Gun Opponents Should Learn What The Founder's Meant When They Wrote The Second Amendment


Every individual with a sense of humanity detests seeing families destroyed, innocent children sacrificed, and promising lives snuffed out, as witnessed at Sandy Hook School. The argument that reducing the number of guns will produce a safer society beguiles the public, promotes politicians, and fails to hold the perpetrator accountable for their actions.

Disarming innocent people does not make innocent people safer. Yet, the mob is even willing to punishing innocent people for the acts of the wicked.

While gun rights supporters assert that the right of the people to keep and bear arms, as found in the Second Amendment of our Constitution, is an individual right like the freedom of speech or religion, and has been supported by the Supreme Court of our nation. Gun opponents assert that the right pertains only to collective bodies such as the militia, the military, police or National Guard.

The Washington Post asserts, as a gun opponent, that “[T]he sale, manufacture, and possession of handguns ought to be banned…[W]e do not believe the 2nd Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep them."1

Believing that our Constitution offers no protection for individual gun ownership, gun opponents therefore encourage efforts to restrict or ban citizens access to firearms, particularly handguns. Even United States Senator Diane Feinstein, (D-CA) in her forthcoming legislation is planning to outlaw 120 firearms.2

These opponents to our Second Amendment frequently utilize highly-publicized, tragic instances of violence (such as the Sandy Hook School shooting, the theater shooting in Colorado, etc.) to fortify their argument that guns should be left only in the hands of
"professionals." The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a supporter of Senator Feinstein, has stated “[T]he individual’s right to bear arms applies only to the preservation or efficiency of a ‘well-regulated militia.’” Except for lawful police and military purposes, the possession of weapons by individuals is not constitutionally protected.”3

Cabinet Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, prefers to abandon our Constitution, stating in a speech given at a Washington DC elementary school that “We have common values that go far beyond the Constitutional right to bear arms.”4

The Founding Fathers of this nation understood that there exists inalienable rights that individuals possess and that our American government was formed with the sole purpose of defending and protecting those individual inalienable rights. Among civil societies this concept of safeguarding individual inalienable rights as the purpose of government is solely unique to our nation.

The Second Amendment is one of those inalienable rights the Founding Fathers demanded of the government they created, embodied in our Constitution; and our office holders all take an oath to protect and defend.

Opponents will twist the Founders original intent to argue that they never intended to allow citizens to be armed with semi-automatic rifles. The fact is that a common error in constitutional interpretation is the failure to examine a document according to its original meaning.

James Wilson, one of only six founders who signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, was nominated by President George Washington as an original Justice on the Supreme Court, exhorted: “The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.”5

Justice Joseph Story (appointed to the Supreme Court by President James Madison) also emphasized this principle, declaring: “The first and fundamental rule in the interpretation of all [documents] is to construe them according to the sense of the terms and the intention of the parties.”6

At the time it was framed, the Second Amendment was a certification to protect what was frequently called “the first law of nature”—the right of self-protection—an inalienable right; a right guaranteed to every citizen individually.

To understanding the import of the Second Amendment’s intention to secure an individual’s inalienable right “to keep and bear arms”, it is important to establish the source of inalienable rights constitutionally. Constitution signer John Dickenson, like many of the others in his day, defined an inalienable right as a right “which God gave to you and which no inferior power has a right to take away.”7

Our Founders believed that it was the duty of government (an inferior power) to protect inalienable rights from encroachment or usurpation. This was made clear by Justice Wilson, while a serving Justice on the Supreme Court, to his law students that the specific protections found in our government documents did not create new rights but rather secured old rights – that our documents were merely “...to acquire a new security for the possession or the recovery of those rights... which we were previously entitled by the immediate gift or by the unerring law of our all-wise and all-beneficent Creator.”8

Justice Wilson asserted that “...every government which has not this in view as its principal object is not a government of the legitimate kind.”9

The Founders of this nation understood the source of inalienable rights is never from government. When Government grants rights, government can remove those rights. They understood that self-defense is an inalienable personal right, and the Second Amendment simply assures each citizen that they have the tools necessary to defend their life, family, or property from aggression, whether from an individual or a government.

References

1. “Legal Guns Kill Too,” The Washington Post, November 5, 1999)

2. http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/assault-weapons, accessed 27 December 2012

3. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), policy statement #47, 1996

4. http://townhall.com/video/arne-duncan-we-have-common-values-that-go-far-beyond-the-constitutional-right-to-bear-arms, accessed 27 December 2012.

5. James Wilson, The Works of the Honorable James Wilson, Bird Wilson, editor (Philadelphia: Bronson and Chauncey, 1804), Vol. I, p. 14, from “Lectures on Law Delivered in the College of Philadelphia; Introductory Lecture: Of the Study of the Law in the United States.”

6. Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (Boston: Hilliard, Gray, and Company, 1833), Vol. I, p. 383 § 400.

7. John Dickinson, Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, R. T. H. Halsey, editor (New York: The Outlook Company, 1903), p xlii, letter to the Society of Fort St. David’s, 1768; see also John Quincy Adams, An Oration Delivered Before the Cincinnati Astronomical Society on the Occasion of Laying the Cornerstone of an Astronomical Observatory on the 10th of November, 1843 (Cincinnati: Shepard & Co. 1843), pp. 13-14.

8. Wilson, Works, Vol. II, p. 454.

9. Wilson, Works, Vol. II, p. 466

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About Richard Skidmore
Richard Skidmore is a professor at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Ca. He may be contacted via [email protected]
  • pakeehn

    There are only 650,000 sworn law enforcement officers, city, county and state, in the whole country. During each tour of duty there are only 2 officers on patrol for our whole town of +65,000. What are the chances the police will get here in time to save my life if I call them?

  • sovereigntyofone

    What most fail to see is they won't be happy until ALL guns are banned and collected.
    Bottom line: They can't control people that have firearms to defend themselves, property, and families with. With all guns gone, they can walk right in and take and do as they wish. UN small arms treaty/Agenda 21. Anyone that thinks that this gun control garbage will stop with semi-auto AR-15's, rifles and handguns, is a fool. They want ALL GUNS.

  • ICorps

    Law schools, invariably leftist, indoctrinate law students with rejection of "original intent" because its acceptance would dramatically curtail the left's self-serving ability to ignore or twist the meaning of the Constitution.

    Consequently, new lawyers and future politicians enter the adult world primed to disregard or dismiss a strict reading, the authenticity, of the Constitution. Unfortunately, this damaging trend is almost impossible to counter because schools are self-replenishing, with current teachers indoctrinating future teachers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003457282985 Mike Slaney

    Let's be reasonable here, and think logically.
    It certainly credible to say there is no difference between " Airheads and
    Liberals," which coincidentally ride in the same leaky boat called
    "Zombie Paradise." However, when it comes to the more pertinent wisdom
    of life, all of a sudden become the enlighten ones far above knowledge and
    wisdom. Well lets just check it out. Guns are public enemy # 1, get rid of Guns
    and we have a social utopia, Right?
    Alcohol, kills how many people a year, through drunkenness, disease, and just plain stupidity?
    Cars, how many people are killed by cars and in cars and with cars?
    Abortion Doctors, how many innocent living Human BABIES and mothers through botched abortions?

    and the list can go on! NOW, I don't hear the Liberal bleeding
    hearts ranting and raving on how to out law or control the above, which
    brings me to the next point, the next time an airhead liberal wants you
    to swallow their hypocritical hogwash, put the above facts into their
    mouth, do the water-boarding CPR method, and then tell them go see a
    heart specialist.

  • AZWarrior

    Glad we drove the British pricks out of THIS country.

  • It's STILL Being Told Wrong

    This article references the Supreme Court several times as a means to show support for the right to bear arms. It stands to reason that the author feels that the Supreme Court is a valid and credible means to determine what is meant by "the right to bear arms." So, the article should also include Supreme Court decisions that place LIMITATIONS on "the right to bear arms" as well in the interest of following proper journalism standards--yet, it did not. Once again, someone on one side of the argument alleges that those on the other side of the argument simply doesn't "get it," while displaying his own biases on the subject that show that HE is the one that doesn't "get it."

    UNITED STATES vs. MILLER (1939) states:

    "In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a 'shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument."

    (And)

    "The significance attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. 'A body of citizens enrolled for military discipline.' And further, that ordinarily when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time."

    This decision placed a RESTRICTION on the type of guns that are protected by the 2nd Amendment, and when those guns could be used. The gun needs to be common for the times and used for lawful purposes, AND COULD ONLY BE USED WITHIN THE LIMITATIONS OF A MILITIA. (Note: US vs Miller is the fallout from the public outcry over the St. Valentine's Day Massacre).

    DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA vs. Heller (2008)--Note the reference to the Miller case:

    "The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted limited to the following question: Whether the following provisions, D.C. Code §§ 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22–4504(a), and 7-2507.02,
    violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?"

    (And)

    "(2) Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of
    dangerous and unusual weapons. Pp. 54–56."

    DC vs. Heller allows for guns to be used as protection in the home--but not just any type of gun. Anything deemed dangerous and unusual is NOT protected by the 2nd Amendment.

    It is our Supreme Court that has decided that the proper interpretation of the Constitution is actually supportive of the view that is described in this article as being held by "gun opponents." It is the Supreme Court that the author of this article has indicated that he feels is a credible source for determining 2nd Amendment protections. Yet, the author does not include key Supreme Court decisions that actually refute his argument, and support the argument of "gun opponents."

    McDONALD vs. CHICAGO (2010)

  • http://www.facebook.com/RobertAlexander.Salvage Robert Alexander

    Matthew 19.
    16 ¶And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
    17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
    18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
    19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    Exodus 20.13 Thou shalt not MURDER.

    We are required to PRESERVE life...

    Proverbs 8.
    35 For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD (Yahweah.)
    36 But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

  • Walt

    Because of their attitudes I no longer subscribe to or read the Washington Post. It used to be a good objective newspaper however, in recent years it has lost all its objectivity and has become self serving. I no longer care if it stays in business or not.
    As for the guns - I will not give up mine. Any of them they find, they can confiscate if they can; as for the others, I will only say that I no longer own them.

  • Dan

    The purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to provide mutual protection and insure Freedom in America. The 2nd Amendment was written in mandatory language using words that had already been litigated in British Courts and found to have only one possible meaning in law.
    The 2nd Amendment preempts the entire subject of weapons legislation and our Constitution is the supreme law of the land. A "Right" is something Government is forbidden to trespass upon. "The People" means everyone in America! "Keep" means to possess. "Bear" means to carry with you. "Arms" is all inclusive covering slingshots to ICBM.
    NO Legislative body has the authority to alter our Constitution! The Constitution can ONLY be altered by a Congressional Caucus after Ratification by the States!
    Each of the Legislators who author and vote for infringements upon the People's Rights has sworn an oath to protect our Constitution. Each of the 20,000+ anti-gun laws is a breach of the author's oath and a betrayal of the American People!
    These Rogue Legislators belong in Guantanamo!

    • Montana

      Dan - do you really think you should be able to own an ICBM because you somehow have the constitutional right? Do you think this was the intent of the writers of the 2nd Amendment (when flintlocks were the most advanced weapons available)? Seriously? I own guns, and will defend the right to own guns, but really?

    • Patriot chick

      I read what the chief justice of the us supreme court said it. I thought it was funny, but probably correct. He said that "keep and bear", meant just that. You had to be able to bear, (carry) it yourself. He then said that while you could "bear" a rocket launcher, you couldn't physically "bear" other things. I wonder where he thinks we could get one of those?