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.
– Second Amendment, United States Constitution
The first ten amendments to the United States Constitution were drafted by James Madison, then presented to the House of Representatives on June 8, 1789. Two and a half years later, they were ratified on December 15, 1791. Of these 10, the Second Amendment has become the catalyst for one of the most hotly contested debates in American history, whether or not this amendment entitles the individual to keep and bear arms privately or was it intended only for the military.
Lets go back to the first four words of this amendment – A well regulated Militia. If you know early American history, you know that a militia was an army of citizens, made up of the common man. These men were merchants, farmers, tavern owners, lawyers, and even clergymen, to name few. When a militia was called into service, these men left behind hearth and home to serve. They arrived already armed with their own rifles and pistols, ready to fight. They might have been supplied with gun powder and lead for making balls but the guns they used were their own. Even the militia that fought along side the Continental Army during the American Revolution used their own weapons.
Some say with the military we have today, there’s no need for the average citizen to own guns much less be allowed to carry handguns for personal protection. They also say we have the police to protect us during our everyday lives but that’s not the case. Even law enforcement officers will tell you they can’t be everywhere, all the time. They do all they can to prevent crime but, in most cases, they’re a reactionary force. They’re there to pick up the pieces and solve the crime.
Now lets talk about the words the right of the people to keep and bear Arms. It doesn’t say the military and police only, it says the people. Those people would be the citizens of the United States of America. Keep and bear Arms – we have the right to own guns and use them for the protection of our families and selves.
Then there’s the last four words – shall not be infringed. The right to own and use guns can not be taken away by the government unless, of course, the Second Amendment is repealed. On that subject, Thomas Jefferson said it best in this quote, “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.” He also said, “The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.”
The common man, the people, made up a well regulated Militia to fight for the freedom and independence of this country. Our founding fathers thought it necessary to make sure that the right of the people to keep and bear Arms be one that could not be easily taken away, adding the words shall not be infringed. The debate over the Second Amendment will continue. There are strong opinions on both sides. One of the great things about this country is we have the right to debate and have our own opinions. The ironic thing about this debate is that the right to debate this issue as well as all others was fought for and won with the use of guns.