6. The Second Amendment


U.S. Constitution, Amendment II

(also known as the Second 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.”

The original Constitution, presented to the states for ratification, did not include a specific listing of protected rights. Many of the states added specific rights and freedoms they wanted to be included by amendment. Freedom of religion, speech, and the right to bear arms were just a few of the rights the states returned to Congress for inclusion in the ratified Constitution. James Madison was primarily in charge of crafting the original Bill of Rights. After much work, he submitted the recommended articles to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Ten amendments were approved and became known as the Bill of Rights. These amendments were designed to protect the people and states from government powers. The American people were very leery of allowing the Federal government to take away rights they had recently fought for.

“To preserve Liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.” (Richard Henry Lee, Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, and member of the first Continental Congress, which passed the Bill of Rights)

Common misconceptions abound regarding the terms “Militia” and “well-regulated” when addressing the 2nd Amendment. The Militia was provided for in Section 10 of United States Code. Section 10 USC 311 reads: “All able-bodied males at least 17 years of age…and under 45 years of age who are or have made a declaration to become a citizen of the United States.” Another provision allows a “reserve militia” that includes women, children, and the elderly.  “Well-regulated” in the context of the amendment means simply “proficient or well-drilled”.

During the Constitutional Convention, language qualifying the right to keep and bear arms by inserting the phrase “for the common defense” next to the words “bear arms” was rejected. This underscores the drafter’s refusal to limit the right to military purposes. Dowlut, Federal And State Constitutional Guarantees To Arms, Vol. 15 U. DAYTON LAW REVIEW 59, 66 (1989)

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

No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms- Thomas Jefferson

Texas Constitution Article I, Section 23:   Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have the power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime.  

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