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by Bill Glover (bglover@netcom.com)

"When you speak, Words mean things."

Why the second amendment guarantees the Individual's right to keep and bear arms.

First some background information.

What kind of government is the United States? Answer, it is a Federal Republic. Need documentation? OK, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands: One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." That is the oath of loyalty that citizens recite.

What is a Federal Republic? A Republic is a State or Nation in which the supreme power rests in all the citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by Representatives elected directly or indirectly, by them and responsible to them. Curious, but the United States is NOT a democracy.

What is Federal? A Federal is a group or union of States which agree to subordinate its powers to that of the central authority in matters of common affairs. Generally this is in matters of foreign policy and common national defense from outside aggression. Explains why federal troops, unless requested by a State governor and placed under the control of the Army of a State cannot be used as riot control forces. This is exactly what happened in the LA riots.

What is a Democracy? A form of government in which the political power resides in all the people and is exercised by them directly or is given to elected representatives. Rule by the ruled. The United States is NOT a democracy. The Republic that is the United States does adhere to democratic principals when it comes to creating laws, etc. But note that new laws cannot contradicte existing laws or the Supreme Law of the land, the Constitution.

What is a State? One of the commonwealths or States which make up a Federal Republic. That is the body politic of a geographic area. The commonwealth refers to the body of people comprising a State.

What is a Constitution? A system of FUNDAMENTAL laws governing a nation, state, society, either written or unwritten. The United States has a written Constitution, the United Kingdom has an unwritten Constitution. The United States Constitution has seven Articles and twenty-six Amendments, the first ten Amendments constitute the Bill of Rights. Ammending the Constitution is usually made very hard, as in the case of the United States, to prevent it from being easily modified. A simple majority is not sufficient to modify the United States Constitution as spelled out in the document itself.

What is a Bill of Rights? A list of rights and freedoms assumed to be essential to a group of people. The first ten amendments to the United States Constitution guarantee certain rights to the people. Not the states, not the federal government but to the people.

What is a militia? Any army composed of citizens rather than professional soldiers, typically called in time of dire emergency. In the United States it is all able bodied males between the ages 18 and 45 years old who are not members of the Army, National Guard, Reserves, or any of the "Organized Services". Typically these militia members are referred to as the unorganized militia. In many cases the term able bodied would be expanded to refer to all able bodied people. Yes if called you are obliged to respond. It is part of your citizen oath in the pledge of allegiance.

What is a Right? A just and fair claim to anything, power, privilege, etc. that belongs to a PERSON by law, nature, or tradition. Hmmm, a right belongs to a person? The Constitution is the Supreme law of the land is it not? The common usage of the term right, could also lead one to conclude that States can also have rights etc.

What is a privilege? A right, immunity, benefit, or advantage granted to some person, group of persons, or class of persons, not enjoyed by others and sometimes detrimental to them. Hardly seems likely that owning firearms would be a privilege, since those without firearms would have a slight disadvantage that clearly could be detrimental.

What other freedoms were specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights using "the right of the people" phrase?

Interesting that the second amendment is one of these, indicating to me at least that it was placed higher on the priority list than say the mere right to free speech. Maybe without the second amendment there would be no free speech? Food for thought.

Now the fourteenth Amendment is interesting. It came into being after the civil war, it was ratified in 1868. There is a body of history which states that one purpose (among many) of this Amendment was to protect the right of the newly freed slaves to own firearms. Seems the southern states were passing restrictive gun laws, essentially limiting and in some cases preventing the former slaves from owning firearms. Abridging the right to own firearms was construed to be that you were not free person. So they fixed this.

So now with the background above read 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.

Curious that with the background above, the 2nd amendment takes on a quite clear meaning.

It clearly refers to the militia, that is all the able bodied people in a State.

Security of the free State is self explanatory, the States did not want federal mandates imposed on them, and by extrapolation the people within the State.

There is a direct reference to "the Right of the people" in the same context as the Right to peaceably assemble, (ever seen a state assemble?). So firearms ownership is a Right. Not the firearm the government says you can own, as the government cannot tell you what you cannot say or print.

Now you say what is this well regulated stuff? Hmmm, well regulated could very well mean simply that the militia's rifles were sighted in. Yes, it seems the founders may have expected the militia to practice and be ready. Regulated means to adjust, to meet a standard. Makes perfectly good sense when you look at it this way, does it not. The founding fathers were very pragmatic in their views it would seem.

Note also it says a free state, that is not the federal government being referred to, but the individual States. It seems States are also supposed to be free from the federal government to manage their own internal affairs. The only requirement is the States are not allowed to abridge or make any laws contradictory to the Constitution. The fourteenth amendment was ratified to re-assert this requirement it would seem.

Brings the argument back full circle. The Federal Republic called the United States is a group of free States composed of free people with a Constitution composed of a set of written Rights of the people and a set of FUNDAMENTAL laws to guide the making of laws and functioning as a society. Note that the procedure for modifying the FUNDAMENTAL Rights and laws was made purposefully hard so as to prevent a majority, as was happening in the south after the civil war, from taking rights from the minority. Again this makes perfectly good common sense. Why would you require such a detailing and enumeration of the FUNDAMENTAL rights, then turn right around and allow a one vote margin in the House of Representatives to make it null and void. Probably would not.

Note the overarching principal here that when we do things we should always uphold our end of the bargain as citizens and obey the law. This starts with the Constitution of the United States, and it includes Congress, the President, the Supreme Court and all other members of government. We are all in this together as a nation.

If you find this argument not to your liking, then apply this test. Take anything in the Bill of Rights you find you agree with and substitute it for the second amendment. If the argument applies to the right you personally believe is sacred, now explain to yourself why this reasoning doesn't also apply to the second amendment.


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