Should the 2d Amendment have been the 1st?

| January 15, 2013

No honest debate of any issue can be conducted without both parties agreeing to some basic definitions of terms. And that is precisely what is wrong in the currently heated debate on the matter of gun control. Those who wish to limit the gun ownership rights of Americans read and interpret the constitutional guarantee of the right to bear arms in a very limited way. Let’s look at what the constitution actually says:

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.

Look at that provision in the terms of the times in which it was written. The authors of the constitution were men who had just declared their freedom from an abusive sovereign power and then won that freedom through force of arms. What did the authors of the 2d amendment mean by the term militia? From an excellent discussion of the issue written in the 1990’s:

Many civil libertarians, uncomfortable with the private possession of firearms, have found the militia prefatory clause of the second amendment a convenient exculpatory clause. The Supreme Court has not dealt directly with the constitutional militia, as opposed to the National Guard, but there is nothing to indicate that the militia, under second amendment analysis, is anything other than the “whole people.” [40]

The whole people indeed! And what did our founding fathers mean by the term keep and bear arms? In their time, it almost certainly had to carry with it significance not readily apparent to much of our current population. In our War of Independence from Great Britain, many if not most of the arms used against the European forces were provided from local sources, even cannon and mortar, those coming from local militia. The arms borne by individual soldiers were, for the most part, self-provided, at least in the early stages of the war.

So when the founding fathers included language in our constitution guaranteeing the right of the people to keep and bear arms, do you not suppose that they most likely meant that guarantee to mean the ability to fight back on terms and weaponry of the times when such conflict occurred? Did they not mean that the people reserved that right in the possibility that future events would necessitate the use of such arms as ongoing weapons development provided to once again overthrow tyranny?

They granted us, the people, the right to keep and bear arms. Those who wish to constrain that right frequently use the very lame argument that the 2d Amendment allows us this freedom to maintain arms for hunting purposes only. That is the anti-gun lobby’s most frequent argument when attempting to deny American citizens the right to possess semi-automatic handguns and semi-automatic rifles. The failure of their argument is that the constitutional grant of power to the people says nothing whatsoever about hunting. Further, the very term “bear arms” carries with it a definition that has nothing to do with hunting. Here’s what we find at Do you see there any reference to hunting?

The reason for that is clear: The founding fathers, in the preparation of the principles which would ensure the continuance of the democratic experiment they had put into operation, weren’t concerned with the then everyday practice of provisional hunting, they were determined to preserve their political accomplishments and protect them from future threats of tyranny. They gave us, in the form of the 2d Amendment, the right to defend all those other freedoms they had bestowed on us through that remarkable document spelling out our human rights. They knew, better than most, that the right to keep and bear arms was the bedrock freedom of the rest of those freedoms so clearly set out in that Bill of Rights. Without the implied protection of force of arms, those other rights are just so much wishful thinking, mere ink upon paper.

Those who would disarm us to meet their feel-good need to eliminate murderous atrocities from society say we have no need of weapons capable of firing thirty rounds. Think for a moment what the founding fathers might think about that should they somehow learn that the people are now facing a standing federal army with weapons of far greater lethality than a simple semi-automatic rifle with a thirty round magazine. Don’t you suppose that the founding fathers were familiar with the concept of parity of arms? Considering what they had just been through in fighting for their independence, don’t you suppose they understood that concept very clearly and that their experiences in opposing the standing army of Great Britain may have very well been the primary reason for the 2d Amendment and its placement in the Bill of Rights as the only right secondary to that of the freedom of speech? Is it too farfetched to believe that those who founded this nation and put in place our guiding documents would not want to see the citizenry, that is, we the people, to at least be so well-armed as to prevent the rise of a tyrannical central government that would negate the rights they, the founding fathers, bestowed upon us? Where I believe those brilliant, inspired founders may have erred though, is in making the 2d Amendment second, rather than first, where their intent would have been crystal clear and unmistakable to posterity. And may I suggest that the primary placement of free speech was likely due to the prevalence of lawyers among them, men more accustomed to fighting with words than arms?

Whatever, by their placement of the right to bear arms as the 2d article in the Bill of Rights, we can reasonably assume that they were making a clear statement of their strong belief that the democratic republic with which they endowed us can only be preserved through a well-armed militia, a citizenry, a general public, well-armed to sufficient extent as to overthrow a tyrannical, central government.

Category: Guns

Comments (68)

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  1. Ex-PH2 says:

    I wanted to include this, but I don’t like making LONG entries, unlike someone else does.

    When cell phones first becamse available in the early 1990s, I went to Radio Shack to see what cost what and what you could get for your bucks. I said I wanted the communicator pin like they used on the Star Trek Next Gen episodes. The salesperson said ‘Oh, we have the techonology for it. It just isn’t cheap enough yet. Wait a few years.’

    So, when did Bluetooth become available? It doesn’t matter that you stick it in your ear. You program it just like the communicator pin, you tap it to answer and send, you speak to the mike in the bluetooth unit.

    I can come up with LOADS of scifi ideas from the 1940s and 1950s that are now common household objects.

    What Joe does not want is progress or forward thinking. He would rather cower in his closet, and use the ironing board for a desk and order pizza delivered, than move into the future with the rest of us.

    There is nothing more frightening to the coward than true freedom.

  2. Joe says:

    Yeah, I’ve read a lot of science fiction too, saw “2001 – A Space Odyssey” when it first came out in’ 68, and probably a dozen times since. Some of the writers were right on the mark (Clarke [he predicted communications satellites in the ’40s for goodnes sake], Asimov). But there’s a lot of impossible, fanciful stuff in there too. It is after all science FICTION. So you gotta keep it in perspective.

  3. Hondo says:

    Joe: the Constitution does change with the times, Joe. The process is called “amendment”. It’s the process that ended slavery, defined citizenship by birth, granted female suffrage, established a uniform national voting age of majority; ended the poll tax; and made a number of other changes to what the Constitution originally said. (Unfortunately, it also gave us the idiocy prohibition, since repealed, and the income tax. Oh well.)

    Don’t like the 2nd Amendment? Then work to pass a 28th Amendment changing or repealing it.

    Good luck wit dat.

  4. UpNorth says:

    Joey, Joey. It’s sad, really. If you don’t think there are “tyrannical government agents”, you might want to ask Vicky Weaver or Sam Weaver. Oh, that’s right, you can’t. She was killed by Lon Horiuchi, a government agent, for the crime of holding her baby in her arms. Sammy Weaver was shot by a U.S. Marshall, who was actually trespassing on the Weaver property. But, 3 people did manage to hold off 350-400 federal agents for 10 days.

  5. Ex-PH2 says:

    Hah! I knew it!

    Joey-boy just proved to one and all exactly how THICK he truly is in his comment in @52.

    You, Joey-boy, do not do your research. Arthur Clarke did not PREDICT the communications satellite, he designed and built it. His company was COMSAT, as in COMmunications SATellite.

    When you get up in the morning, do you look in the mirror and say to yourself ‘I’m going to let people know exactly how incredibly dimwitted I am today.’ ?????

  6. Twist says:

    Jonn can make a topic that is one word and the word is “gun” and it will have over 70 responses because Joey comes in and shows his ass.

  7. Hondo says:

    Minor clarification, Ex-PH2: Clarke is generally credited with the concept for geostationary communications satellites. The first communications satellites were not geostationary (e.g., Echo 1, Telstar 1 & 2, Syncom 2 – the latter, though it had a 24-hour revolutionary period, also had pronounced north-south motion). These earlier communications satellites required special tracking equipment for use and were thus not as useful as the geostationary satellites Clarke proposed. They were implemented first as (except for Syncom 2) they used lower orbits, thus requiring less boost power and lower power radio systems.

    That said, non-geostationary communications satellites can still be useful, even today. Iridium and Globalstar are not geosynchronous systems. Neither is GPS.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Something to consider, Joe. Not sure how to resize but if anyone knows how, would be most appreciated.

  9. Twist says:

    I don’t think Wikipedia exists. Whatever you type in trying to find out goes straight to Hondo’s computer and he whips up a quick answer for you.

  10. Hondo says:

    (chuckling) Thanks, Twist – but no. I use the Internet for research too. I just have a pretty good memory for things I’ve read/worked with/am interested in, and can usually find sources to confirm/update my memory fairly quickly.

    The above was partially memory and partially Wikipedia (used to refresh memory/verify what I remembered). Did learn a couple of new things, though – particularly the part about Syncom 2. Never knew that one was 24-hr orbit but had sky motion until today.

    You need to use Wikipedia with care; on some subjects, it’s crap. But if you are already familiar with the field, you can generally tell whether it’s a good source or not pretty quickly. And you can also always check their sources – many of which are primary documents made available on-line – if you don’t know enough about the field to assess a particular Wikipedia article’s quality.

  11. Joe says:

    From your post #58 Sparky I guess I can infer that A) the Americans of Japanese descent should have been armed and fought back, and B) judging from your previus posts on islam, American muslims should heavily arm themselves.

  12. Hondo says:

    Joe: obviously you’re having a “bad logic day”. You seem to have a lot of those. NHSparky’s point was obvious to pretty much anyone with 3 or more working brain cells.

    Your position – e.g., “no one but the government should be allowed have guns” – is based on the assumption that the government can be trusted to never mistreat the public. However, given unrestricted power any government is capable of persecuting loyal citizens. NHSparky was merely reminding you of one historical incident where the US government had done exactly that.

    Reading anything else into that photo is either an assumption, a deliberate attempt to change the subject, and/or an attempt to assign opinions to others falsely (AKA “put words into peoples mouths” – I thought I’d best spell that last concept out for you). My money’s on the last. Best I can tell, ou’ve never been shy about doing that here at TAH.

  13. Ex-PH2 says:

    @63 – Yes, if anything shows how lethal unrestricted power in any government can be, we should include Adolf Hitler’s Reich; Joseph Stalin’s pogroms and gulags; the Gang of Four in China; the Kim family of North Korea; the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot in Cambodia; and my personal favorite, the emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, who poisoned himself with mercury while he was pursuing building the Great Wall in which thousands of workers were buried during its construction.

    Further, Joey-boy always avoids responding directly to something when he’s shown that he’s wrong. Instead, he makes smartass remarks and shifts gears. It’s just easier to cheat.

  14. NHSparky says:

    Hell Joey, FDR (and wasn’t he a Democrat, btw?) wasn’t the first person to piss on the Constitution in such a manner. Do a little research about Woodrow Wilson and how he imprisoned thousands who protested WWI under the Espionage Act of 1917 (specifically the Sedition Acts therein), up until Schenck vs. United States (1919) and other court decisions.

    Oh, and these folks were the forerunner of the ACLU–another disaster, but of course YMMV.

  15. UpNorth says:

    @64, or Joey-boy just runs and hides, because KOS or DU hasn’t covered what was pointed out to him, and he’s lost without his talking points.
    I’m still waiting for Joey-boy to tell us which of the other Amendments he wants on the chopping block next.

  16. NHSparky says:

    B) judging from your previus posts on islam, American muslims should heavily arm themselves.

    Only if they try to go all Achmed on me. BTW–why is it I’m hearing deafening silence from your side of the aisle about our little local jihadists and their bombs? Not guns, mind you–BOMBS.

    Or the OWS dipshit who got busted a few days ago in NYC? Funny how I don’t hear you clamoring HARRUMPH!! about that shit.

  17. The Second Amendment has most recently been interpreted to grant the right of gun ownership to individuals for purposes that include self-defense. At first it was thought to apply only to the Federal government, but through the mechanism of the Fourteenth Amendment, it has been applied to the states as well.