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Old June 17, 2009, 12:08 PM   #1
ronc0011
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2nd Amendment question

I am currently gathering material for a project and have run into a question that I’m having difficulty finding an answer to. I know the caliber of members on this board and figure this is the best place to find genuinely substantive answers. The question is this; I have always had just a passing familiarity with the 2nd Amendment and had always associated the 2nd Amendment with the right to self protection and the right to preserve home and country against enemies both foreign and domestic. Well now that I am actually trying to write something on this I went and looked up the 2nd Amendment which reads;

“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.”

No where in here does it reference anything about protecting home and country. In fact there is no language that that would imply anything like this.

I have read a number of editorials, opinions and other treatments on the 2nd Amendment and this association with the idea that one of its purposes is to defend against enemies foreign and domestic is pretty common. The problem is that I don’t see where this comes from or where this is established.


Can someone pleas enlighten me as to where this connection is made in our founding documents.
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Old June 17, 2009, 12:39 PM   #2
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Quote:
the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed
That pretty well says it all. No restrictions, no limitations, no reason needed, no infringement by ANY governmental entity within These United States.
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Old June 17, 2009, 01:09 PM   #3
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Well yes I’m getting that but I had always thought that there was something that listed the reasons. You know, officially, and that among those reasons was the defense of the country from enemies both foreign and domestic.

I find a lot of opinion from Jefferson and Adams and others but they are opinions and not part of any official document.

It’s just that I had always thought that there was some legally binding iteration of these ideas.

So it seems that brevity is the order of the day.
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Old June 17, 2009, 01:24 PM   #4
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THere are some quotes, excerpts from larger papers, that come from the founding fathers which support this view, but it is not written anywhere as a government document. I believe the closest you may get is the Federalist Papers, which, I believe, touch the subject on several occasions. I think the reality is the founding fathers, being surrounded by people who went through the Revolution, never foresaw a time where a significant amount of the population would think infringing on the right to bear arms would not limit general freedom. Even on these boards you will find people who do not believe in the second amendment as 'a bulwark against tyranny.' Quite a few actually. To many here it is all about CCW and HD.
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Old June 17, 2009, 01:26 PM   #5
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"Being necessary to the security of a free state"

I think it says it all right there. The framers of the constitution never intended for America to have a large armed force, but rather for citizens to be trained and equipped to join the state militia in times of need, or to defend their homes and farms (the police were a lot more than a few minutes away back then) against crime or tyranny. One must also consider that many of the drafters of the constitution believed that standing armies were as large a threat to liberty as an unarmed populace. In the following quote Thomas Jefferson writes about this (and other) principles considered when writing the Bill of Rights to his fellow statesman, James Madison:

Quote:
"The general voice from north to south... calls for a bill of rights. It seems pretty generally understood that this should go to juries, habeas corpus, standing armies, printing, religion and monopolies. I conceive there may be difficulty in finding general modifications of these suited to the habits of all the States. But if such cannot be found, then it is better to establish trials by jury, the right of habeas corpus, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion, in all cases, and to abolish standing armies in time of peace, and monopolies in all cases, than not to do it in any. The few cases wherein these things may do evil cannot be weighed against the multitude wherein the want of them will do evil." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1788. ME 7:96
It wasn't exactly the quote I was looking for, but Thomas Jefferson is about the second most misquoted American in history, after Benjamin Franklin.

There are many other great letters and speeches by Mr. Jefferson (my favorite American statesman/inventor) at this website, hope it helps your research!

http://etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/...s/jeff0950.htm
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Old June 17, 2009, 01:43 PM   #6
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You might read the recent Opinions in District of Columbia v. Heller. It is long; but they explore these issues in depth.

If you need even more detail, take a look at the amici briefs filed for the same case. After reading all of those, you will have more expertise on the subject than most law school professors.

If you need something a little easier to digest, reading-wise, www.guncite.com is an excellent resource on the Second Amendment.

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Old June 17, 2009, 02:03 PM   #7
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Your “District of Columbia v. Heller” link takes me to a Facebook signin page. This is the URL on that link…


http://apps.facebook.com/inthemafia/...user=551311228
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Old June 17, 2009, 02:12 PM   #8
maestro pistolero
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The horse's mouth:
http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/wp-cont.../06/07-290.pdf
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Old June 17, 2009, 02:38 PM   #9
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It still bothers me, when people discuss the 2nd Admendment, that although the admendment is only one line long, they only quote half the line, as if that were all that were there, the other half having no bearing whatsoever on the issue, being superfulous to the right. Likewise, quotations from the Federalist Papers, quotations from letters or other writings of Jefferson, Madison, Mason or Washington are irrelevant, as they were not the result of discussions in congress and written into law or the constitution, even though they will shed light on the thinking that went on at the time.

I wonder if the Confederate States had 2nd Admendment rights?
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Old June 17, 2009, 03:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueTrain
I wonder if the Confederate States had 2nd Admendment rights?
The CSA had no bill of rights as such, but they pretty much lifted it verbatim and stuck it in Article I, Section 9, starting with No. 12.

Thus:
Article I, Section 9(13) 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.

Sounds vaguely familiar... for all the good it did them.

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_csa.asp

Google is your friend.
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Old June 17, 2009, 03:28 PM   #11
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...even though they will shed light on the thinking that went on at the time.
That makes them extremely important as the amendments are all written much differently than they would be expressed today. The context is extremely important.
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Old June 17, 2009, 05:10 PM   #12
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So I guess the next question is; Are there any passages in our founding documents where the founders recognize the need to guard against the usurpation of power by our own government and plainly state this need?
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Old June 17, 2009, 05:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
So I guess the next question is; Are there any passages in our founding documents where the founders recognize the need to guard against the usurpation of power by our own government and plainly state this need?
being necessary to the security of a free State

Note: I think that the word "state" is likely being used as a transitive verb, rather than a noun in this statement.

Quote:
The context is extremely important
Bingo!
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Old June 17, 2009, 05:41 PM   #14
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Quote:
being necessary to the security of a free State
At last somebody said it! Thank you, outcast.
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Old June 17, 2009, 05:57 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OuTcAsT
Quote:
Originally Posted by ronc0011
So I guess the next question is; Are there any passages in our founding documents where the founders recognize the need to guard against the usurpation of power by our own government and plainly state this need?

being necessary to the security of a free State
Actually, that's less clearcut than some would wish, I think. One of the reasons for needing that "well-regulated militia" was in order to avoid having a large standing army -- the primary function of which, if it had existed, would have been to ensure the "security of a free State" by defending the nation against foreign enemies... absent a standing army, that defense would fall to the militia... hence its necessity to the "security of a free State."

But I'm sure Tennessee Gentleman will be along at any moment to chime in on this... he's far more knowledgeable than I in this area.
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Old June 17, 2009, 06:01 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OuTcAsT
Note: I think that the word "state" is likely being used as a transitive verb, rather than a noun in this statement.
I'm puzzled by this... transitive verbs don't typically take the indefinite article. If you mean "a state of freedom" rather than "a State" in the sense of "a Nation," it's a possible interpretation, I guess, but it's an abstract noun in that case, not a transitive verb. And I think that in 18c. usage, the capitalization of the word "State" suggests it wasn't meant as the former, but as the latter meaning of the word.
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Old June 17, 2009, 06:14 PM   #17
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Quote:
but it's an abstract noun in that case, not a transitive verb.
You may be correct, I was not an English Major

However, the "State of freedom" is precisely what I was referring to. If taken in that context, it makes perfect sense. And capitalization did not seem to be consistent in documents of the period, at least by my observation. ETA: I do not believe the word *is* capitalized on the original document.

If you use the word state in the context I suggested, the entire article is quite unambiguous.
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Old June 17, 2009, 06:29 PM   #18
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Take your pick, I'm putting my money on definition #6.

state
Main Entry:
1state Listen to the pronunciation of 1state
Pronunciation:
\ˈstāt\
Function:
noun
Usage:
often attributive
Etymology:
Middle English stat, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French estat, from Latin status, from stare to stand — more at stand
Date:
13th century

1 a: mode or condition of being <a state of readiness> b (1): condition of mind or temperament <in a highly nervous state> (2): a condition of abnormal tension or excitement2 a: a condition or stage in the physical being of something <insects in the larval state> <the gaseous state of water> b: any of various conditions characterized by definite quantities (as of energy, angular momentum, or magnetic moment) in which an atomic system may exist3 a: social position ; especially : high rank b (1): elaborate or luxurious style of living (2): formal dignity : pomp —usually used with in4 a: a body of persons constituting a special class in a society : estate 3 bplural : the members or representatives of the governing classes assembled in a legislative body cobsolete : a person of high rank (as a noble)5 a: a politically organized body of people usually occupying a definite territory ; especially : one that is sovereign b: the political organization of such a body of people c: a government or politically organized society having a particular character <a police state> <the welfare state>6: the operations or concerns of the government of a country7 a: one of the constituent units of a nation having a federal government <the fifty states> bplural capitalized : The United States of America8: the territory of a state
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Old June 17, 2009, 06:37 PM   #19
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I'll take #1 for $100.00 Alex.
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Old June 17, 2009, 07:04 PM   #20
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My money's on #5: "a: a politically organized body of people usually occupying a definite territory ; especially : one that is sovereign...", or possibly even #7.

The founders didn't always go in for the clearest, most concise English usage, but I think if they'd meant #1, the Second Amendment would read something like "...necessary to securing a state of freedom..." or just "...necessary to secure freedom..."

It requires too much of an effort of will for me to interpret the actual wording in that way -- although I get why it's appealing.
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Old June 17, 2009, 07:21 PM   #21
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After re-reading I have to agree with vanya, I'll go with #5 as well.
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Old June 17, 2009, 08:22 PM   #22
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Don't leave out the concept of natural rights

or "God given" rights. The individual right of self defense is one of these, a concept very important to the Founders.

If the 2nd Amendment isn't clear enough for you, concerning these concepts, refer to the 9th and 10th amendments. Just because something is not specifically listed in the Constitution (including the Bill of Rights) does not mean that it does not exist as a right of the people (the individual). The 9th & 10th amendments cover that.
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Old June 17, 2009, 09:15 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanya
But I'm sure Tennessee Gentleman will be along at any moment to chime in on this... he's far more knowledgeable than I in this area.
Thanks for the compliment but there are many knowledgable folks on here but this is a subject I like to discuss.

My readings tell me that the Second Amendment was created to preserve the right of the States to arm and train their miltias. The COTUS had given unprecedented power to the Federal Government to control the militia and the anti-federalists wanted the states to maintain their militias as a bulwark against tryanny that might occur by the new federal government through a large standing army which the Founding Fathers feared. However, implicit in the 2A was the God-given right of self-defense against criminals. Therefore IMO Heller correctly ruled that the 2A gave the individual citizen the RKBA unconnected with service in the militia (which is no longer in existence today) for self defense.

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnwilliamson062
Even on these boards you will find people who do not believe in the second amendment as 'a bulwark against tyranny.' Quite a few actually. To many here it is all about CCW and HD.
Actually, I believe the militia that existed in 1789 which the 2A speaks of WAS intended to be a bulwark against the tyranny of a large standing army, however, that miltia is today the National Guard since it soon became clear that the exigencies of war required such a standing professional army. Today, the idea of a 1789 type citizen militia being our main defense against foreign enemies would seem to most to be rather silly.

Where I part company is with those who claim that an armed citizenry, namely just people who own guns with no other organization is today a bulwark against tryanny. In fact IMO I believe that bulwark to be our democratic institutions such as the courts, legislatures and elected officials.

Today with the militia now the National Guard, the real applicability of the 2A to most of us is self-defense against violent criminals of the domestic type.
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Old June 17, 2009, 10:12 PM   #24
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I have to go with 44 AMP. I think the key thought in the Founder's deliberations was the human right of freedom...or stated another way, the right of self-defense appropriate to the threat to individual freedom, at whatever scale that threat appears. Big threats bring individuals into a militia, but the starting point is the individual. You don't have a militia if you lack individuals. Little threats, a mugger, that is something you should be enabled to deal with AS YOU CHOOSE.

If you want to bunker in your home with bars on the windows and watch the sunset through them, that is up to you. I cannot deride that decision. I dislike it, thinking you should be free to sit on the front porch, whatever. But you have to choose what you want to do, follow that choice to its conclusion.

Armies are nothing but individuals aligned to a single goal. Absent any individual skill to achieve that goal, the army fails. Absent proper leadership, a fish rots from the head down and the goal is lost. Great leaders, incompetent troops, you lose. It's like gravity... you can talk all you want about whatever you think is going to delay the outcome, razzle, dazzle and "empathy", but gravity always wins.

And "well regulated" does not mean "well legislated"...it means, in the language of the day, well trained in the use of weapons at an individual level and in coordination with others to produce an effective militia.

I have always taken "state" to imply a territory, but it makes perfect sense that it may refer to the state of a human being to be free in their pursuit of life, liberty and happiness (although these may elude us in our lives), which is by necessity only assured if one can defend oneself. The rule of law is one defense, but if that rule is bypassed, as by the local mugger, there is but one alternative solution...self-defense.

That may be tossing a fake wallet and running, or shooting somebody. 2A contemplates the universe (maybe) by using the word "arms". Not guns, but "arms". NRA has done a disservice in phrasing some parts of the debate as "gun rights". The question is much bigger, IMO, and "arms" might mean phasers, at some point. The sanctity of the individual is the issue, not the means of defense. Hence, the use of the term "arms".

The essay on why being armed is more civilized than not comes to mind, overlooking its contested origin. (With a nod to Arthur C. Clarke)

The thought is, if I am armed adequately, you have to persuade me in a civilised manner to go along with your plan. This is not jungle law, where main force decides what happens. We have to sit down like adults and work things out. Or somebody gets hurt, and rational, honorable people prefer to work things out. Life is tough enough without looking for a fight. Or so I think.

"Progressives", to the extent they support civilian disarmament, are regressive, as jungle law is what results, either from criminals who fail to disarm or the political class, which gathers all the guns they can.

Who you fear the most determines what you do. Not what you individually want, but what those forces will allow you to do, through their action or inattention. Maybe today you are fine. Tomorrow you are on a train for the camping trip of a lifetime. I don't see anything progressive about a system that produces that kind of outcome, no matter what oratory that is laid on.

I apologize for substituting my understanding for good cites. Heller is a good place to start. I would follow the cites of Heller to get to source documents in the Federalist Papers and other thoughts of Paine, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, so many others who understood that individual freedom comes from choice.

You decide what you want to do. Some choices are negative, and in taking them you need to accept what happens, just as the benefits of positive choices should accrue to you. This is not Darwin's idea, eat or be eaten, because life is too complex and what you sow, you do reap (gravity, again).

I will qualify this, in that I run a business in CA, we have never cut corners, and it is hard to keep going if you look at the numbers, which I do, as a CPA. But when a product goes out our door, it will do what we say it will or better. For that we have businesses who trust us and return. CA is trying to pay off their employee unions so the taxes are going up, regulations going up, business really not welcome here. Doing it right, if I can claim that we are, does not always lead to a happy outcome.

When you look in the mirror in the morning, though, at least you are not looking at a thief. You choose what you want to do.

Individual freedom, that is.

Cheers,
Harry
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Old June 18, 2009, 05:55 AM   #25
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Let us not speak of jungle law, unless you live in the jungle. That not withstanding, my opinion of this forum, or rather, the participants on this forum, is always raised mightily after reading threads like this and many others. Of course, that opinion is tempered after reading some of the others.

But returning to the founding fathers, if I may interject some trivia here about guns, I'd like to mention that Jefferson stated that he went armed. How often or where I don't recall. But his arms are on display at Monticello, not at the house but at the visitor's center, behind glass. It has been quite a few years since I saw them but they were (I think there was a pair) of small caliber pocket pistols, flintlock, of course. You usually don't think of Jefferson and guns but it shouldn't be surprising. Lee's revolver is likewise on display at Arlington House. It is a Colt sidehammer .31 caliber, probably. Apparently these people were happy with smaller caliber weapons.
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