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Purpose of the Second Amendment

Original post made by Howard Myers, another community, on Jul 7, 2015

What is the purpose of the Second Amendment?

It is ironic that some people seem to think the reason for the Second Amendment is to support our government in time of need. It is the exact opposite.

Thomas Jefferson, well known for his influence on the U.S. Constitution, has said, "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 Papers, page 334).

When tyrants take over a country, one of the first things they do is outlaw the private ownership of guns. Can't happen here? Look around at the changes that are taking place. Are the people wanting to outlaw guns in favor of small government or a larger, ever more encroaching, government?

Comments (23)

Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 7, 2015 at 2:05 pm

really? is a registered user.

Read the letters back and forth during the negotiations for the amendment. The purpose of the second amendment was to allow people in the South to continue participating in standing militias for hunt slaves, without fear of intervention by a Federal force.

And remember, it's only an amendment so could be changed as we've done with other amendments.


Posted by Bruce 77
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 7, 2015 at 2:12 pm

What does Donald Trump, the leader of the Republicans say about it?

" A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State..."

Which flag will the militia fly - the stars and bars of traitors to our great country?


Posted by fsilber
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2015 at 5:17 am

The Founders knew of plenty of countries with standing armies that defended the country against invasion and imposed the government on its people. They commented only that a well-equipped and trained (well regulated) armed general citizenry (militia) was necessary to ensure the security of a _free_ society.


Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 8, 2015 at 6:07 am

It's a little different when every citizen is required to own a gun and belong to a militia. As really? has pointed out, this was about fears of Federalists dis-empowering the state militias.

From Michael Waldman's "The Second Ammendment: A Biography":

The Constitution was drafted in secret by a group of mostly young men, many of whom had served together in the Continental Army, and who feared the consequences of a weak central authority. They produced a charter that shifted power to a national government. “Anti-Federalists” opposed the Constitution. They worried, among other things, that the new government would try to disarm the thirteen state militias. Critically, those militias were a product of a world of civic duty and governmental compulsion utterly alien to us today. Every white man age 16 to 60 was enrolled. He was required to own – and bring – a musket or other military weapon.


Posted by bruce77
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 8, 2015 at 8:17 am

Which well regulated Militia do you belong to?


Posted by Viet
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 8, 2015 at 9:28 am

So many American militias to choose from: tea baggers, the black panther party, CPUSA, Occupy, jim crown etc.

Arm them all with rocket launchers per the 2nd amendment.


Posted by Viet
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 8, 2015 at 9:29 am

Arm the natives on reservations as well.


Posted by teebonicus
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 8, 2015 at 10:00 am

Two things:

1) The Second Amendment is constructed in two clauses; prefatory (dependent) and operative (independent). The prefatory clause merely announces the reason the right is being guaranteed in writing. It neither creates the right nor places any conditions upon it. The operative clause assumes the right as preexisting, declares that it is of the people, and that it is sacrosanct. Dependent clauses rely on independent clauses for their context, hence the reference, "dependent". The sentence could accurately be generically represented as, "Because of THAT, we are guaranteeing THIS.", to wit,"THIS" is presumed to exist, and "THAT" is the reason we guarantee that we won't meddle with it.

So all this nonsense about militia service being a prerequisite for keeping and bearing arms is a straw man.

2) The right exists without any constitutional guarantee, and repealing the Second Amendment would not magically remove it. It wasn't endowed by humans, and they have no legitimate power to take it away.

The Supreme Court wrote in 1875, "The right there specified is that of 'bearing arms for a lawful purpose.' This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence." - U S v. CRUIKSHANK, 92 U.S. 542 (1875) 92 U.S. 542

Nothing has changed in that regard, because times change, but principles don't.


Posted by ramrodd
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2015 at 11:07 am

“Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas?”
--Joseph Stalin

“One man with a gun can control 100 without one. Make mass searches and hold executions for found arms.”
― Vladimir Ilich Lenin


Posted by Bruce77
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 8, 2015 at 11:24 am

" A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State..."

"It wasn't endowed by humans"

Was it endowed by God?

My God, or yours?

My God is benevolent. Is yours vengeful?


Posted by Bruce77
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 8, 2015 at 11:26 am

Stalin and Lenin.... just one step from the Godwin....


Posted by teebonicus
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2015 at 1:50 pm

Bruce77 - THE God. There is only one.

And since when is endowing humans with the unalienable rights to life, to defend that life, and to the means of defending that life "vengeful"?

Like it or not (and from your post, I gather that you don't), this nation was founded upon the First Principle of unalienable human rights endowed by our CREATOR.

You can't erase it, so you demean it.

[part removed.]


Posted by teebonicus
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2015 at 1:54 pm

Oh, and Bruce....?

I challenge you to prove my analysis viz the grammatical construction of the Second Amendment, hence what it actually means, incorrect.

Address the specific points, please.

I submit that you can't, successfully, which is why you took the tack you did in your initial response.


Posted by SamAdams1776
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2015 at 7:24 pm

SamAdams1776 is a registered user.

bruce77 wrote: "Which well regulated Militia do you belong to?"

The prefatory clause, which is also the DEPENDENT does not restrict or limit the main clause. The independent clause specifies an unrestricted right of the people. Government agencies have powers, not writes; only natural persons have rights--though they may also exercise unprohibited powers.

Also, the infinitive, "to regulate" in 1787 meant "to make regular," to put in good working order. The unorganized militia is what is being referenced in the Second Amendment(2A) and this unorganized militia is still defined in Title 10 United States Code, Ch 13, sec 311(b)(2) and is pretty much everyone.

Finally, for the record, the Bill of Rights(BOR) does not grant rights; it restricts government and its own preamble states so. And I am guessing you, like most, had no idea the BOR had a preamble of its own. The restriction upon government on arms that may be borne is total, thus the pre-existing, natural right being PROTECTED by the BOR is therefor ABSOLUTE. ANY infringement upon the right to keep and bear arms is offensive to the 2A.

From one of the founders:

"The power of the sword, say the minority…, is in the hands of Congress. My friends and countrymen, it is not so, for The powers of the sword are in the hands of the yeomanry of America from sixteen to sixty. ...Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? ...Their swords and every terrible implement of the soldier are the birthright of Americans. The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments but where, I trust in God, it will always remain, in the hands of the people." Tenche Coxe, Feb. 20, 1788


Where? In the hands of the people and NOT in the hands of the States or Federal Government (a CREATION by the way, of the States)


SamAdams1776 III Oath keeper
Molon Labe
No Fort Sumters
Qui tacet consentit
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges.
Idque apud imperitos humanitas vocabatur, cum pars servitutis esset



Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 8, 2015 at 7:33 pm

pogo is a registered user.

It really doesn't matter what any of think the Second Amendment means. What matters is what the Supreme Court thinks.

In July 2010, the Supremes found "It is clear that the Framers . . . counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty." The decision extended the court's 2008 ruling in Columbia v. Heller that "the Second Amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home." It was the first time the court had said there was an individual right to gun ownership rather than one related to military service.

Until another SCOTUS rules differently, citizens have the right to keep weapons.


Posted by SamAdams1776
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2015 at 8:29 pm

SamAdams1776 is a registered user.

Pogo wrote:

"It really doesn't matter what any of think the Second Amendment means. What matters is what the Supreme Court thinks."

I am a total supporter of Second Amendment rights--wholly unrestricted, but people need to be educated about SCOTUS. NO branch of the Federal government is meant to have any powers not SPECIFICALLY delegated to it (c.f. the 10th Amendment)and the power being exercised by SCOTUS to determine constitutionality of a law was stolen by SCOTUS in 1803 in the case Marbury v. Madison. And keep in mind SCOTUS once declared a black man as property and that separate but equal is legal and constitutional.

Our rights are NOT subject to the democratic process, nor to arguments grounded in social utility or restricted to the needs of any government agency. The purpose of the 2A is to ensure the people have the ability to overthrow those agencies and the government when it has as its goal our reduction to despotism.

SamAdams1776 III Oath keeper
Molon Labe
No Fort Sumters
Qui tacet consentit
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges.
Idque apud imperitos humanitas vocabatur, cum pars servitutis esset


Posted by SamAdams1776
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2015 at 8:44 pm

SamAdams1776 is a registered user.

Really? wrote:

"And remember, it's only an amendment so could be changed as we've done with other amendments."

You are under the mistaken impression that a right is granted by the Bill of Rights(BOR); it is not. The purpose of the BOR is to RESTRICT government from interfering with rights the founders recognized as pre-existing and natural.

Since the right is not granted by government or any government document (rights don't come from man), then repealing the Second Amendment cannot remove the right which is a pre-existing natural right. What it WOULD do, is signal the need to use that right as the founder intended and as expressed in Federalist No. 28:

"If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government,..."--Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28

And as expressed in the Declaration of Independence:

"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 to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,...Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; ...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."

*Such as the right to keep and bear arms.


SamAdams1776 III Oath keeper
Molon Labe
No Fort Sumters
Qui tacet consentit
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges.
Idque apud imperitos humanitas vocabatur, cum pars servitutis esset


Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 9, 2015 at 8:03 am

pogo is a registered user.

You should read your Constitution.

Article 3, Section 2 of the Constitution SPECIFICALLY gives the courts the right to adjudicate disputes. Their word is final and they found that Americans do have the right to bear arms.

Again, your opinion, while valuable and important, is NOT the final word. That belongs to the nine justices in black robes... which, unlike your opinion, actually has the power of law.

If you don't believe that, ask President Al Gore.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 9, 2015 at 11:14 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

How about a compromise solution - everyone gets to have a muzzle loading musket (which was the standard 'arm" when the Second Amendment was adopted.)


Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 9, 2015 at 11:22 am

really? is a registered user.

I look awful in short sleeves- surely i should be denied the right to bear arms.


Posted by SamAdams1776
a resident of another community
on Jul 10, 2015 at 8:57 am

SamAdams1776 is a registered user.

pogo wrote:

"Article 3, Section 2 of the Constitution SPECIFICALLY gives the courts the right to adjudicate disputes. Their word is final and they found that Americans do have the right to bear arms."

Comprehension problems?

ART III sec2:

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;-- between a State and Citizens of another State,--between Citizens of different States,--between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed."

WHICH PART of this specifies that they perform constitutional review. That power is not enumerated here and Marbury v Madison was a major controversy at the time because the Judiciary took that power on to themselves.

The section most often used to make that claim:

"In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make."

This is prefaced by "In all the other Cases before mentioned," none of which addresses constitutional review.


SamAdams1776 III Oath keeper
Molon Labe
No Fort Sumters
Qui tacet consentit
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges.
Idque apud imperitos humanitas vocabatur, cum pars servitutis esset



Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 10, 2015 at 2:53 pm

pogo is a registered user.

"...to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;-- between a State and Citizens of another State,--between Citizens of different States,--between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects."

Technically, Hylton did this first (it preceded Marbury by a few years) but both affirmed constitutional authority for judicial review. My point is that both decisions were based on the text quoted above from Article 3.

Time to review your Con Law class notes.


Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 10, 2015 at 6:12 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@Peter Carpenter

Musket loaders it is. As long as the first amendment only protects free speech written with a quill pen and a single sheet press (he ONLY form of communications then). Free speech written on a computer NOPE, free speech written in email NOPE, Free speech broadcast over the airwaves (TV & Radio) NOPE.....you get the picture.

I would contend that the "Citizens" should be as well armed as the aggressor (Government Agencies) and they all carry AR-15's (M4, etc.) which is why I have them too.....


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