The best, most thorough, in-depth, and accurate treatise on both letter and intent of the Second Amendment was the February 1982 Congressional Report on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (97th Congress, 2d Session, U.S. Gov Printing Office document 88-618 O). This document is a clear and unadulterated reflection of the wisdom of our Founding Fathers.
Anyone who has been around the block a time or two recognizes the “it’s up to each generation to figure out how to make it work” phrase as the idealistic horse hockey it truly is, for one simple reason: our Founding Fathers got it right.
Utterly lacking from most arguments against the Second Amendment is a copy of the text itself:
“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 phrase “shall not” is pretty darn clear. It’s not the softer “will not,” much less the permissive “may not.” It’s a crystal clear imperative that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” is off-limits, untouchable, regardless of any circumstances whatsoever.
It’s an absolute mandate. Zero wiggle room. Are you getting the picture, yet, or are you furiously thumbing through your Rolodex of liberal undermining comments instead of paying attention to the big enchilada, the Constitution itself?
Most anti-2A articles conveniently fail to mention the fact that more than 760,000 crimes are stopped each and every year by armed law-abiding citizens, crimes to which a citizen at the scene can respond immediately, but where a 911 call would take at least several minutes for law enforcement to respond. Not good when most of these incidents are over in seconds.
No about of idealistic tripe will ever counter three facts: 1) The mental health approach will make a dent in these shootings, but it won’t counter the majority of them; 2) An armed citizen at the scene of these incidents provides the best opportunity to stop these events before they continue beyond the first couple of people; 3) Knowledge of the second point is the best deterrent. Let’s face it, these people may be criminally insane, but they’re not stupid. They’re actively targeting so-called “gun free zones” for a reason: No armed law-abiding citizens.
Use that gray matter upstairs for once and think it through.
2016 Addendum: An acquaintance wrote, “Well-regulated meant supplied…”
Not according to George Washington, it didn’t. He equated it with “disciplined” when he wrote, “A free people ought not only be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government”
In the vernacular of the day, it meant several things, and “disciplined” and “properly trained” were chief among them. Other associated meanings include “organized” and “routinely practiced/exercised.”
Screw Title 10. It wasn’t written with a valid understanding of the vernacular of the day.
The term “well-regulated” has NEVER meant “legislated” or “controlled,” and no finer evidence exists than the Second Amendment itself, which prohibits any sort of infringement on our right to keep and bear arms i.e. “shall not be infringed.”
For that matter, screw any “precedent” which supports any conclusion other than the above, which is based on the many writings of our Founding Fathers themselves. Most such precedents are so stacked on top of one another it’s like trying to balance the Washington Monument on top of a piece of baklava.
As for the term “militia,” relying on anything other that period observations is similarly misleading, almost certainly because later observations were often intentionally misleading.
According to the 1982 Congressional Report on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the term “militia” as it appears in our Second Amendment means, quite simply, “armed people,” and mention was made in several period documents to include able-bodied men, women, and children capable of bearing arms against an enemy. “Being necessary to the security of a free State” wasn’t the only reason, yet it covers self-defense “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” The “free State” clause was merely the most important. Both hunting and even sport shooting were common at the time, neither of which could take place if citizens were deprived of their right to keep and bear arms. Referring again to period documents, the term “militia” was distinctly contrasted against “soldier” and “sailor,” both of which were considered regular forces, whereas the “militia” was considered to be a reserve comprised of all U.S. citizens.
At this point, the historical record gets a little confusing, only because different factions of our nation’s early leadership had two different thoughts on the matter. One faction wanted everyone to remain fully armed whereas the other faction thought it best to secure arms in an armory unless/until needed. Many others occupied the continuum between these two philosophies. When the conflict, which involved several other areas of interest, came to a head, those who favored a citizen militia prevailed and established not only our Second Amendment, but the the first twelve amendments, which were whittled down to ten amendments before consensus and subsequent ratification.
Well, this has been a short (very) summary of a 34-year on-and-off and back on again exploration into our nation’s early history. 🙂
For more outstanding finds, documents, and references on this topic, click here.