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The pro-gun crowd often crows about the second amendment to the Constitution as though it gives all Americans the rights to all guns, all the time. However, a brief walk through the Constitution and laws enacted later seem to tell a different tale. Maybe it's just me, but when people talk of the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms a part of me wants to paraphrase the great Inigo Montoya... I do not think it means what they think it means.

Please allow me a brief trip through history:

As we all know, the Constitution was ratified in 1787. Lets skip down to Section 8 and we'll see these interesting tidbits:

(Congress shall have the power:)

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;

Ah, the militia. At the time, the lifeblood of the defense of this fledgling country. Vitally important to our survival, the writers recognized the importance of having defensive forces across the states and training them to fight when called upon. But this wasn't enough. What if a government at the state or local level decided to take the arms of the populace? Now the nation as a whole is weakened. So, in 1789, 12 Amendments were brought up for possible inclusion into the U.S. Constitution. 10 of those passed, among them our legendary second:
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.
No one can keep the militias from being armed and ready! In context, this is clear. But... let's add more context, shall we? In November of 1791 the U.S. lost a major battle to Native Americans knows as St. Clair's defeat. You can look that up. As a result, it was determined that the militia simply wasn't up to snuff, thus the Militia Acts of 1792 were passed. The First Militia Act gave the President the authority to call up the Militia for a two year period. (It was later made permanent in 1794.) The Second Militia Act went on to set standards for the militia itself, including the conscription of all able bodied white males between 18 and 45 and the minimum required arms and supplies they were required to have on hand, such as a musket, bayonet and belt, two spare flints, a cartridge box with 24 bullets, and a knapsack. Men owning rifles were required to provide a powder horn, 1/4 pound of gunpowder, 20 rifle balls, a shooting pouch, and a knapsack.

So, let's look at this. We have the Constitution setting the rights of Congress to call up the Militia. We have the Second Amendment requiring that, due to the importance of the Militia, Americans will not have the rights to keep and bear arms infringed. Then we have Militia Acts going into further refinement and details of that militia.

Fast forward to 1903. The Militia Acts are replaced with the Militia Act of 1903, which established the National Guard. By doing so, it transferred the militia from the populace to the armed forces, establishing further funding, training, and for the first time pay while training. It basically rendered the archaic militia concept obsolete.

In a nutshell, the intent of the Second Amendment that the right to keep and bear arms was necessary to maintain a well organized militia became obsolete with the formation of the National Guard. The Second Amendment is obsolete and never was intended to give people the right to keep arms simply for the sake of doing so. It was for national defense, which was transferred to the military.

Originally posted to SBParrothead on Fri May 31, 2013 at 10:28 AM PDT.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA) and Shut Down the NRA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  ¡Exactamundo! None of the regulations proposed (9+ / 0-)

    violate any right or anything in the Constitution.  I have yet to be told how any of the regulations I propose violate anyone's rights:

    1. FULL background check on EVERY sale/transfer
    2. Licensing
    3. Registration
    4. Limits on clip/magazine capacity for all firearms
    Perhaps they make exercising their right less convenient, but I don't recall having any convenience clause in the Constitution.

    I wish I could tip you extra for the Iñigo Montoya reference, I love his oft repeated line: "my name is Iñigo Montoya, you killed my father prepare to die."

    Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

    by DefendOurConstitution on Fri May 31, 2013 at 11:06:48 AM PDT

  •  I agree with you fully, (6+ / 0-)

    But fasten your belt, I suspect your in for an ...interesting... evening...

  •  I have always noticed the gun nuts (6+ / 0-)

    never mention the militia part, almost as if it doesn't exist. Thus you have RKBA but you'll never see WRM.

    Funny how the second amendment is considered sacred but only the second half is quoted.

  •  Tipped & rec'ed; it only matters what 5 evil RW (7+ / 0-)

    Justices say, tho.

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Fri May 31, 2013 at 12:04:53 PM PDT

  •  Turning the Second Amendment on Its Head (8+ / 0-)

    A number of the Founding Fathers were leery of standing armies, given their history of mischief in Europe. Yet the US needed to be ready to defend itself. Hence the need for a Well Regulated Militia of citizen soldiers that could be called to action when needed. The country needed such people to have access to arms and to be disciplined standby troops with proper training and organization. As you said, in the present day, this has led to the creation of the National Guard.

    Many of the fierce "Patriots" screaming about their rights today have turned the whole idea on its head. Their view is that the Second Amendment was established not to support the Government in an emergency, given a small or absent standing army, but to protect the citizens from the Government on an ad hoc basis.

    It is a part of the overall GOP theme that "Government is the problem," as Saint Ronnie of Tinseltown famously quipped.  It is a conscious play to fear and paranoia. The NRA hierarchy loves it, the gun manufacturers love it, the lunatic fringe loves it. It is blatantly un-Jeffersonian, and in my opinion anti-American.

    "Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything even remotely true." -- H. Simpson

    by midnight lurker on Fri May 31, 2013 at 12:05:55 PM PDT

  •  It's an interesting argument (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eastsidedemocrat, notrouble

    The problem is the SCOTUS, both liberal and conservative justices, has affirmed more than once that the "right to keep and bear arms" is an individual one. And ultimately it's the members of the court who have the only vote that matters.

    So until the 2nd Amendment is repealed, or the court reverses itself, all these arguments, however historically meritorious they may be, don't add up to much. Though certainly there's nothing in the 2nd Amendment, IMO, to prevent common-sense gun control laws.

    Black Holes Suck.

    by Pi Li on Fri May 31, 2013 at 01:29:47 PM PDT

    •  What nobody has yet been able to do (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KVoimakas

      is figure out how you acknowledge the rights of a group of people without that right translating down to the singular elements that make up the "group".

      It leads to questions regarding a minimum size of the "group"? Is it a militia group with a 2A right if 50 show up, but if someone gets in a car accident on the way to the site of muster does the "group" of 49 now not have enough?

      Okay, of 49 is still a "group" that qualifies for the right to keep and bear arms, what about 40?

      What about 30? 20? 10?

      What about 5? Is 5 people enough to be a "group"? No? Yes?

      This is a question that MUST be nailed down in exactitude because it is a LEGAL matter. You can bet your ass that some district attorney out there will rain charges down on some bunch of people for not meeting the minimum requirement to recognize a right to keep and bear arms.

      This is the legal debacle that will come from the poorly considered position that the second amendment only protects a collective right to arms.

      Another hint that the second amendment was originally intended to be protection of an individual right lies in the initial version written by madison

      The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.
      That was what was initially put forth in june of the House, which was debated and changed and such in committee meetings through that whole summer.

      Note the use of "person". Also note that the feeling of the thing wasn't along the lines of "bear arms if you want to" that we have today. See how it feels more like it was a requirement to keep arms and bear them in the militia, because of the word "compelled"?

      Imagine that, the original sense of the 2A was a requirement that you keep and bear arms in order to be equipped for your required militia duty - a sense that is supported by the explicit requirement laid out by the first and second Militia Act signed by George Washington during his first term.

      So the Scotus is not wrong when they rule that the 2A protects an individual right. I'm sorry but I must inform you that YOU are in error in thinking that it is a collective right.

      Now get yourself a song to sing, and sing it till you're done.

      by JayFromPA on Fri May 31, 2013 at 06:47:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree. (0+ / 0-)

        The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.

        This clearly acknowledges the role of the militia with national defense, yet simply includes your basic "conscientious objector" clause. No one can be forced to fight.

  •  In my arguement with my (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WakeUpNeo, teabaggerssuckbalz

    gun nut cousin, he doesn't even know the part about militias! He seriously told me I was lying, really! I hadn't realized before this that a lot of the gun nuts don't really know the second amendment in full, they are just parroting talking points.

    Republicans piss on you and tell you it's raining, Democrats hand you an umbrella!

    by Nica24 on Fri May 31, 2013 at 02:49:36 PM PDT

  •  District of Columbia v. Heller (0+ / 0-)

    Have you by chance read the Supreme Court's decision on this matter in District of Columbia v. Heller?  There has been a great deal of scholarly work done on this topic.

    "Life is forever menaced by chaos and must restore balance with every intake of breath"-- Jean Gebser

    by rangemaster on Fri May 31, 2013 at 06:31:51 PM PDT

  •  Diarist, you have a fundamental flaw. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KVoimakas
    Fast forward to 1903. The Militia Acts are replaced with the Militia Act of 1903, which established the National Guard. By doing so, it transferred the militia from the populace to the armed forces, establishing further funding, training, and for the first time pay while training. It basically rendered the archaic militia concept obsolete.
    The 1903 act did not transfer the militia to the armed forces.

    The 1903 act carved off a segment of the militia and named it the national guard.

    The part of the militia that was not carved off was not cast aside and disbanded. That part of the militia remained militia.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the militia shall consist of every able-bodied male citizen of the respective States, Territories, and the District of Columbia, and every able; bodied male of foreign birth who has declared his intention to become a citizen, who is more than eighteen and less than forty-five years of age, and shall be divided into two classes-the organized militia, to be known as the National Guard of the State, Territory, or District of Columbia, or by such other designations as may be given them by the laws of the respective States or Territories, and the remainder to be known as the Reserve Militia.
    One of the most superficial arguments that is seen is the one that claims that the militia was renamed into the national guard so the 2A doesn't protect anything for the general people anymore. That argument is wrong.

    Now get yourself a song to sing, and sing it till you're done.

    by JayFromPA on Fri May 31, 2013 at 06:58:19 PM PDT

    •  So you admit it's supposed to be a militia (0+ / 0-)

      not an individual right.

      Thx.

      oh and by the way

      Now get yourself a song to sing, and sing it till you're done.
      Fuck your assholic attitude.

      "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

      by nosleep4u on Fri May 31, 2013 at 07:34:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nope. Try again. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        notrouble

        The prefatory part of the second amendment explains why the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right. But if people want to focus on the militia side of things, well, I'm a member of the unorganized militia like most men my age.

        Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

        by KVoimakas on Fri May 31, 2013 at 07:56:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Dick Act actually created the unorganized (0+ / 0-)

    militia as well.

    Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

    by KVoimakas on Fri May 31, 2013 at 07:09:32 PM PDT

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