Shooters Committee on Political Education
Shooters Committee on Political Education
presents an essay on the Second Amendment by Chris Lane
The Right to Keep and Bear Arms in New York State
Essay 1 A Short Analysis of the Second Amendment
Essay 2 Apathy and Disunity have caused a Crisis of Liberty
Essay 3 The Firearm Privileges of New York State
Essay 4 You are SCOPE
In 1765, English Jurist, and Legal Historian, William Blackstone wrote that “The right of self defense is the first law of nature.” The right to self-defense is so fundamental to the human condition that it cannot be denied. This notion was best captured by Thomas Jefferson in the American Declaration of Independence “... all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The right to keep and bears arms, is a natural extension of the right to self-defense, and is embodied within the second amendment to the American constitution.
A Short Analysis of the Second Amendment
The fourth article of the Bill of Rights was adopted as the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and reads as follows:
“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.”
The founding fathers were highly educated intellectuals who chose each word in the American Constitution with deliberate intent. An examination of the wording used in the second amendment will help elucidate the original meaning of this important text:
During 18th century colonial America, the words ‘well regulated’ were used to describe something that functioned properly, and a well regulated militia implies a well trained or well disciplined militia. Members of a militia were responsible for ensuring that they, and their arms, meet a minimal standard. The use of the word ‘regulated’ in the bill of rights does not imply government regulation; indeed the inclusion of the term regulated is often erroroneously or maliciously cited as a mandate for government regulation where no such intention exists.
A militia is a military force composed of ordinary able-bodied citizens that provide defense in order to protect a community, its territory, property, and laws. Members of a militia are responsible for supplying their own arms. As defined in Section
311 of the United States Code, Title 10, Militia; Composition and Classes: The unorganized militia consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
“A militia, when properly formed, is in fact the people
themselves… and include all men capable of bearing arms.”
--Richard Henry Lee, Sixth President of the Continental
The inclusion of the words ‘free state’ warrants consideration. Since a state is a political organization of people, a free state implies a political organization of free people - whose liberties, by definition, are minimally constrained by government regulation.
In the American Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson explicitly cites the philosophical axiom of natural rights: “... all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Natural rights are the rights of the individual and are inherent in the human condition. They are not granted, and cannot be guaranteed, by any government. Recognizing, however, that it is also the nature of humankind to deny others their liberty, he adds: “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” And so it
was declared that the sovereign power of the United States is the People, and it is the will of the people that secure these rights.
We can remove any further ambiguity as to whose rights (the government or the individual) are protected by the second amendment by means of three logical arguments.
First: the primary text of the Constitution does not state that the ownership of arms is solely the purview of the government as written in article one, section eight, clauses fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen (the text of the constitution that denotes the federal government’s authority to provide, maintain, and regulate a military force); and neither does it explicitly restrict the rights of the people to keep and bear arms.
Second: the right to keep and bear arms is included in the Bill of Rights; a document devised to limit the powers of the federal government and to protect and enumerate the rights of citizens.
Third: the authors of the article explicitly state that the right to keep and bear arms is a right of the people.
The words to ‘keep and bear’ mean to “own and carry”. Unmistakably, the authors recognized that such arms were the private property of free individuals who may carry them upon their person to facilitate the right of self-defense.
Lastly, the word infringe originates from the Latin verb:
frangere, meaning to break or destroy. It was the intent of the authors that these rights be indestructible.
Conclusion: The original intent of the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States recognizes the innate and individual right of American citizens to keep and bear arms, and this right is inviolable.
And what county can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms...the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.. -
- Thomas Jefferson, 1787
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