AOH :: 2NDAMEND.TXT|
Analysis of the 2nd Ammendment by the NRA
Note: The following article has been reprinted with permission
granted by NRAction, a publication of the National Rifle Associa-
tion. Please feel free to pass this article on.
"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 Amendment To The Constitution
of the United States of America
What It Meant Then
Boston, 1768. The British colonies in New England are prosper-
ing, due to the independent spirit and work ethic of the people
here. Great sailing ships cruise into Boston Harbor, evidence of
the wealth of world trade now generated from America's shores.
Colonial cities like Boston are swelling; new towns are springing
up and commerce is exploding because of the imaginative ways of
these strange, rowdy, blunt, outspoken American whom cultured
Europeans view with distaste. Yet the Old World gentry is quite
willing to shove its cultural disdain aside in the name of
The energy pouring out of America is filling the English coffers.
But still, the nobility of England is loath to relinquish its
power over the lives of these upstarts.
The know the absolute domination of a people cannot be achieved
without psychological and physical controls. These include the
social shackles Europe has imposed upon its citizenry for centur-
ies. It has meant wealth, leisure, and happiness for a handful--
oppression and despair for millions. The English monarchs sense
a growing mood of self-reliance and self-determination in the
distant colonies, and it both frightens and infuriates them. The
nobles react as they have always reacted.
Crush this swelling idealism among New England's commoners, they
say, before it can be embodied by some sort of revolutionary
action. Show these tasteless ruffians that independence is above
their station. The colonists are born to serve the King, and the
bayonets of our soldiers will remind them...
The word arrives upon New England's wild and windswept shores.
Disarm the American upstarts, for the presence of personal arms
makes them feel independent. Take away their firearms and put
the people of Boston back in their place. Then impose martial
law, because they need to be reminded they do not have a voice,
the mind and the will of the masses must be manipulated by a
single authority. This riffraff must be shown it is not capable
of thinking and acting for itself.
And if the Americans resist, bring them to England to be tried as
traitors. They insult the proper authorities by speaking out
about alleged injustices. These Americans are little more than
savages-how dare they even consider the privileges of station and
So it was in Boston, a city still young and so full of vision and
of spirit, that the British General Gage in 1775 came to quiet
the unrest and suppress the people. He determined to drive out
any notion of personal liberty, and he did it by attempting to
disarm all of Boston's citizenry.
But there was a new fire burning in Boston, an invisible fire
that illuminated each man and woman's individual worth. The
colonists had grown exhilarated over this strange new feeling.
More than just discovering a new land, they had felt the touch of
The people of Boston were not about to lay down their guns in
obedience to the King. Their forefathers had done so many times,
and had gone to their graves in the throes of an unshakable
But this surge of lust for personal liberty was a new thing. It
filled the colonists with courage and energy. And most of all,
it let them see clearly. If the Americans stood their ground
now, generations to come would know a sense of self-worth and
pride. And no sneering lord or nobleman or the henchmen thereof
would come knocking, demanding they give up their guns.
The people of Boston squared their shoulders and stood their
ground. The first Continental Congress listed the attempted
disarming of Boston in the declaration of causes for taking up
arms. The British were incensed by this insurrection, and they
marched to put it down. At Concord Bridge they met everyday
Americans tightly gripping their personal firearms. The sound of
freedom rang out in a series of sharp reports and tyranny slumped
to its knees.
WHAT IT MEANS NOW
The Second Amendment to the Constitution is sharp with clarity,
yet plagued by debate. The wording is direct: "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 in-
fringed." The intention of the Second Amendment is also clear
In 1789, during the meeting of America's first Congress, James
Madison proposed a Bill of Rights including the Second Amendment.
The people's right to keep and bear arms grew out of the bitter
memory of the Crown's attempt to disarm the colonists. At that
time, the militia consisted of everyday citizens and their
Opponents of the Second Amendment say the doctrine is old-fas-
hioned and unnecessary in a modern world filled with professional
soldiers. Unfortunately, tyranny has not yet become old-fas-
hioned, whether it is the tyranny of violent crime or the tyranny
of power and greed infringing upon the constitutional rights of
the common citizenry. The authors of the Constitution repeatedly
reminded us to stand guard against tyranny in any form if we
It stands to reason that those who now question the relevance of
the Second Amendment must also question the worth of the Consti-
tution as a whole. If they cannot accept the individual right of
a private citizen to keep and bear arms, most likely they have
misgivings about a free and independent society.
Freedom-loving Americans will continue to fight to keep our
Constitution rights. Among these Americans are some of the
finest minds to be found in the Nation. Following are excerpts
from the words and writings of several of liberty's most out-
spoken defenders. The subject: The Second Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States.
Dr. Stephen Halbrook, author of The Second Amendment: That Every
Man Be Armed, a comprehensive examination of the Second Amendment
and its ramifications:
"The Second Amendment is a constitutional right, a fundamental
freedom for all people who are law-abiding. It is not outdated
by the creation of our national guard. The national guard is a
state and federally-sponsored institution -- in fact, its final
loyalty is to the federal government, no to the individual
states. It is a select militia consisting of a small portion of
the population. Our founding fathers warned us against select
militias. By using the term, "well regulated militia," they made
reference to all able-bodied Americans.
The purpose of the Second Amendment was to provide a safeguard
against tyranny -- both domestic tyranny and that of foreign
powers. As long as the Second Amendment remains part of the
Constitution, the all law-abiding Americans are guaranteed a
right to keep and bear arms."
New York Supreme Court Justice David Boehm, constitutional
"I feel there's no question the Second Amendment was intended to
guarantee law-abiding Americans the right to possess firearms.
Look at the language in the Bill of Rights: whereas the majority
of the rights listed seem to be stated in the negative, "thou
shall not," the Second Amendment is the only one stated in the
I can understand people having a visceral feeling about firearms,
and they have the right to have those feelings. Yet their
feelings shouldn't infringe upon my right to have a gun. Be-
sides, gun ownership, in my opinion, doesn't impose the danger
that firearms critics charge. I don't believe possession of a
firearm correlates with violent crime. We have some 50,000 legal
firearm permit holders here in a single county where I live. If
there was a direct link between firearms and violence, then this
place should have long since been the scene of carnage. This
simply is not the case."
Orrin Hatch, United States Senator from Utah, and Bill of Rights
"America is a unique country with unique citizens. The founda-
tion of our country's greatness is the individual freedom on
which our Constitution is based, and which it continues to
protect. To seek to remove or limit any of these basic freedoms
is to make our country less than it should be. When our ances-
tors forged a land conceived in liberty, they did so with musket
and rifle. When they acted to protect their free institutions
and to establish their identity as a free nation, they did so as
armed men. We must respect our Constitution, including the
Second Amendment. I don't know of any group of people more law-
abiding and more capable of defending our country than those who
also defend our right to bear arms."
David T. Hardy, author of the book Origins and Development of the
Like its younger cousin, the right to trial by jury, the right to
keep and bear arms can first be seen as a duty to keep and bear
arms. But when, sometime in the twelfth century, the English
were required to serve on juries and ferret out criminals, they
had already been required for a dozen or more generations to own
and use arms. It is hardly surprising that these universal
duties became a way of life and a mainstay of their political
consensus, and in turn became, when such things began to be
debated, a right."
J. Warren Cassidy, executive vice president, National Rifle
Association of America.
"Do I feel the Second Amendment is presently in jeopardy? Yes,
if you mean that people are attempting to water down its meaning,
or see it changed to reflect something different than what our
founding fathers intended. There will always be individuals
unable to live by the common-sense rules found within the Bill of
Rights. It is up to you and me to keep these people in check.
It is also terribly important that we lead our young people back
to the Constitution. Our youth must have the opportunity to read
the Constitution, and also the Bill of Rights. They must under-
stand how their constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of choice has
been eroded. We should help our youth have a better grasp of
history. Society has changed, with its shift from rural to urban
populations. Yet the basic principles of the Constitution
remain. We must adhere to them if we wish to preserve a free and
Those who have difficulty accepting the Second Amendment also
have difficulty accepting the premise that all men are created
equal. They feel the Bill of Rights is out of date. What they
mean is that freedom and justice for all is no longer val-
id....except for just a few. And they have taken it upon them-
selves to choose the few.
For more information on how you can help preserve the Second
Amendment and your right to keep and bear arms by becoming a
member of the N.R.A., contact:
National Rifle Association
1600 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
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