The Right To Keep and Bear Arms

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2nd amendment gun constitution

The upcoming election has great ramifications for the American Gun owner. Most Americans who are for gun control have little or no understanding of the Second Amendment or its history. But without it there would not have been a United States. The 13 original colonies made that very clear. The continental congress needed to draft a bill of rights and to that end they dispatched Founding Father James Madison, to seek the views of the colonists. He used the information gained to write the Bill of Rights .

The Second Amendment is actually the second of 10 amendments to the United States Constitution. these 10 amendments are known collectively as the Bill of Rights. That is rights that set down the cornerstone of American democracy. As such they were, in effect set in stone and cannot be overruled changed, or watered down, except by a two thirds majority vote in the Senate. An unlikely occurrence in the USA

So The Bill of Rights means exactly what it says, no more, and no less. Madison presented his proposals to Congress for debate and adoption.

to Congress on June 11th 1789, after his outline  Massachusetts Representative Fisher Ames rose to make the following observation.;

“Mr. Madison has introduced his long expected amendments. They are the fruit of much Labor and Research. He has hunted up all the grievances and complaints of newspapers, all the articles of convention and the small talk of their debates.

It contains a Bill of Rights. The Right of enjoying property, of changing the Government at Pleasure, freedom of the press, of conscience, of juries, exemption from the general warrants…Oh I had forgot The right of the people to keep and bear arms. “

Well! Representative Ames can be forgiven the momentary lapse. Politicians ever since have been trying to enjoy a similar lapse.  But, as stated these amendments were presented to congress after much research .A keen to the electorate. Another trait often lacking in today’s society.

James Madison knew only too well the necessity of including a firearms amendment. That is why it is number 2 in the list.  For having been freed from the repression of a British government regime that had to control its citizens.

The new congress had no desire to inflame the populace by replacing one tyrannical rule with another. George Washington put it thus

“A free people ought not only to 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.”

Madison realized that any constitution had to guarantee its citizens freedom to live, work, and worship how they pleased. Sure there had to be regulation to ensure law and order, but regulations were to be kept to a minimum and the power the government had was to be firmly left in the hands of the people.

An attempt by the British at Concord and Lexington in 1776 to seize arms from the colonial arsenal had spawned the whole War of Independence. A fact not lost on the shrewd Madison or the newly constituted Congress of The United States.

The new Constitution would be designed to ensure that no national government would be able to disarm the population again. Madison knew that such an amendment was a necessity to get the agreement of the country as a whole, wherein ratification was concerned.  He and Congress also knew that such an amendment needed to be unequivocal. It had to be in the clearest possible terms and impervious to any legal or political tampering. So far, they have succeeded. In fact, the careful wording of the Second Amendment has so far frustrated even the most anti- gun politicians.

So why were the people so adamant that they needed to keep their guns? The simple answer is self protection.

Protection for themselves and their families from danger posed from whom we now call Native Americans, from wild and dangerous animals and most of all they feared a future government imposing an agenda by force. A disarmed population is far easier to control.

The people of the New World, as it was known in Europe, were in no mood to compromise. So the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms was required and the Congress duly delivered.

OK! Let’s look at the Second Amendment and dissect it.

“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 first line gives the reasoning behind the amendment. The writers are stating that an armed militia is essential if a state is to remain free. All citizens had agreed that arms were necessary to make certain that your freedom and safety remained secure in the United States of America where they lived.

So what of the well-regulated militia? Well!  Lawyers have chewed this one over many times depending on which side they are representing. In effect, the amendment says:

As a free state we require an armed citizenry to ensure our security.

The term militia may be translated as citizen soldiers. However the original definition can be found in the The Militia Act of 1792. The relevant part of which reads

” Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this Act.”

Therefore when trying to decide what Madison meant by the term, Militia, it is more relevant to read the definition as it existed then. The term may have been modified and altered over the last 200 years, but that is irrelevant.

The term Militia as used in the language of the Second Amendment has to refer to the meaning that was correct then at the time the Militia Act of 1792 was written. That all Citizens between 18 and 45 were considered militia. Regardless of any political affiliation.

Although this is an obvious view to take, it is not one shared by the Democratic party and the anti gun  Brady Group who prefers to try and  improve on the original definition and impose a modern definition, rather than stick with the 1792 original.  It is not hard to see why.

If every citizen were a militiaman then the Second Amendment would apply to everyone. Not a position any self respecting gun banner would relish. So what of the modern definition?

Currently the US legal code states;

“Militia refers to a body of citizens armed and trained by the state for military service apart from the regular armed forces. It is composed of physically fit civilians eligible by law for military service. It characterizes a military force recruited directly from civilians who would not otherwise be liable to serve in a state’s regular armed forces.

It can also refer to unorganized military force drawn from within a civilian population and which has taken up arms. For example, in modern Somalia the armed followers of different warlords have been characterized as militias. The definition has been under attack and interpretation in recent years.”

Hmm! Not much better but at least the anti gun brigade can try to use this interpretation as a lever to at least ban some people from owning guns.

Well!  Sorry guys, not any longer. The Supreme Court ruled in the case Heller v District of Columbia 2008 as follows.

“(1) The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Pp. 2–53.

(a) The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms. Pp. 2–22.           

(b) The prefatory clause comports with the Court’s interpretation of the operative clause. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. Therefore every male citizen is a member of the militia, at least as far as the Constitution goes.”

OK!  I hear you say, very eloquent, but what exactly does it mean?

Basically the Court dismissed any notion that the Second Amendment meant anything other than what it said.  The right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, not connected with service in any Militia.

As my childhood cartoon hero Dick Dastardly would most defiantly have said

“Drat and double Drat.”

No wonder then that Hillary Clinton disagrees with the Supreme Court decision and has vowed to overturn it.

Actually the same misinterpretation of the second amendment is prevalent in the term well regulated.  In the 18th Century this term meant well trained and, not the current meaning of subject to rules and regulations.

The Brady group had been thwarted again. But they, like the tenacious aforementioned Dick Dastardly would be unlikely to give up. They will continue to attack the Second Amendment and try to introduce gun control legislation.  This would probably be in a piecemeal way via States and liberal city administrations. This was the strategy that worked so well in the UK.

The NRA is well aware of this strategy and will no doubt continue the assault on these enclaves, hoping to emulate their success in places such as Chicago and Washington.

No doubt the Supreme Court ruling will not be the end of the matter, but it does seem clear that there is unlikely to be an identical challenge in the foreseeable future.Provided of course that the Democrats remain out of power.

OK!  Back to the wording of the Second Amendment

The second line; “The right of the people to keep and bear arms”, affirms that this is an existing right already in evidence. The first sentence is merely an explanation of why this right exists.

The final line, “Shall not be infringed”, would appear to be self- evident. It states that no legislation can be enacted that in any way restricts gun ownership. Unfortunately most gun- control advocates seem incapable of comprehending the phrase which is why the courts have to continually remind them.

So having written the right to own a gun into the Constitution, our Founding Fathers moved on to forge a new nation. America is almost unique in enshrining the right of the people to own guns into law.

This being said there are restrictions on gun ownership in this country. The most obvious pertain to age and mental state. Further the convicted felon also loses his rights under the Second Amendment. So there are limits placed on gun ownership in the USA.

Principally at the federal level these are contained in The Gun Control Act 1968 under this act firearms possession by certain categories of individuals is prohibited.

  1. Anyone who has been convicted in a federal court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, excluding crimes of imprisonment that are related to the regulation of business practices.
  2. Anyone who has been convicted in a state court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding two years, excluding crimes that are related to the regulation of business practices.
  3. Anyone who is a fugitive from justice.
  4. Anyone who is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, any controlled substance.
  5. Anyone who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution
  6. Any alien illegally or unlawfully in The United States, or an alien admitted to the United States under a non-immigrant visa. Legal, non-immigrant aliens may possess guns if they have a current, valid hunting license.
  1. Anyone who has been discharged under dishonorable conditions from the United States armed forces.
  2. Anyone who, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his or her citizenship.
  3. Anyone that is subject to a court order that restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner. (Added 1996)
  4. Anyone who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (added in 1996 by the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, or “Lautenberg Amendment.”)

Additionally, 18 USC 922(x) generally prohibits persons under 18 from possessing handguns or handgun ammunition, with certain exceptions for employment, target practice, education, and a handgun possessed while defending the home of the juvenile or a home in which they are an invited guest.

A person who is under indictment or information for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year cannot lawfully receive a firearm. Such person may continue to lawfully possess firearms obtained prior to the indictment or information.

Although this law was heavily criticized by some including the NRA, most Americans were of the view that these restrictions would not prevent law abiding citizens from possessing firearms for both self defense and sporting purposes.

As said The Democratic Party have said they intend to continue the assault on the Second Amendment led by their nominee Hillary Clinton .She and the corrupt Democratic Party need to heed the words of Thomas Jefferson

“The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by iPatriot.com.

Stephen Challis

Born on the UK .served in RAF for 5 years ,and as a Police Officer for a further 21 yrs . Active in Politics since 1995,as a member initially of the Referendum party ,until joining the UK Independence Party. Selected as a candidate by UKIP to fight the 2000 general election for the Eastleigh Constituency ,where he lost to the Liberal Democrat. Remained active with UKIP and supportive of Brexit campaign. Emigrated to US in 2008 .He voted for Brexit in the 2016 referendum. His last act on behalf of his former party. Joined the Republican Party and has been active with them and the local branch ever since. In 2015 selected as Montgomery county co-coordinator for the Ben Carson Presidential Campaign in Kentucky. Author of several books on gun control plus historic fiction. Certified CCW trainer State of Kentucky. Joint owner of Harmony Hollow Firearms Training school in Jeffersonville Ky. NRA endowment member and certified instructor ,multiple disciplines. Appointed one of three Local Election Volunteers in Kentucky by the NRA in support of the Trump campaign.

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