Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The intent of the Second Amendment Was to Guarantee States Rights through militias and the right of the citizens to own and bear weapons

Arguments that float around today about whether or not the Second Amendment applies to the states, is smoke and mirrors, thrown out by those that oppose the rights of citizens to own, carry, or bear arms. All arguments against the Second Amendment is based on either a deliberate attack on it, or a misunderstanding of the intention of the Bill of Rights founders.

The federal government was created by the several states extant at the time of the creation of the constitution. However, the states were well aware of how dangerous and abusive a government can be from their experience with the English government that was over them until the Declaration of Independence.

The states envision themselves as sovereign states and they created the federal government for several reasons: To enable commerce to be carried on among the states by establishing a mail system, to raise an army in case of threats by other nations, and to make treaties with other countries. The representatives of the states in forming the constitution developed the Bill of Rights to ensure their sovereignty by the central government and to provide a safety net against abuses by the new federal government against the states. Therefore, all of the amendments of the Bill of Rights are automatically “incorporated” to the states.

The form of the Second Amendment sent to the states for ratification is as follows: “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 clause, is prefatory, explaining the reason for the amendment. A militia was necessary to ensure that each state was to retain their rights to be able to defend itself from federal abuses, or from other states. The second clause explains who were to make up the militia and that possessing arms by the people should not be infringed. This would indicate the people keeping their own arms, not government issue, members or non-members of the state’s militia.

We need to look at the statements of the founders to know the intent of the Second Amendment. Quote from Tench Coxe, a delegate for Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress: “The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American ... the unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”

Statements of Thomas Jefferson: “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms..disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed one." - Thomas Jefferson quoting Cesare Beccaria, Criminologist in 1764. Source.

"No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms (within his own lands or tenements)." --Thomas Jefferson: Draft Virginia Constitution (with his note added), 1776. Papers 1:353 Source.

Does any doubt remain that the Second Amendment was to guarantee states rights, and their right to their own militias and the right of their citizens to own and bear personal weapons? We don’t need to ‘incorporate the Second Amendment into the ‘Fourteenth, it is there.’ It is already a right for every American Citizen, regardless of which state he resides.