The original intent
The 2nd Amendment was adopted approximately 225 years ago. It states, “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 has been much debate in regards to the meaning of the 2nd Amendment over the last couple hundred years. There are many questions that seem unanswered.
What did the Founding Father’s have in mind when they wrote the 2nd Amendment? Did they imagine a future world in which only muskets were protected under the law? Did they believe that the 2nd Amendment should only protect hunting or target practice?
While there are multiple quotes that give us insight as to what they intended, there is one that pretty much sums it all up. “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
One of the most frequently asked questions regarding the 2nd Amendment has been in regards to the meaning of the word militia. What or who is the militia? There are some who would say that the militia is the armed forces or the military. Although, it seems odd that the Founding Father’s would want to ensure that the military would always be armed, since it generally goes without saying that military forces are armed.
In order to truly understand what the Founding Father’s meant by “militia”, we need to know how they defined it.
- “A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained in arms, is the best most natural defense of a free country.” James Madison
- “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials.” George Mason
- “No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms. Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual discretion in private self-defense.” Thomas Jefferson
- “A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves. They include all men capable of bearing arms. To preserve liberty is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms and be taught alike how to use them.” Thomas Jefferson
Shall not be infringed
The word infringed is defined… “to commit a breach or infraction of; violate or transgress:” In other words, an infringement is anything that blocks or prevents someone from doing something. Examples of 2nd Amendment infringements include waiting periods, background checks and banning certain types of firearms or ammunition. There is no evidence to support the idea that the Founding Father’s believed that the 2nd Amendment would only apply to muskets. Remember that they passionately believed in the people’s right to defend themselves against a tyrannical government.
Many Americans would probably disagree with this assessment for various reasons. You may be one and if that is true, I encourage you to research the Founding Father’s quotes regarding firearms. Maybe you disagree with their words, but it’s difficult to argue that they had a nonchalant attitude regarding firearms. It is clear that they valued liberty and would have challenged a slow process of restricting gun rights. “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.” Thomas Jefferson
The 2nd Amendment has been abused over the last two hundred or so years, but it is still alive. It is still the law. Whether you like firearms or not, I encourage you to respect the 2nd Amendment. And here is why… Ultimately freedom exists because God allows it to. God has blessed our nation with more freedom than any other nation in history. A big reason for that is the 2nd Amendment.