modulate our understanding of the Second Amendment

modulate our understanding of the Second Amendment

This is a discussion on modulate our understanding of the Second Amendment within the The Second Amendment & Gun Legislation Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Op Ed Roanoke Times Roamoke Va "...modulate our understanding of the Second Amendment...." means a way to get more gun control. Gun rights should apply ...

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  1. #1
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    modulate our understanding of the Second Amendment

    Op Ed Roanoke Times

    Roamoke Va

    "...modulate our understanding of the Second Amendment...." means a way to get more gun control.

    Gun rights should apply to the general good - Roanoke.com

    Gun rights should apply to the general good

    Lawrence Reid Bechtel

    Bechtel is a sculptor and writer living in Blacksburg.


    The Second Amendment is the great bulwark for the defense and advocacy of present and expanded gun rights. Time and again, it is presented as iron-clad proof, overruling any objections, that American citizens have the right to purchase, own and carry weapons.

    Thus, Gov. Bob McDonnell in March announced his support of Senate Bill 334, citing the "Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens," even though the state association of police chiefs described the combination of guns in bars as a "recipe for disaster" ("Va. police chiefs: Don't allow guns in bars" March 17 news story). The governor has since signed this bill into law.

    However, the Second Amendment is not an unequivocal protection of personal gun rights. The amendment seeks rather to present these rights in the context of a larger, societal responsibility.

    The full text of the amendment 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." It is the last part of the amendment that is most familiar: "the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    Quoted alone, these words sound as if they were an independent sentence. They are almost invariably used that way, too. And that's the problem: They are not a sentence, but a phrase, or pair of phrases, meant to be understood in the context of the first part of the amendment. Because a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    This makes sense, at least historically. If our country were facing a general crisis or military emergency and a militia needed to be assembled in response, the citizens called upon to serve would of necessity have to supply their own weapons. Infringement of the citizens' right to keep and bear arms would, as a consequence, reduce a militia to fighting with pitchforks and shovels.

    Of course, the United States hasn't relied upon militias for a long time and probably never will again because we have a professional armed forces. However, I do think that there is at least an implied principle in the Second Amendment that is not out of date at all and very relevant to current gun debates.

    The principle is this: The right to keep and bear arms is meant for the general good. Armed citizens answering the call to serve in a well-regulated militia would do so for the purpose of acting together in defense of the political entity of which they were a part -- the free state -- from external or internal threat.

    Yet few -- if any -- of the many reasons I hear given for the defense or expansion of gun rights are related to the general good or the security of a free state. On the contrary, the reasons given are almost invariably personal ones.

    Most often, these reasons are based upon safety concerns. Individuals feel that the Second Amendment gives them the right to own a gun -- or guns -- to protect themselves, and/or their family at home. They feel that the amendment gives them the right to carry a concealed weapon to protect themselves and their families in public places, too: restaurants that serve alcohol, or bars, in the case of SB 334. In the most extreme cases, people feel that the amendment gives them the right to own guns to protect themselves against the government.

    Yet safety in the home and in public, and even issues of governmental overreach, are a concern for all citizens, not just gun owners. Society at large is not better protected when a few citizens are empowered to carry concealed weapons into public places, nor when certain individuals organize themselves into self-styled militias.

    Despite the Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, I do not think that the full text of the Second Amendment rigidly protects a personal right to purchase, own and carry guns, unconnected with service in a well-regulated militia. Such an interpretation makes civil discussion of the complex issues related to gun ownership and gun regulation, personal liberty and public safety difficult, if not impossible.

    If, however, we are able to modulate our understanding of the Second Amendment and see in it a concern for the general good, then perhaps there is a chance we can hear, and even incorporate, the legitimate concerns of law enforcement agencies and gun-wary citizens into our gun laws.
    Come on over to RoundTable: The Roanoke Times Editorial Board blogs on current events, issues - Roanoke.com Bechtel: The Second Amendment in context and join the comments,

    Here a GOOD one.

    Why do liberals fear law abiding citizens owning and carrying legal fire arms where currant laws permit?

    Self defense is a fundamental right recognized by the US constitution and the constitutions of 44 states. All states recognize the right to use arms in self defense. There are 40 "Right-to-Carry" states.

    Since 1991, when violent crime peaked in the U.S., 24 states have adopted "shall issue" laws, that is laws requiring that carry permits be issued to applicants who meet standards adopted by the state legislature and many other federal, state, and local gun control laws have been eliminated or made less restrictive.

    The number of privately owned guns has risen by about 90 million. The numbers of gun owners and firearms, RTC states, and people carrying firearms for protection, have risen to an time high.

    Through 2008, the nation's murder rate has decreased 46% to a 43 year low, and the total violent crime rate has decreased 41% to a 35 year low. Data reported by the FBI indicate that violent crime has decreased further in 2009.

    So what's the problem?

    For those lacking internet search skills:

    NRA-ILA :: Right-to-Carry 2010

    Comment by John R — May 15, 2010 @ 11:33 am
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    I'm just one root in a grassroots organization. No one should assume that I speak for the VCDL.

    I am neither an attorney-at-law nor I do play one on television or on the internet. No one should assumes my opinion is legal advice.

    Veni, Vidi, Velcro


  2. #2
    Senior Member Array RebelRabbi's Avatar
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    "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 Militia was comprised of all able bodied and willing free men of military age.
    States as originally meant sovereign independent political units forming a national compact i.e. NC SC VA VT NY etc.
    The People means all free citizens.
    Keep and bear means the right to retain on thier person or in thier residences.
    Arms means military grade weaponry.
    Infringed means to be encroached upon, inhibited by the Federal Govt.
    So the 2nd Ammend would read in common language:
    It is the duty and responsibility of all able bodied free men of military age to maintain and carry weapons to defend the order and security of their State of residence.

  3. #3
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    My comment

    Lawrence Reid Bechtel provides a great insight into his values and undercuts his entire argument with the statement:

    "Yet few -- if any -- of the many reasons I hear given for the defense or expansion of gun rights are related to the general good or the security of a free state. On the contrary, the reasons given are almost invariably personal ones."

    The Bill of Right (including the last statement if 10A) are a declaration of fundamental rights of "the people", the citizens, the individuals -- not rights created by that document or a list of privileges granted by the State to its subjects.

    "The language and history of the Ninth Amendment reveal that the Framers of the Constitution believed that there are additional fundamental rights, protected from governmental infringement, which exist alongside those fundamental rights specifically mentioned in the first eight constitutional amendments." -- U.S. Supreme Court
    RICHMOND NEWSPAPERS, INC. v. VIRGINIA, 448 U.S. 555 (1980)
    448 U.S. 555

    The Bill of Rights is NOT about the general good or the security of the state.

    The Bill of rights is about protecting individual citizens from governmental infringement.

    Bechtel's "general good or the security of the state" is the same catch phrase of tyrants through which fascist and communist dictators sell their "subject" a bill of goods.

    As for me, I take the Bill of Rights that confirms some of the fundamental Rights of citizens

    Comment by DaveH — May 15, 2010 @ 12:25 pm
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    I'm just one root in a grassroots organization. No one should assume that I speak for the VCDL.

    I am neither an attorney-at-law nor I do play one on television or on the internet. No one should assumes my opinion is legal advice.

    Veni, Vidi, Velcro

  4. #4
    VIP Member Array grady's Avatar
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    The Bill of Rights is NOT about the general good or the security of the state.

    The Bill of rights is about protecting individual citizens from governmental infringement.

    Bechtel's "general good or the security of the state" is the same catch phrase of tyrants through which fascist and communist dictators sell their "subject" a bill of goods.
    I agree. This is the crux of the matter.

    Once the gov't starts judging things on "the general good of the state", the next step is to begin infringing on individual rights.

    If there are no checks and balances, there may be no end to the infringment because those in power would be the ones deciding what is "good", with no input from us commoners.

  5. #5
    VIP Member Array zacii's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveH View Post
    Feel free to join in
    Lawrence Reid Bechtel provides a great insight into his values and undercuts his entire argument with the statement:

    "Yet few -- if any -- of the many reasons I hear given for the defense or expansion of gun rights are related to the general good or the security of a free state. On the contrary, the reasons given are almost invariably personal ones."

    The Bill of Right (including the last statement if 10A) are a declaration of fundamental rights of "the people", the citizens, the individuals -- not rights created by that document or a list of privileges granted by the State to its subjects.

    "The language and history of the Ninth Amendment reveal that the Framers of the Constitution believed that there are additional fundamental rights, protected from governmental infringement, which exist alongside those fundamental rights specifically mentioned in the first eight constitutional amendments." -- U.S. Supreme Court
    RICHMOND NEWSPAPERS, INC. v. VIRGINIA, 448 U.S. 555 (1980)
    448 U.S. 555

    The Bill of Rights is NOT about the general good or the security of the state.

    The Bill of rights is about protecting individual citizens from governmental infringement.

    Bechtel's "general good or the security of the state" is the same catch phrase of tyrants through which fascist and communist dictators sell their "subject" a bill of goods.

    As for me, I take the Bill of Rights that confirms some of the fundamental Rights of citizens

    Comment by DaveH — May 15, 2010 @ 12:25 pm
    Excellent reply. Well put.
    Trust in God and keep your powder dry

    "A heavily armed citizenry is not about overthrowing the government; it is about preventing the government from overthrowing liberty. A people stripped of their right of self defense is defenseless against their own government." -source

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    Bechtel seems to miss the point of the Bill of Rights - it does not "grant" rights, but rather it defines rights which are God-given and upon which the government may not interfere.

    He also seems to latch onto the popular but erroneous notion that "well-regulated" implies regulation by laws. In the language of the times, "well-regulated" meant well-disciplined, i.e., trained and practiced.

    And per DaveH's post, the Second Amendment, no more than the First or any of the others in the Bill of Rights - is all about recognizing individual rights. I don't see any language in there talking about "rights in the context of a larger, societal responsibility."

    Nearly every anti-RKBA argument seeks to portray the Second Amendment as if it was written in a vacuum as a stand-alone document. Rarely do you see the "antis" referring to the language of the First Amendment (e.g., "the people") when discussing the Second.
    Smitty
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Like so many anti-rights people, the writer misses the point, badly.

    Yet few -- if any -- of the many reasons I hear given for the defense or expansion of gun rights are related to the general good or the security of a free state.
    A free group of people cannot exist without free individuals, down to each and every individual. And a free individual who cannot defend his/her own freedom is not free. Thus, it is most definitely in the general interest, good and security of a free people to have each individual as well as the group able to defend themselves at a moment's notice from all threats. That is, after all, the point. It's irrelevant whether the threat comes from a lone criminal, a group of thugs, or a wayward, tyrannical elected force gone awry. And it's irrelevant whether the defense comes from an individual or a group, under any specified direction or otherwise. Freedom to defend oneself from threat is the point. Unless each and every individual is free enough to do that, freedom ceases to exist.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccw9mm View Post
    Like so many anti-rights people, the writer misses the point, badly.



    A free group of people cannot exist without free individuals, down to each and every individual. And a free individual who cannot defend his/her own freedom is not free. Thus, it is most definitely in the general interest, good and security of a free people to have each individual as well as the group able to defend themselves at a moment's notice from all threats. That is, after all, the point. It's irrelevant whether the threat comes from a lone criminal, a group of thugs, or a wayward, tyrannical elected force gone awry. And it's irrelevant whether the defense comes from an individual or a group, under any specified direction or otherwise. Freedom to defend oneself from threat is the point. Unless each and every individual is free enough to do that, freedom ceases to exist.
    I absolutely couldn't agree more!
    “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.”

    Patrick Henry
    Quote Originally Posted by UnklFungus
    If it is ok to disarm legal citizens to reduce crime, then doesn't it stand to disband the military to prevent war?

  10. #10
    Distinguished Member Array GunGeezer's Avatar
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    One point I don't think anyone can argue against is that the founding fathers stated their ideas plainly, in an easily understood manner, without hidden meanings or double entendre. Thus I seriously doubt they would advocate keeping and bearing arms for the purpose of protecting the government as in a well regulated militia and not for the purpose of protecting themselves and their families because that makes no sense. More so in colonial days when local police depts., telephones etc. did not exist. It seems to me the right to keep and bear arms would primarily exist for self protection and then the militia thing.

  11. #11
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    I've heard it said that back in the 1700s and 1800s "regulate" meant a different thing than it does today. It did not mean "oversight" or "controlled". It meant more along the lines of prepared. Militia didn't mean a formal military. It meant a free people of military age and able to do so, being prepared to be called to defense. It didn't mention a foreign invader or an invasion force on foreign land in any way.

    More to be found here Meaning of the words in the Second Amendment
    No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
    -Thomas Jefferson

    Laws are restrictive but sometimes necessary to maintain a civil society. Rights are nonrestrictive but are always necessary to maintain a free society.

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    Question for historians:

    Did the Colonial 'militia', officially or unofficially, serve other purposes than state protection? Anything like community protection, Sheriff's posse, etc.

    1. Bechtel should read the Virginia Constitution and try to argue that provision for militias.

    2. Maybe if VA didn't regulate it's official militia, the Virginia Defense Force (VDF), into an unarmed component, the militia clause would make more sense.

    3. Bechtel has a problem distinguishing between gun owners, and citizens who choose to own a gun. He attempts to set up a class separation based on choice of ownership. In actuality, while gun ownership and participation in a militia are options for all citizens, and should not be a point of contention to set citizens apart, we all should encourage our fellow non gun owning citizens to arm themselves and participate in arms events. An unarmed citizen should be a statistical oddity.
    "Each worker carried his sword strapped to his side." Nehemiah 4:18

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    Paramedics With Guns Scare People!

  13. #13
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    Who is the militia? According to US code, we all are. But folks just don't get that.


    311. Militia: composition and classes
    How Current is This?
    (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
    (b) The classes of the militia are—
    (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
    (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.


    United States Code: Title 10,311. Militia: composition and classes | LII / Legal Information Institute


    And, to paraphrase Penn and Teller, "Show me somewhere else where those hack framers screwed up the Constitution?"

    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? - Patrick Henry


    "The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that... it is their right and duty to be at all times armed." --Thomas Jefferson

    We should not forget that the spark which ignited the American Revolution was caused by the British attempt to confiscate the firearms of the colonists. - Patrick Henry
    I prefer to live dangerously free than safely caged!

    "Our houses are protected by the good Lord and a gun. And you might meet 'em both if you show up here not welcome son." Josh Thompson "Way Out Here"

  14. #14
    Distinguished Member Array jumpwing's Avatar
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    In the most extreme cases, people feel that the amendment gives them the right to own guns to protect themselves against the government.
    Those who believe the 2A is designed for their protection against the government are an "extreme" case; and they apparently believe the Amendments grants rights rather than establish restrictions.
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    It's funny how the founding fathers were plain in their language....yet the author of the letter wants to "modulate" the understanding of the 2A. Why doesn't he just come out and say he wants to ban all guns? Because they know the words "gun ban" are direct and unequivacal--and that's how the fight started...
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