Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“There's no such thing as a free lunch.”     Milton Friedman

December 9, 2005

Why Does The Second Amendment Exist?

by Eric

I’ll give you your first hint. Or several even. The Second Amendment does not exist so that gun collectors can buy antique muskets. Nor so that Elmer Fudd can keep on trying to bag Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny. It was never contemplated so that survivalist types can stock their hideaways in the mountains of Idaho against the day that civilization breaks down and it’s kill or be killed. In fact, so long as they did not actually infringe on the right to own guns, Congress and/or state legislatures would not be doing anything unconstitutional if they were to regulate, or even prohibit, these activities.

The men who wrote the Constitution included the Second Amendment for one reason only. They even told us what that reason was when they wrote it.

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.

It is important, though, to understand just what James Madison, Patrick Henry, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and their fellow Revolutionaries considered to be a “militia”, in order to understand the importance of this Amendment. So, to do that, let’s review what some of them had to say.

Patrick Henry:

“O sir, we should have fine times, indeed, if, to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people! Your arms, wherewith you could defend yourselves, are gone …” Elliot p. 3:50-53, in Virginia Ratifying Convention demanding a guarantee of the right to bear arms

“Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?”

“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.”

Richard Henry Lee, 1788, Member of the First U.S. Senate.

“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms…”

George Mason

“…to disarm the people is the best and most effective way to enslave them…”

Thomas Jefferson

“The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed and that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.”

In fact, Patrick Henry, Richard Lee, and most other Revolutionary leaders knew full well that their revolution against British tyranny would have been impossible without the arms that nearly every colonist kept in their homes. The Second Amendment is our last, final defense against tyranny.

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8 Comments

  1. I’m going to have to get better organized; having written on this in the past and yet I cannot find the article. Those who are supposedly having difficulty in understanding the intent or wording as it is written need only read the extentions, those being the essays written by those who wrote the amendment. It is clear from those essays and letters to each other that weapons in the hands of the citizens were to protect them from their own government. I’ll have some fun one day and start a better file system.

    Comment by TF Stern — December 10, 2005 @ 7:11 am
  2. Found it, took a while.

    http://tfsternsrantings.blogspot.com/2005/03/little-wild-is-good.html

    Comment by TF Stern — December 10, 2005 @ 8:15 am
  3. Congress and/or state legislatures would not be doing anything unconstitutional if they were to regulate, or even prohibit, these activities.

    Have to disagree, Eric. Where, in the enumerated powers, does the U.S. Constitution give the Congress such authority? Only if you buy into the modern, expansive view of the commerce clause (maybe) or view the “necessary and proper” clause as a blank check, does Congress have the power to ban stockpiling goods, including firearms and ammunition, or hunting. Sure, I can imagine the tortured reasoning of Kelo or Wickard being used to argue that hunting decreases the market for purchased meat products, and the interstate purchase of ammunition, clothing, tents, etc. is involved too, and therefore is regulable under the Commerce Clause, but I don’t expect that you really believe that.

    So while it’s true that the 2nd Amendment doesn’t actually address hunting, one can’t conclude from that the Congress is not so restricted. As to your other case, well, if the times comes when we exercise our final defense against tyranny, those hidden caches, of the “Idaho” variety, will be invaluable. As Matthew Bracken’s character Phil Carson quoted in “Enemies Foreign and Domestic”, when it feels as if it’s time to start burying your firearms, that’s when it’s time to dig them up.

    Comment by jed — December 11, 2005 @ 11:30 am
  4. [...] Figured I’d just be lazy and link to my reply to Reply to Eric on the 2nd Amendment over at Liberty Papers. [...]

    Pingback by FreedomSight — December 11, 2005 @ 11:33 am
  5. Heh, I was trying to make a rhetorical flourish to prove a point and got called on it.

    Comment by Eric — December 11, 2005 @ 11:46 am
  6. That’s a hazard of rhetorical flourishes, Eric. ;]

    Howdy Jed – long time.

    Comment by Ironbear — December 11, 2005 @ 3:50 pm
  7. Well, fancy meeting you here, Ironbear. ;-)

    You’ve been mighty quiet lately.

    Comment by jed — December 12, 2005 @ 8:58 pm
  8. Some idiots cant read the constitution at all that that includes quite a few in our fderal goverment as well as the supreum court and quite a few politicians the 2nd amendment gives us the right to KEEP AND BARE ARMS AND TO DEFEND OURSELVES FROM ALL ENEMIES

    Comment by spurwing plover — December 13, 2005 @ 6:03 am

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