The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “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.” This Amendment gives the American people the right to own and carry guns without inference from the government.
W. Cleon Skousen explained, “… In the early history of the country the state militia was made up of private citizens, who usually furnished their own arms. Thus, during the Revolutionary War, the Minutemen could be assembled on very short notice and arrayed into a formidable military force because each man had his own weapons.
“Today the state militia is that body of citizens which, under law, can be called up by the governor or Congress to protect the rights and security of the people, or enforce the law.
“Many Americans do not even realize that they belong to the militia of their state. They confuse their state militia with the National Guard, which is a specialized reserve corps in each state trained at federal expense for immediate service.
“Under Title 10, section 31 of the U.S. Code, the militia of each state includes `all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and under 45 years of age who are or have [made] a declaration of intent to become citizens.
“If the Equal Rights Amendment had been adopted, this provision would also include all females between those ages.” (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 694.)
Nelson Lund at The Heritage Foundation explained further, “Modern debates about the meaning of the Second Amendment have focused on whether it protects a right of individuals to keep and bear arms or, instead, a right of the states to maintain militia organizations like the National Guard. This question, however, was apparently never even discussed for a long time after the Bill of Rights was framed. The early discussions took the basic meaning of the amendment largely for granted and focused instead on whether it actually added anything significant to the original Constitution. The debate has shifted primarily because of subsequent developments in the Constitution and in constitutional law.
“The Founding generation mistrusted standing armies. Many Americans believed, on the basis of English history and their colonial experience, that central governments are prone to use armies to oppress the people. One way to reduce that danger would be to permit the government to raise armies (consisting of full-time paid troops) only when needed to fight foreign adversaries. For other purposes, such as responding to sudden invasions or similar emergencies, the government might be restricted to using a militia, consisting of ordinary civilians who supply their own weapons and receive a bit of part-time, unpaid military training.” (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp. 318-319.)
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