Of the Second Amendment

Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer

Image via Wikipedia

Nothing is more debated than the interpretation of the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

If you follow my posts and/or activities, you may know that I am quite the fan of definitions.

So this can be fun.

To keep on point, here is the outline-

1. The Second Amendment‘s original meaning

2. The Constitution- Living or static?

Let’s dig in!

The Second Amendment’s Original Meaning

A Supreme Court Justice went on NPR and explained this subject in extreme detail about why the second amendment was there in the first place. It turns out, it was a state vs. federal argument with Jefferson and Hamilton. Jefferson, the Virginia representative, and Hamilton, the advocate for the federal government. Jefferson wanted the second amendment in there so the federal govt. could never seize the arms of state militias, and leaving them vulnerable for military takeover. Hamilton, who was gung-ho for a national army, thought that was absurd, since creating a union state militias, Hamilton believed, would go on the way side.

Jefferson won the argument, and the second amendment went in.

Is the Constitution a living document?

Now the next topic. In 2011, there are now active state militias. So based on the original interpretation of the second amendment, it is no longer relevant.

Unless…we make it relevant.

The Supreme Court is meant to interpret the law of the land as they see fit.

In that case, the answer is yes, the U.S. Constitution is a living document.

What’s Next?

With the recent tragedy of the Arizona Congresswoman, the gun control policy of the United States will come into the limelight, with emphasis on what the second amendment really means. The issue is not going to be resolved until the High Court rules on it. Until then, as it is happening now, I see no issue with state regulation. Can you create a parallel with individual protection and state militia? It’s a stretch, but I can see it. Can the Court make a case that gun control is regulated by the federal government because of the new federal mandate of protecting the free world includes domestic protection? I can see that as well.

I have no opinion on what’s right or wrong (if everybody had a gun, it would in essence be as if no one had a gun, theoretically speaking) but there obviously a need for society to be given an answer.

Or, a definition.

3 thoughts on “Of the Second Amendment

  1. The Second Amendment could be made relevant if we would only turn the clock back to 1789 when it was written. As then, each state might now pass its own version of what George Washington called a “well regulated Militia Law.” The law, like those of 1789, would require most militia-fit men to enroll for training and to be liable to bear arms. All who are handicapped mentally as or physically would be exempted from service, and the mentally unfit could be put on an arms-denial list.

    This Second Amendment remedy would then give us a ready-made force for rapid deployment when needed in support of regular forces.

    James Madison, who drafted the Second Amendment for Congress, surely had exactly that kind of arrangement in mind. At Virginia’s ratification convention, he explained his thinking to his fellow delegates in this way:

    “If insurrection should arise, or invasions should take place, the people ought unquestionably to be employed, to suppress and repel them, rather than a standing army.”
    And then he added that the best way to do this was “to put the militia on a good and sure footing, and enable the government to make use of their services when necessary.”

    Jefferson was much more worried about the use of a standing army. He thought it would be an instrument “that would be dangerous to the rights of the nation,” and after the Second Amendment was ratified by the states he called the amendment a provision for “the substitution of militia for a standing army.”

    • Thanks for your insight Leif! So from your perspective, do you think today’s gun controls are good, or that there needs to be some understanding whether its federal responsibility, state responsibility, or whatever?

  2. Whether it is state or federal officials, someone needs to make stricter gun control laws so dangerous people can’t easily purchase guns and/or special, 33-round magazines.

    I also have a problem with several federal officials calling for new laws to protect themselves, but not regular citizens. Peter King (R, NY) wants to pass a law that prohibits people from knowingly carrying a gun within 1,000 feet of a member of congress. Robert Brady (D, PA) wants a law forbidding people to use language or imagery that could be perceived to incite violence against a member of Congress or federal official.

    Those are nice ideas, but why not expand them to protect the rest of us? I get that public officials are more recognizable, but this reaction strikes me as them basically saying that their lives are more important than ours. A member of Congress was the target of the Arizona shooting, but it was civilians that were killed and injured as well.

    Didn’t really answer your question, but I was upset and needed to vent.

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