Is the Second Amendment really about personal gun ownership? To answer this question let’s start by getting a feel for the context in which these Rights were given by taking a look at the portions of The Constitution, The Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence that are relevant to the discussion.
The Past – The Foundation of the Debate
The United States Constitution Section 8
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;…
…To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
United States Bill of Rights, Amendment II
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.
Text is easy to read. Although any literate person can read the words typed above and understand the words written there. The challenge with any historical text, the debate comes in when decedents and future citizens attempt to interpret the meaning of the text to answer the question “Is the Second Amendment really about personal gun ownership?”
Finding the context
When answering the question “Is the Second Amendment really about personal gun ownership?” let’s travel back in time. When America was beginning it was a voluntary union of citizens, rural, local who were farmers and merchants for the most part looking for a better life. A life where they could work and live as they wished away from the authoritarian rule of England and what they felt to be an oppressive tax and social structure.
During that time there was no police force, no Army, no National Guard, and as such every citizen needed to be prepared to take arms should there be an attack. Taken in context of the time in history and the writings of the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights the allowing of arms was for a just defense.
In the Declaration of Independence it states “…That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security…”
Despotism is defined as absolute, autocratic authority – tyranny.
Many who believe the Second Amendment rights are specifically referring to their right to personally carry fire arms because should the government become an autocratic authority, they should in their mind have equivalent ammunition to go to war against a tyrannical government and restore it to the people. However this does not translate to carte blanche action of “packin’ heat” to go to common everyday public places. Nor does it give the Right to shoot a government official because the monetary system is not on gold standard nor an unhappiness with the healthcare system.
In the excerpt mentioned it says, “the Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes”. The Healthcare Bill I believe they would have deemed a ‘light and transient’ cause and not one worth throwing away a perfectly sound Government for. It is important that Americans define what Autocracy really is and really looks like especially lately as debate has become more heated. Let’s define what “Second Amendment Remedies” are for, what they look like and that they have nothing to do with the Second Amendment but the Declaration of Independence when you get right down to it.
Is the Second Amendment really about personal gun ownership?
The context as shown by the three documents answers the question “Is the Second Amendment really about personal gun ownership?” as Yes and No. Yes people should be able to know how to use a gun and have access to it for means of defense when their lives or the life of a member of their family is threatened by another armed person more specifically when that person is representing a Despot. To be prepared one must have access and be trained and familiar with a weapon in order to be able to use it in extreme cases. It is about being prepared to participate in the common defense of the Nation should it come to a dire pass.
It is made clear by the three documents that the reason for being able to keep and bear arms is primarily to participate in a militia. That means a structured, trained group, discipline and hopefully of sound mind group which is created for defense in the case of a direct threat to citizens of America.
The founders of the United States of America intended for citizen’s to have the right to keep and bear arms to be a line of Defense. Whether it is the first line or the last line is another discussion that the nation should have going forward. Yet the fact that the Second Amendment and Declaration of Independence intended Americans to be able to be armed to defend their family from threat from enemies foreign or in extreme cases, domestic given a strict definition that it must be from an Autocratic threat that could not be removed using tools afforded through the Democratic Republic. That should the circumstance arise that a regime legitimately take away the right to vote, the right to reasonably petition the Government for grievances or to have reasonable Freedom of Speech. If these Rights were legitimately taken away in a direct fashion, citizens have the Right of personal protection under the Declaration of Independence and Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.
The Answer – Is the Second Amendment talking about personal gun ownership?
Yes, most specifically when in support of a militia or to defend one’s home and the lives of self and family.