The Second Amendment Deals With An Individual Right

A piece is posted at Bill by a writer named Dorothy Samuels (the site indicates it was originally posted at The Nation) gives us this writer’s opinion that the Second Amendment was never meant to protect an INDIVIDUAL right to a firearm. She indicates that the Conservatives on the Robert’s Court twisted the words and meaning of the Second Amendment and ignored the prefatory phrase; a well-regulated militia, in order to invent a right out of thin air. Her assertion is that it was well established that the Second Amendment did not protect an individual right.

I do not agree with her but as an aside, where was her outrage when the Robert’s court, led by John Roberts, codified Obamacare by changing a penalty to a tax?

Ms. Samuels could not be more wrong. It is important when looking at the Constitution to look at the words the people who wrote it used. It is important to read what they discussed about the document.

With regard to the Second Amendment the Founders were clear that it protected the rights of individuals to keep and bear arms. There is no doubt the militia is mentioned and it is important to note that each citizen can be called into service for the militia (at that time men of a certain age). There is no guarantee they ever will but their right to keep and bear arms still exists. If they are ever called they will be properly trained (which is what well-regulated means) to defend the state.

“[The Constitution preserves] the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation…(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”
James Madison, The Federalist Papers, No. 46

The second phrase reads; “the right of THE PEOPLE to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The phrase The People means the body citizen. It does not mean the militia, it means the citizens or the people. The preamble to the Constitution starts out We The People and no one is foolish enough to suggest that this means only those called into the militia.

If Ms. Samuels and those who think like her believe that only the militia should be armed then we need a lot more people carrying firearms. Title 10 US Code Subsection 311 defines the militia as;

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. Cornell Law

Many quotes of the Founders can be found here. It is worthwhile to look at them and see what they had to say about individual liberty and freedom and how firearms kept and borne by citizens was important. Note that the quotes discuss the people and their right to bear their PRIVATE arms.

“The great object is, that every man be armed … Every one [sic] who is able may have a gun.”
Patrick Henry, Elliot, p.3:386

I would also point out that the first ten amendments are called the Bill of Rights. Some extend to industry like the media, institutions like religion and to the states and the people of those states. When it all boils down these are individual rights that are protected for the people from their government. The body of the Constitution already addresses standing armies, the Navy and the militia. If Congress intended for arms to only apply to the militia then it would have addressed it in the body and not in the portion that was designed to protect individual rights.

Ms. Samuels claims her position is well established. I say that the opposite was well understood a long time ago so much so that it needed not to be addressed. However, the common thought was displayed in the Dred Scott decision which reads, in part:

It would give to persons of the negro race, …the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, …to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased …the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went [emphasis mine]. Wikipedia

Now the Scott decision was a horrible one and dealt with slavery. The issue about firearms was only presented as a parade of horribles the court said would happen if Negroes (the court’s words, not mine) were allowed to be free (to be entitled to the privileges and immunities of citizens). However, it clearly shows that the court was concerned that a ruling freeing Scott would give him the same rights as citizens and among those was the right to keep and carry firearms wherever he went.

There is no doubt that it was well established, contrary to Ms. Samuels claims, that the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right so much so it was stated as an afterthought in the Scott decision. It was well known that the right to keep and bear arms was an individual one, that was never in doubt. It concerned the court that Scott would be allowed to do that which free men were already allowed to do.

So it is clear that Ms. Samuels is incorrect. She and those who dissented in Heller are the ones on the wrong side of history. Firearms are not responsible for the problems of society.

People are and the response, all too often, from people like Ms. Samuels is to punish those who had nothing to do with the problem.

It is un-American and it is unconstitutional.

All you have to do is read what the Founders wrote and look at the real history of the nation, not the common core crap they are teaching these days.

Cave canem!
Never surrender, never submit.
Big Dog


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