The Context of The Second Amendment
The interpretation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the
United States of America has been a topic of controversy since its acceptance
over two-hundred years ago. This controversy stems from the fact that the
amendment was written for reasons for the most part that do not have any
relevance today. One side argues the amendment void, and the other takes it
out of historical context so it portrays the meaning they want. To understand
what the second Amendment means, one must interpret the actual text, the
historical background for its adoption, and what it means today.
“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”
(Nesbit, 309). What many people see when they read this is, ‘the right of the
people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed'. One can say that it
clearly states that the people do have a right to have firearms. Who are ‘the
people'? Some argue that the people are just what it says, citizens. “[M]any
legal historians have concluded that the right is corporate rather that
individual”(Hook, 30). Meaning that the right is giving to the state government
not to individual citizens. Others argue that it does give people the right to
bear arms, but only if you belong to a certain group.
This group is defined by the beginning preamble to the Second Amendment,
‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State'.
This preamble is set out to regulate the other half of the Amendment. What is a
militia? “[A] militia is a body of men enrolled for military service, and
called out periodically for drill and exercises, but serving full time only in
emergency”(Hook, 25). This is talking about a State sponsored militia that is
well-regulated. Since there are no State Militias do the people have any right
to bear Arms? According to this amendment it is up to the State to decide that.
This whole Amendment is guarantee's the state the right to have a well-regulated
militia in which the people can bear arms.
“[T]he individuals right to bear arms applies only to the preservation or
efficiency of a well-regulated [state] militia. Except for lawful police and
military purposes, the possession of weapons by individuals is not
constitutionally protected”(Nisbet, 316).
One cannot only look at the text to understand the true meaning of the Second
Amendment one must also look into the historical reasons for its adoption.
The struggle with England and King George scared the American people.
They saw a man corrupted by power and using his power to do evil. The founding
fathers realized that one man having so much power could be corrupting. That is
why they set up our political system with many checks and balances so that one
branch could not dominate the other two. The founding fathers feared that the
one man in control...