Monday, January 10, 2011

What the Founders Intended in the Second Amendment

In the coming weeks, I hope to put serially, chapters in a book I am working on about the reasons the founders had for developing the Second Amendment. A lot of arguments have been put forth about the wording and what it means. The founders used exactly the words they used to convey what they desired for our republic in the amendment.
“These words have generated considerable controversy as part of the broader debate over gun control. Proponents of stricter controls generally contend that the amendment was meant to protect the collective right of states to maintain militia units. Their opponents respond that the amendment was intended to protect an individual right, noting that in the eighteenth century the militia was composed of the entire free white male population, who were expected to muster bearing their own arms.”
Not only is the Second Amendment misunderstood and misinterpreted, the true definition of what a militia really consists of is not fully understood. It is appropriate that the Wikipedia article (Militia, United States) reads:
“The role of militia, also known as military service and duty, in the United States is complex and has transformed over time. The term militia can be used to describe any number of groups within the United States.” Then Wikipedia presents the definition according to current U.S. law.

TITLE 10 > Subtitle A > PART I > CHAPTER 13 > § 311 § 311. Militia: composition and classes

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The official classes of the militia are—

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

* The organized militia created by the Militia Act of 1903, which split from the 1792 Uniform Militia forces, and consist of State militia forces, notably the National Guard and the Naval Militia.[2–Consult article for footnotes] The National Guard however, is not to be confused with the National Guard of the United States, which is a federally recognized reserve military force, although the two are linked.
* The reserve militia[3] or unorganized militia, also created by the Militia Act of 1903 which presently consist of every able-bodied man of at least 17 and under 45 years of age who are not members of the National Guard or Naval Militia. (that is, anyone who would be eligible for a draft)[2]
* A select militia is composed of a small, non-representative portion of the population, often politicized.[4]
* A private militia, which are made up of non-officially organized individuals who have formed paramilitary organizations based on their own interpretation of the concept of the militia. Wikipedia

The constitution, and the amendments, are written exactly as the founders intended. They used clear language. Every word and phrase was carefully chosen to impart the meaning they intended for then and for now. Any changes made were to be made in one of two means.
The first method is for a bill to pass both houses of the legislature, by a two-thirds majority in each. Once the bill has passed both houses, it goes on to the states. This is the route taken by all current amendments. Because of some long outstanding amendments, such as the 27th, Congress will normally put a time limit (typically seven years) for the bill to be approved as an amendment (for example, see the 21st and 22nd).
The second method prescribed is for a Constitutional Convention to be called by two-thirds of the legislatures of the States, and for that Convention to propose one or more amendments. These amendments are then sent to the states to be approved by three-fourths of the legislatures or conventions. This route has never been taken, and there is discussion in political science circles about just how such a convention would be convened, and what kind of changes it would bring about.
Regardless of which of the two proposal routes is taken, the amendment must be ratified, or approved, by three-fourths of states. There are two ways to do this, too. The text of the amendment may specify whether the bill must be passed by the state legislatures or by a state convention. See the Ratification Convention Page for a discussion of the make up of a convention. Amendments are sent to the legislatures of the states by default. Only one amendment, the 21st, specified a convention. In any case, passage by the legislature or convention is by simple majority. US Constitution Online

The courts have shown interest in any clues they can find in the Preamble regarding the Constitution's meaning.[4] Courts have developed several techniques for interpreting the meaning of statutes and these are also used to interpret the Constitution.[5] As a result, the courts have said that interpretive techniques that focus on the exact text of a document[6] should be used in interpreting the meaning of the Constitution, so the Preamble provides additional language against which to compare other parts of the Constitution. Balanced against these techniques are those that focus more attention on broader efforts to discern the meaning of the document from more than just the wording;[7] the Preamble is also useful for these efforts to identify the "spirit" of the Constitution.
Additionally, when interpreting a legal document, courts are usually interested in understanding the document as its authors did and their motivations for creating it; as a result, the courts have cited the Preamble for evidence of the history, intent and meaning of the Constitution as it was understood by the Founders. Wikipedia

History of militia movements in Europe and in the original U.S. Colonies tell us explicitly what a militia is and what it is not. Historical statements of many countries over the centuries clearly tell us of what made up militias. And statements of our founding fathers nail down for us exactly what they had in mind when they formed the Second Amendment. I found in my research that no mystery exists in what a militia is and the intended purpose of it in our society today.

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