On December 15, 1971 the first ten amendments to our United States Constitution, otherwise known as the Bill of Rights, were ratified by the states. The second of these amendments states: “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 more commonly known as “the right to bear arms.” After reading this right, what does it mean to you? Some may think it is a right that is pretty straight forward and to the point; however, this amendment has been one of the most, if not the most, controversial amendments on the Bill of Rights. It has been debated since it was written, and it will continue to be. So, what is the right answer? By reading the amendment you can clearly see that it does not mention what is or is not allowed, but it does mention that this is our right, not our privilege. If we looked at the definition of unalienable we see that it is an adjective meaning: not to be transferred or taken away. This right was granted unto the people of the United States over two hundred years ago when it was put into writing, and it needs to be fought for. Many people misread and do not understand what this amendment is stating. The USA Today wrote, “There is no individual right to bear arms in the Bill of Rights.” The New York Post even said, “Law-abiding citizens have no unconditional right to firearms access.” Cleary, the issue is that people need to be educated. Listed below are six facts which prove that this is a right worth fighting for.
In this day of age, the people of our country had just got done fighting for their religious freedom. The men leading the country at the time were highly religious and believed in God. Because of their religious background, not only did they believe in self-defense, but also that self-defense is something that is fundamental and is a God-given right that has always been around. This belief is not just of one religion but of many. It is mentioned in the Christian Bible and also in the Torah. The Talmud even states, “If someone comes to kill you, arise quickly and kill him.” One of the Roman Catholic teachings even states, “Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow.” If you look at the Lex, Rex of 1644, we see that Protestant Theologian, Samuel Rutherford, said, “Because no king civil power can take away nature’s birthright of self-defense from any man or a community of men.” As you can see, this has always been an unalienable right that we, as Americans, have. They are to not be taken away, and it is our government’s duty to protect it. About fifteen years before the Bill of Rights was ratified, the Declaration of Independence was written. In the Declaration of Independence it reads, “All human beings are endowed with certain unalienable rights, and that governments are created to protect those rights.” All of these beliefs play a huge role in the foundation of the United States. Without them, many of the rights that we have been so blessed to have, might not have ever existed.
As we take a look at the amendment, we see that it says, “…shall not be infringed.” In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary it says that infringed means, “to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another.” Just that word alone shows that it is an amendment that is to be followed.
We currently have a man who hopes to become the president of our country. This man is Ron Paul. While he was congressman, he never voted for anything that would infringe on gun owner’s rights or that would weaken the second amendment. He also worked with much effort to restore the second amendment rights of all Americans. Whether he is one who wins or not, it is so reassuring to know that there are people who are helping serve and protect our country from having our rights taken from us. It is not only the people of our country fighting for this, but also the leaders.
The third fact to consider is the correct interpretation of the second amendment. It begins by saying, “A well regulated militia…” Some people may argue that this means that the right is only for those who are serving for our country. This is where they are wrong. If they continue reading carefully, it goes on to say, “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms…” It is the right of the people as well as military. The government cannot take away one of our rights without expecting retaliation in return. In the Federalists Papers No. 28, Alexander Hamilton wrote: “When a government betrays the people by amassing too much power and becoming tyrannical the people have no choice but to exercise their original right of self-defense—to fight the government.” Alexander Hamilton was not the only person who felt this way. In the Federalists Papers No. 46, the Father of the Bill of Rights, James Madison, wrote, “The ultimate authority resides in the people, and that if the federal government got too powerful and overstepped its authority, then the people would develop plans of resistance and resort to arms.” If members of the government and the community want to argue that the right of bearing arms is only entitled to military, they need to check again. The second amendment clearly states that it is the right of the people, and if that is taken from them, everyone needs to be prepared for some kind of retaliation.
The next piece of pertinent information is the part of the amendment that reads, “…the security of a free state…” The first question there is to ask is, “Why did these laws get written?” By looking at the preamble of our constitution written in the year 1787, it tells us why. It states, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, and ensure domestic tranquility…” That is exactly what this right is about. By promoting this amendment we form a more perfect union. In turn this establishes justices and ensures domestic tranquility. Many people in our country are given peace of mind knowing that they are able to protect themselves and their families in any given situation. It is often heard in the news headlines that dangerous situations can occur. There recently was a single mom home alone with her infant when two male intruders started to break into her home with guns. She was able to keep herself and her infant quiet while they broke in, and was able to shoot one intruder while the other ran away. Because of this amendment, this single mother was able to protect her small family from what could have potentially been a very dangerous situation. Another woman from Texas was not so lucky. Because of a law in the state, she was not allowed to carry a concealed weapon. At a large group gathering, a man came in with a gun and started shooting, killing her parents. If this was law was not put into place, this woman could have defended the people in that gathering and saved many lives that day. These stories are evident proof that there is a need for security and protection, and with this amendment, we are given that.
The fifth piece of education to be learned is our history. From the years 1861-1865, America went through a war between the states, also known as The Civil War. Before this war came about, some states had laws that made it illegal for not only slaves but free African-Americans to own any firearms whatsoever. Americans had the fear that the slaves and the African-Americans would retaliate and attack the Americans. It was because of these fears that these laws were put in place. After the Civil War took place, slavery was abolished as well as these laws, making it so all men of every color have the right to bear arms and to protect themselves and their families.
The final fact to know goes back to the “...well regulated militia…” being misinterpreted. This time it is not only by the people of the United States, but state officials and members of government. What they do not understand is the context surrounding the second amendment. Back then every man at the age of 18 and older were required by law to join the military and serve our country. They also were required to own their own gun and supplies. If they were not able to supply it, the government would supply it for them. For them it was not only their right to own their gun, but their duty as well. For Americans today, it is necessary to have this right for the security of state. It is the right of the people, not the right of the state. In the year 2008, the Supreme Court confirmed this view in the case of the District of Columbia versus Dick Anthony Heller. This case seems to be a bit contradictory at times. At one point in the case file it states, “Like most rights, the second amendment is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever, and for whatever purpose.” Although this statement was made, they did conclude with saying, “Americans have an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”
So, what would make it so people would want to be against this amendment? There are a few reasons. People may think it could save lives, and that we would be a lot safer if there were fewer guns; however, in the story early you can see that allowing concealed weapons could have saved many lives. Some think that there would be fewer crimes because their belief is that with more concealed weapons there is more crime, which is not the case. There have actually been studies that show that if we have more guns in the hands of good, law abiding citizens, it prevents crimes and lowers the rate of homicide. By looking at the statistics, you can see that the cities in our country that have more strict laws on gun control often have higher crime rates per capita.
To resolve this information, we can see that the facts are indeed facts. We, as Americans, as human beings, have the right to bear arms and protect ourselves and our loved ones. How do we keep this right so we and our future posterity can have the freedom and security they need? You can help by fighting for this right. People of our country need to be educated not only on the importance of the second amendment, but also on gun safety. It is so important that the American public to arm themselves with information about exactly what this right allows them. What could happen without it is frightening. Ask yourself, “If the law decides to take away our right to own guns, but criminals are able to get ahold of them, who does this law really protect?”
Barton, David. (2000). The Second amendment. United States of America: Second Printing.
Find Law (2008). Second Amendment – Bearing Arms. Find Law, For Legal Professional.