Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Second Amendment- Part Two: An Individual Right

In Part One of my informative series of flawless and thought-provoking essays on the Second Amendment, I brilliantly dispelled the fallacy that "the militia" referred to in the Second Amendment referred to a "select militia," such as today's National Guard. Instead the "general militia" that the Constitutional framers referenced meant all citizens capable of bearing arms for defence.

Although both sides of the current gun debate could probably squabble over the definition of "the militia" indefinitely, the Founding Fathers left little doubt as to what they meant. It is clear that the right they referred to was an individual right, not a "collective" right for the people to bear arms via some state agency as modern gun-prohibitionists (such as Sarah Brady) assert.

The following quotes should further dispel any doubts. Bold emphasis within a quote was added by me.

Patrick Henry:

"The great object is that every man be armed... Every one who is able may have a gun."

Thomas Jefferson:

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms within his own lands."

Zachariah Johnston:

"The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them..."

Samual Adams:

"The said Constitution [shall] be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms."

Pennsylvania Convention Minority Dissenting Opinion(Dec. 18, 1787):

"That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and their own state, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game..."

John Adams:

"Arms in the hands of citizens [may] be used at individual discretion... in private self-defence."

Boston Independent Chronicle (Oct.25,1787):

"[I]t was in the law of nature for every man to defend himself, and unlawful for any man to deprive him of those weapons of self defence."

James Madison:

The Constitution preserves "the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation... [where] the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."

William Grayson:

"[A] string of amendments (The Bill of Rights) were presented to the lower House; these altogether respected personal liberty."

Tench Coxe:
"[T]he people are confirmed by the next article (of amendment) in their right to keep and bear their private arms."

Akhil Reed Amar (Modern Yale Law School Professor):

"The ultimate right to keep and bear arms belongs to 'the people', not the 'states.' As the language of the Tenth Amendment shows, these two are of course not identical and when the Constitution means 'states,' it says so." [See below.]

Tenth Amendment, U.S. Constitution:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

See Mrs. Brady? The people and the States are two separate entities. The United States is a third.

Its ridiculous to think that "the people" referred to in the Second Amendment actually means "the States." It is the same "the people" who have the right to peaceably assemble under the First Amendment. It is the same "the people" whose "right [...] to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" is guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment. If we apply the gun-prohibitionists' "the people means the States" logic to the other amendments in the Bill of Rights, it becomes clear how absurd that logic is.

U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution (1982):

"The conclusion is thus inescapable that the history, concept, and wording of the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as well as its interpretation by every major commentator and court in the first half-century after its ratification, indicates that what is protected is an individual right of a private citizen to own and carry firearms in a peaceful manner."

Amen you crafty old Senate Subcommittee you! In the next piece of this stellar series we'll look at how the courts have interpreted the Second Amendment.

To be continued...

1 comment:

Bawb said...

You crazy wacko man! Next you'll be telling us zany stuff like the First Amendment doesn't have provisions for "Free Speech Zones" around Crawford, TX, that the Bill of Rights doesn't contain the phrase "Separation of Church and State", or that the 10th Amendment gives power to the individual states. You also left the phrase "Legitimate Sporting Purpose" out of your copy of the 2nd Amendment. Where do you come up with this stuff?