This is so wrong it makes my head hurt…
The National Rifle Association and their fellow gun enthusiasts continue to misconstrue the founders’ original intent in creating the Second Amendment to the Constitution. A recently published NRA comment states that “Guns save lives, stop crime and protect you. This is why we arm police, why people arm themselves and why the Founders put the Second Amendment in the Constitution.”
The amendment reads as follows: “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.” A total of 27 words.
The NRA’s comment in the first paragraph would be accurate if these first 13 words of the Second Amendment concerning the role of a militia had not been included in this simple statement. The first 13 words have meaning. The founders were much concerned about the power of a standing army and the possibility of overt military control of the fledgling country.
In 1791 the members of the Virginia legislature elaborated on the importance of a militia in a letter accompanying their ratification of the first 10 amendments (1791). They stated that, “…a well regulated Militia composed of the body of the people trained to arms is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free State. That armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty…: and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to and governed by the Civil power.” 1791 was a time when less than 15 percent of the white male population, mostly untrained in the military use of weapons, possessed guns.
The requirement for a well trained militia rather than a standing army was further emphasized in several issues of the Federalist Papers authored by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay. In fact, Federalist No. 29 was exclusively dedicated to the need for a militia.
Of course, the issue of no standing army was short-lived. The War of 1812 proved that a standing army and navy were essential to our survival as an independent nation. The concern, however, about undue influence of the military remains today.
Over the years Supreme Court rulings have essentially ignored the first half of the Second Amendment, opting instead for easy access to weapons. A major question: How did the founders’ intent to provide for a militia evolve into a nation with over 300 million guns in circulation?
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, in his recent book, “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution,” proposes the addition of five words to the Second Amendment. As so amended, it would read: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.”
There is no Second Amendment right to own guns! So intended the founders!