The Second Amendment

Armed robbery, gun fights on the streets, murder of children, and a country living in fear. This is the end result of the beloved Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.For far too many citizens of this country the Second Amendment trumps all other rights listed in the Constitution and even trumps the rights of the individual as listed in the American Declaration of Independence of “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Most of the Constitutional amendments provide for the security of the individual. For example, the Fourth Amendment prevents improper searches of the individual by the state and seizure of property without due process. The Fifth Amendment states a person cannot be forced to incriminate him or herself. The Thirteenth Amendment ended slavery and the Fourteenth provides for the right to vote is sacred.

Constitution of the United States of America

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides for “A well-regulated militia.”

What does it take to understand what the Second Amendment is about? First, it does not take much analysis to understand that this amendment was added to provide for a militia—an armed force controlled by the government. In fact, the Second Amendment provides for “A well-regulated militia.” There does not seem to be a need for a lawless band of citizens to walk about using their firearms to shoot up the neighborhood—or, as in the days when this amendment was written, the settlement, the camp ground, and the forest or plain. The amendment was written to provide for a well-regulated military force of volunteers.

We have that force now. It is the Armed Forces of the United States. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guardsmen are not expected to bring their firearms with them when they volunteer for service at their enlistments. In the States of the United States, the governors have at their disposal the National Guard. Those volunteering for duty in the National Guard are not expected to bring their firearms with them on enlistment or call up for duty—or in the case of the Air National Guard, the members do not need to bring their airplanes with them on call up—the members of the Guard units are issued firearms by the government. Therefore, the well-regulated militia called for in the Second Amendment is intended to provide civil order and to defend the states and the nation from foreign aggression.

The gun—long rifles, muskets, and pistols—is a part of the frontier culture of the United States. Other countries have had frontiers. Canada’s population moved west and conquered a frontier just as the people of the United States did, however, they seem to have done quite well with a “right to bear arms” without a loss of personal freedom. Other civilized and industrialized nations have done the same. The frontier culture provides a wealth of stories of stalwart men and women who struck out to settle and civilize and untamed wilderness. In that environment, people needed guns for protection, for hunting game for food and clothing. In that environment of the frontier, territorial and early state governors needed men with weapons to answer a call to put down rebellion, to provide for civil order, and to protect the community. However, today, we have a different system of social order that is organized and well-regulated.

Hunting with guns, bows and arrows, and using knives to dress the kill remains necessary and is a useful sport in society today. Certain animal populations, if allowed to increase beyond the land’s ability to sustain them or if they become a danger to the social order, need to be culled by skillful hunters. Thus, there is a need for people to have the appropriate firearms to meet that need. There is no need for anyone, other than soldiers and marines, to have high-powered sniper rifles, machine guns, automatic weapons, and large quantity magazines or ammunition belts for these weapons. When I was in the Marine Corps, I carried a rifle that held a clip of eight rounds at a time. That seemed to be enough for a marine—why then is there a need for a civilian to have a weapon that takes fifteen or more rounds at a time?

A New Second Amendemnt

Considering the changes in our social structure since the late 1700s when the first ten amendments were adopted, it seems to me that the only amendment that has outlived its usefulness and purpose is the Second. Thinking about that amendment in light of the tragedy it has brought to this nation, Americans should consider amending the amendment to read, “The Second Amendment is to read, Congress shall maintain the right of the individual to possess firearms for reasonable sport and self-protection through appropriate legislation and shall not be abridge the individual right to own and use firearms other than those delineated by law.”

An amendment such as this makes sense of the right to bear arms, stressing it as a personal right. The well-regulated militia is a function of government. There is no right to have weapons for mass killings or for inflicting extensive damage on peaceful gathering of the civil population or of the population in their homes, or in pursuit of their livelihoods.

Knowing full well that the likelihood of change and overcoming the national idolatry of guns is wishful thinking, it still is worth thinking about and considering a change in our society so all of us can be safe in our individual pursuits of happiness—your right to bear arms does not alter my right to life and liberty.

2 Comments on “The Second Amendment”

  1. Will Bellais
    February 6, 2013 at 6:24 pm #



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