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  Defending Our Right to Keep and Bear Arms
by Edward L. Daley, The Bodacious Post
February 2003

Analyzing the meaning of the Second Amendment.

Amendment II

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.

Think about what the 2nd Amendment actually relates. First it CONTENDS that it is
necessary to the security of a free state to allow for a well regulated militia.
Then it DEMANDS that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be
infringed, for the aforementioned reason. It does not, however, necessarily
exclude from consideration all other reasons for the people to keep and bear
arms, merely because it only cites that which is arguably the most important
reason for them to do so.

And just what exactly IS the reason mentioned in the text? Consider this, if we
add the qualifier "because" to the beginning of the 2nd Amendment and change the
word "being" to "is" (both of which mean "a state of existing"), we get the
following sentence.

Because a well regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a free State,
the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.

Why the 2nd Amendment wasn't written this way is fairly obvious to me. Back in
1791, they didn't write or speak exactly as we do today, and James Madison, the
Amendment's author must have felt that his meaning would be clearly understood by
future generations. But no matter the reason, the 2nd Amendment obviously conveys
a need for the private ownership of fire[arms] in reference to a militia... but
in what way exactly?

I feel that President Madison was guaranteeing the people the right to keep and
bear arms in case they needed to form a militia in order to fight the government
itself. After all, how can the people possibly form an armed militia if they are
not allowed by the government to possess firearms in the first place? And if
citizens were only supposed to have guns in order to fight FOR the government,
there would certainly be no need to afford "the people" not already in the
military the Constitutional right to possess them.

At this point you should ask yourself a key question. What was the drafter of the
2nd Amendment concerned with when he wrote the words "shall not be infringed"?
What entity is capable of infringing upon the rights of the people? The answer is
obvious... THE GOVERNMENT! The very reason you are afforded rights under our
Constitution is to protect you from the potentially despotic rule of the
government. Madison once wrote in the "Federalist Papers", the following passage
in reference to a standing federal army.

"To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens
with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting
for their common liberties..."

Some have argued that "well regulated" means controlled by governmental agencies,
but that is not necessarily the case. The fact is that the term in question was
commonly understood to mean 'properly functioning' back in the 18th century. A
passage from the Oxford English Dictionary of the day provides the example "as in
a well regulated clock" in reference to it. It is only in recent times that
people automatically associate those words with the government.

The fact of the matter is that the man who wrote the 2nd Amendment knew all too
well that governments often grow to be more powerful than they should be, and
recognized the necessity of affording "the people" the means with which to
overthrow the powers that be if the need should arise. If you doubt that
contention, then you should familiarize yourself with the Declaration of

"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."

To those people who think that the aforementioned Amendment means that we are
only supposed to have guns for the sole purpose of fighting for the federal
government, I have only this to say. Nowhere in the 2nd Amendment is the federal
government even mentioned. The right outlined therein is inarguably afforded to
"THE PEOPLE"! The amendment being discussed is a part of the Bill of Rights,
which was designed specifically for the purpose of defining the unforfeitable
rights of average American citizens. Keep that in mind the next time a bunch of
politicians in Congress tell you that they have the authority to infringe upon
your Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. THEY DON'T!

As far as state governments are concerned, although the 2nd Amendment mentions
that the people are afforded the right to keep and bear arms in order to secure a
free State, one has to consider what a free state really is. By "free State" is
Madison talking about any state government or the people of any state? Consider
this, if he was only talking about a state government, how then would the people
of any state defend themselves against the potentially despotic rule of such a
state government if they were not allowed to keep and bear arms individually? The
answer is obvious, they wouldn't be able to.

The long and short of the matter is that the term "well regulated" was not added
to the amendment in question as a means of enforcing any particular standard, but
rather as a means of qualifying the statement "being necessary to the security of
a free State".

In order for a "free state" (free people) to exist, the people must be afforded
the ability to form a well regulated militia. A militia which is not well
regulated (well trained and drilled) would be incapable of fighting a well
regulated federal or state army. That's the ONLY reason the term "well regulated"
is mentioned. The first part of the amendment simply relates the reasoning behind
the author declaring the second part, which is the actual right being discussed.
It is NOT ambiguous!

Our Republic was founded upon certain principles regarding the individual and his/
her relationship to our government. First and foremost, primary consideration is,
and has always been afforded to the unalienable rights of the individual! The day
that agencies within our government decide to place the importance of the
government before that of individual liberty, is the day that our nation ceases
to be a Republic of the people, by the people and for the people.

The eradication of the 2nd Amendment would be tantamount to a crime against the
people of this country, and indeed humanity, perpetrated by a despotic and
tyrannical group of people who seek nothing but dominion over their fellow human

Some have referred to the Constitution of the United States of America as simply
a political or a legal document, but it is far more than that! It is a HUMANIST
document, which asserts the necessity for self determination above and beyond all
other human constructs. It embraces a philosophy which has guided this nation to
pinnacles of advancement and achievement in every meaningful sphere of life, the
likes of which have not otherwise been evinced throughout the recorded history of
this planet! To refer to it merely as a political/legal document is to ignore its
raison d'être.

Email Edward L. Daley