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The Second Amendment and the Right to Bear Arms

by Robert Randle  
8/08/2009 / Politics

There probably isn't a more contentious issue in America than that of gun ownership; and for many, it is almost a "sacred" right. Due to the 'cowboy' attitude from territorial days when the original thirteen colonies and European settlers were located across the rugged terrain of the American frontier, there arose a need to arm oneself, protecting property and family from marauding bands of hostile Native tribes, invading foreign armies or acts of war and from other Whites as well. It was a time when the only organized law enforcement officials might be too far away to be of any real benefit in an emergency or during impending danger; so a person had to learn to defend themselves.

When the document that has become known as the Constitution of the United States was finally ratified in 1788, superceding the former Articles of Confederation of 1781, certain provisions had to be included to ensure that people would be safe, secure, and protected in their dwellings and personal effects from that which would not deprive them of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nonetheless, it is interesting to hear the NRA, members of Congress, gun advocates and others quoting part of the Second Amendment, but they do so by not considering the fullest context of the document or its real meaning.

First of all, a careful reading of ARTICLE 1, SECTION 8 of the U.S. Constitution should precede the Second Amendment; which reads as follows: [THE CONGRESS SHALL HAVE POWER] To provide for (1) organizing, (2) arming, and (3) disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, {reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress}. Now, continuing with 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.

One of the important things that have to be considered is the definition of a "Militia," which by definition is: a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. In modern terminology, this would be analogous to an official Militia, composed of citizen soldiers such as the Army Reserve or National Guard.

So, the next time someone yells about violating their Second Amendment rights by attempting to confiscate their guns and leave them at the mercy of criminals, although a reasonably valid concern, still it has nothing to do with this Constitutional issue but rather, better police enforcement, Criminal Law legislation, the Court System, and better societal values.

Robert Randle
776 Commerce St. #B-11
Tacoma, WA 98402
August 7, 2009

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