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Stevens writes: "Each year, more than 30,000 people die in the United States in firearm-related incidents. Many of those deaths involve handguns. The adoption of rules that will lessen the number of those incidents should be a matter of primary concern to both federal and state legislators."

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. (photo: The Progressive Forum)
Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. (photo: The Progressive Forum)


The Five Extra Words That Can Fix the Second Amendment

By Justice John Paul Stevens, The Washington Post

12 April 14

 

ohn Paul Stevens served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court from 1975 to 2010. This essay is excerpted from his new book, “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution.”

Following the massacre of grammar-school children in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012, high-powered weapons have been used to kill innocent victims in more senseless public incidents. Those killings, however, are only a fragment of the total harm caused by the misuse of firearms. Each year, more than 30,000 people die in the United States in firearm-related incidents. Many of those deaths involve handguns.

The adoption of rules that will lessen the number of those incidents should be a matter of primary concern to both federal and state legislators. Legislatures are in a far better position than judges to assess the wisdom of such rules and to evaluate the costs and benefits that rule changes can be expected to produce. It is those legislators, rather than federal judges, who should make the decisions that will determine what kinds of firearms should be available to private citizens, and when and how they may be used. Constitutional provisions that curtail the legislative power to govern in this area unquestionably do more harm than good.

The first 10 amendments to the Constitution placed limits on the powers of the new federal government. Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of the Second Amendment, which provides that “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.”

For more than 200 years following the adoption of that amendment, federal judges uniformly understood that the right protected by that text was limited in two ways: First, it applied only to keeping and bearing arms for military purposes, and second, while it limited the power of the federal government, it did not impose any limit whatsoever on the power of states or local governments to regulate the ownership or use of firearms. Thus, in United States v. Miller, decided in 1939, the court unanimously held that Congress could prohibit the possession of a sawed-off shotgun because that sort of weapon had no reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a “well regulated Militia.”

When I joined the court in 1975, that holding was generally understood as limiting the scope of the Second Amendment to uses of arms that were related to military activities. During the years when Warren Burger was chief justice, from 1969 to 1986, no judge or justice expressed any doubt about the limited coverage of the amendment, and I cannot recall any judge suggesting that the amendment might place any limit on state authority to do anything.

Organizations such as the National Rifle Association disagreed with that position and mounted a vigorous campaign claiming that federal regulation of the use of firearms severely curtailed Americans’ Second Amendment rights. Five years after his retirement, during a 1991 appearance on “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” Burger himself remarked that the Second Amendment “has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

In recent years two profoundly important changes in the law have occurred. In 2008, by a vote of 5 to 4, the Supreme Court decided in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects a civilian’s right to keep a handgun in his home for purposes of self-defense. And in 2010, by another vote of 5 to 4, the court decided in McDonald v. Chicago that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment limits the power of the city of Chicago to outlaw the possession of handguns by private citizens. I dissented in both of those cases and remain convinced that both decisions misinterpreted the law and were profoundly unwise. Public policies concerning gun control should be decided by the voters’ elected representatives, not by federal judges.

In my dissent in the McDonald case, I pointed out that the court’s decision was unique in the extent to which the court had exacted a heavy toll “in terms of state sovereignty. . . . Even apart from the States’ long history of firearms regulation and its location at the core of their police powers, this is a quintessential area in which federalism ought to be allowed to flourish without this Court’s meddling. Whether or not we can assert a plausible constitutional basis for intervening, there are powerful reasons why we should not do so.”

“Across the Nation, States and localities vary significantly in the patterns and problems of gun violence they face, as well as in the traditions and cultures of lawful gun use. . . . The city of Chicago, for example, faces a pressing challenge in combating criminal street gangs. Most rural areas do not.”

In response to the massacre of grammar-school students at Sandy Hook Elementary School, some legislators have advocated stringent controls on the sale of assault weapons and more complete background checks on purchasers of firearms. It is important to note that nothing in either the Heller or the McDonald opinion poses any obstacle to the adoption of such preventive measures.

First, the court did not overrule Miller. Instead, it “read Miller to say only that the Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns.” On the preceding page of its opinion, the court made it clear that even though machine guns were useful in warfare in 1939, they were not among the types of weapons protected by the Second Amendment because that protected class was limited to weapons in common use for lawful purposes such as self-defense. Even though a sawed-off shotgun or a machine gun might well be kept at home and be useful for self-defense, neither machine guns nor sawed-off shotguns satisfy the “common use” requirement.

Thus, even as generously construed in Heller, the Second Amendment provides no obstacle to regulations prohibiting the ownership or use of the sorts of weapons used in the tragic multiple killings in Virginia, Colorado and Arizona in recent years. The failure of Congress to take any action to minimize the risk of similar tragedies in the future cannot be blamed on the court’s decision in Heller.

A second virtue of the opinion in Heller is that Justice Antonin Scalia went out of his way to limit the court’s holding not only to a subset of weapons that might be used for self-defense but also to a subset of conduct that is protected. The specific holding of the case covers only the possession of handguns in the home for purposes of self-defense, while a later part of the opinion adds emphasis to the narrowness of that holding by describing uses that were not protected by the common law or state practice. Prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons, or on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, and laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings or imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms are specifically identified as permissible regulations.

Thus, Congress’s failure to enact laws that would expand the use of background checks and limit the availability of automatic weapons cannot be justified by reference to the Second Amendment or to anything that the Supreme Court has said about that amendment. What the members of the five-justice majority said in those opinions is nevertheless profoundly important, because it curtails the government’s power to regulate the use of handguns that contribute to the roughly 88 firearm-related deaths that occur every day.

There is an intriguing similarity between the court’s sovereign immunity jurisprudence, which began with a misinterpretation of the 11th Amendment, and its more recent misinterpretation of the Second Amendment. The procedural amendment limiting federal courts’ jurisdiction over private actions against states eventually blossomed into a substantive rule that treats the common-law doctrine of sovereign immunity as though it were part of the Constitution itself. Of course, in England common-law rules fashioned by judges may always be repealed or amended by Parliament. And when the United States became an independent nation, Congress and every state legislature had the power to accept, to reject or to modify common-law rules that prevailed prior to 1776, except, of course, any rule that might have been included in the Constitution.

The Second Amendment expressly endorsed the substantive common-law rule that protected the citizen’s right (and duty) to keep and bear arms when serving in a state militia. In its decision in Heller, however, the majority interpreted the amendment as though its draftsmen were primarily motivated by an interest in protecting the common-law right of self-defense. But that common-law right is a procedural right that has always been available to the defendant in criminal proceedings in every state. The notion that the states were concerned about possible infringement of that right by the federal government is really quite absurd.

As a result of the rulings in Heller and McDonald, the Second Amendment, which was adopted to protect the states from federal interference with their power to ensure that their militias were “well regulated,” has given federal judges the ultimate power to determine the validity of state regulations of both civilian and militia-related uses of arms. That anomalous result can be avoided by adding five words to the text of the Second Amendment to make it unambiguously conform to the original intent of its draftsmen. As so amended, it would read:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.”

Emotional claims that the right to possess deadly weapons is so important that it is protected by the federal Constitution distort intelligent debate about the wisdom of particular aspects of proposed legislation designed to minimize the slaughter caused by the prevalence of guns in private hands. Those emotional arguments would be nullified by the adoption of my proposed amendment. The amendment certainly would not silence the powerful voice of the gun lobby; it would merely eliminate its ability to advance one mistaken argument.

It is true, of course, that the public’s reaction to the massacre of schoolchildren, such as the Newtown killings, and the 2013 murder of government employees at the Navy Yard in Washington, may also introduce a strong emotional element into the debate. That aspect of the debate is, however, based entirely on facts rather than fiction. The law should encourage intelligent discussion of possible remedies for what every American can recognize as an ongoing national tragedy.

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-62 # nice2bgreat 2014-04-12 16:53
.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.”

This is not a good idea and cannot be right.

"... the Second Amendment, which provides that “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.”'

There is an important comma in this version.

I read somewhere recently that there were a several versions of the 2nd Amendment, punctuated differently, prior to the officially ratified Constitution.

In Justice Stevens version, the comma is casually removed, with the only real explanation being that it "unambiguously conform to the original intent of its draftsmen."

Considering that the Constitution and formation of the USA represents a rebellion by the people against their government, I do not see how their intent would be to have a government controlled Militia as the only legally armed group.

It does not make sense.

I believe that the founders intent must have been that, in the case that, should any group, by whatever claimed authority, infringe upon Constitutional freedoms, that citizens would be able to resist... and if necessary, by use of arms.

Gun violence and other violent crime are issues best addressed through education and economic opportunity, fairness, maintaining civil liberties and honest, representative governance.
.
 
 
-24 # jsluka 2014-04-13 02:17
Quote: "Considering that the Constitution and formation of the USA represents a rebellion by the people against their government, I do not see how their intent would be to have a government controlled Militia as the only legally armed group."

That makes a lot of sense to me. Don't know why you're getting "thumbed". I don't believe that the "founding fathers" meant the right to bear arms to protect yourself from burglars, crime, or even criminal assault which is what those who thumb you for this must think. I'm sure the "founding fathers" believed that self-defence was the right of the state, through the police, basically, because all states, by definition, claim a monopoly on the legitimate right to use violence/force. That's just fundamental to what "states" mean or are all about. Oh well, thumb me if you must, but I think "nice2bgreat" is spot on with his/her comment. The right to bear arms is a protection against tyranny, not crime, that's why the word "militia" is included.
 
 
+6 # jsluka 2014-04-13 15:31
Gosh, and I'm a really really liberal person myself - in fact, most people who know me consider me a "far-left radical." So I guess its not just about "liberals" here. I accept the "thumbs," but I like to be rational, use reason and not just emotion, and also to remain civil and polite to everyone, even those who I strongly disagree with; it would be nice if everyone here would try to do that too, but hey, "live and let live" is dear to my heart, so I don't condemn those who are condemning me here. And I really appreciate the many thoughtful and informed comments, which I learn a lot from.
Live long and prosper to you all, especially those who have thumbed me down!
 
 
+18 # REDPILLED 2014-04-13 09:17
However you punctuate the Amendment, the initial clause, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State", sets up the justification for a well-regulated militia.

Historical context is vital to understanding this. In 1786, Shay's Rebellion broke out in Massachusetts, necessitating the state militia putting that anti-tax rebellion down. This happened as the Constitutional Convention was called and then began, to reform the Articles of Confederation. Instead, the Articles were abandoned, and a Constitution was written giving more power to a stronger Federal government. The Bill of Rights were only added to that Constitution years later in response to complaints about the power of the central government.

Why would a government which had just had to use state militia to put down an armed rebellion then insert an amendment giving everyone the "right" to take up arms against that government, as the Shay's rebels did?
 
 
+9 # Capn Canard 2014-04-13 12:04
For the most part I agree, but Shays and his rebels were broke. They served in the Revolution and went unpaid. I believe that many lost their land and in a sense they "occupied" courts to stop foreclosures on other's farms. It is my opinion that the 2nd Amendment is simply a way to give power to this new "tyranny" of the newly formed US federal government. And now right wing gun nutz believe that the founding fathers would support them?!? WTF? Fat chance, I doubt it... I believe that the founding fathers are analogous to the corporate power that effectively holds us hostage. Tyranny? Yes, we live in a tyranny of ignorance. I believe that it is unlikely that guns will be effective in protecting us.
 
 
+8 # nice2bgreat 2014-04-13 12:44
.
While I don't disagree that there has been institutional elitism since the beginning, to suggest that the Founding Fathers intent was to perpetuate that indefinitely misrepresents the Constitution, as well as, the intent of key authors.

Jefferson and Madison were extremely concerned and wary of accumulation corporate power and corporatism.

http://www.thomhartmann.com/users/godot/blog/2010/07/jefferson-quotes


http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/James_Madison

"Besides the danger of a direct mixture of religion and civil government, there is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by ecclesiastical corporations. The establishment of the chaplainship in Congress is a palpable violation of equal rights as well as of Constitutional principles. The danger of silent accumulations and encroachments by ecclesiastical bodies has not sufficiently engaged attention in the U.S."
.
 
 
+5 # nice2bgreat 2014-04-13 12:07
.
Redpilled, you write, "Historical context is vital to understanding this."

Ok.

Wikipedia: on Shays' Rebellion

Under "Impact on Constitution":

"Thomas Jefferson, who was serving as ambassador to France at the time, refused to be alarmed by Shays' Rebellion. In a letter to a friend, he argued that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing. "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."'
.
 
 
+2 # Jim Young 2014-04-16 07:54
Quoting nice2bgreat:
.
.."Thomas Jefferson, who was serving as ambassador to France at the time, refused to be alarmed by Shays' Rebellion. In a letter to a friend, he argued that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing. "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."'
.


That was his belief before he saw the French Revolution's conclusion (and before Louis XVI was executed). See http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/french-revolution for his post execution thoughts.
 
 
-22 # skylinefirepest 2014-04-13 12:54
You are totally correct and being thumbed simply because the uber-liberalist s here can't stand the truth. Also bear in mind that in the vernacular of the times, "well regulated" meant well equipped. And a lot of liberals here keep referring to "gun violence" when properly it is simply "violence" the gun being the tool. Amazing that they don't refer to "knife violence" or "fist violence" etc. Liberals hate guns because liberals love government and these guns curtail the power of government...be aring in mind that the military is not to be used against "we, the people" even though the government has at times, illegally done so.
 
 
+13 # Radscal 2014-04-14 01:39
Actually, the 2nd Amendment is not the only, or the first mention of "militia" in the Constitution.

In Article I, Section 8, where the powers of the Legislature are enumerated, it says:

"To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;"

And in Article II, Section 2, where the powers of the President are enumerated, it says:
"The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States..."

So, "well regulated" meant pretty much what it sounds like, and even more shocking to the "States' Rights" crowd, the Federal government had the ultimate regulatory power over State militias.
 
 
0 # candida 2014-04-13 18:54
see below.
 
 
+14 # candida 2014-04-13 19:30
Quoting nice2bgreat:
.
“Considering that the Constitution and formation of the USA represents a rebellion by the people against their government, I do not see how their intent would be to have a government controlled Militia as the only legally armed group. It does not make sense.

It DOES make sense IF you lose the historical fallacies propagated by the NRA. The founders framed the Constitution to protect their interests, not to overthrow them. See Robert Parry's excellent research locating the 2nd Amendment in the state's interest to arm white men to put down anti-government rebellions: http://consortiumnews.com/2013/04/11/the-rights-second-amendment-fraud/ (latest of many). The racism behind the NRA argument, which you repeat, is rooted here and evident in its application to white men but denied others, as did Gov. Reagan to Black Panthers who sported weapons openly. Even if the NRA was correct (which it is not, as Stevens so well explains), how can you support an interpretation that leads to the death of thousands of innocents? You think armed citizens can overthrow the most powerful military in human history?! You think this is the way to effect democratic social change in the US today?! Really?! Let's deal with reality and not some paranoid fantasies of what ifs. The Constitution can and should be amended to protect "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," which IS explicitly promised in the Preamble unlike the convoluted, twisted arguments of the NRA
 
 
+1 # Maxwell 2014-04-14 22:13
Quoting candida:
You think armed citizens can overthrow the most powerful military in human history?!


I know this is a complex and emotional issue for many, but I remain completely stupefied by how seldom this point comes up in gun ownership discussions.

Many people evidently feel they need their guns in order to keep that damn government in check should it ever get too big for its britches.

I'm trying to envision the scenario of me and the guys in my neighborhood gathering our hunting rifles and handguns -- hell, our Uzis and AK-47s for that matter -- and taking on the armored troops, tanks, and drones of the US Army as they invade our homes and drive us to fighting them in the streets.

Show of hands: how many of you think this scenario is realistic?

But let's say it did happen. What are the chances of the armed citizenry winning? What would even constitute "winning"? Killing all the troops sent against us? They'd be likely to send more. Wouldn't we have to overthrow the US government to win that fight?

The Branch Davidian compound at Waco, Texas, was heavily armed. Ask the Waco survivors their opinions about the effectiveness of getting into firefights with the feds.
 
 
+1 # Jim Young 2014-04-21 13:52
They back off armed groups like Bundy and friends, and don't seem as inclined to shoot first anymore when the protestors are armed.

I still am opposed to armed protest (and provocative armed defense preparedness) on moral grounds and since violent protests work less than half as well as non-violent protests. The Civil Rights advocates were sufficiently non-violent and deliberately "defenseless" to out weigh the Black equivalent protestors/defe nders, like the Black Panthers for Self Defense, etc that still seem even less inclined to initiate the kind of actions Bundy and friends seem willing to have engaged in. I think we have learned something from the Branch Davidian escalation, though we still have room for improvement.
 
 
+5 # Radscal 2014-04-14 01:25
Some years ago I read the original essay that argued that a single comma had been misinterpreted by the courts and Congress and that, when properly read, it made clear the private ownership of guns was their intent.

Frankly, I didn't understand the argument at the time. You do not attempt to explain it either, so I still don't get it.

Either way, as Justice Stevens states, private ownership of firearms for self-defense was already accepted in Common Law.
 
 
+2 # David Heizer 2014-04-14 17:08
Quoting nice2bgreat:
Considering that the Constitution and formation of the USA represents a rebellion by the people against their government, I do not see how their intent would be to have a government controlled Militia as the only legally armed group.


Firstly, your premise is a little simplistic. The Founders saw the rule of the Crown as being illegitimate - not "their goverment" at all - and fought to create a legitimate government legitimized by the consent of the governed. Armed rebellion against *this* government was defined as treason in the Constitution. It is perfectly reasonable to contemplate "a government controlled Militia as the only legally armed group" when that government is controlled by the people themselves.

Secondly, the issue addressed by the Second Amendmendment was not "the government" versus "the people"; it was the Federal government versus the States' governments. The Second Amendment guaranteed the right of the States to maintain militias without infringment by the Federal government ("the People" being a common term in law to describe the citizenry collectively, as represented on a practical basis by the State).
 
 
-1 # BKnowswhitt 2014-04-15 13:46
And Ammendments to said Constitution are allowed and since it's inception 200 years ago a lot has changed. You imply like a lot of gun owners that you need your gun to protect yourself against the Federal Government. That is not what the ammendment says or what it was for. It was to participate in a militia period. Given the current climate of gun violence .. it is time to adjust to curtail the real problems there in. We have given up a lot of rights since 9/11 due to the climate today that is still very real around the world and here at home. Why can't we adjust to something more reasonable to end this use of guns in private citizens hands to end lives, scare the populace, and puts more in harms way than it protects?
 
 
0 # hkatzman 2014-04-22 18:14
Quoting nice2bgreat:
.
Considering that the Constitution and formation of the USA represents a rebellion by the people against their government, I do not see how their intent would be to have a government controlled Militia as the only legally armed group.

It does not make sense.
.


This is a fascinating debate.
However, we have to remember that at the time of the writing of the Constitution there was a tension between the powers of the States and the Powers of the Federal Government.
The 2nd amendment limits the powers of the Federal Government over the militias under the control of the States. The "government controlled Militia" is State-controlle d government controlled as against that of the Federal Government.
 
 
-37 # nice2bgreat 2014-04-12 17:39
"... in United States v. Miller, decided in 1939, the court unanimously held that Congress could prohibit the possession of a sawed-off shotgun because that sort of weapon had no reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a “well regulated Militia.”

"First, the court did not overrule Miller. Instead, it “read Miller to say only that the Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes...” On the preceding page of its opinion, the court made it clear that even though machine guns were useful in warfare in 1939, they were not among the types of weapons protected by the Second Amendment because that protected class was limited to weapons in common use for lawful purposes such as self-defense. Even though a sawed-off shotgun or a machine gun might well be kept at home and be useful for self-defense, neither machine guns nor sawed-off shotguns satisfy the “common use” requirement."

This seems to be a basic misunderstandin g of the term "common" in this circumstance (Miller). In that, people are not commonly under assault, it means that they will not often use machine guns, or certain weapons may be prohibitively expensive.

However, during instances of assault, these weapons would be commonly used, if available and in those circumstances. While other weapons may be more commonly appropriate, during home invasion, if available, machine guns could be the common tool of choice for many people.
 
 
+32 # tm7devils 2014-04-13 01:03
The only thing you left out of your missive...was the ID number on your NRA card.
 
 
-10 # jsluka 2014-04-13 02:20
Pardon me, but I agree with the reasoning of "Nice2bgreat," and I'm not a member or supporter of the NRA. In fact, I despise the NRA. And I'm not even a gun owner, and absolutely oppose things like "open carry," etc. But if the point is the intention of the Second Amendment, those criticising him/her seem to be missing the point s/he is making here.
 
 
0 # BKnowswhitt 2014-04-15 13:50
You over reach. Someone breaking into a home usually a druggie ... looking for something to fence his or her habit ... so you're going to use a machine gun right off the bat eh? Good logic and why this has gone so far off the deep end .. stop hiding your real reasons .. you want the guns to counter the government any time you happen to disagree ... it extends your manhood .. don't mess with me man .. i got GUNS!!111111
 
 
+30 # zach 2014-04-13 05:23
I believe that the language used in the Second Amendment needs to be read in the context of the times it was used.
One of the arguments used now to interpret the Second Amendment is that the intent was to protect states from an intrusive federal government. I disagree.
The word State is capitalized. In the context of writings at that time, State (versus state) refers to the generic whole. State was a relatively new concept as national states emerged all over Europe. The United States was a nation State.
One also needs to remember that there was no large standing US Army at the time. Washington had to beg the colonial states to send their militias to him so as to fight the War. The State (that is, the federal government, the nation, the country) continued to rely on state militias to provide and assemble an army if the need be.
Marksmanship was essential to a well regulated and effective militia. Washington recruited his best marksmen from the mountain regions, where men from the time they were boys used their guns (rifles did not exist until later), generally innaccurate, to shoot game to eat and to survive.
In that context, I believe, the Second Amendment means something quite different than is being represented by many at the moment.
 
 
+2 # Radscal 2014-04-14 01:17
The Framers knew the difference between a State and a Nation-State. Skip down to the 10th Amendment, written and passed at the same time, and you'll read:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The Framers wrote a great deal about the debates at the Constitutional Convention. Also, the essays we know as the Federalist Papers explain how at least Madison, John Jay and probably Hamilton and others meant the Constitution to be interpreted.

A very strong case can be made that a (if not THE) principle reason for the 2nd Amendment was to be able to crush slave rebellions and/or Federal forces from enforcing abolition.

This article sums it up quite nicely.
http://truth-out.org/news/item/13890-the-second-amendment-was-ratified-to-preserve-slavery
 
 
+24 # zach 2014-04-13 05:23
Part 2.
The problem, of course, was the insertion of the line of justification, being necessary to a free State. In hindsight, they might have been better advised to have made a simple declarative statement with no modifier. They didn't. And that tells us they also intended for that simple right to be subject to some controls.
 
 
+1 # Radscal 2014-04-14 01:45
And in the body of the Constitution itself, they lay out who is responsible for that regulation, and what sorts of things should be regulated.

I quoted the specific passages above.
 
 
+3 # Radscal 2014-04-14 12:28
lol. That gets "thumbs down?"

Is it the fact that I quoted the Constitution the problem?
Or, is it what the Constitution actually says that drew peoples' ire?
Fascinating.
 
 
-17 # RMDC 2014-04-13 06:01
So now only the military and the police will be armed. This revision is only an open declaration of outright fascism. Just leave the 2nd amendment alone. We definitely don't need any more military.

I'd like to separate the issue of mass shootings from the NRA gun nuts. The gun nuts in the NRA do actually serve a purpose in the nation. They demonstrate to the military that the people are armed and can fight back. Other than that, they are just consumers buying a lot of very expensive junk to play with.

The school shootings and other outbreaks of mass violence are actually the result of the mis-use of powerful anti-psychotic medicines. It would be just as good to regulate the use of these substances.
 
 
+14 # EternalTruth 2014-04-13 06:43
"So now only the military and the police will be armed."

Uhhh...no. Read the article again.
 
 
-10 # skylinefirepest 2014-04-13 12:47
As always, it is fascinating to me how many red minuses you can get for stating the truth. This site represents the worst of the non-thinking liberals and they simply cannot stand the truth.
 
 
+12 # Radscal 2014-04-14 01:55
I'm pro-private gun ownership. Further, I think we pretty much already have a tyrannical government.

However, I think believing we could effectively "fight back" is a dangerous fantasy. No matter how many AR 15s one may have, any large town's SWAT team, arriving in their armored personnel carrier, wearing Category IV body armor and carrying everything from grenades to fully automatic rifles and poison gas will not be deterred.

And those groups with far more powerful weapons secreted away? The government needn't even engage them. A drone with a few HellFire missiles will turn them and their armories to ashes from an air-conditioned trailer in Nevada.

No, all we'd accomplish by "fighting back" is more bloodshed... mostly our blood. I think time spent preparing for the glorious people's armed struggle would be better spent figuring out how to unite to turn our government back over to "we the people."
 
 
+1 # karenvista 2014-04-14 15:43
Radscal-Agreed.

People who think that local militias could fight the U.S. military are seriously delusional. The weapons you listed above are one thing but the EMP weapons (that would wipe out all electrical and internet devices in a region) and Active Denial Systems that they have been testing in Iraq, for instance, the microwave crowd control that makes people feel like their bodies are on fire (or can actually be set to cook crowds of protestors even more) and the Low Frequency ADS that makes crowds vomit and lose control of their bowels are just two of the crowd control devices that have already been designed and tested abroad for use here.

They are not playing.

Here in Houston we had snipers on rooftops downtown when we had an Occupy protest. The FBI has continually refused to release most information under FOIA requests citing, "privacy" issues.

I didn't know that snipers had special "privacy" rights.

Please research Active Denial Systems. Why would any decent democracy need such things?
 
 
+1 # Radscal 2014-04-14 22:12
Good for you that you've spent the time to look into these weapons. Audio Active Denial Systems were used against Occupy in NYC.

And the FBI didn't even inform the Houston Occupy "leaders" that they were being targeted by those snipers.

The tyranny is here. It just shows only as much force as necessary to squash popular movements.

I'm still a little hopeful that we might be able to retake our government from those who have bought it. If we can unite to vote only for candidates who pledge to end the systemic bribery, then perhaps we could reestablish self-governance.

If we did elect majorities who were not beholden to the big money, then we'd find out if it is still possible to salvage our democratic republic.
 
 
+7 # lkwdo56 2014-04-13 09:52
In 1795 when the Bill of Rights was adopted there were no armed forces protecting the new nation which was totally dependent upon civilian militias to defend itself and the people. Militias were dependent upon civilians to be armed and the only arms available were muskets. Therefore civilians today should be allowed to own and carry muskets and nothing else. Let the NRA represent them and ban all other firearms.
 
 
-11 # skylinefirepest 2014-04-13 12:46
Ikw... I suppose you are willing to give up your cellphone and the internet?? Our forefathers were certainly more intelligent people than the trash currently running our country and they knew that things would be improved...afte r all, the musket was a huge step over the bow and arrow, right?? So when you are willing to give up your first amendment rights to your cell and internet, then maybe, just maybe, I'll be willing to concede one or two of my firearms.
 
 
-10 # skylinefirepest 2014-04-13 13:54
To the non-thinker who gave me the first red minus...while I'm at it, your car, your microwave, your stocks or bonds, your retirement, your health care, etc. Now do you get it, you bunch of non-thinking liberals?? Do you really think our forefathers, smart enough to give us our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, our very country, were so dumb that they presumed muskets would never change??? Just how freaking stupid are you guys??
 
 
0 # maryf 2014-04-16 05:40
I don't know whether to interpret the apoplexy of some of these comments (descending into frantic excessive punctuation and name-calling) as hilarious or just childish.

Apparently anyone who is appalled by the tragic number of annual deaths from gun violence (which is significantly higher than that from "fist violence" and "knife violence", for crying out loud) cannot be thinking with compassion, only stupidity because we don't believe in the gun nuts' delusion that they can save us all from government "tyranny" with their squirrel guns. This kind of shit always gets spouted when there is a Democrat in the White House.

Considering that the NRA has managed for decades to thwart the desire of the majority of Americans to regulate guns, I think there is room for discussion about the nature of "tyranny".
 
 
+8 # jwb110 2014-04-13 11:25
Eliminating a standing Federal Armed Forces would certainly change the debate. The people who bear arms would only have to register themselves and not their firearms so that the state militias could be called up to serve in an attack on the US.
It would keep us out of the affairs of other nations, Irag, Afghanistan, Syria, Israel, etc. and thereby respecting their sovereignty and save this nation $$$ it doesn't have to spend.

Win/win.
 
 
+10 # Anarchist 23 2014-04-13 12:22
30,000 dead due to gun violence...not a well-regulated anything,IMHO
 
 
+2 # Radscal 2014-04-13 13:49
The U.S. as a slave society was enshrined in the Constitution. Even in 1787, there was an influential abolitionist movement. The slave states were concerned that the free states would move to abolish slavery through the newly empowered Federal government created by the Constitution.

The Framers made many compromises in order to get the new Constitution ratified. Equal Senate representation by states with low, agrarian populations, the 3/5 rule to count slaves in determining the number of House members, no direct election of Presidents, etc. were all hotly debated compromises to convince the slave states to ratify.

A major compromise was the promise that a "Bill of Rights" would be added to address concerns of several different factions (what today would be called "special interest groups") including slave owners.

The 2nd Amendment was written specifically to guarantee that slave states could arm and maintain militias to put down the many slave revolts. That was the "security of a free state" they were intent on defending. Their concern was that either militant abolitionists or the Federal force could intervene and overcome the "states' right" to defend slavery.

Private, individual ownership of firearms for self-defense (and hunting) was accepted under Common Law, as Justice Stevens observes. That's why it was unnecessary to include words about that in the 2nd Amendment.
 
 
0 # jsluka 2014-04-13 15:27
Good points Radscal, I forgot about the question of slavery with regard to the writing of the Constitution. The "founding fathers" were indeed quite concerned with the possibility of a slave revolt and the question of escaped slaves, since these occurred throughout history wherever there was slavery (remember Spartacus!), and there was also already a growing anti-slavery sentiment, if not movement, in Europe.
 
 
+7 # Radscal 2014-04-13 15:41
Thanks. The frequency of slave revolts in the U.S. is radically underplayed in most history books. John Brown is the main one we hear about, and Bacon's Rebellion (which I think was one of the most important events in U.S. history) is mentioned without detailing that it set in place the poor-white vs. black strategy that exists to this day. And both of those revolts included white leadership, which fits the white supremacist/whi te savior narrative.

When I had to research slave revolts in primary sources for an archaeological report on a possible "underground railroad" station, I was shocked at how often they happened. And later, the successful slave revolt that created Haiti scared the pants off of the slave owners here.
 
 
+1 # karenvista 2014-04-14 15:48
Radscal- And we have punished Haiti ever since.
 
 
-1 # Radscal 2014-04-14 21:57
Indeed!
 
 
+6 # lewagner 2014-04-14 03:47
Whom is this "well-regulated " militia to be regulated BY?
Congress? The CIA? The FBI? The Albuquerque PD? Oakland PD? 5000 American civilians have been killed by US police since 9/11 ...
I've never carried a gun, or believed in them -- but I'm starting to see why some people do.
 
 
+4 # Radscal 2014-04-14 12:20
Above I cited the relevant sections of the U.S. Constitution that enumerate who is to regulate the States' militias (Congress) and who is in charge of them (the President).

The various States must follow the guidelines set by Congress, but the States appoint the militias' officers, etc. and have authority over their use within the State for State security.

ps. Good for you if you choose to become an armed citizen. I suggest you begin by taking some firearm safety courses. Then practice shooting various firearms to see what would work best for you personally. Then, strictly follow all safety protocols.

Firearms are tools, but they are deadly tools and choosing to bear arms is not to be taken lightly.
 
 
0 # maryf 2014-04-16 05:49
The entirely justified disgust at the present behavior of US police is no reason to go out and buy firearm. All that does is to increase the probability that the purchaser is the one who will wind up dead.
 

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