Tag Archives: The Constitution

The Constitution (2nd)

More on 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.

I’ve given the Second Amendment considerable thought and my conclusion is that there is no possible single, unambiguous understanding thereof.

That having been said, there persist popular misconceptions that should be debunked.

For example, people believe the Supreme Court has always held that the people have a right to carry firearms.  Period.  End of story.

Based on my admittedly limited research I say, “Not so.”

For decades the right to keep and bear arms was understood to be for purposes of service in a state militia.

In 2008 the Supreme Court added that a private citizen could keep and bear arms for self defense—but only handguns kept and used in the home.¹

Not any arms, anywhere, any time, for completely self-selected purposes.

In the same decision the Court declared that keeping and bearing a dangerous and unusual weapon was not automatically protected by the Second Amendment.

Also, in the same decision, the Court found that mentally ill persons and felons could be denied the right to keep and bear arms, also that this right could be limited/denied in/around schools and government buildings.

So, no—We the people don’t and never did have an unqualified constitutional right to keep and bear any arms anywhere, anytime, for any purpose.

Disclosure: I have no formal training in law.

¹ District of Columbia vs. Heller

The Constitution (1st)

Thoughts On 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.

Most Americans think The Constitution is a precisely chiseled series of black-and-white-isms.

It’s certainly nothing of the kind.

It has been described as a set of “glorious generalities.”

The second amendment seems to me to be a masterpiece of inconclusiveness.

A Militia is a trained, equipped, organized group of some citizens, like our national guard, which state governments can activate to deal with emergencies.

The people might refer either to all citizens or possibly, the language of the second amendment lacking precision, to smaller groups thereof.

A militia without arms wouldn’t be very effective in suppressing riot or insurrection.

Therefore a militia must be armed.

But the people as a whole—do they all have a right to keep and bear arms ?

Everybody ?

Every fool, felon, unprincipled liar and lunatic in the entire body public ?

The second amendment, I really believe, says nothing conclusive about Joe Citizen’s individual right to own firearms for his own purposes, only that a well-regulated ¹ militia has a right to keep and bear arms for the security of the state,—state to my mind referring to any individual state in the union, and this right may not be infringed. ²

But what about the people—those two words—how do they fit in ?

The best I can do just now is to note that a militia is drawn from the ranks of the people.  So perhaps militia and the people are used as synonyms ?

That militias are so described in The Constitution makes it impossible for, say, the federal government legally to disarm states for nefarious purposes of its own.

States seem to have ³ a constitutionally protected right to raise and arm militias.

More later.

Disclosure statement:  I have no formal training in law.

¹ Well-regulated, to my mind, means well-trained, well-equipped, well-disciplined, well-commanded, and under authority of state government, as distinguished from a self-appointed posse of shotgun toting vigilantes bent on righting perceived wrongs in feloniously violent ways.

² Infringed =  restricted, limited, curbed or checked.  

³ It’s not expressly stated.  But I think it’s strongly implied.