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Second Amendment’s origins laid out in compelling fashion by Igor Volsky

It has long been clear to me, as a Constitution nerd, that the NRA-sponsored interpretation of the Constitution’s Second Amendment represents a radical departure from anything close to the original purpose of the amendment. A strong new piece has added to my certainty, so I write today to pass it along. Details of that piece, and a link to it, are below, but first some background:

You have only to read the opening words of the Second Amendment – “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” – to see plainly the idea behind the amendment. It was adopted in the early days after the Constitution had created a more powerful national government (replacing the much weaker Articles of Confederation) to reassure states concerned that Congress might try to disarm the state militias. The state militias were then the chief military force of the nation.

The Constitution did give Congress the power to create and arm a federal military  (although, interestingly, they funded it only on a short-term basis).

The language (Article I; Section 8; subsection 12) gives Congress the power: “To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years.” No similar language (in the next subsection) places a similar short-term limit on funds for a Navy. Only an Army. The states didn’t have navies and the Framers were prepared to fund a permanent federal Navy to protect the Atlantic coast.


If you’re surprised or still skeptical that the plan was to rely primarily on the state militias for land wars, Art. I; section 8; subsections 15 and 16 specify that Congress is empowered:

15: To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

16: To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.

All of that is still in the Constitution.

Given the ginormous change, over the past centuries, in the relative power of the U.S. military to the combined power of the state militias (however “well-regulated”), the states’ concern that the feds might try to disarm the state militias seems substantially anachronistic. But it obviously (to me, at least) explains the concern that led to the Second Amendment, which guarantees “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms.” If you read the full text of the Second Amendment in this context it makes much more sense.

“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.”

And it clarifies that, in the very first years of the new, more nationalized system, when the Bill of Rights amendments were proposed and ratified, the states were worried that the powerful new federal government might try, for tyrannical purposes, to disarm the state militias.

No one thinks today’s state militias could do much to resist the modern Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines if, God forbid, it came to that. But, under the brilliant manipulation of the gun industry and its ally the National Rifle Association, the Second Amendment has morphed ever closer to a guarantee that any common-sense limitations on the ability of individuals (without regard to militia membership) to acquire assault weapons of killing power unimaginable to the Framers would violate the Framers’ sacred vision of the fundamental right of individual private gun ownership.

I find that people are often shocked when I tell them that the Supreme Court never held the right to keep and bear arms to be an individual right of Americans until 2008. 2008! It was a 5-4 ruling (District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570) written by Justice Antonin Scalia and supported only by Republican-appointed justices.


Now on to that excellent piece that ran over the weekend from the Daily Beast, excerpted from anti-NRA activist Igor Volsky’s book “Guns Down: How to Defeat the NRA and Build a Safer Future with Fewer Guns.” The Beast piece advances one’s understanding, while also casting some shade on James Madison, often called the “Father of the Constitution.”

During the framing convention in Philadelphia in 1787, Volsky notes, the right to bear arms was not considered important enough to include in the draft, “nor was there any great public clamoring for such a provision in the fiery debates” over ratification.

According to Volsky:

JamesMadison
John Vanderlyn
James Madison
After the ratification, Madison was a candidate to represent Virginia in the first House of Representatives. Religious minorities in his district demanded a guarantee that the powerful new government would never prioritize one religion over another. In order to appease that concern, Madison (who had at first opposed the idea of a series of amendments to the Constitution) changed sides and became the chief sponsor of the amendments that became known as the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment, which leads off with the guarantee that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” (It also guarantees freedom of speech and press.)

Madison won his seat, became a leading member of the early House, and a chief sponsor of that amendment and others that make up what we now call “the Bill of Rights.” In it, Madison included (and it ended up being the Second Amendment) one designed to ensure that the new national government would not use its power to excessively dominate the states.

At that time, the standing military power of the new national government was minimal. Most military power consisted of the state militias. Some in the states feared that the new Congress would try to disarm the militias to further diminish state power. If you look at it within its proper historical context, it’s clear that the Second Amendment, which we now think of as all about an individual right to possess weapons, was about the state militias. Its full text:

“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.”

Now, of course, that ship has sailed. The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines dwarf the combined power of state militias. The argument now is about whether individuals, few of whom belong to state militia organizations, have an almost unlimited right to possess weapons of a sort unimaginable at the time of the framing of the Second Amendment, and to possess them for purposes having little or nothing to do with the military defense of their state or the nation, and to do so even if that guarantee as now interpreted also facilitates the possession of weapons used for mass murders.

Maybe I’m a little prejudiced. And Volsky is a campaigner for gun control. So take that into account. But his historical argument is that the Second Amendment was intended to prevent the federal government from disarming the state militias — not to guarantee the right of every citizen (militia member or not) to own every gun that would be invented in the future. Some more points from his piece:


At the time of the Revolutionary War, the colonies themselves regulated firearms within a state militia structure. Militia members, all white male landowners, were required to obtain their own firearms, which Volsky wrote were used “to strip Native Americans of their land and rule enslaved Africans.”

But to ensure that guns did not fall into the “wrong” hands, the colonies required that guns be registered and inspected, Volsky wrote. “Regulation of firearms in the colonies both during and after independence included policing powers over nonmilitary use of the weapons,” he wrote. “Boston residents were not permitted to store a loaded firearm in their home, and individuals faced stiff penalties for violating this prohibition. Boston, along with New York, prohibited the firing of guns within city limits. Rhode Island conducted a house-by-house census of gun owners. Pennsylvania law allowed the government to disarm individuals deemed insufficiently loyal to the state.”

I wonder how today’s Second Amendment gun enthusiasts would react if states did that now.

The full Volsky/Daily Beast piece is here.

Comments (153)

  1. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/20/2019 - 10:51 am.

    Amendment III

    No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

    “Hey honey, who are all these guys in uniform staying in the guest bedroom?

    The third amendment is simply an antiquity of the time and not relevant in today’s society in the context of its’ writing.

    Ditto for #2 if we were really concerned with truth…

    • Submitted by Marc Pavone on 05/20/2019 - 11:40 am.

      It’s possible to make a tongue in cheek joke that while under arms, militia men would not be allowed to stay in their own homes.

    • Submitted by Steve Johnson on 05/20/2019 - 12:09 pm.

      If you are really concerned about the truth see what the framers of the Constitution wrote while the amendment was being discussed. There is no question that they intended to protect individual gun rights as well as the right to form a militia. The phrase shall not be infringed applies to both phrases as separate entities in the second amendment.

      “To Keep and Bear Their Private Arms”

      “James Madison lived up to his promise and introduced what became the Bill of Rights in the first session of Congress in 1789. The Second Amendment was interpreted, as Federalist Tench Coxe expressed it, to guarantee the right of the people to keep and bear “their private arms.” The Senate rejected restricting the right to bear arms to “the common defense” and also rejected a proposed state power to maintain a militia. These developments are described in Chapter 12.

      The proposed Bill of Rights was then considered for adoption by the states. No record exists of any criticism of “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” although the militia clause was taken to task for not actually doing anything. The Bill of Rights, as explained in Chapter 13, was finally adopted in 1791.

      Meanwhile, the nature of a well-regulated militia was debated in Congress. The Militia Act of 1792 would require that all able-bodied white males enroll in the militia and provide their own arms. Both the power of the states to maintain militias and the right of individuals to have arms for self-defense, as Chapter 14 shows, were considered basic.

      The first commentary on the Constitution, by St. George Tucker, posited that the Second Amendment protects individual rights and that legislative infringement was subject to judicial review. George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson exposited and exercised the right to bear arms. James Madison, writing in his final years, reaffirmed his association of republican government with an armed populace.”

      • Submitted by Steve Johnson on 05/20/2019 - 12:15 pm.

        In addition, before the war began, the British were actively confiscating private firearms that were in the hands of civilians. They stopped importing arms and gunpowder in a direct attempt to limit the use of firearms by the civilian population.
        The second amendment was written with that memory fresh in their minds and the framers were determined that no future government could place limits on firearms. Thus “The right to bear arms shall not be infringed.” It means just what it says.

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/20/2019 - 08:48 pm.

          “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”

          Why doesn’t this mean what it says?

          How can the militia be “well regulated” if it has no idea as to the weapons available to it’s mission?

          • Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 05/21/2019 - 09:29 am.

            Militia Acts of 1792, specifically the second Militia Act of 1792, specified the weapons people were *required* to buy and own. People were required to buy from a private producer of those weapons–thereby establishing the requirement the federal govt can require individuals to purchase, from the private for-profit marketplace, items specified by the govt. Weapons and insurance, for example. Health insurance was first required in 1798, for example.

          • Submitted by justin headrick on 09/05/2019 - 04:52 pm.

            It does mean what it says. It just doesn’t say what you think it does.

        • Submitted by Chas Dalseide on 05/21/2019 - 09:12 am.

          Not only that, but the Scottish Highland Clearances were underway, and
          many Scots escaped to America and brought their memories with them.

        • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 05/22/2019 - 09:30 am.

          Steve, again you consciously exclude the Militia preamble, which defeats your argument. Again, whether it’s you or the author of this piece, it’s helpful to know what was discussed, but the only thing that matters is what was passed. This is a perfect example of conservatives being perfectly happy with “activist judges” when it suits them.

      • Submitted by Christian King on 05/20/2019 - 05:13 pm.

        No, that’s not what I’ve read at all. The slave states commonly used “militias” to round up escaped slaves and insisted that the the 2A be included as a way to maintain their property.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/20/2019 - 11:34 am.

    I think it requires only a bit of imagination to conjure up the scenario if states were now to send State Troopers out to go door-to-door to count and officially record (for example) the serial numbers of privately-held firearms, or to disarm individuals deemed (I love this phrase) “insufficiently loyal” to the state. Think of the Hollywood or Netflix films, financed by Smith & Wesson or some other gun manufacturer, that would be in the works within days of any state adopting what strike me as eminently sensible regulations regarding the personal possession of firearms.

    I say that as an owner of multiple weapons of several calibers, all of which I know how to shoot with tolerable accuracy, and despite the fact that I am neither in the military, nor a hunter.

    • Submitted by Erik Petersen on 05/20/2019 - 11:55 am.

      “I wonder how today’s Second Amendment gun enthusiasts would react if states did that now.”

      Yes, well… a world in which the storage mandates and registration requirements were politically possible would be, ya know, a world in which the storage mandates and registration requirements were politically possible…. Gun owners would not be the determining factor in what laws were made, and they’d have to comply or be fairly discrete about their non-compliance.

      Not being able to fire guns within the city limits has not been controversial anywhere.

  3. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/20/2019 - 11:42 am.

    It seems to me that people like Volsky who argue against private gun ownership, want us to focus on the straw man of the state militia and ignore the more relevant rationale, self-defense.

    In Heller, the Court ruled that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm, unconnected with service in a militia, for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

    Two years after Heller, in McDonald v. City of Chicago, that challenged the constitutionally of handgun bans in Chicago, the Court struck down the gun ban and clarified that “self-defense was the central component of the right itself.”

    Nevertheless, I happen to believe that “the militia” as envisioned by the Founders was every armed and equipped man capable of mustering up in the town square to defend the nation against a foreign invader … a thought that discouraged the Japanese from launching a ground invasion, or so the story goes.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/20/2019 - 01:31 pm.

      If the “more relevant rational is self-defense”, why was it not presented that way with a self defense prelude instead of a militia prelude?

      Heller is to the left what Roe V Wade is to the right: Judical activism at its’ worst. And Heller even goes a step further by having the relatively simple challenge of having to interpret 2 sentences. Scalia put’s Earl Warren to shame in the annals of judicial activism.

      And as long as we’re on Scalia, let’s hope Jesus had no political leanings:

      “If it were up to me, I would put in jail every sandal-wearing, scruffy-bearded weirdo who burns the American flag,”

      • Submitted by justin headrick on 09/05/2019 - 04:51 pm.

        Wrong… Heller was not the first instance in which the right to keep and bear arms was considered to be an individual one .

        The supreme court also included this in 1886

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/20/2019 - 02:16 pm.

      Definitely a story. The Japanese did not have that logistic capability.
      And courts have held for most of the history of this republic that the current referent of ‘the militia’ is the National Guard; the Second Amendment thus grants the States the right to maintain National Guard units.

      • Submitted by Jay Maynard on 05/20/2019 - 11:04 pm.

        I refer you to 10 USC 311. If you’re an American citizen between the ages of 18 and 45 (I’m going to assume from your name you’re male), then *you* are a member of the militia.

      • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/26/2019 - 06:08 pm.

        Since the National Guard did not exist until the early 20th Century it is very unlikely that the 18th Century Constitution and Bill of Rights was referring to the Guard.
        Contemporary commentators described the militia as the whole body of the people expect for certain office holders, including police and judges.

    • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/21/2019 - 09:11 pm.

      Self-defense is a Tenth Amendment right. The Tenth Amendment is not just a catch all. The inclusion of every right would make the Constitution almost gibberish.
      The Second Amendment purpose is the arm the people so that the power to control government remains with the people.
      WE vote. Why do they count the votes? Because we have arms.

      “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”

      This is the second paragraph in the Declaration of Independence. To accomplish this the people must be armed. Patrick Henry said so in plain language speeches.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/22/2019 - 10:40 am.

        Neither the Declaration of Independence or anyone’s speeches are legally enforceable components of the US Constitution. This attempt to point to some other documents of some or any kind as if they carry the same weight at the Constitution is simply facile. Individualist gun rights advocates are driven into this specious arguments precisely because they can’t find any substance in the actual Constitution to support their claims.

        There is only ONE document that was ratified by ALL states and signed by ALL the conventions representatives. And by the way, the author of the Declaration wasn’t one of them.

        • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/23/2019 - 02:00 pm.

          When examining the Constitution, Bill of Rights and laws made under those documents the SCOTUS looks at reasons why the Founders wrote what they put on parchment.
          The history of the Second Amendment did not start on Sept 1788, rather it had decades of written laws and opinions.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/24/2019 - 11:29 am.

            Jim, it is simply epistemologically impossible to “know” what any dead person, whether they’ve been dead for two hours or two hundred years was “thinking”. Any attempt to make law based on such facile analysis is simply magical thinking. The idea that you can look at limited documentation generated by a few participants 200+ years later and figure out what everyone was thinking, and what they ALL would have agreed to collectively, is simply absurd. Any serious historical analysis of the era provides zero evidence that the Second Amendment was intended to give you the right to own military or near-military assault weapons. Most serious people agree that the US constitution cannot be a suicide pact no matter what someone was thinking in 1785.

            • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/25/2019 - 05:29 am.

              You should read ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE SECOND AMENDMENT published by Golden Oak Books. I collects private letters, public comments and legislative history.
              So, yes, “knowing” what was thought, intended and even why is possible.

              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/25/2019 - 09:39 am.

                Jim, you can collect whatever you want, but you can’t ask a dead person whether or not they had M16’s in mind when they wrote a letter to someone 200 years ago. You might want to look up the definition of: “epistemology”.

                Whatever documents you collect and study simply cannot be substituted for the text of US Constitution itself, that’s simply a fact. The Constitution isn’t a product one or even two or three authors, it was negotiated by 55 representative from 12 states, and signed by 39 of those representatives. THEN it went out and was ratified by popular vote in 13 states. The idea that letters or articles some of the participants wrote can tell you what EVERYONE was “thinking” when they signed the Constitution. And NONE of these other documents have the legal legitimacy of the Constitution. The ONLY document everyone signed and ratified was the Constitution. You simply cannot ignore the most singular feature of the Constitution that differentiates it from ALL other documents; and pretend to be the Constitutional expert in the room.

                And even if you could tell us what some of those guys were “thinking”, it doesn’t matter because whatever they were thinking, they weren’t infallible “thinkers”. The US Constitution is NOT a religious text that claims to descend from an omniscient and infallible author. We know that some of the signatories “thought” slavery was a great idea for instance, they were wrong.

                Law is not “history”, and making law is not about being an historian. In any event, the historical consensus for over 100 years has been that the Second Amendment was about national defense, slave patrols, and organized militias, not individual gun rights. There’s simply no claim about self defense, individualism, or insurrectionism that makes sense unless you assume that the US Constitution is the product of morons. That would be a weird assumption of any “historian”.

            • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/25/2019 - 01:46 pm.

              In 1789 the Senate did not keep a word for word transcript of every word said. However the Senate did keep a record of motions and votes.
              The Senate rejected inserting the words, ” for the common defence” as a limitation on the right to keep and bear arms. [ The Senate spelling in 1789]
              This was just an amendment that was intended to show legislative intent. It was written to be rejected.
              See the 1982 Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the Second Amendment.

    • Submitted by justin headrick on 09/05/2019 - 04:48 pm.

      Yeah except the Heller case Isn’t the first time the Supreme Court has decided the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right.

      That was also the conclusion of the Supreme Court in 1886.

  4. Submitted by Robert Ritchie on 05/20/2019 - 11:57 am.

    As a citizen and veteran that believes in the 2nd Amendment and my right to keep and bear arms. I stand with the article written by Robert Dowlut in the 1997 Stanford Law & Policy Review “The Right to Keep and Bear Arms: A Right to Self-Defense Against Criminals and Despots.” He writes how the states did believe in the need and the right of its citizens to have the ability to have firearms for self protection. Not as you and others have stated “as only part of a militia or standing army.” But as a fundamental right to self protection.

    • Submitted by Christian King on 05/20/2019 - 05:18 pm.

      Few of things. First, the framers could not have foreseen the kind of advanced weaponry we have access to today. Second, no one I’ve spoken with about reasonable gun control has EVER suggested getting rid of all guns, for either self defense or sport. Third, it is laughable that a bunch of citizens with guns would be able to repel the United States military. If the government came for us, they would have us. Easily.

      • Submitted by Sheila Kihne on 05/21/2019 - 10:50 am.

        and that’s a problem– the federal government is way too powerful

      • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/21/2019 - 09:14 pm.

        Shall we ban automobiles, TV and radio, penicillin, because the Framers “could not have foreseen future technology?”

        • Submitted by ian wade on 05/22/2019 - 01:53 pm.

          What do any of those have to do with firearms?
          Don’t hurt yourself making that contortion.

          • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/25/2019 - 05:34 am.

            All were new technology, common today. BTW, automobiles kill far more people every year than firearms of all types kill. Firearms are used for self-defense about 2 million times a year in the USA, Guns are fired in self-defense only a few thousand time s a year. Often just having a gun causes the criminal to flee.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/23/2019 - 08:17 am.

          When the self professed gun experts in the room start comparing guns to television sets and pencils you know we’re done here… stick a fork in them, they’re done.

      • Submitted by P Buckner on 08/19/2019 - 10:37 pm.

        Wrong! Don’t you just hate it when people talk about things they obviously haven’t researched. Repeating arms long predate the 1606 founding of the first English colony in America. Guess you’ve never heard of the Girandoni air rifle invented in 1779 and was capable of shooting over 20 rounds of in .46 or .49 caliber without reloading. Or the Arquebus from the late 15th centurywith a 10-shot revolving cylinder. Or the Blunderbuss that could fire one to twenty projectiles and the list goes on. One of many articles easily found online:

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/04/03/firearms-technology-and-the-original-meaning-of-the-second-amendment/?noredirect=on

  5. Submitted by Virginia Martin on 05/20/2019 - 12:38 pm.

    The 2nd amendment was a compromise made with slave-owning states who wanted militias to control their slaves. It wasn’t by any means for defense of individual households. The words slave and slavery never appear in the Constitution, but a lot of behind-the-scenes compromises were made to keep the Southern, slave-owning states happy. The Constitution is not sacred; the men who wrote it left a lot out and put a lot in whose origins were concealed. Mostly because of compromises to protect the interests of a lot of states who would not sign, otherwise. Most people don’t know this.

  6. Submitted by Jay Maynard on 05/20/2019 - 01:33 pm.

    Justice Alito destroyed all of these arguments in the majority opinion in Heller. Still, there are a few more points:

    1) Under federal law, the unorganized militia includes every American male citizen and everyone who has declared his intention to become a citizen between the ages of 18 and 45 with only minor exceptions. See 10 USC 311.

    2) It is a foundational principle of legal interpretation that a term means the same thing everywhere it’s used in a document. “The right of the people” refers to an individual right in the First and Fourth Amendments. (Interpreting the term as a collective right, or a right of the government or the states, in the Fourth Amendment would be downright silly.) By this principle, it refers to an individual right in the Second, as well.

    3) At the time the Constitution was drafted, “well-regulated” meant “working properly and in good order”. One would speak of a “well-regulated clock” to mean that it kept good time reliably. The sense of “regulations” as rules for conduct is a 19th century invention.

    All of the arguments Eric Black puts forth are just the same old tired leftist gun-grabbing excuses we’ve heard for years. The simple fact is that the Second Amendment enshrines and recognizes – *not* grants – an individual right to keep and bear arms for one’s own protection, be it from criminals or from tyrannies run amok.

    • Submitted by Jay Maynard on 05/20/2019 - 01:44 pm.

      Not Justice Alito, of course, but Justice Scalia.

    • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 05/20/2019 - 03:46 pm.

      Right. We also have to consider, though, that no right in the Constitution applied to any female. Or to any slave. Or to any indentured servant, or to a non-white resident or citizen or to those who did not own real property.

      When we get into details of what an eighteenth-century word meant, or what the placement of commas meant in the 1780s, we have to take into account what “person”meant, and how many Americans the term excluded.

      Things have changed. But a lot of gun power promoters really don’t want to look into lots of the instances of semantic changes or the influence of syntax and punctuation on meanings. Or of silences in a document–exclusions–that are just as powerful.

    • Submitted by Christian King on 05/20/2019 - 05:24 pm.

      If you want to talk about “foundational meanings,” please read the recent article in the Atlantic by former justice John Paul Stevens, who points out that, until Heller, SCOTUS always understood that the 2A applied to states’ rights, not individuals’ rights. There had never been any question. It’s only been since the NRA started their propaganda campaign claiming otherwise that pro-gun activists have tried again and again to get the amendment re-interpreted.

      • Submitted by Jay Maynard on 05/21/2019 - 09:27 am.

        Sorry. I read the article. Justice Stevens is just plain wrong, and rehashes the same arguments that Justice Scalia already destroyed. The giveaway is his call for repeal of the Second Amendment: it shows he truly doesn’t understand the nature of the Bill of Rights. The individual right to keep and bear arms was not *granted* by the Second Amendment, but *recognized and guaranteed*. This is settled law; see US v. Cruikshank, which has had other parts overturned, but not that one.

  7. Submitted by Bill Moore on 05/20/2019 - 01:45 pm.

    A significant point that both this article and Volsky miss in advocating for gun control is this, at the time of the writing of the 2nd Amendment the framer’s were legally allowed to carry weapons at all times and to carry both visible and hidden without consequences. That was the society they lived in. There were probably several in the room so armed. I doubt they considered a society where many would ban all weapons, including those used primarily for hunting, trampling the rights of members of that society. Carrying arms was a common part of society. To now argue that the founders did not intend the 2nd Amendment to be an individual right because the couldn’t envision the types of arms in use today is disingenuous at best. The founding father’s could never envision a society where an individual could not carry arms individually because that was never part of their society. Being armed was always an individual right, and had to be simply to survive in their time. I believe their intent was to guarantee a way to limit the government from infringing on what they automatically viewed as a Good given right of the individual to be armed. I do not believe they ever intended the 2nd Amendment to limit an individual from carrying firearms and only enshrine that right with the government. Many of the rights; 1st, 4th, 6th, 8th if I remember correctly, are specifically designed to protect the individual from the government, why would the second be different? I cannot envision, in any way, how the 2nd Amendment was not designed to protect the individuals right to be armed, and carry any arm desired.

    • Submitted by Christian King on 05/20/2019 - 05:30 pm.

      Did you read the article? Cities and states have always had the right to regulate where and when firearms could be housed and used. And do you not think there’s a difference between a muzzle-loaded pistol and an AR-15?

      Have you traveled abroad? Europe? Australia? Did you take a gun with you? Why? No one else there has them. Why would you? If Americans agreed to give up their high-paowered, high-capacity weaponry over time, and to license and lock up their personal weapons, wouldn’t that make you feel safer than if you knew that every idiot walking around had a gun?

      • Submitted by Jay Maynard on 05/21/2019 - 09:03 am.

        If Americans agreed to give up their guns…then what you’d have is a bunch of disarmed law-abiding citizens and a bunch of armed criminals. You will *never* get a criminal to voluntarily disarm himself.

        The police cannot protect me, and it is settled law that they have no duty to do so. Their job is to arrest and obtain a conviction of the criminal after he has committed his crime.

        Further, that would leave me vulnerable to a government turned tyrannical. See, for example, Venezuela; one of Chavez’s first acts was to disarm the citizens.

        No. I refuse to give up the most efficient means of self-protection available to me. Nobody else has a duty to protect me, so I must protect myself.

        • Submitted by Michael Ofjord on 05/22/2019 - 07:42 am.

          I am not naive and know it can be a dangerous world. We’ve seen it in history and in our own times. We all have our dark sides. Nothing has changed, as such. That said, if men on here who “refuse to be a victim” would take that angry, deeply scared energy and put it into something beyond just the fear of being vulnerable or being seen as weak or unmanly, then we would have great examples of what power should and can be used for. That is true power and leadership.

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 05/22/2019 - 09:37 pm.

          Just curious, are all those criminals armed in Japan, Korea, France, England, Australia etc. etc. etc? Based on your logic, they should have murder rates/crime rates/person to person etc. far exceeding those in the USA where we are so well armed, ironically it is the opposite, could you please explain that dichotomy?

    • Submitted by John Evans on 05/20/2019 - 06:28 pm.

      I doubt this was entirely true.

    • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/21/2019 - 09:24 pm.

      In 1788 the Senate rejected including the words “for the common defense” as a limitation on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
      In 1939 SCOTUS said that all they knew about the militia was “that when called, the militia was expected to appear bearing their private arms.”
      They were speaking of modern arms. This was in the 1939 MILLER case. Miller was not decided, rather it was remanded to create a record the SCOTUS could “take notice in order to rule and issue an opinion.

  8. Submitted by Henry Johnson on 05/20/2019 - 01:53 pm.

    I think the principle problem here is that the wording is not detailed or descriptive, specifically, what exactly are “arms”?

    Clearly a pistol or a hunting rifle is an ‘arm’

    But how about a machine gun or assault rifle? How about a rocket propelled grenade? How about hand grenades or a handheld missile capable of bringing down an aircraft?

    (things that didn’t exist in colonial times)

    I think if the founding fathers had put more thought into the inevitable advance in weaponry thru the passage of time, they would have tried to place some logical limits on the 2nd amendment, and to make it less broad.

    My guess unfortunately is that with much on their plate and much on their minds, they were thinking only of weaponry in their own day when they added the 2nd amendment

    In their day, it probably took something like 20-30 seconds or so for a man to load and fire a single shot, which didn’t fire very accurately for more than 30 ft or so anyway, so a musket was not close to the same league with today’s assault weapon, and I think the founding fathers themselves would be the first to say that the 2nd amendment these days is too broad to establish as a ‘right’ that every citizen is able to own weapons capable of killing dozens of people in seconds.

    I suppose you could even argue that an artillery piece is an ‘arm’ also, and maybe a tank is an ‘arm’ as well.

    Where do you draw the line? We talk about “nuclear arms”, do we all all have the “right” to own our own individual nuclear bombs?

    There’s got to be a limit somewhere, that safeguards public safety, while also allowing the individual the right to personal protection.

    I think the founding fathers would be the first to point out the dramatic difference in the limited killing power of a musket in their day and the mass killing power of assault rifles and other “arms” now, and would argue that the 2nd amendment was flawed in that it is too broad, and that it should be revised to perhaps limit the ‘right’ to be to ‘arms’ that can only kill “X” numbers of people in “X” time period, as an example.

    Such a restriction would eliminate the “right” to own machine guns, bump stocks, hand grenades, RPGS, mortars, artillery pieces (and of course nuclear weapons!) and depending on the specific limits specified, probably assault rifles too.

    It would also not ‘grandfather-in’ as a “right” future weapons that might not even be invented yet, if their killing power exceeded the specified limits.

    That would keep what I believe was the founding fathers original intent, namely that citizens do have a right to reasonable “arms” to personally defend themselves (or as Eric argues, for a “well regulated militia”), without establishing the right of every citizen to having the aggressive fire power of a complete ARMY back in colonial days.

    I don’t believe the 2nd amendment should be repealed, but IMO it should be revised to have some killing power limits to try to strike a balance between public safety and personal protection.

    • Submitted by Gary Bohr on 05/20/2019 - 02:32 pm.

      Justice Scalia’s Heller opinion addressed several of your points. It was widely understood individuals had the right to keep and bear arms but that right is not unlimited. During the colonial period there was a common law standard prohibiting “…dangerous and unusual weapons”. This prevented the carrying of bombs, for example.

      The same principle applies in this debate. Machine guns, flame throwers, grenade launchers, atomic bombs, etc. are generally not permitted for civilans because they are indiscriminate and they are “dangerous and unusual”.

    • Submitted by John Evans on 05/20/2019 - 06:35 pm.

      The framers did not imagine rifles or hand guns that could be fired several times before reloading. Few people owned pistols because they had little practical use, and those who did tended to be wealthy.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/20/2019 - 09:27 pm.

      In fact, during Revolutionary times the weapons rural people owned were mostly light fowling pieces. Members of the army and militia were issued military muskets.
      City people at that time were less likely to own guns (Saturday night specials were a long way in the future; a concealed weapon was a knife).

    • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/21/2019 - 09:31 pm.

      “ARMS includes swords, knives, as well as muskets, rifles, handguns. The courts have included stun guns [ TASERS ] in Second Amendment umbrella.
      Individual weapons are arms. Crew served weapons such as cannon were commonly held by private individuals including aboard ships. The Second Amendment is very broad. The word “infringed” has meaning.

  9. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 05/20/2019 - 02:07 pm.

    The Second Amendment was approved in 1791 when there wasn’t a single gun with anywhere near the capability, capacity, or killing power of today’s guns. Today’s high capacity magazines and high-powered cartridges have a single purpose, high capacity killing. They are WEAPONS OF WAR. There is not any need for the public to have them. It’s Congress and the NRA that has the blood on their hands by not doing a single thing to bring the Second Amendment up to today’s reality. There weren’t any weapons of war in 1791 that come anywhere near the capability of today’s weapons. It is time to modernize the Second Amendment. I know it will be a hard-fought slog going up against our weakling congress’ sugar daddy, the NRA.

    The NRA and gun industry have a symbiotic relationship, which isn’t necessarily good for the country. Gun ownership and RESPONSIBILITY need to go together and not everyone is capable of the RESPONSIBILITY part. Walk into any gun shop today and there will be a wall of black, radical looking guns that have nothing to do with traditional American sports. For me, the radical looking guns are peddling exactly what the NRA peddles – fear and intimidation, which sells guns for the NRA’s sugar daddy, the gun manufacturers. There is no need for the public to have access to WEAPONS OF WAR with high capability and high capacity killing power.

    • Submitted by Jesse Hill on 05/20/2019 - 03:37 pm.

      Let’s talk about your freedom of speech. Since the internet wasn’t around then should your right to say what you want extend to using something the founders couldn’t have imagined being around anytime in the future? Or should you be required to print it out on a wooden common press?

      • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 05/20/2019 - 03:52 pm.

        I’m not arguing against guns. I’m agreeing against the public having weapons of war that serve a single purpose, high capacity killing.

        • Submitted by Eric Kretz on 05/20/2019 - 08:42 pm.

          “Black rifles” do have a legitimate sporting purpose. There are countless thousands of them used in shooting competitions all over the country. They can be used for target shooting, hunting, pest control and other uses.

          “Weapons of war” are weapons that have ONLY one purpose. Things like large caliber machine guns, bazookas, missile launchers, hand grenades etc. They can not be used to hunt, they will destroy the game. They can not be used for target practice safely, they will destroy most any target. They have one purpose: killing men and machines.

          Using the latter term to describe the former will just get your argument instantly dismissed by anyone on the gun friendly side of this argument. FYI.

    • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/21/2019 - 09:37 pm.

      The weapon of war, has been designed to be less lethal since the Korea War.
      A wounded soldier must be rescued fro the battlefield and more people are require to provide care.
      At the high school in Florida the survival rate was 50% despite delayed medical treatment because the sheriff would not allow immediate access to EMTS. These students were often shot several times, yet 50% survived.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/22/2019 - 02:18 pm.

        Jim, your just full of misinformation. Full metal jackets were a requirement of the Hague Convention of 1899, although they had been use prior to that.

      • Submitted by ian wade on 05/24/2019 - 01:36 pm.

        “The weapon of war, has been designed to be less lethal since the Korea War.”
        Utterly false statement. The M1 was a better design than the Springfield it replaced. The M14 was essentially an M1 that was full auto with a detachable magazine. The M4 is a better weapon than the M16. Technical advancement is just that…advancement. The very nature is to make the weapon easier to use. More mobility, compact design, harder hitting rounds. The fact that the “survival rate” in the Florida high school tragedy was 50% had nothing to do with the lethality of the weapon, and everything to do with the aim and ultimate trajectory of the rounds fired.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/25/2019 - 09:48 am.

          Yes, and one of the ballistic characteristics of the .225 M16 round is the way it tumbles and tears up flesh and organs, despite being fully jacketed. The .225 round causes more damage than the 7.62 NATO round of the era… that’s one reason the US adopted it. And THAT round is NOW the standard round for NATO.

          It’s true that wounded soldiers can be a bigger logistical problem than dead soldiers, but that doesn’t mean that war and combat aren’t about killing people.

  10. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/20/2019 - 02:19 pm.

    If you actually read the Constitution, you will find that when its authors are referring to individuals, they use the term ‘persons’. When they use the term ‘the people’ they are referring to the population in aggregate, not to individuals. All you have to do to verify this is download a copy of the text and do word searches.

    • Submitted by Jesse Hill on 05/20/2019 - 03:31 pm.

      The only time persons is mentioned is when the fourth amendment guarantees the people their right to be free from unwarranted searches.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/20/2019 - 05:16 pm.

        Try Article 1 Section 3
        Section 7-2
        Section 8-9
        Section 9-1
        Article 2 Section 1-2
        Article 4 Section 2
        And at least six usages in the Amendments.

    • Submitted by Eric Kretz on 05/20/2019 - 08:45 pm.

      This has already been posted here, but if you actually read some of the actual personal correspondence and transcripts of speeches made in open Congress from the men who wrote and ratified the document, you’ll find that this is not correct.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/21/2019 - 10:13 am.

        Personal correspondents are irrelevant. The only binding document is the US Constitution itself. All any documents do is give you some historical insight into what a individuals were thinking or talking about. The Constitution is the ONLY document they ALL signed.

    • Submitted by Jay Maynard on 05/20/2019 - 10:55 pm.

      Amendment I: “[…] the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

      Amendment IV: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons[…]”

      Both of those are rendered just plain farcical if “the right of the people” does not refer to an individual right.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/21/2019 - 12:01 pm.

        Read them.
        The first refers the assemblies of people.
        The fourth refers ultimately to persons.

        • Submitted by Jay Maynard on 05/22/2019 - 09:14 am.

          You should read them. The First Amendment refers to assemblies of people. Who makes up those assemblies? Is that right protected if some, but not all, people can peaceably assemble and petition for redress of grievances? Keep in mind that the Fourteenth Amendment expanded the relevant definition to include all citizens, at the very least.

          The term “their persons” in the Fourth Amendment means “their bodies and everything worn on them”. It does not mean individual people; that’s what “the right of the people” means. Otherwise, just what houses, papers, and effects are they referring to? Again, it’s an individual right.

          “The right of the people” is a term of art that means the same thing – an individual right, guaranteed for everyone – in every place it’s used.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/25/2019 - 09:07 am.

            “The First Amendment refers to assemblies of people. Who makes up those assemblies?”

            Jay, we’re not playing a debate game here. An assembly is by definition a group of people, it’s plural, not singular. Yes, all armies have many individual soldiers in them, but there’s no such thing as an army of 1 or a militia of 1, or group of 1. You’re not being clever here, you’re just being obtuse.

          • Submitted by William Heino Sr. on 08/26/2019 - 10:36 am.

            A second look at the Second Amendment

            I received a one page response from our President, dated Feb. 12, 2018, regarding his understanding of the Constitution, replying to my letter of 7/29/2017, regarding my understanding of our Constitution.

            His understanding,….. in part. “Thank you for taking the time to express your views regarding the Second Amendment. ——

            As President, I have no higher obligation than to protect the safety of America and its people. In these efforts, my Administration will always be guided by the wisdom of our Constitution, which ensures the right of individuals to keep and bear arms. The Founders enshrined this protection in the Second Amendment because they understood that the ability of law-abiding people to defend themselves and their families is a hallmark of a free and sovereign people.

            Undermining our Second Amendment rights will not enhance our safety. Rather, we must redouble our efforts to prevent criminals from obtaining and using firearms to harm innocent Americans. My administration will always enforce Federal law and work with State and local officials to keep firearms out of the wrong hands and protect Americans from violent criminals.”——-

            Thank you again for writing. As president, I am committed to upholding the rule of law and keeping America safe and secure.——-

            The President who “loves the Second Amendment” explained that he is committed to upholding the rule of law. At the same time, flustered due to my questioning his Second Amendment reasoning. So much so, he explained the Constitutions “..the right of the people to keep and bear arms…” by a reactionary alternative. Reading, “..the right of individuals…” Using the plural “individuals” rather than the singular individual. Clearly, the words in the Preamble of the Constitution, in setting the tone, “We the people…. provide for the common defence.”

            Merriam-Webster dictionary defines individuals, as a single member of a category; a particular person.

            The Second Amendment …”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 need and reason for “A well regulated militia, …” exactly… because we fight among ourselves.

            My letter to him stated my argument. The Constitution mentions “person/s” 49 times (Articles of Confederation 11 times), to explicitly describe, clarify and mandate a Constitutional legal standing as to a “person”, his or her Constitutional right and duty.

            Whereas in the Second Amendment, reference to “person/s” is not to be found. The obvious question arises, why did the Framers use the noun “person/s” as liberally as they did, in Amendments establishing a Presidency, and throughout the Constitution 49 times and not apply this understanding to explicitly convey same legal standard in defining Second Amendment’s right to bear arms as a “person”?

            Finding it hard to accept, the Second Amendment coming up short as it relates to “persons,” the President, envisioned his justification by replacing the Second Amendment’s “people” for an unsupported “individuals” argument.

            The President was not elected because of any “individuals” classification. A word not in our Constitution, but elected as a “person” (Article 2 Section 1.) Elected however, and “..guided by the wisdom of our Constitution..” and it’s 49 references, the legislative Constitutional legal understanding as to a “person.” The President was elected on 11 of these references. Of which 9 are Amendments, conditioning a “person” to the role of the President of the United States.

            “…The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President…” (Article 2 Section 1)
            “…No person except a natural born Citizen or a Citizen,…shall be eligible to the Office of
            President” (Article 2 Section 1)
            “…they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President,…” (Amendment XII)
            “…the person voted for as Vice-President,…” (Amendment XII)
            “…all persons voted for as President,….” (Amendment XII)
            “…all persons voted for as Vice-President…” (Amendment XII)…”
            “…The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, …” (Amendment XII)
            “…But no person constitutionally ineligible to the Office of President (Amendment XII)
            “…No person shall be elected to the office of the President…” (Amendment XXII Section1)
            “…and no person who has held the office of President,…” (Amendment XXII Section1)
            “..to which some other person was elected President…” (Amendment XXII Section1)
            “…shall not apply to any person holding the office of President…” (Amendment XXII Section1)
            “..prevent any person who may be holding the office of President…” (Amendment XXII Section 1)

            The President taking the time and effort in his explanation of the Second Amendment is meant to line up with my analytical reasoning of “person/s” does not make it so. Clearly and unmistakably another example of this president’s feeble attempt again at misdirection.

            The President was so interested in my letter that he took the time out of his busy schedule tweeting to look up my middle name when addressing his reply. My letter put him to all that trouble. Why? There must have been a purpose?

            Copies of original letters are available.

            William Heino Sr.

    • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/21/2019 - 09:39 pm.

      Gee, that is opposite to the interpretation of the Court in many cases.
      The Bill of Right uses the word “people” to men individuals.

  11. Submitted by Gary Bohr on 05/20/2019 - 02:24 pm.

    There is considerable side-stepping of some major historical facts. Every time the Second amendment was referred to in any decision it was (and is) widely understood to be an individual right.

    US v. Cruikshank was a case involving armed Democrats attacking black freedmen in Louisiana after the Democrats had lost control of the state legislature. Several were convicted for interfering with the freedmen’s right to keep and bear arms. The convictions were overturned by the Supreme Court because the Constitution applied only to state action, not individual actions by citizens. Most telling was the opinion of the court saying, “The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence.”. This presupposes the right exists by virtue of one being born a free and autonomous being–it is not subject to the vagaries of politicians.

    US v. Miller, as horrendously corrupt as that decision was, consistently used language assuming the, “…right to keep and bear arms…” applied to individuals. The decision rested on whether a sawn-off shotgun had, “…some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia…”. As the Supreme Court only heard from one side (Miller was in hiding and was subsequently murdered–and never hired an attorney to represent him at the Supreme Court) this was a deliberate default judgment.

    Dred Scott v. Sandford, likely the worst decision issued by the Supreme Court, held that blacks could never be citizens. Among the reasons listed by Chief Justice Roger Taney was blacks would have the very same rights as whites. Specifically mentioned was the right to keep and bear arms–it’s likely Taney’s fear had nothing to do with disarming state militias…

    The Heller and McDonald cases merely clarified what had previously been decided and understood.

    • Submitted by Christian King on 05/20/2019 - 05:35 pm.

      You are mistaken in these claims. Until the revisionist Scalia court, SCOTUS always interpreted the 2A to apply to states’ rights, not individuals’. In fact, the court rarely ever heard cases based on gun property because it was established that states and municipalities had broad authority to regulate usage and ownership as they saw fit. Please read John Paul Stevens’ essay in The Atlantic from May 14 of this year.

      • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/25/2019 - 05:51 am.

        Actually the SCOTUS always ducked ruling on the Second Amendment and used another reason. In PRESSER the Court ruled that a parade permit was reasonable and ducked the Second Amendment issue.
        BTW, Presser was carrying a sword.

      • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/25/2019 - 01:52 pm.

        Lower Courts, SCOTUS never made a single clear ruling. Justice Scalia was just correct and limited his opinion to the Washington, D.C. handgun ban.
        The McDonald case against the City of Chicago incorporated the Second Amendment to all the States.

    • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/25/2019 - 05:41 am.

      The 1939 MILLER case was not decided. The SCOTUS remanded the case to the Arkansas federal trial court to hear evidence and create a transcript so that it would be “within judicial notice” and SCOTUS woud hve something to examine.

  12. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 05/20/2019 - 04:38 pm.

    It is bemusing that, as of this hour, we have seven brand new MinnPost commenters signing up just to share their erudition on the framers’ commitment to the untrammeled arming of the citizenry. Methinks the gun industry has an alert system that sends its own well-regulated militia wherever an article on the 2nd Amendment raises the need for a defense.

    I’m less interested in arcane debates about framers’ intent, and more interested in how a person can be so fearful of life that he can’t leave the house without a device to blow someone else’s brains out.

    • Submitted by Jay Maynard on 05/21/2019 - 09:09 am.

      No alert system here, unless you count Google Discover making it pop up on my news feed because I’ve shown interest in both Minnesota (I live in Fairmont) and the Second Amendment.

      As for being fearful, do you own a fire extinguisher? Are you so fearful of fire that you can’t get along without a weapon that both serves as an effective bludgeon and (at least in some forms) can destroy a car’s engine in a hurry?

      I own fire extinguishers to protect myself from fires. I own firearms to protect myself from violence. Neither are a product of fear, but prudence.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/21/2019 - 12:02 pm.

        Except that the numbers show that guns make violence more likely, not less.
        Owning a gun makes it more likely that someone in your household will shoot you (that’s fact, not belief).

      • Submitted by ian wade on 05/21/2019 - 12:39 pm.

        Right…because nothing strikes fear into my heart more than going to Target without my Glock.

      • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 05/21/2019 - 02:09 pm.

        Life involves perceiving risk and taking reasonable and proportionate steps to manage it. We do it hundreds of times a day, or even continuously. I keep my eyes open when crossing the street, to manage the risk of walking into the front of an oncoming bus. Having a small fire extinguisher is a reasonable and proportionate way to manage the risk of a fire. Stationing a fire truck outside my house would not be.

        Reasonable and proportionate risk management looks at cost. Nowhere in the United States is carrying a gun a reasonable and proportionate response to the risk of violence. Not in the urban setting where I have lived my life, and assuredly not in Fairmont. The risk is tiny, and the cost enormous: Gun culture pathologizes the individual and the society by transforming fellow inhabitants of our space into threatening “others.” This process of transformation gives us both mass shooters and our present 40-year descent from democracy into authoritarianism.

        • Submitted by Jay Maynard on 05/21/2019 - 06:14 pm.

          “Nowhere in the United States is carrying a gun a reasonable and proportionate response to the risk of violence.” What gives you the right to make that decision for me? Or, more to the point, those who live in the violence-prone inner cities where thug culture holds sway? (And no, that was *not* a racist statement. Thugs come in all races and colors, including white.) You have no more right to tell me that my considered response to the risk of violence is impermissible than you have to tell me the choice of my computer, or my car, is. To claim that right is the essence of totalitarianism.

          “Gun culture pathologizes the individual and the society by transforming fellow inhabitants of our space into threatening “others.”” You’ve been reading too much anti-gun propaganda. I do not consider the other inhabitants of my space a threat until they *demonstrate* themselves to be a threat – and when they do, then I will end that threat as quickly as I can.

          It’s about being aware of your surroundings. Google “Jeff Cooper’s color code” for the full explanation, but suffice it to say I do not go around oblivious to my surroundings. I am in condition yellow when I am out in public. I work very, very hard to never find myself in a condition red situation.

          Too many people walk around in condition white. Those are the victims.

          I refuse to be a victim.

          • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 05/22/2019 - 04:09 pm.

            I haven’t in fact read any anti-gun propaganda; gun policy isn’t a particular interest of mine. What I have done is observe my entire adult life how certain of those in power have thwarted democracy by dividing the people – creating false enemies and spreading fear of the “other.” This fit the gun sellers’ business plans quite well, and so they joined in this method with enthusiasm, and aligned themselves in lockstep with the political party that feeds fear and suspicion to its base like mother’s milk.

            As to your initial paragraph, I have not made any decisions for you. I have merely expressed my thoughts as to something that bears profoundly on the nature of the society in which my children will seek to make their way.

    • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/21/2019 - 09:46 pm.

      I subscribe to a Google alert weekly that reports on Second Amendment on the web.
      Sometimes the alert refers to a second amendment to a city council purchasing a fire engine.
      But yes, I signed up in order to clarify and correct errors in teh article.
      The NRA did not tell me to do this.

    • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/25/2019 - 01:53 pm.

      I carry a gun to save lives. If you expect to blow someone’s brains out, you should not carry a gun or any other weapon.

  13. Submitted by Christian King on 05/20/2019 - 06:07 pm.

    I’ve replied to a few comments, but here are some crucial points no one has mentioned yet. The NRA started claiming that the 2A was about individuals’ rights just after there was a coup in the organization in the early ’70’s. Just prior to that, the Black Panther organization had been advocating the open carrying of weapons in California, where police were shooting unarmed black citizens at an alarming rate. The Gun Control Act of 1968 – which was supported by both parties at the time – was the result. Once gun ownership became harder, members of the NRA became upset because, well, there was a cultural revolution going on, and they felt threatened, and realized they could grasp power by appealing to the fear and hatred many other Americans felt at the time. To this day, they prey on the anxiety of Americans that someone will invade their home, or that a president will ignore the constitution and attempt to overthrow the country (which, by the way, is happening).

    But it turns out that having more guns isn’t the answer. If it were, Americans would be the safest people in the world. Instead, roughly 15,000 Americans are killed by guns here every year, and about 28,000 more are injured (226 children have been killed or injured this year so far). The cost of firearm injuries is incalculable in terms of social capital, but in monetary terms, it costs us about 2.8 billion dollars, according a 2017 study by Johns Hopkins.

    We should be allowed to interpret the second amendment the way way it was written (militias), the way it was intended (states’ rights), and the way common sense dictates, which is that a country that doesn’t regulate gun ownership because it worships guns will suffer the loss of innocent lives as the the sacrifice for that worship.

    • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/21/2019 - 09:51 pm.

      You may interpret the Constitution any way you want. But you’d better buy some Valium because you’ll be very unhappy.
      I’ll suggest you read John Lott’s book MORE GUNS-LESS CRIME which did a complete study of crime and gun laws in every county.
      Maybe you’d be happier if the police were unarmed? BTW, the English are arming their police.

  14. Submitted by Stan Hooper on 05/20/2019 - 07:00 pm.

    Fascinating and cogent comments generated by Back’s article. I found them to be strong reasoning/arguments on both sides. I remember that there was a period just a few years ago when people asserted that the Constitution needs to be interpreted as written without inserting all sorts of assumptions that have (the argument went) corrupted the values in the Constitution. With that in mind, I wonder whether we are making assumptions beyond the actual words of the Constitution when we add that the second Amendment was intended for self-protection, i.e, self-defense. Those words are not in the Constitution’s 2nd Amendment and while we have agreed that we can all own and carry guns, the reasons for doing so are (except for “militia”) undefined.

    • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/21/2019 - 09:55 pm.

      Self-defense is a Tenth Amendment right. The Second Amendment is about arming the people so they can restrain government. Article One , Section Eight defines other reasons for a militia.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/22/2019 - 11:48 am.

        “Self-defense is a Tenth Amendment right. The Second Amendment is about arming the people so they can restrain government. Article One , Section Eight defines other reasons for a militia.”

        Everything you claim here is completely and demonstrably wrong Jim.

        The 2nd Amendment has absolutely nothing to do with arming people so they can attack the government if they want to. Insurrection is clearly outlawed, and the guys who wrote the Constitution put down Shay’s rebellion rather mercilessly.

        The US Constitution and Democracy are guarantors of our “liberty”, not our guns. The idea that the framers meant our guns to be some kind of fale-safe and defined the fail-safe as treason is simply ridiculous. Again, the framers were many things but they were’t idiots. If we reach a point where the people need to rise up against the government, the Constitution will be irrelevant… we won’t be asking whether or not what we’re doing is “Constitutional”. No one ever says: “Well we really should take up arms against the government… but since the Constitution doesn’t give us that right I guess we’ll go home and forget about it.” Our own Revolution is a case in point… and I’m sure the point wasn’t lost on the guys who FOUGHT THAT REVOLUTION.

        And for over 200 years not ONCE have guys with guns defended us from our own government.

        • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/25/2019 - 05:56 am.

          I’ll just say that you are wrong. The Constitution was amended by the Bill of Rights. If You read Patrick Henry’s comments in the Virginia Ratification Debates he addressed the need to restrain government.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/25/2019 - 09:56 am.

            Dude, you can “say” I’m wrong, the problem you can’t prove I’m wrong. And again, it’s doesn’t matter what Patrick Henry said, he’s one guy and he does speak for the 36 delegates who signed the US Constitution. By the way, Patrick Henry was NOT one of the guys who signed the Constitution, Henry wasn’t even a delegate.

            • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/25/2019 - 01:59 pm.

              Patrick Henry was a delegate to the Virginia ratifying convention. He did far more than just make the speech before the Revolution.
              Give me Liberty or Give me death is all that most know about Henry because it conflicts with your dogma.

              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/26/2019 - 09:52 am.

                Just to be clear, Patrick Henry was NOT a member of the Constitutional Convention and he did NOT sign the US Constitution. Sure, he was one of over 100 men involved one way or another in the ratification but no one can claim that he spoke for EVERYONE or even represented a majority opinion. Henry was an anti-federalist… and they lost the argument of the day. This is history, not dogma.

  15. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/20/2019 - 08:44 pm.

    Eric is absolutely correct. The reason it took until 2008 for a court to rule in favor of the individualist interpretation is that most constitutional scholars have long since recognized that the 2nd Amendment was organized State militias. In the 1980s the Individualist interpretation was considered to be intellectual fraud.

    The term: “arms” is a military reference, hunting is not bearing arms. Hanging a musket above you fireplace is not bearing arms. The 2nd Amendment doesn’t mention guns or firearms because a well regulated military force of the era was not “armed” with muskets and only muskets.

    The real question for all of the individual advocates here isn’t why they think the 2nd amendment guarantees them their guns, but rather why it limits their rights to just guns? Why don’t we have a right to keep and bear any kind of weapon we want?

    • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/21/2019 - 10:00 pm.

      Arms includes gun powder, flints, modern primers, muskets, shotguns, rifles of all types, handguns, stun guns [ TASERS ] , knives, swords, pikes, etc.
      Courts have recently struck down laws against stun guns in several states.
      Knife laws are being relaxed to make sword canes legal Switchblade knives are now legal to import.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/22/2019 - 10:46 am.

        You’re dodging the question Jim. “Arms” also include nuclear missiles, armored vehicles, artillery, fighter planes and bombers, hand grenades, biological and chemical weapons, flame throwers, etc. etc. etc. Modern military arms do NOT include the flints and swords you refer to. So my question stand… if you think the Second Amendment grants you the right to “arms”, why are limited to guns?

        • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/23/2019 - 02:23 pm.

          Most of your list are “crew served” and not individual weaponry. Hand grenades are individual weapons and grenades were common in 1776. But not as effective.

          But weapons of all types were commonly owned by those who could afford them. The poor were often provided with arms to keep in order that they were able to fulfill their duty.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/24/2019 - 11:39 am.

            Jim, Militias by definition are not individuals, therefore their weaponry cannot be limited to whatever it is possible for an individual to handle. Now your arguing that the 2nd Amendment has NOTHING to do with national defense or militias. There is simply coherent way the text can be interpreted that way.

            You do realize that you’re arguing yourself out the door right? If the 2nd Amendment can ONLY apply to military weaponry that was available at the time… that would mean no American has any right keep or bear anything but swords, and muskets etc.

  16. Submitted by Joe Musich on 05/20/2019 - 09:18 pm.

    It is all good and well to use history as and explanation for all things legal as applied to weaponry under the rubric of self protection. If someone is attempting shoving their religious beliefs down my throat or any other orafice do I have the right of self protection then ? But let us then apply that to all of history and social issues that concern our modern world. Interpreting or attempting to interpret was one intended with the second or any other amendment is a informed guess at best. If my view of life my religion allows zygote removal and the state intends to apply it’s views are the limits to my right of self protection ? Rhetorically speaking it would seem inconsistent. Do corporations which did not even legally exist well into our history have the right of free speech ? How could they they were not yet an entity ? It is all about power and who has it at the moment.

  17. Submitted by Ole Johnson on 05/21/2019 - 06:54 am.

    Surely the constitutional scholar can cite the relevent article and section that enumerates the Federal government’s authority to regulate firearms.

    The Constitution only gives the Federal government the power to do a few things. Any power not enumerated in the Constitution is not granted to the Feds.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/21/2019 - 10:42 am.

      “The Constitution only gives the Federal government the power to do a few things. Any power not enumerated in the Constitution is not granted to the Feds.”

      This defunct “States Rights” argument was essentially settled by the Civil War and several other court decisions and federal legislation over the last 100+ years. You don’t need a Constitutional Scholar to point out the obvious. The Federal government has both enumerated AND un-enumerated powers. If you really want to be picky out this US V. Miller (1939) clearly established a precedent for federal regulation of firearms when it upheld the National Firearms Act. Scalia didn’t challenge that in 2008. In his own weird way Scalia actually affirms the federal power to regulate firearms in his Heller opinion.

      • Submitted by David Ihde on 05/21/2019 - 04:01 pm.

        And that’s why Scalia was wrong to think the feds can regulate the individual right to keep and bear arms. Shall not be infringed means just that.

        The civil war is not a substitute for amending the Constitution. The tenth clearly does not give the feds unenumerated powers. Just the opposite!

        If you want to be picky about US VS Miller, the Supreme Court says sawed off shotguns had no military value and therefore are not protected under the second amendment. Therefore they upheld military style weapons under the second amendment that could be purposefully used in association with a militia. Not as a requirement. That would mean machine guns! The type at the time would be the B.A.R. and the Thompson.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/21/2019 - 07:34 pm.

          David, Miller outlawed Thompson sub-machine guns… which were US military issue weapons at the time. They call it “murky MIller” for a reason, but there’s no basis there to establish a individual right to keep and bear arms, that “right” is a post 1970 fantasy. Scalia was wrong in many ways, but none of his errors grant you the right to keep and bear military weapons..

        • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/25/2019 - 02:02 pm.

          You misread Scalia. He did not think the Feds had a power to regulate arms. But he only issued an opinion on the Washington, D.C. handgun ban.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/26/2019 - 12:12 pm.

            Heller was an incoherent fiasco and Saclia’s majority opinion is a deplorable mess. Nevertheless, among Scalia’s garbage we find his conclusion that nothing in Heller can be construed to imply that Americans are entitled to own whatever weapon they want. This principle clearly goes beyond Heller itself and clearly concludes that the government has the authority to regulate firearms.

      • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/25/2019 - 06:03 am.

        1939 MILLER did not uphold the 1934 National Firearms Act, The Court remanded the case and did not decide the issue.
        The Court erred by not placing an injunction. The Federal government has just pretended that the case was decided.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/26/2019 - 12:15 pm.

          The National Firearms Act which among other things outlaws machine guns and sawed-off shotguns, is still law. Murky Miller did NOT overturn it as requested. You’re making a distinction without a difference.

  18. Submitted by Kevin Vick on 05/21/2019 - 10:26 am.

    The militia was made up of male citizens who privately owned their firearm.
    Therefore, “the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed”.

    “The People” is cited in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 9th, and 10th Amendments. Which other amendments would the author claim the right only applies to the collective?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/21/2019 - 10:47 am.

      Kevin,

      Few if any Militias were comprised of guys with their own guns. The military experience of the Revolutionary war dictated standardized weapons manufactured for military purpose and those weapons were “kept” in government arsenals. The militias were by and large a disaster when they tried to face professional Soldiers. The guys who signed off on the US Constitution lived through the war… do you really think they failed to notice how the war was won?

      • Submitted by Kevin Vick on 05/22/2019 - 01:06 pm.

        You might benefit from reading this, http://hartnation.com/the-colonial-militia-during-the-revolutionary-war/

        Also, you didn’t respond to my second point, the use of “The People” in multiple Amendments.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/23/2019 - 08:43 am.

          Kevin, your point about “people” has been addressed by other in this thread. It’s a plural reference. The framers tended to use: “persons” when they were pointing to individuals. Paul Brandon has provided multiple examples. This is just ONE reason the individual right argument is specious.

      • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/25/2019 - 06:32 am.

        The 1939 MILLER Court said that all they knew about militia as that when summoned the militia was expected to appear bearing their private arms.
        the 1792 Militia Act specifies what arms each member is required to have.
        This Act was updated right up to the Twentieth Century..
        The National Guard IS NOT The unorganized militia. The Guard National Guard was created because the militia cannot be sent outside the Continental borders of the USA. This became problem during the Spanish-American war.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/27/2019 - 08:24 am.

          If these “militias” existed and Congress needed to send them outside the country, all they would do is update the Militia Act… again. The National Guard IS the militia, there is no other legal militia. Scalia’s concept of militias is incoherent and Murky Miller’s concept of militias and their weaponry is bizarre. This is what happens when you try to bend the Second Amendment into a rationale for individual gun rights, you end up with logical and historical garbage.

  19. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/21/2019 - 11:34 am.

    The truth is that these “able bodied men with the own guns” militias have never existed and were considered to be any kind of serious national defense for obvious reasons. Such militias do however look like the slave patrols deployed in the South. And there are those who have claimed that the Second Amendment was actually about easing anxieties about federal attempts to end slavery than it was about guns and militias. From a national defense perspective even in 1790 the idea that a bunch of guys could show up with their own guns and fight off a professional invading would have been absurd. But if you’re putting a slave rebellion a bunch of guys with their own guns might do the trick.

    The idea that states were THAT worried about being disarmed by the federal government is simply facile. If the States were that worried, the Federalist wouldn’t have won the argument in the first place. Beyond that, everyone involved in the Constitution was an intelligent person who would have known that any attempt to physically disarm State Militias would essentially be a declaration of war whether it was in the Constitution or not. You don’t disarm a population with a piece of paper, then or now.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/21/2019 - 08:44 pm.

      Right!
      The term for “able bodied men with their own guns” is “vigilantes”.

    • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/25/2019 - 06:47 am.

      Sorry, your education is just wrong. The militia fought the Battle of New Orleans.
      The Militia Act of 1792 codified the militia.
      The militia held the line while the Continental Army was forming. Militia served in all the colonies.

      As for slave hunting and vigilantism. If some states used militia to hunt down runaway slaves it does not alter the reason the militia is in the Constitution.
      Vigilantes organized when and where “law” was nonexistent or corrupt. Look up Sheriff Henry Plumber in Montana.
      Self-defense is not vigilante action. A vigilante hunts down suspected criminals . Self-defense is plain. When attacked self-defense is only used against the attacker.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/26/2019 - 10:01 am.

        Jim, you can’t use spurious historical observations to declare who “right” and who’s “wrong”. Militias did not play a significant role in the war of 1812 although some militias may have participated. The US Army and Navy were the primary military forces in that conflict and every other major conflict the US has ever been involved in. Fort McHenry for instance was not manned by a militia, it was manned by US Army soldiers.

  20. Submitted by David Ihde on 05/21/2019 - 03:44 pm.

    The author, like many anti second amendment advocates, makes a huge mistake right off the bat! There is no such thing as a state militia. “States shall not keep ships of war or troops in times of peace without the consent of Congress unless actually invaded or in such imminent danger thereof to cause no further delay”. Instead it’s the militia of the several states. Huge difference!

    To further that point, it leaves to Congress the power to call forth the militia, not the states ( unless they are in the aforementioned situation above ), leaving the appointment of the officers and the training as prescribed by Congress to the states. If there were state militias, those officers and training would already have been done and prescribed. And prescribed by the states, not the feds!

    So if the feds have authority to call forth the militia, and states are not allowed such an armed force, it begs the question, who’s the militia? It’s we the people! Defined in those days as all able body males between 18 and 45.

    Nowhere in the Constitution does it mention state militias.

    The second amendment as with all of the Bill of Rights with the partial exception of the tenth, are individual rights and was put there to clarify and qualify that right to keep and bare arms independent of any association with a militia or the power of the feds to arm them.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/21/2019 - 07:42 pm.

      David, New York has a State Militia. The authors of the US Constitution weren’t pedantic idiots, they recognized the fact that well regulated militias by default would be State Militias. Since they didn’t establish a federal militia the 2nd Amendment obviously refers to militias you claim don’t exist. This was REAL constitution in a REAL world.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/21/2019 - 08:55 pm.

      Please provide a source for your quotation.
      I cannot find it in the Constitution.
      Do you mean:
      “3. No state shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or engage in a war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.”
      But see
      “16. To provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress…”
      and
      “The President shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States…”
      This is clear constitutional recognition of the existence of organized state militias.

    • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/21/2019 - 10:06 pm.

      You should read it more carefully. States have the power to have militias.
      Article One, Section Eight refers to Congress having the power to organize, arm and discipline [ train ] state militias. Militias called to Federal service are mentioned. What did those militias do before they were called to Federal service.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/22/2019 - 10:55 am.

      “Nowhere in the Constitution does it mention state militias.”

      This is simply a false claim. The final paragraph of Section 8 in Article 1:

      “To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the
      Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be
      employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to
      the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers,
      and the Authority of training the Militia according to the
      discipline prescribed by Congress;”

      This is clearly a reference to State Militias. There’s nothing in here that mentions individual gun rights or personal self defense. And note, even the State must organize their militias according to discipline prescribed by the US Congress, they were given limited autonomy.

  21. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/22/2019 - 11:02 am.

    David, you go a long way to completely misunderstand the text.

    “So if the feds have authority to call forth the militia, and states are not allowed such an armed force, it begs the question, who’s the militia? It’s we the people! Defined in those days as all able body males between 18 and 45.”

    The text clearly states that the feds grant the states the right to form Militias, and those would be state militias… you have to be a little illiterate to beg THAT question. Furthermore those militias are clearly regulated in accordance with Congressional prescriptions, and it says absolutely nothing about able bodied men with their own guns. You’re asking an incoherent question and then making up an answer.

    • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/25/2019 - 06:52 am.

      The Militia Act of 1792 and later revisions requires private, personal ownership of particular arms.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/27/2019 - 08:36 am.

        Jim, we’re talking about the US Constitution not the Militia Act. The Militia Act is ordinary legislation, it’s not Constitutional edict. You can’t substitute ordinary legislation for Constitutional legitimacy, this is why we can’t pass a law saying we don’t have free speech anymore, or that is OK to own slaves again.

        Beyond that, the few if any legislation has ever been more irrelevant and less enforced or applied than the Militia Act. Never not even once ever has every able bodied man in the country been REQUIRED to go out and buy military weapons and maintain them so that they can report for combat duty when called upon. Such requirements have never been enforced on a national level, or even a State level. Even the posse’s that were assembled to go after criminals were volunteers.

  22. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/22/2019 - 11:24 am.

    One of the other problems with this whole: “militia is a bunch of guys with their own guns” nonsense is the simple fact that guns were NOT nearly as common a feature of colonial life as gun rights people like to pretend. Guns era were not cheap to acquire nor were they easy to maintain. They were useless without dry power, and flints, and the owner needed to make their own balls in many cases in order to have ammunition. The steel and iron of the era made the weapons prone to rusting if not stored and maintained properly, so it hard to say how many of these were actually in firing order at any given time, at a moments notice to defend the nation. This is why the feds and the states purchased weapons in quantity and stored them in armories all over the place.

    If the Framers really intended to defend the nation with these kinds of militias there would have been some requirements and some obligation in law that required all “able bodied” men purchase and maintain these weapons. Nothing like that has EVER been implemented.

    If guns were THAT ubiquitous for instance John Brown wouldn’t have had to attack the Armory at Harpers Ferry to try to get his hands on some guns.

    • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 05/23/2019 - 02:30 pm.

      From the 1792 Militia Act

      I. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this Act. And it shall at all time hereafter be the duty of every such Captain or Commanding Officer of a company, to enroll every such citizen as aforesaid, and also those who shall, from time to time, arrive at the age of 18 years, or being at the age of 18 years, and under the age of 45 years (except as before excepted) shall come to reside within his bounds; and shall without delay notify such citizen of the said enrollment, by the proper non-commissioned Officer of the company, by whom such notice may be proved. That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack. That the commissioned Officers shall severally be armed with a sword or hanger, and espontoon; and that from and after five years from the passing of this Act, all muskets from arming the militia as is herein required, shall be of bores sufficient for balls of the eighteenth part of a pound; and every citizen so enrolled, and providing himself with the arms, ammunition and accoutrements, required as aforesaid, shall hold the same exempted from all suits, distresses, executions or sales, for debt or for the payment of taxes.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/24/2019 - 12:01 pm.

        The Militia Act was never enforced and was essentially unenforceable for obvious reasons. It’s interesting to note that Obamacare is currently being challenged in court precisely because Republicans don’t believe the Government can REQUIRE that citizens buy something. The Militia Act would violate the same principle by requiring the purchase of weaponry.

        At any rate, no attempt to force every able bodied man to go out and buy weapons with his own money and then show up for combat was ever attempted for obvious reasons, such a militia never actually existed. Rather, the state and federal governments purchased military weapons and stored them in armories. The states formed militias, and the federal government created a professional army and navy. If armies and navies needed to be raised in any great numbers Congress created a draft, they didn’t tell the president to implement the Militia Act.

        There are a few instances of Militias being formed, Shay’s rebellion, and the Dakota Uprising of 1862 for instance. However these Militias and or “posse’s” were comprised of volunteers equipped with their own firearms, and no one tried to enforce the weapons requirements of the Militia Act.

  23. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/22/2019 - 11:29 am.

    One more comment regarding something Eric says in the article: He refers to the fact that fed is can only establish a military budget for two years. Its important remember that this doesn’t reflect an expectation that there will be NO standing federal army in existence for longer than two years. Rather this was simply a mechanism to make sure those in charge of the purse were reviewing budgets. That two year requirement exists for most of the budget, not just the military. We’ve always had a standing federal army although it size has fluctuated considerably. All of the fortifications along the east coast were manned by the US Army, not State Militias. As was Fort Snelling for instance.

  24. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 05/22/2019 - 09:51 pm.

    Ah yes the got to have my shoot-em-up machines, it never ends. And at any cost, 10’s of 000’s per year, ~10.6/100K, ~ 92 a week! And folks are worried about an occasional airplane crash taking out a 100 or so people, hey no big deal, real question is why make planes any safer?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States
    So lets be honest, the bang bang crowd is willing to sacrifice ~ 30K +/- a year in order to have unbridled access to guns. Pretty simple straight forward analysis, sacrifice 30K+ Americans to the gun gods every year, and then talk about “safety”. Looks more like a right to have people killed than it does to support a militia. Oh yes war an NRA member in 1965, when it was about shooting straight and not about talking crooked.

  25. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/23/2019 - 09:34 am.

    I just have to say, kind of building off of some other comments; I’ve always thought that it’s kind of weird that the most heavily armed among us always seem to be the most frightened. They’re afraid of their government, their neighbors, the impending zombie apocalypse, whatever, and no matter how many guns they have… they’re STILL afraid. What’s the point?

    And what do we get from all these heavily armed frightened people? We get shot. We’re the most shot-up country in the world that isn’t a war zone. It’s more dangerous to be a child in a US school than it a soldier in a war zone.

    And then these frightened people fantasize about being our saviors when the most likely scenario is that they’d freak out and start shooting everyone in sight.

    Whatever.

  26. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/23/2019 - 03:39 pm.

    Even women, I suppose. Most of my female relatives own handguns and permits to carry them. They are in their 60s and 70s so I’m only assuming their reasoning is that they wouldn’t be able to fend off an attacker with their brute strength. But I could be wrong. My sister-in-law can be quite brutal.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 05/23/2019 - 06:11 pm.

      Well DT you know the real question is what is the probability that they will have to do that? Suspect none of them live in the shoot-em up inner city. So you may have a higher probability of getting hit by lightening or broad sided at an intersection than attacked, so do they walk around with lightening protection gear? or Air bags wrapped around their body? Just saying, the gun toting arguments do not make statistical sense, By having a gun in the household you have a higher probability of accidentally or on purpose shooting yourself, a neighbor, friend, family member etc. its simple probability statistics, same math they use for insurance, actuarial tables etc. etc. etc. You can lead a person to knowledge but you can’t make them think.

    • Submitted by ian wade on 05/24/2019 - 02:11 pm.

      Well, the reality is that most men wouldn’t be able to fend off an attacker either. I’m a gun owner and also trained in self defense. Scenes from Charles Bronson movies are not an accurate representation of how people are attacked in real life. 99% of those attacked never see the attack coming. Out of the blue, you’re jacked on the back of your head or across the face, rendering the victim senseless if not unconscious. Reaching for a weapon isn’t even in the cards at that point. Not only does the attacker have your money, he also has a nice weapon to either keep, sell or if you’re really unlucky, finish the job. The much better option to avoid becoming a victim is situational awareness.

  27. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/25/2019 - 10:10 am.

    If anyone is interested I wrote a six part series a few years ago that explores the Second Amendment and gun violence in depth. Minnpost published the first 5 parts in it’s “Blog Cabin” which was a feature at the time. The first 4 parts deal with the history and all of the various court rulings in depth. You can look at that here:

    http://pudstrand.fatcow.com/blog/?p=587

    And no, I don’t have any financial sponsors or make any money from my blog so this isn’t just a pitch to drive clicks my own way.

  28. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/27/2019 - 09:29 am.

    Just a quick note about the Militia Act of 1792 since it keep coming up.

    he Militia Act and all it iterations up to 1903 was only deployed once by any president, and that was in 1794 to put down the Whisky Rebellion.

    It’s important to note that the primary feature of the Militia Act was that it gave the US President the power to take control of the State Militias when it could be demonstrated that a problem was beyond the scope of ordinary law enforcement. The stipulations of the act requiring individual purchase of military grade weapons and ammunition were never seriously enforced. The State Militias Washington took control of in 1794 were armed with weapons that were purchased by the States and stored in armories, it wasn’t just 12,000 guy who showed up with their own military grade guns that they went out and bought with their money because the Militia Act demanded it.

    It’s also interesting to note that the latest version of the Militia Act (1903) established the National Guard as the primary body of military reserves in the US. Since 1903 the National Guard IS the Militia of the Militia Act.

    And none of this ever had anything to do with an individual right to own a gun. It was always about giving the Government the authority to raise and maintain quasi-effective military forces if need be for emergencies.

    • Submitted by Jim Macklin on 06/15/2019 - 01:57 pm.

      When the Senate was debating the amendment they rejected adding te words “for the common defense” as a limitation on the right to keep and bear arms.
      It was always an individual right.

  29. Submitted by Jim Macklin on 07/04/2019 - 07:22 am.

    The Constitution was drafted, adopted and ratified BEFORE the Second Amendment [ which began as the 5th ] was drafted.
    A Bill of Rights was demanded and a pledge was made that a Bill of rights would be submitted in order to get the Constitution of 1787 ratified by the States.
    The ability of the President as Commanded in Chief to call up the State Militias to Federal control was included BEFORE and is independent of the Second Amendment.

    “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

    To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;…”
    “Section. 2.

    The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment….”

    The “Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms” was intended to prevent tyranny by keeping tyrants afraid of the People. In the USA the votes are counted because if they were not counted the People have the power of arms to establish an honest government. That’s is why it says, “the security of a free state.”

    The Declaration of Independence, second paragraph says what Patrick Henry and George Mason intended…
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world…”

    Gun control began as simple, slaves could not keep or bear arms. The Dred Scott SCOTUS Court said blacks could not be citizens with the rights that were included in the dicta. The Civil War ended that.
    Then it was “crime and violence” that is used as a justification. But crime and mental illness are not the ultimate reason. In fact it appears that certain forces want crime and violence a”selling point” to promote passage of “gun bans.”

    Assault weapons and military weapons. The bump stock only works if the shooter has two hands because the support hand MUST push the gun forward to pull the trigger the second time. It is inaccurate and not a machine gun.
    The modern military weapons are designed to wound, not to kill. They are low to medium power. “Sporting” firearms are several times more powerful and are designed to kill as quickly as possible.

    Anyone supporting “gun bans” or “universal background checks” should know that insane killers are not stupid. Often their killing spree is planned months or even years ahead of time. They select a place where they expect to have time to kill, ergo a “gun free zone.” Banning guns just makes more places where kills are attracted.

    The NRA is attacked because they want zero violence. The NRA has always preach “gun safety and training.” The NRA became “political” only after 1970 because the anti-gun left [ Communists, crooked politicians, and criminal gangs ] sought power and destruction of the right of the People to keep and bear arms.

    Self-defense is a right that does not depend on the Second Amendment although it does often use arms. But it is a Tenth Amendment right. Unwritten and still protected.

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