As the discussion over increased gun controls takes front and center, in light of the most recent massacre in Connecticut, the Second Amendment is called upon by many in various contexts. “My personal rights, My Second Amendment rights,” are used in defense of current gun possession and use conditions.
There has been far less attention to the Second Amendment itself; its wording; its history or its intent by our forefathers. In case you have forgotten the exact wording of the amendment, it is:
“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.”
This amendment was passed in 1791 when the United States was a fledgling nation.
It had no standing army, no Navy, no marines and no national guard . . . in short, no way to defend itself in the event of an attack by a foreign power. If attacked, it would have to rely on the ability to quickly assemble a volunteer force to repel invaders.
Most European powers of that century had standing armies and navies. In the case of Spain, England and France, they had large powerful navies and armies.
Note the opening wording of the Second Amendment, i.e. “A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free state” directly indicates the purpose of the amendment.
Its purpose was to maintain national security. Its purpose was not to guarantee personal rights. Citizens with muzzle-loading muskets could be called upon to constitute a “well regulated Militia” if needed by the national government.
Our Forefathers were not intent upon guaranteeing personal rights when they passed this amendment.