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Memories of the 28th Century

What's Wrong with Gun Control

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Sometimes I wonder whether people in the U.S.A. ever bother reading the documents that are the basis of the U.S. government. There have been other countries that declared independence from a mother country and produced a declaration of independence, but from what I know of those documents, they were in legalistic style, so they are not easy to read. The U.S. Declaration of Independence was well written by someone who knew what he was doing; although it was damaged somewhat by amendments on the floor of the Continental Congress. Even so it is easy to read, and it flows from one item to another.

I only wanted to call attention to this part of the declaration, more specifically to the clause that I put into bold.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ó That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, ó That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

I haven't read many other fundamental documents of countries, but I believe that it is rare that the founders grant themselves the right to overthrow the government, if that should prove to be necessary.

"When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." Thomas Jefferson.

It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. [Federalist 46]

Original Intent and Purpose of the Second Amendment
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 intent and purpose of the Second Amendment was to preserve and guarantee, not grant, the pre-existing right of individuals to keep and bear arms. Although the amendment emphasizes the need for a militia, membership in any militia, let alone a well-regulated one, was not intended to serve as a prerequisite for exercising the right to keep arms.

The Second Amendment preserves and guarantees an individual right for a collective purpose. That does not transform the right into a "collective right." The militia clause was a declaration of purpose, and preserving the people's right to keep and bear arms was the method the framers chose to, in-part, ensure the continuation of a well-regulated militia.

There is no contrary evidence from the writings of the Founding Fathers, early American legal commentators, or pre-twentieth century Supreme Court decisions, indicating that the Second Amendment was intended to apply solely to active militia members.

Evidence of an Individual Right

In his popular edition of Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England (1803), St. George Tucker (see also), a lawyer, Revolutionary War militia officer, legal scholar, and later a U.S. District Court judge (appointed by James Madison in 1813), wrote of the Second Amendment:

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and this without any qualification as to their condition or degree, as is the case in the British government.

There are a few words in the Second Amendment that confuse some people. Militia at that time in The U.S.A. referred to both the organized and unorganized militias. Most, or all, of the states had provisions for calling up all of the men as the militia, and that means every man from fourteen to whatever age. Those who had not met with an organized militia were the unorganized militia. Thus all of the men or perhaps all of the adults were part of the militia. "Well-regulated" quite simply means that the shooting hit where it was supposed to.
Regulate definitions
1. to control or direct by a rule, principle, method, etc.:
to regulate household expenses.
2. to adjust to some standard or requirement, as amount, degree, etc.:
to regulate the temperature.
3. to adjust so as to ensure accuracy of operation:
to regulate a watch.
4. to put in good order:
To put the shooting of the citizens in good order or to adjust it so to ensure accuracy is what the Second Amendment means, and that requires none of the twisting of meanings that the anti-gun people use.

When a country is afflicted by government that seems to be for the benefit of a few leaders and their relatives is not a time for throwing away the people's right to restore government to what it should have been all along. It is not good or desirable to overthrow government, as a general rule, but when government abuses the rights of the people and ceases to provide those things that are the reasons for government to exists, then the people should consider the right that they reserved for themselves.

It is unfortunate that anything is misused so as to kill or harm many people, as McVeigh did with fuel oil and fertilizer, or as Paddock did in Las Vegas, but misuse of things doesn't make those things evil, not should it require tighter regulations, unless the regulations were poorly drafted before.

For perspective, I don't not own any firearms, even though it is my responsibility as a U.S. citizen to have some weapon; let's call words my weapons. And I am not a member of any political party, group, or whatever, because I operate on the standard that Groucho Marx enunciated: "I donít want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members." (Groucho Marx)

It is unfortunate that some people abuse their rights, but humans can be like that, and the misbehavior of a few should not result in the restriction of the rights of the overwhelming majority.

And keep in mind that this Amendment provides us with means to defend our rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, and that is important.

Updated 10-11-2017 at 07:35 AM by PeterL