It’s no secret that there is an aggressive, never-ending effort in this country to destroy the Second Amendment.
Gun control activists know that they will never be able to reach their goals as long as the Second Amendment stands intact. But they also know that they don’t have a prayer of getting the level of support they need to repeal the Second Amendment.
Because of that, one of their favorite strategies for destroying your God-given right to self-defense is to convince the American people that the Second Amendment doesn’t mean what it very clearly says.
Instead, gun control activists will insist that the Founders never intended to protect the right for you or me to own a gun. Oh no! They will tell you that the Second Amendment only means that people who are in a militia are allowed to have guns.
Nico Rasinski, 9, Bronxville, holds a sign that reads "No Guns!" in Cadmen Park before the One Million Moms for Gun Control Rally march over the Brooklyn bridge, Jan. 21, 2012, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Demonstrators called for new gun control legislation, demanding a ban on assault weapons and stricter regulations on gun purchases. Credit: AP
You can find this argument all over the place now.
You’ll have no problem finding it in the Supreme Court. For example, in his dissent in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), Justice Breyer claimed that:
“[T]he Second Amendment protects militia-related, not self-defense-related, interests.”
You can even find it in the textbooks in our public schools. One popular textbook even teaches our children that:
“The Second and Third Amendments - grant citizens the right to bear arms as members of a militia of citizen-soldiers and prevent the government from housing troops in private homes in peacetime.”
Unfortunately, this strategy of destroying the Second Amendment by creatively reinterpreting it has been incredibly effective.
In the Heller case I just mentioned, the Supreme Court decided on a narrow 5-4 vote that Washington, D.C. doesn’t have the authority to ban handguns. In other words, we were one justice away from the Second Amendment being effectively destroyed.
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The best weapon we have to fight against this attack on our rights is knowledge. If the American people understood the Constitution, this type of deception could never be successful.
So let’s take a few moments to arm ourselves with some knowledge. We’ll start with what the Second Amendment actually means.
Here is the actual text of the amendment:
“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.”
This sentence is very simple. First it tells us why the amendment is necessary (having a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free State). Then it goes on to state exactly what the amendment does (the government can’t infringe the right of the people to keep and bear arms).
If you wanted to clarify it a little with some more modern language, it might read like this:
A well-disciplined militia is necessary to the security of a free society like ours. Because of that, the right of the people shall not be infringed.
It’s not any more complicated than that.
As I explained this weekend on TheBlaze Radio’s Chris Salcedo Show, the Second Amendment is very straightforward. It is written in plain English and it means exactly what it says:
The fact that the Second Amendment itself specifically states that it is protecting the “right of the people” to own a gun should be enough to prove to any reasonable person that this is an individual right. But it wasn’t enough to convince four Supreme Court justices or the writers of the textbook I referenced above.
So let’s dig a little deeper and look at some of the discussion that took place around the time that the Second Amendment was ratified.
When New Hampshire ratified the Constitution, it also suggested a list of possible amendments that it felt should be made. It’s suggestion for what would later become the Second Amendment read like this:
"Congress shall never disarm any Citizen unless such as are or have been in Actual Rebellion."
Notice that this says that Congress cannot disarm a “citizen.” There is nothing about being a member of the militia. There is nothing about using guns only to engage in militia-related activities. There can be no doubt that the people of New Hampshire expected the Second Amendment to protect the right of individual citizens to possess their own private firearms.
Arin Forrest of Portland, Ore. holds an AR-15 rifle at a pro-gun rally outside the state Capitol in Salem, Ore., on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013. Hundreds of armed protestors carried weapons to demonstrate their Second Amendment rights in response to calls for stiffer gun laws in the wake of recent mass shootings. Credit: AP
After the Bill of Rights was submitted to the House of Representatives, Tench Coxe published an article in the Pennsylvania Gazette on June 18, 1789 explaining the effect of each of the amendments. In that article, Coxe assured the people of Pennsylvania that:
“The people are confirmed by the next article [the future Second Amendment] in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”
It’s important to point out that he specifically refers to “private arms” and not arms somehow owned collectively or related to a militia. This particular article was very widely read at the time. One would assume that if Coxe was wrong and the Second Amendment did not protect the right of individual citizens to own private firearms that a lot of people would have published rebuttals to correct his mistake. And yet, if those rebuttals exist I’ve haven’t been able to find one.
It’s extremely hard to believe that if Coxe’s statement was wrong that nobody at the time would have corrected him. That’s simply outside the realm of possibility.
Now consider the fact that New Hampshire ratified the Second Amendment after making it crystal clear that it did not want Congress to have the power to disarm a citizen. When you put those two circumstances together with the plain English used in the amendment it’s easy to see that the Second Amendment was intended to protect the right of individual citizens to own private firearms.
Any other conclusion defies common sense.
But what about Justice Breyer’s claim that those private guns were only to be used for militia-related purposes and not for self-defense? I’ll tackle that argument in detail Wednesday in Part Two of this post. Don’t miss it!
Chad Kent is an author and speaker with a unique style that makes the Constitution simple and fun. Listen to Chad every Saturday during The Chris Salcedo Show on TheBlaze Radio and visit his web site at www.ChadKentSpeaks.com.
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