The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
George Mason’s original draft amendment reads:
“That the People have a Right to keep and to bear Arms; that a well regulated Militia, composed of the Body of the People, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe Defence of a free State; that Standing Armies in Time of Peace are dangerous to Liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided as far as the Circumstances and Protection of the Community will admit; and that in all Cases, the military should be under strict Subordination to, and governed by the Civil Power.”
Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights stated 12 years earlier:
“That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”
The Right-To-Bring-Assault-Weapons-to-School Second Amendment turns out to have its origins in an attempt to ensure the ability to quickly raise an armed force under a civilian government to defend the new nation in an age when maintaining standing armies was prohibitively expensive and logistically difficult.
The first half of the Second Amendment explains why people should have a right to bear arms:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State … “
Rather than standing armies, the states of the new United States created “well-regulated militias.” The current Supreme Court ignored this powerful qualification to gun ownership when it ruled erroneously against Washington D.C.’s gun ban.
Bearing arms in a well-regulated militia did not mean bearing guns that can reliably shoot well, since such didn’t exist. It certainly didn’t mean bearing guns that can kill entire crowds of people without reloading. It didn’t mean bearing arms outside of the well regulated militia. Much less did it mean bearing arms in school and church and Wal-Mart.
No instead, in an age absent of the assembly line, standardized manufacturing, big box stores, and gun shows… bearing arms in a well regulated militia meant a cash-strapped young nation had ready access to means to defend itself. Moreover, as we know, the Constitution was written within the restrictions of its colonial times and should not be understood as frozen in time.
By “free state” many supporters of this bill of rights meant, of course, slave state. By “people” they meant, of course, white male people — specifically people who would be taking part in well regulated militias. Things changed, didn’t they?
The militias of the Second Amendment were meant to protect against tyrannical and unconstitutional coercion, popular rebellions, slave revolts, and — no doubt — lunatics who seek to mass-murder children.
The descendants of those militias are what we now call the National Guard. To comply with the Second Amendment we must end current use of the National Guard in foreign wars, regulate such state militias and police forces well, regulate their weapons well, and deny such weapons to all others and for any other use.
The Second Amendment has been made to mean something very different from what was originally intended or what any sane person writing a Constitution would intend today. This means that we must either reinterpret it, re-write it, or both.
Adapted From An OpEd By David Swanson – The Wait-Just-a-Goddam-Second Amendment – Posted 19 December 2012 on War Is A Crime.org (http://warisacrime.org)