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Why the Second Amendment?

I was reading an article by Stephen Halbrook which says that the Second Amendment was a response to the British disarming people in Boston. It seems like all conjecture to me, saying that Bostonians were disarmed, and then the Second Amendment was created, but without any evidence that the States requested the Second Amendment because of what happened in Boston. Buy I can see how someone who relates to Massachusetts history might see it that way.

My view is based more upon Virginia history, about how we once had British Troops here, but we neither wanted nor needed them, and so it was declared that a standing army in times of peace is a danger to our political liberty, and that the proper defense of a free State is militia composed of the people of that State. Virginia then requested a USBOR with an amendment declaring this principle.

And of course there is the libertarian view, where the Second Amendment was needed to declare the inalienable God given individual RKBA.

But regardless, I tend to think there would have been a Second Amendment because of the idea that every government should be restrained by a BOR ... I think of it as "pinning the tail on the donkey" ... since the States generally had bills of rights with something like a Second Amendment, it seems to follow that the USBOR would also contain such a provision.

I was curious what other people thought about it ... why the Second Amendment?

Replies

  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    The founding fathers were so wise they predicted that Al Bore would invent the internet and :troll::troll::troll: 's would need a topic to :deadhorse::deadhorse::deadhorse: about!


    Jerry
  • Hugh DamrightHugh Damright Member Posts: 169 Member
    Yes, I am a troll who just stopped in to beat a dead horse. lol.

    Actually, I don't recall it coming up before. Of course people love to analyze the text of the Second Amendment, but I don't seem to recall discussion over what acts made the declaration necessary.
  • FiveSevenFiveSeven Member Posts: 289 Member
    Why does it have to be related to a specific event. Looking at history prior to the writing of the constitutio, only a fool would think it would be possible to have a governing body without a check to balance it. An armed society is the check to that governing body.
    Only the optimists suggest that the future is uncertain. The pessimists have done the math.
  • robert38-55robert38-55 Senior Member Posts: 3,621 Senior Member
    I have said, and will continue to maintain that the 2nd Amendment is there to protect all the other Amendments, past, present,and more importantly the future ones,yet to be passed.

    One thing that is important in examining the meaning of the Constitution and the
    2nd Amendment in particular is to consider the backgrounds of the men that wrote the Constitution and their ablility to express their thoughts and ideas in an accurate manner. These men are/were intelligent, educated and exacting in creating what they knew was the most important document of our government.


    The Constitution does not give or ordain rights, it is a guidebook and set of rules for establishing, operating and maintaining our form of government along with defining the limitations of government. The Bill of Rights is primarily a reinforcement of the limitations of government and an emphasis of our already existing rights.

    As a final thought on the interpretation of the Constitution, it is wise to reflect on the words of Thomas Jefferson to Supreme Court Justice William Johnson, June 12, 1823:

    "On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed."

    Here are some quotes, the first from Hubert H. Humphrey 1960:
    And from a more recent and somewhat surprising source; "Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms.. The right of Citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proven to be always possible." - Hubert H. Humphrey, 1960


    To assist in determining the intent of the Founding Fathers in their writing of the Second Amendment, the following quotes are provided.

    "The said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms." - Sam Adams, as reported in the Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer, August 20, 1879.

    "The great object is that every man be armed. Everybody who is able may have a gun." - Patrick Henry

    "Americans need never fear their government because of the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation." - James Madison

    "When firearms go, all goes....we need them every hour." - George Washington

    "I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials." - George Mason

    "Laws that forbid the carrying of guns...disarm only those who are neither inclined not determined to commit crimes....Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailant; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." - Thomas Jefferson

    "Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence...From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to ensure peace, security, and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference, they deserve a place of honor with all that's good." - George Washington

    "Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual discretion...in private defense." - James Madison

    "As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms." - Tench Coxe, June 18,1789

    "The true importance of the Second Amendment will not be fully understood, until they begin to usurp its power." - Thomas Jefferson

    "Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America can not enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops." - Noah Webster, 1787

    "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain their right to keep and bear arms is as a last resort to protect themselves against tyranny in government." - Thomas Jefferson

    "But there are some persons who would...persuade the people never to make use of their constitutional rights." - Samuel Adams

    From an earlier historic perspective we find; "Both Oligarch and Tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of arms." - Aristotle

    And although I didn't write a lot of this nor can I claim credit for it, never the less I do agree with what is posted here 100%

    http://2ampd.net/Articles/Riley/interpreting_the_constitution.htm
    "It is what it is":usa:
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    The NRA published an excellent book a few years ago that detailed the 2ndA and its backgrounds in English Common Law. There are many threads that lead to this Amendment and no single event was principal.

    I'm sure you can find the book in the NRA book offerings at their webstore. I can't find my copy right now.
  • Hugh DamrightHugh Damright Member Posts: 169 Member
    Why does it have to be related to a specific event.
    I agree ... but since I was reading in a book about the disarming of Bostonians and the resulting Second Amendment, it appears to me that some people relate it to specific events ... and it seems to be part of Virginia history that Virginia's request for the Second Amendment was very much like Virginia's existing amendment, and also like the declaration Virginia made in 1775, that a standing army is a danger to liberty, and that the proper defense of a free State is the people of that State organized into well regulated militia ... and it seems to me that this declaration in 1775 was related to the British Troops being here.
    The NRA published an excellent book a few years ago that detailed the 2ndA and its backgrounds in English Common Law.
    Even beyond that, I think Virginia might have determined that a standing army is a danger to liberty, that the proper defense of a free State is militia composed of the people, and requested an amendment declaring this principle.
    "On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed." -Thomas Jefferson
    Someone might read this and conclude that the Second Amendment was intended to bind the States, because that is what seems probable to them ... but if we put Jefferson's quote into context it seems to prevent such misconstructions:

    "It may be impracticable to lay down any general formula of words which shall decide at once, and with precision, in every case, this limit of [federal] jurisdiction. But there are two canons which will guide us safely in most of the cases. 1st. The capital and leading object of the constitution was to leave with the States all authorities which respected their own citizens only, and to transfer to the United States those which respected citizens of foreign or other States: to make us several as to ourselves, but one as to all others ... 2d. On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed."
  • robert38-55robert38-55 Senior Member Posts: 3,621 Senior Member
    Good thread Hugh, and BTW great to hear from ya again. I remember way back, on the first G & A board how you and gunnyragg used to discuss political issues like this.. Great Man.

    I have often wondered: Where would we and the USA be now if the Founding Fathers had not written a 2nd Amendment? I can't imagine what life in the USA would be now, without the 2nd Amendment,can you? can anyone? Although I hold our 2nd Amendment as the most powerful Amendment ever written, I do not think less of any of our other BOR.

    All one has to do is just look around and see what's happening to our USA in terms of political chaos, economic mess, run-away US Government spending, etc. Once this progressive-Liberal politician's like Pelosi, Clinton, Frankinstien, if they ever finish stripping away the 2nd Amendment or if the 2nd ever gets repealed( and God help us if it ever does) then we as free citizens are screwed big time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If that ever happens then we could just kiss the rest of our BOR good-bye!!!!!!!!!
    "It is what it is":usa:
  • robert38-55robert38-55 Senior Member Posts: 3,621 Senior Member
    Alexander Hamilton onced asked: "Why have a Bill of Rights?" He and many other thought having a Bill of Rights was dangerous. Hamilton couldn't be further from the truth.

    It's important to understand what the BOR say and know why they are written the way they are becausee the tie in with how the Founding Fathers viewed our rights and how they expected us to view them. They were put there to quell the fears of men like Hamilton who were afraid that any rights not mentioned in the Bill of Rights would be usurped by the government. For example and this may be a little off topic here, but it does get the point across:
    The 9th says:
    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    “This means that any rights not mentioned in the Bill of Rights are not to be denied to the people.

    The 10th says:
    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    This means:
    “So any powers not specifically given to the Federal government are not powers it can usurp

    So it is enough to show the Founding Fathers thought we had a right for it to fall under the protection of the 9th and 10th Amendment. The first rights in the first eight Amendments are what our Founding Fathers considered to be Natural Rights. Most of the founding fathers believed without a Bill of Rights one Government would eventually take all or our rights.

    Some will agree that even if by some unwanted hapstance chance that if ever the US Congress or Supreme Court of the USA decides the 2nd Amendment only refers to formal military organizations,(And God forbid if that ever happens) we still have the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, because the Founding Fathers considered it a natural right. And if ya don't belive that read what the Founding Fathers said in their papers, their letters, and their debates in both Congress and the state legislatures.

    Weaons and guns have always been important, and especially now a days. In ancient Greece, Rome, and even under Anglo-Saxon law, when slaves were freed, part of the cceremony included placing a weapon in the man's hand. I was symbolic of the man's new rank.

    Thomas Jefferson wrote/said:
    “And here’s one more. It’s Jefferson quoting Cesare Beccaria—a Milanese criminologist whom he admired who was also his contemporary—in On Crimes and Punishment:

    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 to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.

    “I think it’s pretty clear that Jefferson felt we had the right to keep and bear arms for both personal protection and as a safeguard against tyranny.”
    "It is what it is":usa:
  • tv_racin_fantv_racin_fan Senior Member Posts: 646 Senior Member
    The safe guard against tyranny is only as good as the people who are supposed to use it.

    I submit that the Civil War is evidence that the people of that time didn't have a clear understanding of the second amendment nor the tyranny that was befalling them and furthermore I submit that those people were far more in tune to both the second amendment and tyranny than the people of today taken as a whole. I also submit that the second amendent is still to this day being stripped from us at an alarming rate (tho I do also admit that there have been set backs in that stripping of late and I surely hope that those setbacks continue), even tho the supreme court recently ruled that the second amendment speaks to an individual right they did leave open the possibility of restrictions placed upon that right by the community or state or national govt.
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