How Fake 2nd Amendment History Kills

Exclusive: Another mass shooting has stunned America, although the sentiment is now more numbness and hopelessness than outrage and resolve. The gun carnage will probably never end unless the Right’s bogus history of the Second Amendment is exploded and the real intent of the Framers is explained, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

False history can kill, as the American people have seen again in the slaughter of 12 people working at the Navy Yard in Washington D.C. on Monday, when an emotionally disturbed gunman gained access to the military facility and opened fire, adding the site to a long list of mass-murder scenes across the United States.

Though the focus after the latest rampage has been on the need for better mental health detection and for better security at bases, the underlying story is again how easy it is for people in the United States, like the troubled Aaron Alexis, to obtain lethal weaponry – and how hard it is to keep guns away from dangerous individuals.

A painting of President George Washington leading a force of federalized state militias against the Whiskey rebels in western Pennsylvania in 1794.

In that sense, the Navy Yard narrative is just one more bloody patch in the grim tapestry that stretches from Virginia Tech to Aurora to Newtown to hundreds of other locations where thousands upon thousands of innocent lives have been taken by gun violence in America.

But a key reason why the nation is frozen in a shocking paralysis, unable to protect even little children, is that the American Right has sold much of the country on a false history regarding the Second Amendment. Right-wingers and other gun-rights advocates insist that the carnage can’t be stopped because it is part of what the Framers designed.

Yet that is not and never was the actual history. When the First Congress passed the Second Amendment in 1789, the goal was to promote state militias for the maintenance of order in a time of political violence, potential slave revolts and simmering hostilities with both European powers and Native Americans on the frontiers.

The amendment was never intended as a blank check for some unstable person to massacre fellow Americans. Indeed, it defined its purpose as achieving “security” against disruptions to the country’s new republican form of government. The Second Amendment read:

“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.” In other words, if read in context, you would see that the Second Amendment was enacted so each state would have the specific right to form “a well-regulated militia” to maintain “security,” i.e. to put down armed disorder.

In the late Eighteenth Century, the meaning of “bearing” arms also referred to a citizen being part of a militia or army. It didn’t mean that an individual had the right to possess whatever number of high-capacity killing machines that he or she might want. Indeed, the most lethal weapon that early Americans owned was a slow-loading, single-fired musket or rifle.

No Anarchists

And, the Framers of the Constitution were not some anarchists who wanted an armed population so people could overthrow the government if they weren’t happy with something. Indeed, one of the crises that led to the Constitution was the inability of the old system under the Articles of Confederation to put down the Shays’s Rebellion in western Massachusetts in 1786-87.

The Framers – people like George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and Gouverneur Morris – were the Establishment of the day. They also recognized how fragile the nation’s independence was and how novel was the idea of a constitutional republic with democratic elections. They were seeking a system that took political action that reflected the will of the people, yet within a framework that constrained the passions of democracy.

The whole idea of the Constitution – with its mix of voting, elected representatives and checks and balances – was to create a political structure that made violence unnecessary. As the Preamble states, two key goals were to “promote the general Welfare” and to “insure domestic Tranquility.”

So, the Framers weren’t encouraging violent uprisings against the republic that they were founding. To the contrary, they characterized violence against the constitutional system as “treason” in Article III, Section 3. They also committed the federal government to protect each state from “domestic Violence,” in Article IV, Section 4.

And one of the first uses of the new state militias formed under the Second Amendment and the Militia Acts was for President Washington to lead a federalized force of militiamen against the Whiskey Rebellion, a tax revolt, in western Pennsylvania in 1794.

Though it’s true that many Americans owned a musket or rifle in those early years especially on the frontier, regulations on munitions were still common in cities where storing of gunpowder, for instance, represented a threat to the public safety. As the nation spread westward, so did common-sense restrictions on gun violence. Sheriffs in some of the wildest of Wild West towns enforced gun bans that today would prompt a recall election financed by the National Rifle Association.

This history was well understood both by citizens and courts. For generations, the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment as a collective right, allowing Americans to participate in a “well-regulated Militia,” not as an individual right to buy the latest weaponry at a gun show or stockpile a military-style arsenal in the basement.

False Narrative

However, in recent decades – understanding the power of narrative on the human imagination – a resurgent American Right rewrote the history of the Founding era, dispatching “researchers” to cherry-pick or fabricate quotes from Revolutionary War leaders to create politically convenient illusions. [See, for instance, Steven Krulik's compilation of apocryphal gun quotes.]

Among the false narratives was the one about the Second Amendment, which the Right (and some on the Left) transformed into a supposed device by which the Framers authorized armed rebellion against the constitutional Republic. Rather than people who believed in the rule of law and social order, the Framers were contorted into mad radicals who wanted citizens to be empowered to shoot police, soldiers, elected representatives and government officials.

These “scholars” love to cite provocative comments by Thomas Jefferson, who was not even a participant in drafting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights because he was the U.S. representative in France at the time. But these revisionists still will quote Jefferson in a 1787 letter criticizing the Constitution for its commander-in-chief provisions. Jefferson argued that violence, like the Shays’s Rebellion, was to be welcomed. He declared that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.”

It is ironic, however, that Jefferson was never willing to risk his own blood as that “natural manure.” During the Revolutionary War when traitor Benedict Arnold led a force of Loyalists against Richmond, Jefferson, who was then Virginia’s governor, declined to rally the state militia in defense of the capital but rather fled for his life. Later, when British cavalry approached Charlottesville and his home of Monticello, Gov. Jefferson again took flight.

Despite his personal cowardice, Jefferson had a lust when it came to others shedding blood. He also was eager for Virginia to have a state militia of armed whites to crush possible black slave rebellions, another prospect that terrified him.

As a slaveholder and a pseudo-scientific racist, Jefferson surely did not envision blacks as having any individual right to own guns themselves or to fight for their own liberty. Reflecting on blacks who fought bravely in the Revolution, Jefferson concluded that their courage was an illusion resulting from their intellectual inability to recognize danger.

Yet, whatever one thinks of Jefferson’s racism and cowardice, it’s a historical error to cite Jefferson in any way as speaking definitively about what the Framers intended with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He was not directly involved in either.

Still, this false history was advanced by the American Right in the last half of the Twentieth Century as a kind of neo-Confederate call to arms, with the goal of rallying whites into a near-insurrectionary fury particularly in the South but also in rural areas of the North and West. Many fancied themselves an armed resistance against the tyrannical federal government.

Southern whites brandished guns and engaged in violence to resist the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, when the federal government finally stepped in to end Jim Crow laws and racial segregation. In the 1990s, “citizens militias” began to pop up in reaction to the election of Democrat Bill Clinton, culminating in the Oklahoma City bombing of 1994.

Winning the Court

While designed primarily for the weak-minded, the Right’s faux Founding history also had an impact on right-wing “intellectuals” including Republican lawyers who worked their way up through the federal judiciary under Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

By 2008, these right-wing jurists held a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court and could thus overturn generations of legal precedents and declare that the Second Amendment established an individual right for Americans to own guns. Though even these five right-wing justices accepted society’s right to protect the general welfare of the population through some gun control, the Supreme Court’s ruling effectively “validated” the Right’s made-up history.

The ruling created a political dynamic in which even liberals in national politics, the likes of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, had to genuflect to the supposed Second Amendment right of Americans to parade around in public with guns on their hips and high-powered semi-automatic rifles slung over their shoulders.

As guns-right activists struck down gun regulations in Congress and in statehouses across the nation, their dominant argument was that the Second Amendment offered no leeway for restrictions on gun ownership; it’s what the Framers wanted.

So, pretty much any unstable person could load up with a vast killing capacity and slouch off to a bar, a work place, a church or a school – even an elementary school – and treat fellow Americans as targets in a violent video game. Somehow, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was overtaken by the “right” to own an AR-15 with a 30-or-100-bullet magazine.

When right-wing politicians talk about the Second Amendment now, they don’t even bother to include the preamble that explains the point of the amendment. The entire amendment is only 26 words. But the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, apparently find the preamble inconvenient because it would undercut the false storyline that they foist on uneducated Americans. So they just lop off the first 12 words.

Nor do Cruz and his fellow Tea Partiers explain to their followers what the Framers meant by “bear arms.” The phrase reflected the reasoning in the preamble that the whole point was to create “well-regulated” state militias to maintain “security,” not to free up anybody with a beef to kill government representatives.

This bogus narrative of the Framers seeking to encourage violence to subvert the peaceful and orderly process that they had painstakingly created in Philadelphia in 1787 also has been pushed by prominent right-wingers, such as radio host Rush Limbaugh and Fox News personality Andrew Napolitano

After last December’s massacre of 20 children and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, Napolitano declared: “The historical reality of the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to keep and bear arms is not that it protects the right to shoot deer. It protects the right to shoot tyrants, and it protects the right to shoot at them effectively, with the same instruments they would use upon us.”

The clear message from the Right has been that armed Americans must confront the “tyrannical” Barack Obama – the twice-elected President of the United States (and the first African-American to hold that office) – especially if he presses ahead seeking commonsense gun restrictions.

Which brings us back to the Navy Yard massacre in Washington D.C. It has quickly and quietly taken its place among the other mass slaughters that can’t be stopped because the Right’s powerful propaganda apparatus has sold millions of Americans on the dangerous – and false – notion that the Framers of the U.S. Constitution wanted it this way.

These modern “revolutionaries” have been persuaded that they are channeling the intent of the Framers who supposedly saw armed uprisings against the legally constituted U.S. government as an important element of “liberty.” But that belief is not the historical reality. Indeed, the reality is almost the opposite.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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47 comments on “How Fake 2nd Amendment History Kills

  1. Excellent article Mr Parry. Sadly, I notice that even some on the center/left side of the political spectrum now refer to “2nd Amendment gun ownership rights’ without any qualifiers, notably critics of the gun violence (like Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” for instance) who just don’t even bring up your above history – - – probably for the sake of brevity, I suspect. I don’t look for anything to change soon, since people seem becoming inured to this level of violence, and it will take more than sound, logical reasoning to solve problems like this since we wouldn’t be anywhere NEAR this kind of situation IF the majority of people in this country used those mental facilities. I suspect it’s going to take some major, traumatic long-term situation before there’s the proverbial ‘paradigm shift’, because you can recall how much carnage and deaths (US ones, of course, since they’re the only ones that really count!) that people were willing to endure during the Vietnam War for so many years before that debacle was finally ended.

    • Martha Warner on said:

      USA citizens DID NOT continue to support the war in NAM all those years. President Johnson heard our protest and had a plan to end the war ready to be implemented when NIXON, in what LBJ later referred to as an act of TREASON, derailed the plan. Nixon’s actions were not reported by LBJ because of fears that if citizens knew the truth our nation would literally fall apart. I wish LBJ had told us the truth and let our nation confront that tragic moment. I think we would have found the resources and will to repair, heal, and rebuild. Living with lies is not the way to move forward. Martha Warner

      • “if citizens knew the truth our nation would literally fall apart.”
        excellent point from a poster here who has been “removed” for some reason.
        .
        By keeping the people “calm” US Administrations especially over Vietnam has resulted in a huge loss of life ,money and prestige for us all.

      • Martha -
        True, there were protestors of the Vietnam War (I was one of them), but sadly we were still a small enough percentage of the population (and initially, of the pundits) that the execrable Nixon was able to resurrect himself and win (with the help of his typical dirty tricks) in 68 and then – - – even MORE disturbingly – - – decimate the anti-war candidate George McGovern at the polls in 72. So, in short, it has to be sadly conceded that a majority of the US voters apparently supported the Vietnam War (or didn’t have any significant objections) otherwise it wouldn’t have lasted for the 10 yrs that it did.

        Also, I have to admit to skepticism regarding LBJ’s peace-plans, since he escalated the war greatly. As this* link regarding US troop levels in Vietnam shows, they were at the maximum (>500,000) in 1968, before Nixon took office. I suspect that Johnson would’ve done something like Nixon did (and W did with Iraq) — drag his feet on peace-plans — until his term of office was over and he could turn it over to his successor to try to solve.

        * http://www.americanwarlibrary.com/vietnam/vwatl.htm

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  2. Chip Croft on said:

    You are absolutely right. The 2nd Amendment is racist. The founding fathers were terrified of a slave rebellion and wanted the colonists to all have an armed militia in case there was a slave uprising. It had nothing to do with private person’s right to have guns. Remember how the old west was civilized by “getting the guns out of Dodge.” Guns were not allowed in towns in order to keep the peace. Now we allow the guns, even concealed, in towns, schools, playgrounds, malls, and on and on and we are paying the price. Time to get the guns out of Dodge again!

  3. Faruq Anders on said:

    How Fake 2nd Amendment History Kills – baby occasion wear

  4. When only crazies, Gov and criminals have guns, carnage ensues. If every employee and military personnel were caring than far fewer lives would have been lost. It is possible, with well trained observant Americans that only the murderer would have lost his life. Historical rewrites and spins are equally dangerous and even more so as the are proliferating from the left. For historical context see political scientist Rommel’s “Death by Government.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democide

  5. Bob McBob on said:

    Cool story, brah.

  6. Alfredo Villanueva-Collado on said:

    I have this terrible hunch that guns will cause the fall of American civilization and of this country as we know it politically today. Many Tea Partiers really want a different country, based on violence, ehtnic and religious purity: just like the Islamic fundamentalists.

    • Phil Wilson on said:

      Do you know any tea party members? Ever talked to one? The core complaints of the tea party movement have nothing to do with race, religion, or violence. Like most large groups, they all races; they are gay and straight; they are religious and secular. One core value that unites them is that they wish to be allowed to live their lives without constraints placed by invasive government regulation. In other words, “let me do my thing and I’ll let you do yours.”

      Completely unlike Islamic fundamentalists.

      Talk to some tea party people. Sure, some will be jerks; this is true of any large group. However, if you are willing to make the effort to actually get to know some people, you might be pleasantly surprised.

  7. Amelia Amy on said:

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  8. Martha Warner on said:

    Perhaps our nation will be forced to wait for one of the five Right Wingers on the Supreme Court to be replaced, in order to receive an accurate interpretation of the Second Amendment.

    In the meanwhile, since our mainstream media can only focus on one thing at a time, let’s encourage them to attend to forcing Congress and the President to uphold the Constitutional requirement for the government to pay public debts. Section 4 of AMENDMENT XIV reads: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law . . . . shall not be questioned.”

    Once again, citizens are being subjected to the politics of fear by the bigoted wing of the Republican Party, intent on destroying our fragile democracy and establishing a one-party state (Karl Rove’s advertised Plan). Wake up, America! Martha Warner

    • Phil Wilson on said:

      “Once again, citizens are being subjected to the politics of fear by the bigoted wing of the Republican Party, intent on destroying our fragile democracy and establishing a one-party state (Karl Rove’s advertised Plan). Wake up, America! Martha Warner”

      Good lord, some of you folks are just as bad as Alex Jones followers. I don’t recall how I got linked here, but I think I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole. Haven’t felt like this since I ended up browsing Infowars late one night.

  9. The US government is becoming more tyrannical. Obamacare (Power & Control) and the way it was shoved through congress is a perfect example of tyranny. “We’ll find out what’s in the bill after we pass it”. What kind of B.S. is that? The NSA’s infringement of the worlds privacy is another example of the tyrannical tendencies of the US.
    I as a ‘US CITIZEN’ do not trust the government, Period. I’m all for amending the 2nd ammendment so that it clearly states the citizenry’s right to protect itself from an increasingly imposing government that is drunk with power.

  10. I’ve done some reading up on the history of the 2nd Amendment as well as arguments at the convention – although not as any kind of legal scholar since I am not one – just stumbled in while looking up my family history.

    It’s interesting how many of the arguments then are similar to the arguments today. Some at that time wanted a gun ownership requirement for all citizens, while on the other end of the spectrum, some wanted a requirement to actually be a member of a “well-regulated militia”, and others wanted the right to be absolute.

    None of these points made it. There was a pressing matter of getting remaining states to ratify the constitution, and the Bill of Rights was needed to address the concerns of the remaining hold-out states.

    What passed was a less-than-ideally-specific amendment which objectively was a compromise; leaving future questions up to future courts and others in government.

    But an interesting bottom line is; out of all the Supreme Court decisions, even those siding with a specific right to own a gun in a specific case, Zero of them have ever given up the Government’s general right to regulate. I imagine this has something to do with the desire that state militias, and the gun possession needed to belong to them, should be [government] regulated, for the purpose of putting down rebellions as opposed to inciting them.

    Recently a sobering turn of events occurred. When some local governments sponsored programs offering rewards to those to volunteered to anonymously turn in guns, in some places, some people turned in rocket launchers and fully-automatic machine guns. How many people can say with certainty whether or not the people who had these things were their own neighbors?

  11. Jim None on said:

    Mr. Parry has his facts all wrong. The actual discussion, which he never deals with, that went on when the second amendment was put in place dealt with the UNORGANIZED militia, not the organized militias. The UNORGANIZED militia consisted of all able bodied men able to shoot a gun. Part of the discussion involved whether the second amendment should not only guarantee those men the RIGHT to be armed but whether it should REQUIRE them to actually go buy a gun if they didn’t already have one! What “well-regulated” meant back then was that this Unorganized militia should have quality guns, not junk. But the wording, if you read and understand English, does not limit the RIGHT to just those in the unorganized militia. The second amendment STATED, not created, the EXISTING and INHERENT right of citizens ownership and use of arms, not just guns.

    • Actually what “well regulated” meant was drilled or trained according to the Prussian Manual of Arms as set forth in Baron von Steuben’s “Blue Book.”

  12. alot of revisionist history ,

  13. the 2nd amendment and the militia had absolutely nothing to do with slavery or maintaining control ,
    it had everything to do with throwing a tyrannical government off the back of the people and to provide a counter balance to government oppression as a last line of defense to preserve freedom , anyone who tells you others wise is either ignorant or dishonest,,,, i would bet money if you pay attention to the politics of those trying to re write history they over overwhelmingly support government

  14. Mark Kaplan on said:

    Following a massacre of Republican congressmen coming off a free lunch on K Street in DC, with corporate lobbyists and their criminal henchmen, at the hands of another ‘American hero’ — you’ll see assault weapons banned, and other gun control measures put in place — by the following Monday afternoon. Period. Case closed.

  15. Stop being a hypocrite Parry.

  16. As every lib newspaper never fails to warn mass shootings in Chicago are as common daily.

    Why not does Mr. Parry and other mainstream news pundits care to rant on the statistics for woman and children? Or do they not in their zeal for party politics fail to see the big picture?

    \The third leading cause of death for woman is domestic violence. the statistics for children equally staggering.

    Men need to get over there egoes and report the truth. Or face the fact that tyhey will go down in history as the hypocrites who cause the decline of western civilization.

  17. Why not explain Mr. Parry where the gunman came from. Foreigner. Military man. Enjoyed violent games. Took psychotropic drugs.

    If you Mr. Parry cannot explain these things as part of the problem than you have no right posing your rhetoric as part of the solution. Politics is NEVER the solution to social problems causes by fascistic politics.

    Get over it.

  18. So the question Mr. Parry is…is not your own revisionistic histrionics not equally to blame? Do you to Judas look to place your finger on a faux when you as well should be looking at the present instead of a androcentricly fabricated past?

  19. John Machado on said:

    USSC 1876, Cruikshank and 1939, Miller .. two distinctly different courts: the second amendment is about and only about militia. Chief Justice Warren Burger: “”the NRA has perpetrated a fraud on the American people.”"

    It’s time for Americans to wake up. Being a democracy demands that. Such crimes as the JFK hit J. Edgar Hoover) and 9-11 (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Silverstein)
    and others .. could not have gone unpunished if Americans had the slightest ability to pay attention and do the math.

    Being captivated by such disgusting creeps as the NRA and the GOP is a sin of sheer laziness.

    • LibertyToad on said:

      Uhhhh, the US is not a “democracy” it is a constitutional republic. The Founders repeatedly wrote about how they hated democracies.

  20. About 3,000 people were killed on 911. Since then about 360,000 have been killed due to gun violence in the last 12 years. This year their have been about 250 “mass killing” events where 4 or more have been killed. At the Daily Kos their has been a “gun blog” summarizing “gun fails” and the related tragedies. Most of the “gun rights” people don’t even know the full 2nd amendment. Let them have their guns. They mostly harm themselves – not always – but most often. It is no use to explain the Constitution to them. Let’s put our efforts toward nuclear weapons and let others play happily with the small stuff.

    • 360,000 “gun violence” deaths?

      I see you just took the oft-parroted number of 30,000 killed by guns per year in the US (based on CDC statistics from 2010), and multiplied it by 12 – 12 years since 9/11.

      Care to break down how many of those deaths are service members killed in war, suicides, criminals shot by police, criminals shot by armed citizens?

      Or are you just another Bloomberg-esque shill who will include the names of criminals and terrorists on your big list of “gun deaths?”

    • LibertyToad on said:

      …and did they balance that against the all of the times a gun was legally used to prevent a crime, or did they just report on one side of the issue?

  21. This is one of the stupidest articles every written. You are a disgrace to journalism.

  22. If the 2nd A protects only “slow-loading, single-fired musket or rifle”, then the first amendment only protects documents written with quill pens since that was the technology of the day. The framers of the Constitution never intended to give stupidity of this magnitude free reign on radio, TV and internet.

  23. Mike Crognale on said:

    Mr. Parry, you have made a simple yet fatal mistake in your opening premise. The Second Amendment does NOT entitle the state to form a “militia”. Had you bothered to read the history of the debates concerning the entire bill of rights you would not have reached your conclusion. In point of fact the clause “a free state” does not now nor did it ever refer to any political body such as the state, city, town, etc. It refers to the condition of freedom, the “state” of being free. The Bill of Rights supersedes the Constitution guaranteeing rights that exist for every human regardless of the form of government. Perhaps further study of the debates and writings surrounding the adoption of the first 10 amendments is in order for you.

  24. I am so happy to read that the second amendment does not really mean what it seems to say. It was really just the founders saying that the right of the government to arm a standing army will not be infringed. Crazy me, I am only able to read English and not your wishful thinking on this. I would never have guessed that the founders were so stupid as to think the government needed to have its right to be armed guaranteed. It seems the court is under the same miss impression as I was. They must also be able to read English and not your wishful thinking.

  25. Here is the problem with Mr. Parry’ view of the Second Amendment. If its intended purpose was to
    “ promote state militias for the maintenance of order in a time of political violence, potential slave revolts and simmering hostilities with both European powers and Native Americans on the frontiers”
    Then there was already language in the Constitution to do just that, i.e.,
    The relevant language is found in Article I, Section 8 where Congress was given the power to:
    To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

    To provide and maintain a Navy;

    To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
    To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

    To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
    So if all the Second Amendment did was to
    “promote state militias for the maintenance of order in a time of political violence, potential slave revolts and simmering hostilities with both European powers and Native Americans on the frontiers”
    Then it would be redundant. We can only conclude that it is there for other reasons, namely to guarantee the right of the individual citizen to bear arms.
    The Bill of Rights is there as a guarantee of individual rights not found in the main document and of course the 10th amendment giving the states the powers not reserved for the Federal government. Parry’s interpretation of the Second Amendment would leave the Second Amendment out of place from both a grammatical and functional point of view. I can only conclude that Mr. Parry has not read the Second Amendment in context of the entire Constitution especially the section where Congress’s powers to raise and regulate the military are defined. Therefore I can only conclude that Mr. Parry, while deliver a reasoned argument, fails the test of both logic and constitutional accuracy.

  26. Rich Grise on said:

    Of course, the grabbers and other traitors like Mr. Parry, who are so in love with the bloody corpses of children, never ever mention the plain and simple fact that EVERY SINGLE ONE of those “mass shootings’ took place under the umbrella of “strict common-sense gun control.”

    Every Single One.

    In other words, the plain fact is, “gun-free zones” cause the deaths of defenseless innocent victims.

  27. Ed Messinger on said:

    Two interesting facts that Mr. Parry fails to mention. When asked what the relationship of the people to the militia, George Mason, one of the authors of the Bill of Rights, answered, “The People Sir, Are the militia”. The Militia Act of 1792 required every able bodied man to own a musket and accoutrements. The Second Amendment was widely debated and only adopted because two states demanded it be included or they would not ratify the Constitution. The two states were Virginia and New York.

  28. You prove once again that what you and many like you call ‘common-sense gun controls’ have absolutely nothing to do with guns and everything to do with control.

    • Starrman, your question contradicts your purpose. There were several state constitutions with self defense clauses in them written before the federal constitution. The absence of a self defense clause in the 2nd Amendment is what detectives call “the dog that didn’t bark.” The delegates to the constitutional convention had several examples of self defense clauses but *chose not to include one*. They chose not to because they were concerned with defense of the state, as they wrote in the amendment, not individual self defense.

      They believed in using the militia, organized by municipalities, financed by the states, and ultimately under federal control to defend the nation, maintain public order, and to put down insurrections (article 1, Section 8, if memory serves).

  29. Starrman0311 on said:

    Riddle me this, Mr. Parry;
    If the purpose of the 2nd Amendment in the Federal Constitution is designed only to allow states to keep militias and NOT to protect an individual right to keep guns, then why does the Pennsylvania constitution, which was enacted BEFORE the federal constitution state that “the people have a right to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state…” Why does the Delaware constitution say “A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use.”? Your logic, Mr. Parry, says that even though the individual states recognized an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, their delegates to the constitutional convention voted to strip that right by passing the second amendment. Surely that is not the case.
    In short, Mr. Parry, your argument is completely wrong.

  30. parkmana on said:

    These “mass shootings” all have in common the 2nd Amendment rights are non-existent… nobody can shoot back.

  31. Glockslinger on said:

    It wasn’t the “fake history” that enabled the shootings at the DC Naval yard; it was feel good “gun control” policies that disarmed active duty personnel while on base. (This IS the military we’re talking about here, after all! No matter what your view on 2A might be, no one disputes that these people make up a valid militia?) But hey, the word “militia” is the point of confusion here, not points about standing armies, etc.

    Point of fact: the word “militia” as used in 2A is meant to distinguish a volunteer civilian force from a standing army, which our founders fought against given the abuses of the British standing army on civilians during peacetime. They envisioned the body of the American people being able to be “called up” in an emergency, responding with their own privately owned arms. While we’ve obviously rejected this mode of national defense, our U.S. code still distinguishes between the “organized militia,” meaning the National Guard, and the “unorganized militia,” meaning all armed citizens. And seriously, isn’t a bit silly to think we need an amendment to say that the ARMY can be armed?

    Additionally, here’s a great article on the notion of a “collective” right to keep and bear arms:
    http://www.nraila.org/news-issues/articles/2008/a-(really)-brief-history-of-the-collec.aspx

    Nobody is in favor of criminals and mentally disturbed people getting guns, but thinking people realize that disarming the law abiding makes nobody safer. Gun control proponents see a spree killing and blame the gun, using the incident as reasoning for restrictions; gun rights advocates see the same instance, blame the killer and use it as justification for potential victims being armed. In a sense, both are right: the shooter in DC was a troubled man with a semi-criminal past who should’ve never been allowed a gun, and those killed were incomprehensiblly disarmed by policy and never should’ve been.

    “Foolish liberals who are trying to read the Second Amendment out of the constitution by claiming it’s not an individual right or that it’s too much of a safety hazard don’t see the danger of the big picture. They’re courting disaster by encouraging others to use this same means to eliminate portions of the Constitution they don’t like.” — Alan Dershowitz (Source: The Conceptual Foundations of Anglo-American Jurisprudence in Religion and Reason, 82 Mich L. Rev., 204 [Dan Gifford], 1995)

  32. Russ Bixby on said:

    Please forgive my repeating myself:

    The Bill of Rights consists of the first ten Amendments to the Constitution, made by the means set forth in that Constution even before it came into effect and required in order to render it acceptable to the thirteen United States.

    They set out individual rights and liberties in the spirit of Locke and the hand of (among others) Jefferson, against the stated stance of the Federalists who did not believe that rights should be specified.

    To their credit, the Federalists feared that enumerating rights might implicitly curtail those not enumerated, and the whole “these rights do not constitute all rights” segment was largely their doing.

    However, the entire philosophy set forth in that wonderful framework is that we are equal, each a peer in and of the State and that our rights end only where the nose or property of another begins.

    Nowhere is there even implied the notion that we were to all be as collectivist drones in what was to be essentially a hive.

    A well regulated militia is indeed essential to the security of a free State, and we must needs permit nothing — especially a centralized authority — to compromise the preparedness of that milita. However comprised, that militia must function as needed, where needed and when needed.

    In the event of hostile forces landing, we could not wait for a messenger to get to whomever had the authority to call out the militia, nor to wait for a “quorum” of militiamen to assemble. In the initial response to hostile action, the militia comprised the individuals who were in a position to act, the first responders.

    We each and all were expected to send a messenger and then act on individual initiative, as patriots and free persons in defense of hearth and home.

    In the final anaIysis, when someone invades ones home or holds one up on the street, they are in effect attacking Kansas, Texas, Vermont et cetera as applicable and also America — a part and peer of the State.

    In such cases the militia, the first responder, is the self and numbers one.

  33. From your article

    “They also committed the federal government to protect each state from “domestic Violence,” in Article IV, Section 4.”

    “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.” In other words, if read in context, you would see that the Second Amendment was enacted so each state would have the specific right to form “a well-regulated militia” to maintain “security,” i.e. to put down armed disorder.”

    So, if the Federal Government was already tasked (Article IV, Section 4 of the constitution)to protect the states against domestic violence. Who or what was the 2nd amendment guarding against? In other words what entity would threaten the security of a free State?

    • The short answer – the potential threat was from a lack of an effective national defense.

      The 2nd AMDT authors were faced with conflicting issues – and there’s a legitimate argument that it was written as a compromise solution.

      The Constitution authorized national defense and raising of armies, but they still hadn’t even paid off debts yet to the soldiers of the Revolution. Also they were wary of an overly large full-time national standing army – partly because they didn’t want to look like the ominous British full-time standing army they had just defeated in the Revilution, who had been defeated using a lot of participation from state/citizen’s militias – a real issue, considering that a couple of states had still not yet ratified the Constitution.

      There was a variety of disagreement on the the future size and scope of a national standing army, but there was majority agreement that national defense should include some amount (not yet defined) of participation from the State’s “well regulated militias”. It was common practice at the time for militia’s soldiers to provide their own “arms” and even ammunition, since they were part-timers (like our current national guards) and would likely be more skilled with weapons they owned themselves.

      Note that in spite of what some ‘fringies’ might claim, there is nothing in the Constitution, or any of it’s Ammendments, or in any subsequent Supreme Court decisions, which authorizes armed rebellions of any kind.

      Personally, I think the best thing about the 2nd AMDT is that it inspires the reading of history.