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Examination of the Bill of Rights: The Second Amendment

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posted on Jan, 6 2014 @ 03:19 AM
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In my continuation of a brief examination of the Bill of Rights, I want to tackle the Second Amendment. As before, if you wish to read my other commentary on other Amendments, you can find them here: ATS Thread: Ninth Amendment, ATS Thread: Tenth Amendment, ATS Thread: First Amendment

To tackle the Second Amendment and provide commentary thereof, is to place oneself into the lions' den so to speak. The issue is such a contention, that making such commentary places a person on a divide.

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads as follows in whole:

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.


Before being enshrined by Congress, James Madison penned letters that we now can utilize to help understand what exactly was being conveyed with the meaning of the Amendment. First it is known that Madison had reservations of listing individual Rights in fear that the mere listing of them would empower the Federal Government to an understanding of power in which they did not initially hold. In other words, by enumerating some Rights, but not the countless others that the People held, the Government could see it as an explicit area in which they could govern over. Highlighting this notion is the portion of the proposed Bill of Rights that never made it past Congress.

Madison wanted to ensure that the Rights of the People where placed into the forefront. To ensure this, one of the proposed amendments was to add a "preamble" to the Constitution that would convey the following:


First. That there be prefixed to the Constitution a declaration, that all power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from, the people.

That Government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their Government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of its institution.


Such a notion would have solidified the concepts within the Declaration of Independence and placed them into the core of the newly formed Government via the Constitution. I use this to highlight how Madison sought to ensure that the People would retain their political power and be seen as the real power brokers of the new country; not the political class we see today.

With that said, we move to another portion of the proposed Bill of Rights, in which Madison sought to ensure not only that the States can protect themselves, but also the People -- all with the correct grammar to make that point clear (I am speaking of the semi-colon of yesteryear.)


“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person..."


Here it is clear the intent. The People shall have the Right to defend themselves and the State shall have the Right to form militias. The part that was completely axed is too bad, as it speaks to those who do not want to fight based upon their religious convictions (their First Amendment Rights). It would have also been great to have this during times of conscription such as WWII and Vietnam.

Based upon this, it is clear that the intent of the Second Amendment is to secure two separate but equally important Rights. First, the People and their inherently humanistic Right to defend their lives and their property. The second is the sovereign Right of an individual State to form a militia to protect itself. In doing so, it intertwines the responsibility of the citizen and the State.

In closing, to say that the Second Amendment only applies to the States' militia and not the People, ignores the precedents and relevance of the person who penned the words. To believe that the People of the young United States would be willing to once again place their people under tyrannical rule and directly under the protection of the State, by denying them the Right to protect themselves is forgetting exactly what they fought against.
edit on 6-1-2014 by ownbestenemy because: (no reason given)




posted on Jan, 6 2014 @ 04:11 AM
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It seems so simple to look at the Second and yet many cannot be bothered to do the very simple research. So many letters and other documents surrounding this amendment and written to explain the purpose of it are available and yet many just can’t do the simplest of research.

The entirety of the Second can be summed up with a simple quote from that time period and written to support the amendment.

‘The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.’

The amendment was proposed and passed so that the ‘We the People’ had the means to remove tyrannical Government by force of arms.

There is another quote from a much later time period that bears examination.

‘If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.’

P



posted on Jan, 6 2014 @ 04:29 AM
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pheonix358
‘The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.’


While the quote is poignant, I do not feel it sums up the meaning behind the amendment. The true understanding is, in my opinion, the ability to protect oneself; may it be wildlife, other humans, or the constructs thereof such as Governments. If one is to secure "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", one must have the means to do so.


The amendment was proposed and passed so that the ‘We the People’ had the means to remove tyrannical Government by force of arms.


I still cannot see how this is the only reason it was passed.



posted on Jan, 6 2014 @ 05:05 AM
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reply to post by ownbestenemy
 


Then as I suggested, do the research, it is not at all difficult.

While the other points you make were included, the primary thrust is to prevent tyranny.

P



posted on Jan, 6 2014 @ 05:09 AM
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I always thought a major part of it was to have defenses against us British (or anyone else) should they ever turn up again as it would be quick to form up local defense groups to repel invaders before they could settle in since there was no standing army in existence and with the size of the states its not going to be possible to create a navy to patrol that much area.



posted on Jan, 6 2014 @ 06:56 AM
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ownbestenemy
To tackle the Second Amendment and provide commentary thereof, is to place oneself into the lions' den so to speak. The issue is such a contention, that making such commentary places a person on a divide.


So very true. I've lost friends here on ATS due to this issue and the debating thereof. In my defense of the 2nd I used the very arguements you present here and in turn have been called "baby killer", "gun nut", "proponent of violence" ... you name it. The first of course, being the most hurtful and when that was thrown at me it became apparent that no matter how much logic and research I injected into the discussion it would never be accepted and I had to walk away from the friendship.


Before being enshrined by Congress, James Madison penned letters that we now can utilize to help understand what exactly was being conveyed with the meaning of the Amendment.


I make the assumption here that the letters you refer to are the letters published under the pen name of "Publius", called the Federalist Papers. (witten by Madison, Hamilton and John Jay). I also make the assumption that for the purpose of this discussion specifically Federalist #29, accredited to Hamilton, and Federalist #46, accredited to Madison are the specific letters you refer to?


First. That there be prefixed to the Constitution a declaration, that all power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from, the people.

That Government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their Government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of its institution.



Such a notion would have solidified the concepts within the Declaration of Independence and placed them into the core of the newly formed Government via the Constitution. I use this to highlight how Madison sought to ensure that the People would retain their political power and be seen as the real power brokers of the new country; not the political class we see today.


Precisely. And it should have been included, however, because it was not we now have the arguements we have today over this very issue. Instead, what we are left with is Madison's defense and explanation of the intent of the 2nd in Federalist #46. (I am not sure where you pulled your above quote from, but it does sound very much like it was pulled directly from #46, as I understand it.)


“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person..."



Here it is clear the intent. The People shall have the Right to defend themselves and the State shall have the Right to form militias. The part that was completely axed is too bad, as it speaks to those who do not want to fight based upon their religious convictions (their First Amendment Rights). It would have also been great to have this during times of conscription such as WWII and Vietnam.


I would agree with this statement 100%. It should have been included for clarification of the 2nd. However, I would also say that perhaps the framers were assuming that future gernerations would possess a modicum of common sense in knowing that in having the 'right' to do something, in this case the 'right' to bear arms, also means you have the ability not to excersise that same right. Perhaps that is why the last part of that statement was stricken, because it was deemed redundant? But like I said, I wish it had been included for more clarification and even taken a bit further to include those who are not religious but still have strong opposition to the keeping and bearing arms of any kind for any reason, because while I will defend to the teeth MY right to keep and bear arms, I will also defend to the teeth the right of others to not if they choose.


In closing, to say that the Second Amendment only applies to the States' militia and not the People, ignores the precedents and relevance of the person who penned the words. To believe that the People of the young United States would be willing to once again place their people under tyrannical rule and directly under the protection of the State, by denying them the Right to protect themselves is forgetting exactly what they fought against.


Again, I agree and would take it even a step further if you don't mind. "Militia" as defined by Hamilton in #29, is a group of indidividuals called by the 'state' for it's defense and/or the defense of the union. Since the militia was not a 'standing defense force' it also had no armory in which to equip the individual if called to form a militia, so it would logically follow that the words apply to the individual, rather than the militia alone because without the equipped citizen there would then be no militia to call for any credible defense.

Just my 2 cents. Thank you for tackling this one, I was wondering if you would include this in the series you are compiling and reference in the beginning of your OP. Well done.



posted on Jan, 6 2014 @ 07:26 AM
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There is another thread on this web site about a man who was assaulted and attempted to be robbed, the man capitulated and tossed his wallet away for the aggressor to take. He them got into a tow-truck, started the engine, placed it into gear and proceeded to run the man down and kill him.

The reason these discussions, arguments and disagreements regarding the second amendment and self defense, etc., so frequently arise is the fact that very few people in this country actually understand what the amendment was meant to protect.

It simply allows one to lawfully possess the tools to defend themselves, their families and their country if they should choose to do so, leaving the final decision to the individual whether or not to exercise the option.

Too many people in the U.S. don't really understand when they are in danger enough to justify lethal force, #, they don't really have any idea what it is to be truly threatened and put into harms way at all really.

The founders really tried (I think....?) to cover all the bases and make men as free as men could be, but it was men who developed those systems of government, whichever system they were or are, and governments of all types always are skewed toward the preservation of the rights of one class over another.

Some people cannot understand these concepts we are discussing here regardless of how hard one may try.

Anyway..........



posted on Jan, 6 2014 @ 08:36 AM
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reply to post by ownbestenemy
 


Excellent thread and many thanks for your time and effort.

There should be no more argument for the fact. Anyone who has any time to read about this amendment would see clear as day what the meaning behind it was. Madison clearly knew what he was writing and it is a shame they cut off the last section. But as it stands, the intention is clear.

I still have the hardest time with people who don't grasp or support this amendment. It is like they almost want to be stripped of their rights, but for reasons I will never understand.


Thank you, again for this excellent post!





posted on Jan, 6 2014 @ 08:36 AM
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pheonix358
reply to post by ownbestenemy
 


Then as I suggested, do the research, it is not at all difficult.

While the other points you make were included, the primary thrust is to prevent tyranny.

P


You are correct, as they had just thrown off tyrannical rule, by force of arms, from a government 'king' that tried through force to take their weapons so they could not do so.

All liberty spawns from the ability to liberate ones self by force if needs be, therefore force, as it were is the primary need of a people that would be free of tyrants.



posted on Jan, 6 2014 @ 08:40 AM
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Maxatoria
I always thought a major part of it was to have defenses against us British (or anyone else) should they ever turn up again as it would be quick to form up local defense groups to repel invaders before they could settle in since there was no standing army in existence and with the size of the states its not going to be possible to create a navy to patrol that much area.


I agree, it was IMHO meant as a stopgap against any invader upon their newly acquired freedom, be they foreign, or domestic.

If freedom is your primary goal, force is the surest way to keep it.

Diplomacy has a place, but there is no diplomacy without the direct threat of force to back it if needed.



posted on Jan, 6 2014 @ 11:02 AM
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reply to post by MyMindIsMyOwn
 


I apologize for not giving reference. The two quotes I used were not from the Federalist Papers (I did not use those in this brief examination), but rather Madison's initially offered amendments to Congress in 1789.

Offered Amendments to the Constitution by James Madison

The beginning of the initial debate can be seen here from the Library of Congress, starting here...and leading up to the actual proposals by James Madison here



posted on Jan, 6 2014 @ 08:46 PM
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pheonix358
reply to post by ownbestenemy
 


Then as I suggested, do the research, it is not at all difficult.

While the other points you make were included, the primary thrust is to prevent tyranny.


While I will ignore the flippant comment that I need to research, I would say to you that I have. I never said it wasn't a reason, but it seems people think it is the only reason. It is a partial fact that it was designed as a protection against an encroaching Federal Government and a check against tyrannical rule. It is also a fact that much of the amendments offered, were designed to protect the Natural Rights believed to be held; hence, the Right to protect yourself and your property. Without such, how can one secure Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?

The purpose was dual, and I never denied that which you said wasn't a factor. Madison himself wrote of the benefits of this freedom.



posted on Jan, 7 2014 @ 11:02 AM
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ownbestenemy

The purpose was dual, and I never denied that which you said wasn't a factor. Madison himself wrote of the benefits of this freedom.


You are correct, it was dual.

I found this article written by Nelson Lund, J.D., Ph.D to be very enlightening. The article is titled A Primer on the Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms. It is rather lengthy but I found it well worth the read and outlines several aspects of the 2nd in addition to the prevention of tyranny that I would wager alot of folks had not considered. In saying that I do have to admit though, for me, it raised alot of questions that I now need to go in search of answers for!


BTW, thank you for the links ownbestenemy, they were helpful and I've added them to my "library" of information to draw from.



posted on Jan, 7 2014 @ 11:08 AM
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really?...another thread about the 2nd amendment?...it's hardly ever discussed here on ATS, so all of this is so new. (sarcasm).....wage inequality, job creation, and the 4th amendment, always seem to take a back seat. we can be poor, unemployed, and spied upon, but, as long as we have guns, everything is OK!!
edit on 7-1-2014 by jimmyx because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 7 2014 @ 08:34 PM
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jimmyx
really?...another thread about the 2nd amendment?...it's hardly ever discussed here on ATS, so all of this is so new. (sarcasm).....wage inequality, job creation, and the 4th amendment, always seem to take a back seat. we can be poor, unemployed, and spied upon, but, as long as we have guns, everything is OK!!
edit on 7-1-2014 by jimmyx because: (no reason given)


Slow your roll Jimmy...I will be getting to that. If you haven't noticed I have already made threads on the First, Ninth (that is much more neglected than what you put up above) and the Tenth.

I also didn't realize that there was a cap on what can be discussed without some snark comment.

Did you even bother to read the thread? Or are you just angry?



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