Another 2nd Amendment Discussion

Discussion in 'Politics' started by DoubleActionCHL, Aug 29, 2009.

  1. DoubleActionCHL

    DoubleActionCHL Well-Known

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    Jun 23, 2008
    Spring, Texas
    I received an email from a former student concerning the limitations of the 2nd Amendment. He was posing the question for a friend, and my first impression was that his friend didn't fully comprehend the actual intent and meaning of the 2nd Amendment. Here's the conversation. Please, you tell me if I'm off the track or not:

    Friend:
    A friend of mine who is not anti-gun in any way asked me a question the other day that caused me to stop and think. I'm not sure how to answer him. More than that, I'm not sure what the answer actually is. I'm sending this to people on my mailing list that have either previously expressed concerns for how the Second Amendment is being interpreted today or might otherwise have interest in the question.

    Here's my friends question about the 2nd Amendment:
    'The <second> amendment does not say "small arms." In fact, it states that the reason for the right is so that citizens can form an effective military force (a militia). So do we as individuals have a right to own a 50-caliber machine gun, an RPG, a tank, artillery, warships or aircraft, or nuclear "arms"? If not, why not? Where's the distinction? You cannot say that it only applies to the kind of arms that were in existence when the Amendment was adopted. The Constitution does not work that way, and if it did, individuals would only have the right to own single-shot muskets and crude cannons. So where's the distinction?'
    Please let me know what you think.

    DoubleActionCHL:
    Well, first off, he is mistaken about the purpose of the 2nd Amendment. The idea that we have the right to keep and bear arms to form a militia is an erroneous contemporary interpretation.

    First, you must understand the purpose of the Bill of Rights. The first ten Amendments of the Constitution enumerate certain "unalienable rights" which we are "endowed by our creator." In other words, it recognizes our God-given rights. With this in mind, it simply makes no sense that we, as humans, own the right to defend ourselves only to the extent that a militia is necessary.

    I suggest your friend invest in a bit of history. He'll understand, based on writings of the framers of the Constitution, that they were terribly concerned about the expansion of powers of a large, central government. From historical precedent, they were painfully aware that large, powerful central government would quickly evolve into a tyrannical overlord, abusing its citizens. The primary instrument of abuse was the standing army. It is for this reason that our Founding Fathers rejected the idea of a standing army. Instead, they favored a militia made of up the citizenry.

    The 2nd Amendment acknowledges that a free nation must be able to protect itself, otherwise it ceases to be free, hence the mention of the militia. The framers believed this militia was a necessary evil, as it could be turned against its own citizens. An armed citizenry was a necessary counterbalance against this militia.

    Citizens retain the right to bear arms for self-defense, therefore it stands to reason that the weapons citizens might possess are defensive weapons. Defensive against whom? As much as our government refuses to admit it, defense against a tyrannical federal government is the primary function of the 2nd Amendment. As the strength of the government grows, so should the strength of the citizenry.

    "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."
    Thomas Jefferson


    Friend:
    I'm sorry, I didn't intend to trigger an extended discussion about why we have the 2nd Amendment and that wasn't the subject that I was interested in getting your views on. He and I both believe in the individual right to bear arms so we're all in agreement there. Both he and I agree that the point of the 2nd amendment "defense against a tyrannical federal government" so we're all in agreement there as well. The issue in my friends question is since 2nd Amendment discussions are most often about hand guns, although rifles and shotguns get in there sometimes, what about other kinds of "arms"?
    "do we as individuals have a right to own a 50-caliber machine gun, an RPG, a tank, artillery, warships or aircraft, or nuclear "arms"? If not, why not? Where's the distinction?"
    What the distinction was about what "arms" I could bear was what I was asking about.
    FYI: Your third paragraph starts off "I suggest your friend invest in a bit of history.". Neither of us would disagree with the rest of that paragraph, anyone who paid attention in high school American history class would have to agree. As far as my friend investing in a bit of history, Tracy, on this subject, he is without a doubt the most well read, well researched non-academic I've ever met.
    So what do you think, does the 2nd Amendment grant me the right or acknowledge my right to have a 50-caliber machine gun mounted on the back of my pickup or perhaps park an M-1 Abrams in my driveway?

    DoubleActionCHL:
    You contend that your friend's knowledge of history is adequate, yet you restated his belief that the 2nd Amendment's purpose was to populate a militia. This is in error.

    My discussion on the 2nd Amendment was simply to clarify your friend's misconceptions. In discussing the limitations of arms, one must first understand the original intent of the 2nd Amendment.

    I believe I answered your question, however. I stated the intent of the 2nd Amendment, then suggested that, with this defensive intent in mind, as the federal government grows stronger, so should the populace. The idea was to keep the federal government in check. I realize that, in contemporary terms, it seems a bit odd to suggest that American citizens be allowed to purchase and possess an RPG, but if we are to live by the spirit of the 2nd Amendment, this would be necessary to maintain the balance of power. The alternative is to simply give up and relegate ourselves to the status of "subject."

    ---------------------

    So, while I may have been a bit harsh in my comment regarding his friend's knowledge of history, am I on the mark regarding the 2nd Amendment? Also, (and I realize I'm reaching) what is YOUR opinion of the limitations of the 2nd Amendment. Should we, in fact, be limited to 'small arms,' or does the purpose and spirit of the 2nd Amendment extend the right of the people's armament to equal that of the federal government?

    This should be a good discussion!!!! :devil:
     


  2. M. Sage

    M. Sage TGT Addict

    Jan 21, 2009
    San Antonio
    You're right. If his friend were better versed in history, the question would be answered.

    Fact: It was not uncommon at the time the Constitution was written for merchant sailors to arm their ships with cannon. These were sold in the US to private citizens. I'd say that since many of the Founders were involved in a trade such as this, they'd agree that the RKBA doesn't apply only to small arms, but to field pieces as well... at least.

    The way I look at it is like this. If I had a time machine and access to an armory containing any weaponry ever made, would the Founders be happy to see me show up with certain weapons to aid the Revolution? What could I bring that they'd be uneasy about seeing in a private citizen's hands?

    An AK-47? They'd be thrilled that I had it. M2HB machine gun? They'd throw a party. An RPG-7, AT-4 or Javelin? Something tells me they'd kiss my ass if I showed up with a few of those... 155mm howitzer? I'd probably be offered Washington's job. M1A1 tank? I'd get my own state! An Apache or A-10? President for life. Low-yield nuke? Might bother them a touch... ICBM? They considered the English to be their brothers for the most part, and I doubt they'd be happy to see London wiped off the map.

    I'm going to have to go with "nukes = no, everything else is good".
     
  3. SiscoKid

    SiscoKid Active Member

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    SE TEXAS
    Since in Nazi Germany Hitler confiscated all arms including pistols, it stands to reason that even if the Jews were armed with small arms then the Germans would fear them.

    As for the 2nd Amendment, as all of the Bill of Rights, these were all designed to LIMIT government versus to "allow" citizen's actions. I can't go right to the quotes but it is generally understood that these "Rights" were God given.

    I have seen this debated on another forum by some committed liberals. They are asking the same thing, just what are "arms"? To me it should be the weapons of the day but I'm sure they can counter that.
     
  4. DoubleActionCHL

    DoubleActionCHL Well-Known

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    Spring, Texas
    When the government fears the people arming themselves, even to a fraction of the arms used by the government, maybe the government is too well armed.
     
  5. APatriot

    APatriot Active Member

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    Aug 19, 2009
    Houston, Tx
    DoubleAction: an outstanding response. You just made a headshot at 500 yards.....LOL
     
  6. DoubleActionCHL

    DoubleActionCHL Well-Known

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    Spring, Texas
    WOW! I was expecting a little more discussion on the subject. C'mon, guys. I'm not looking for you to agree with me; I really want some opinions (and the basis for your opinion) on the limitations of the 2nd Amendment.
     
  7. M. Sage

    M. Sage TGT Addict

    Jan 21, 2009
    San Antonio
    I did all I can do. :p
     
  8. Okierifleman

    Okierifleman Active Member

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    Mar 14, 2009
    Houston
    Here is the way I read it. When they wrote it, I think they meant so everyone could own firearms to form a militia, in order to join the armed services to protect this nation. That is still true today. In addition to the well regulated militia, I think they were saying to be able to protect your family and your right to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

    When asked why Yamamoto didnt try to invade the US, he stated "because he knew that there was a gun behind every blade of grass" I couldnt have said it better myself.
     
  9. M. Sage

    M. Sage TGT Addict

    Jan 21, 2009
    San Antonio
    The thoughts by the founders at the time were not leaning toward an organized military of any kind, or at least towards as small a military as they could get away with. They were pretty plain that they wanted the people to be able to defend themselves from the government if need be. That sentiment alone would imply that if given a choice between arming the government better than the people or vice versa, they'd choose to have the people get the good arms and the government get the left overs.

    Also, an important thing to realize is that "regulated" no longer means what it did. If they wanted to use a word that meant then what "regulated" means now, it would say "a well governed militia". Regulated meant that it ran properly and precisely, that its operation was normal or regular. They wanted a militia full of free men who were not members of a standing army who could handle themselves in combat.
     
  10. res1b3uq

    res1b3uq Active Member

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    Feb 14, 2009
    The second does not say "the right of the militia", it says "the right of the People to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED." What is not to understand?? I am not a lawyer, nor do I need one to understand this phrase. One would really have to struggle to misunderstand these words, and anyone that does not understand this does not belong on the Supreme Court.
     

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