But, no, it isn’t. Militia, in the 18th-Century sense – a nonprofessional volunteer force, as distinct from a National Guard of part-time professional soldiers – has played no role in any American conflict since the Spanish-American War. And yet, we keep on winning our wars, and yet we remain free, without the militia.
Well they intended that document to be living document that changed with the times, but as we see it didn’t quite work out that way. It’s due for an overhaul since parties are using as a never changing rule book that they can manipulate. Exactly the opposite of what the founders intended.
It’s a weird amendment where it appears the founding fathers stated the reason for the right in the amendment itself. Perhaps they reasoning that as the US progresses and gets it act together the security would be up to the military instead of a militia if the country went towards more of a federalist system. That was the intent, but not the reality. We were coming from a confederation (Articles of confederation) and we knew what a organized military could do from the recent war.
As the federal system progressed, perhaps the statement was to revaluate and repeal the amendment when it no longer served us. However there are plenty of other theories of why and what it meant.
But it is a weird one in that respect.
At the time the constitution was written, it was common for countries to have standing armies that were used to, among other things, protect the national security. However the founding fathers didn’t like this because in their eyes a national army is used as a tool for enforcing power - and, notably, a national army could be used as a tool against the individual states, whereas militias formed from the locals never could.
So, my read of the preface of the amendment is that it was a statement of an unusual worldview - relying on militias for national defense was weird. Giving common people the right to own weapons was weird. But they needed to give people the guns in order for their militia-as-a-replacement-for-standing-army plan to work, so they did. In my opinion that is the only reason the universal right to bear arms was established. The preface exists so people reading the amendment wouldn’t think the founders had lost their minds.
This is a topic guaranteed to raise the heat in the USA, especially among gun nuts. My take on it: the whole Second amendment needs amending. The USA has its own military, nobody uses militias any more, and the police handle domestic security - essentially there were no real police back then, either in the UK or the USA. And for those that want to play with military hardware - simple, join the military.
As for gun control and gun ownership, other countries manage this issue just fine through legislation. AFAIK, no other country has put this into its constitution, nor state that its citizens have a right to own guns.
The Second was conceived as a individual right to keep and bear arms, for home defense, hunting etc, because the Brit came and confiscated all the guns they could.
However, at the Convention, there was a strong anti-standing army group, who wanted a clause that all states get and must have militia. Since many militias at the time were armed with the volunteers personal weapon, they just combined the two. Also note, that in general, all able-bodied white men were often in the militia anyway.
It was never meant to restrict guns to only those in the militia. SCOTUS dec have made this clear.
Exactly. “The people” mentioned in Amendments I, II, IV, IX, and X are the same people.
Nitpick: I don’t think “home defense” – except possibly against Indians or rebel slaves – was much of a consideration in 1789. Hunting, certainly.
Remember, also, that the Constitution provides the POTUS can command the militia – so it was never intended to be a countervailing force AGAINST government, but only an arm of it.
There were murders, rapes and most certainly bandits. but yes, indians were a major consideration.
Right. They werent scared of overreaching government so much as they didnt want a large standing army.
One thing that gets lost in the discussion is that, in context, in 1789, a gun was typically at least ten dollars, often twice that. You got one from a gunsmith and paid a year’s average wages. In light of modern mass production, where a year’s average wages would buy a dozen guns down at the five-and-dime, they might well have framed the language differently.
Since most workers were earning about a dollar a day, a gun would be a sennights salary, not a years.
However, a good musket would cost about $20, so nearly a months pay.
A nice weapon today, say a remington 700, runs about $1000. A AR17 runs about the same.
Right. The clauses about the militia in the main text of the constitution refer to it being used “to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions” and the 2nd amendment mentions the people’s militia is necessary “for the security of a free state”, not for the state’s overthrow. And even the main text states the Congress is empowered legislate to make sure all the militias have some base line of arming, organizing and disciplining (so they can coalesce into a proper army when called upon) so there was always an expectation that they will be subject to state and federal authorities.
Guatemala and Mexico do.
Czech Republic doesn’t have it in their constitution…yet. But it allows citizens to carry in public for self defense.
How do they phrase it?
Apart from the cost of guns, there was their quality. A single-shot muzzle-loading musket was cutting edge military-grade armament. Just try shooting up a schoolyard with that – take it from me, the results are disappointing.
Get one of them fancy-dan guns with seven barrels… Still not as deadly as a semi-auto with bump-stock, but impressive in its way.
(And “take it from me” is kinda the thing, innit?)
You mean that thing that someone made one of?
I remember reading about that gun in a Sharpe novel and looked it up – it was a real thing, a naval long gun that fired seven pistol balls, so in theory you could knock a few enemies off the rigging with one shot – but it didn’t catch on.