Have you ever pondered what exactly the words of the 2nd Amendment mean? I mean, besides its purpose to protect your right to bear arms?
Let’s take a look at it. Here is the full text:
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 second half, after the comma, is pretty clear, other than the possibility of the term, “the People,” possibly being misinterpreted as meaning “the collective” and therefore meaning the State. But anyone with at least half a brain (four Supreme Court justices, Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer, notwithstanding) knows the founders weren’t a bunch of Marxists. No chance of such an interpretation ever gaining traction unless our government is able to erase the Founders entirely from our history. And how would they do that? Maybe, just maybe, they would start by replacing them on our currency with non-Founders…
Our beloved late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the landmark majority (5-4) opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller that made it absolutely clear that the 2nd Amendment refers to an individual right.
Anyway, for the moment, it doesn’t seem that the second part of the 2nd Amendment requires much attention. But what about that first part, “a well regulated militia?”
A quick search around the internet, or a conversation with pretty much any liberal, or simply an examination of Justice Stevens’ dissent in District of Columbia v. Heller, will reveal that more than a few people think those words, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State,” were meant by the Founders to be something like the National Guard. After all, isn’t the National Guard a well regulated militia?
Those first words of the 2nd Amendment are practically famous for misleading those who have never studied the Constitution. Many seem to think the Founders did not intend for individual citizens to have the right to keep and bear arms, but rather intended the formation of a paramilitary force, something like the National Guard, where the arms are locked up until some sort of insurrection requires they be brought out and used to restore the security of our free State. (For you Bernie Sanders fans out there, the term “free State” does not mean you get everything for free!)
These people seem to think that the second part of the 2nd Amendment was written to justify the first part. As we shall see, however, it is exactly the opposite.
In the late 1700s, the Founders were not in the least bit concerned about justifying the need for a militia of any sort. They were most concerned about the danger posed by a standing army. They had seen firsthand how the British used a standing army to occupy the colonies and enforce British law or the King’s latest whim. They were also most recently reminded by their very own Continental Army following its victory over the British when the Continental Congress took its sweet time making good on its promise to pay the soldiers for their service. Standing armies were dangerous back then. They are no less so today.
The Founders understood that a standing army, “a well regulated militia” to use their words, would be a necessity if America were to be capable of defending herself from foreign enemies. Thus, they wrote and ratified the 2nd Amendment to guarantee that American citizens would have the ability to fight back against a rogue army or a rogue government directing an army.
In recognition of that fact, the 2nd Amendment was born. And to make it absolutely clear that the 2nd Amendment wasn’t about protecting the right of “the People” to hunt game and participate in shooting sports, or even about home defense, they stated right up front, at the very beginning, the purpose of the right of the People to keep and bear arms.