY, Conn, California, and a few others places, that is EXACTLY what is happening.

  9. dan October 11, 2017 at 5:36 pm #

    When it comes to weapons that can fire 600-800 rounds per minute and when one person can easily kill over 50 innocent people and wound over 500 in a matter of a few minutes, I ask, is it not time to take a look at the situation where even the mentally ill can purchase weapons of mass killing? That’s my question.

    • Matthew October 11, 2017 at 11:10 pm #

      Straw man argument. 600 rounds per minute? Where do you get that? Did you make it up? How many people can a fully loaded 1500 take out if a person drives it into a crowd loaded with black powder and BB’s? So do you want to ban BB’s, black powder or Chevy trucks as well?

      How about your gun free zones? They are known to kill as many as 1000 people a year in some cities.Gun Free Zones are responsible for almost all death by guns in the USA in the last dozen or more years, because they disarm the victims for the criminals.

      Folks, the straw man argument is this…. “who would not want to ban a weapon that shoots 600 rounds a minute.” The writer expects you to be outraged at the sheer volume of ammo it can run through the barrel. What he doesn’t say is this…
      ONLY an “M-16A-1”, military grade, can do this. They don’t because M-16’s use three round burst fire as full auto was found to be detrimental to the gun and useless in combat.

      Civilian AR-15’s, a similar weapon, will shoot a maximum of 120 rounds per minute, about two a second, and if you sustain that rate of fire, the barrel will glow red and start to sag in about 200 rounds. It’s a fools argument designed to make you emotional and turn against ONE weapon, ONE type of ammunition, so that they can reenact the failed and useless assault weapons ban.

      Furthermore, They say, “They didn’t have these guns back when the 2nd was…” Which is both a lie and irrational. The Puck gun, invented in 1718, was a machine gun, and the Gatling gun, 1880 was capable of more than 100 round a minute in large bore carnage on the battlefield.

      What is really going in is this. These people do not like guns. They don’t want to own them and don’t want them to exist. Some are cowards, others are just dead set against something they do not understand. Most of them are uneducated, poorly educated, or mentally deficient. They have it in their minds that if a person is not armed, a criminal will somehow show mercy and not attack. rob, or rape them. It’s an insane premise for an insane person.

      I pity these people, actually. They are control freaks or cowards, and are more than willing to use the law against those they do not like, much as dictators do in nearly every era. They will applaud when the police shoot a gun owner who refuses a search, because they wanted to be the one shooting them. They are not there to do good, gun laws do not do that.

      They only seek to force you, at the point of someone else’s gun, to comply with their demands.

  10. Scott Newton October 12, 2017 at 6:17 pm #

    Sorry Mathew. Your argument defines “non-sequitur.” You’re one of those who seems most intent on showing off their vast knowledge of murder weapons. Please. Just keep them in your basement.