Meaning of the second amendment

This is a discussion on Meaning of the second amendment within the The Second Amendment & Gun Legislation Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Most people on this board know the words, but what do they really mean? I'm ashamed to admit that I never really looked into it...into ...

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    cj [OP]
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    Meaning of the second amendment

    Most people on this board know the words, but what do they really mean? I'm ashamed to admit that I never really looked into it...into the arguments about 'militia' and such. So I did a little research of my own, digging into historic meanings, and some interesting iterations which preceded the final version. I'm wondering about others' thoughts on my conclusions.

    "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."

    "security of a free State"
    At the time of writing, of course, the authors had the thought of stopping a tyrannical government foremost in their minds. As such, the ability to take up arms against such a government, even if it were to be against themselves, was seen as vital.

    "well regulated"
    Historically, this has meant: 'trained', 'educated', or 'in working order'

    "Militia"
    Here's the sticking point for so many...however the 'militia' at the time was every able-bodied person who could participate in a military action. We've heard about the minutemen and such...regular working men who made up many of the combatants...THESE were the militia. Early iterations of the text for the second amendment actually included exemptions for who would be the militia (for those whose religion prevented them from taking up arms). So basically, EVERY able-bodied male at the time was potentially part of the 'Militia'.

    As such, a "well regulated militia" consists of the people of the country who are trained and have a working knowledge of arms.

    So where does this lead in more modern text? My interpretation, with some modernization:

    "As the ability for all able-bodied people to have a working knowledge of arms and armament is necessary to prevent tyranny or loss of freedom by the government, the right of those same people to own and have the knowledge to use arms shall not be infringed by that government."

    Any insights, corrections, or additional research to toss in?
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    By any Government...

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    The militia as defined by the USC.

    (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.
    It says nothing about working knowledge of firearms or such.
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    As far as the "well regulated" I take it to mean modern weapons that would be useful in defense of the free state.

    A hoe and a shovel are not "well regulated" in todays times. Modern semi auto rifles and handguns or hunting type rifles capable of accurate long distance shots fit into that catagory.
    Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
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    Well, the meaning of an armed citizenry has been debated since at least the founding of the states (1787 and well before), heatedly in the courts and the offices of the hirelings (elected folk). And the debate is ongoing, with McDonald, Heller and other cases continuing to wrestle with the practical meaning of the 2A.

    From what I've read and understand, my view is that the People reserved the right to arm themselves, at least until such time as the 2A was repealed (which is entirely possible at some point in the future), and dictated that no infringement shall be tolerated.

    Of course, there's the sticky 18th century wording regarding "militias" and this is where all the stink seems to come from. To my way of thinking, the "Militia" was the acknowledged adult citizenry, those whom it made sense to ensure were trained, armed and capable of presenting effective defense against threats, and (if called upon to do so) fight for their fellows (states). And therein lies the "stickiness" of the word "well-regulated," too, which altogether too many (these days) claim means well-managed, well-controlled, well-legislated despite the meaning/intentions at the time.

    If that take on things is what you believe, SCOTUS and the legislatures (fed/state) has eviscerated much of it and allowed all manner of infringement to occur. Though, the trend toward carry (and even CHL-less carry) by citizens across all of the states is heartening.

    I suppose if I were to phrase it in plain language that couldn't be misconstrued, it would be something like this: To ensure each person has the effective means of defending his liberties and life against all predations from any quarter, the right to remain armed in any manner at all times is a right the People reserve unto themselves, one that shall not be restricted or infringed by anyone.

    Some books that might help frame your thinking:

    • The Founders' View of the Right to Bear Arms, by Young.
    • The Founders' Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms, by Halbrook
    • The Origin of the Second Amendment, by Young.
    • Supreme Court Gun Cases: Two Centuries of Gun Rights Revealed, by Kopel, Halbrook & Korwin.
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    While I could "pick and choose" all kinds of arguements from our American Founding Fathers, it seems the point of all that "2nd ammendment stuff" is to have an armed citizenry that is capable of withstanding a military takover by our "Standing Army", which most of them were against having. For good citizens to be capable of standing up to a modern army requires modern miltary weapons. It had nothing to do with weapons for hunting animals, or what is fun on the range. While I feel Switzerland's laws are too strict for us, I do admire their system of Citizen Soldiers, and think that an armed, trained populace reduces violent crime. The mere act of putting all citizens through boot camp at the dawn of adulthood would expose the mentally defective among us who should be denied the right to bear arms, and over time reduce the amount of nut-jobs who go postal.
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    To the OP: I think you are heading down the right road, but you left out the part about bearing the arms.

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    cj [OP]
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    Quote Originally Posted by phreddy View Post
    To the OP: I think you are heading down the right road, but you left out the part about bearing the arms.
    I felt that "own and have the knowledge to use arms" translated that portion.

    Largely, I was going for what the meaning of it was, as written, taking terminology from that time period and translating it to our time period. As the sticking points people contest tend to be "militia" and "regulated", I focused largely on those, as those terms have changed meaning over the course of time.

    Although apparently some people seem to feel that 'infringed' has changed meaning as well.

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    I do not over think it. The sentence is broken up by commas, and the last part in my mind is a phrase that stands alone. Substitute any phrasing at the beginning, and does its meaning change? Try this:

    "As aliens are pink and Unicorn rainbows are free, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". As we all know, aliens are green so our gun rights go away? To me "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" is not phrasing predicated on any other condition or statement IMHO.
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    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State - Since we have to have an armed government

    , the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. we can not be deprived the ability to defend ourselves
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    I also attribute to "a free State" to mean I can assure my own freedom from infringement on my own freedoms by either the government... or more likely, an individual...
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    Quote Originally Posted by cj View Post
    I felt that "own and have the knowledge to use arms" translated that portion.

    Largely, I was going for what the meaning of it was, as written, taking terminology from that time period and translating it to our time period. As the sticking points people contest tend to be "militia" and "regulated", I focused largely on those, as those terms have changed meaning over the course of time.

    Although apparently some people seem to feel that 'infringed' has changed meaning as well.
    According to your definition, the government could allow you to own it and use it in your home but not carry it outside.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oakchas View Post
    I also attribute to "a free State" to mean I can assure my own freedom from infringement on my own freedoms by either the government... or more likely, an individual...
    The original draft had the word "state" capitalized, it was ratified by the states with the capitalization removed. I agree that the term is broader than a political entity.
    I'd rather be lucky than good any day

    There's nothing that will change someone's moral outlook quicker than cash in large sums.

    Majority rule only works if you're also considering individual rights. Because you can't have five wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for supper.

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    The meaning may be soon meaning less, i hope to god im wrong. Another killing in oklahoma i believe it was mentioned just now on this website, there so much of this going on like pouring rain... Its out of hand, all this shooting didnt exist 20 years ago to my memory, its idiots like these that will strip us of our 2 amendment rights... Eddie

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    Quote Originally Posted by cj View Post
    "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."

    "Militia"
    Here's the sticking point for so many...however the 'militia' at the time was every able-bodied person who could participate in a military action. We've heard about the minutemen and such...regular working men who made up many of the combatants...THESE were the militia. Early iterations of the text for the second amendment actually included exemptions for who would be the militia (for those whose religion prevented them from taking up arms). So basically, EVERY able-bodied male at the time was potentially part of the 'Militia'.

    As such, a "well regulated militia" consists of the people of the country who are trained and have a working knowledge of arms.

    So where does this lead in more modern text? My interpretation, with some modernization:

    "As the ability for all able-bodied people to have a working knowledge of arms and armament is necessary to prevent tyranny or loss of freedom by the government, the right of those same people to own and have the knowledge to use arms shall not be infringed by that government."

    Any insights, corrections, or additional research to toss in?
    DC v Heller 554 US 7, held
    [T]he “militia” in colonial America consisted of a subset of “the people”—those who were male, able bodied, and within a certain age range. Reading the Second Amendment as protecting only the right to “keep and bear Arms” in an organized militia therefore fits poorly with the operative clause’s description of the holder of that right as “the people".
    It's not a sticking point because the militia had always been a subset of "the people", and the inclusion of the whole of "the people" in the amendment is purposeful to be all inclusive.

    The court also held
    The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved. Pp. 22–28.
    and
    (c) The Court’s interpretation is confirmed by analogous arms-bearing rights in state constitutions that preceded and immediately followed the Second Amendment. Pp. 28–30.
    And did a little rewrite of its own,
    The Amendment could be rephrased, “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.” P 6.
    Americans understood the right of self-preservation as permitting a citizen to repel force by force
    when the intervention of society... may be too late to prevent an injury.
    -Blackstone’s Commentaries 145–146, n. 42 (1803) in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008)

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