The history of the second amendment


Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Link here. Anyone who wishes to avoid being willfully ignorant about the reasons and background to the second amendment and presently feels lacking in knowledge will find this essay immensely clarifying. Bottom line:

Again, both sides [in the debate over the ratification of the Constitution] not only agreed that the people had a right to be armed, both sides assumed the existence of an armed population as an essential element to preserving liberty. The framers quite clearly had adopted James Harrington’s political theory that the measure of liberty attained and retained was a direct function of an armed citizenry’s ability to claim and hold those rights from domestic and foreign enemies.

And from the conclusion:

English history made two things clear to the American revolutionaries: force of arms was the only effective check on government, and standing armies threatened liberty. Recognition of these premises meant that the force of arms necessary to check government had to be placed in the hands of citizens. The English theorists Blackstone and Harrington advocated these tenants. Because the public purpose of the right to keep arms was to check government, the right necessarily belonged to the individual and, as a matter of theory, was thought to be absolute in that it could not be abrogated by the prevailing rulers.

These views were adopted by the framers, both Federalists and Antifederalists. Neither group trusted government. Both believed the greatest danger to the new republic was tyrannical government and that the ultimate check on tyranny was an armed population. It is beyond dispute that the second amendment right was to serve the same public purpose as advocated by the English theorists. The check on all government, not simply the federal government, was the armed population, the militia. Government would not be accorded the power to create a select militia since such a body would become the government’s instrument. The whole of the population would comprise the militia. As the constitutional debates prove, the framers recognized that the common public purpose of preserving freedom would be served by protecting each individual’s right to arms, thus empowering the people to resist tyranny and preserve the republic. The intent was not to create a right for other governments, the individual states; it was to preserve the people’s right to a free state, just as it says. [emphasis in original]

Read it all. It puts this issue of gun rights into historical and accurate context. That there are Americans today that do not know these facts, and refuse to learn them, speaks very poorly of them. It also suggests their goal is not the prevention of violence but the oppression of others. Such a goal is directly threatened by these historical facts — describing the British and American search for liberty and freedom — which is why they do not wish them known, and often do whatever they can to suppress them.

Share

18 comments

  • Col Beausabre

    And to those who say that the term “well regulated militia” refers to the right of the states to form part time military units I respond with the Second Militia Act of 1792, which clearly states that ALL citizens (“the people”) are members of the militia (and therefore have the right to bear arms (whether they can arm bears as well remains moot))

    “The second Act, passed May 8, 1792, provided for the organization of the state militias. It conscripted every “free able-bodied white male citizen” between the ages of 18 and 45 into a local militia company. (This was later expanded to all males, regardless of race, between the ages of 18 and 54 in 1862.)”

  • Cotour

    Excellent, quite the comprehensive piece on what the Second Amendment is and where it emanates from.

    Simplicity: ” The whole of the population would comprise the militia. ”

    Someone might ask: If this statement were not true, then who should hold the key to the gun locker so that the people could ensure their freedom?

    Oh, thats right, there would be no gun locker.

    Boiled down the Founders understood and enshrined the thinking that ultimately the people are forever responsible for their own freedom and let no formation of government be able to take that way from them, EVER. And this realization plainly requires that the people be armed because force of arms is what will be used to usurp their freedom.

    If bananas were the key to the people freedom and used by the government to usurp the peoples freedom then the Founders would have enshrined bananas in the Constitution as being the right of the people to possess to ensure their freedom.

    The government is a function of the people, many people do not entirely understand that and functionally believe that they exist at the pleasure of the government as they tend to defer to it.

  • Phill O

    Interesting analysis. A bit above my pea brain.

    I need to think in simple terms: The concept of governments running amuck I get. The previous US administration is a prime example. There are many others tabulated in history, not to mention the British empire which taxed the new colonies unmercilessly. I get the point that the citizens should have firepower equal to that which the government holds.

    Some things to remember:

    First, the constitution was written at a time when the citizens had moral principles (for the large part). That has changed dramatically as shown by the Clintons and others from the Obama administration.

    Second, the country was built on immigrants from a fairly consistent religious ideology. The influx of immigrants from a religious group who do not have the same base nature, is a problem.

    Third, the degradation of society (which includes the fear of saying something less some one be offended) has lead to some citizens becoming ticking time bombs themselves.

    Consider that there were few (if any) group shootings 50 years ago, when, in North America, rifles and shot guns were in most homes. It is to be noted that those we are seeing related to people with severe psychological problems or ideological issues.

    The worst problem may be related to organized criminal activities. The “mobs” do not want people to be armed. If they have bought off politicians (which seems the status quo for Illinois), attacks on the 2nd amendment will continue at alarming rates.

    Some, in other countries, are envious of the constitution of the USA and the citizen’s right established there in.

    https://www.jigidi.com/created.php?id=5MYRZ35O

  • Phill O: One important correction to your comment. This essay is not analysis. It is a careful and well-documented description of the British history that served as background to the motives and thinking behind the writing of the Bill of Rights and the second amendment.

  • Cotour

    I will take issue with you here:

    “First, the constitution was written at a time when the citizens had moral principles (for the large part).”

    No, human beings are human beings, the Constitution was written understanding the nature of the human animal related to power and governance, and it was not because the people of the day were so much more moral and “better” than today. When it comes to power and governance no one individual or group of individuals can be trusted with the peoples freedom, its just not in mans long term nature to be “moral” related to power and governance.

    The Constitution is as relevant today as it was yesterday because it applied then as it applies now, human beings have not changed one bit. Society and government has become more complex but human beings are exactly the same.

    As a matter of fact the existence of the Constitution is its own proof of my contention. People were just as ambitious and ruthless and immoral then as they are today, and as they were 5,000 years ago, as they were 10,000 years ago.

    Its just a matter of scale and complexity today.

  • Phill O

    Bob, I stand corrected on the use of the term “analysis”. Must be my analytical mind.

  • Phill O

    Cotour You correctly explain the human condition. However, I firmly believe we live in a society that has lost it’s moral compass. To go back in history, the kingdom of Israel, did for 400 some years, live with corrupt governance. I expect, some were very similar to the Obama administration.

  • Cotour

    They were forced to live with 400 years of corruption because no mechanism existed to counter balance the nature of man related to power and governance.

    The Constitution is that mechanism, that scheme, that plan.

    Yes, they probably were much like the Obama crew, but our system has processed them out of power and that is by design. If no mechanism or scheme exists to process them out then all you can have is continued corruption or physical war and blood shed.

    The Constitution structures a bloodless transfer of power dictated by the people, this is political warfare.

    S.O.M., One of the basic rules of power: Power is never, never, never willingly surrendered. But it is surrendered if there is a plan of operation that specifies it. And that brilliantly was structured by the Founders and is the Constitution.

  • Phill O

    And if the democratic power change is not tolerated, the 2nd amendment!

  • pzatchok

    Studies of the US Constitution like this should be part of high school education.

    Instead we get education levels so low and sporadic that it makes hollywood actors look like geniuses’, modern reporters who can’t spell or do research look like real authorities and activists like David Hoag look like freedom fighters.

    Combine all that with the new attitude that young adults are still children will into their 20’s or even 30’s so school age childish behavior extends well into adulthood.

  • Cotour

    I suppose that if the people came to fully understand just how usurped they had become, then yes, thats what its there for. But we have a ways to go to get there. It would have to be extreme and desperate and the whole system would have to have been compromised in my estimation.

    Say Hillary were to have won the presidency because of her and the DNC’s counter intelligence Russian operation and political manipulations………………….and then the people found out the full extent of her treachery. And then in the following election besides the clear mandate detected in the populous to remove her and then again she won the presidency and we were thrown further into the Soros “New World Order”. Still I do not think it would deteriorate to that point. But at some point the peoples patience would certainly end.

    You are creating some “special condition” that we are experiencing at this moment in time related to human nature, power and governance, that is not true. Human beings are what they are for the last 100 thousand years or so. What we are experiencing that is different is the addition of technology and complexity which introduces a new element or level of psychological manipulation potential.

    And that new development emboldens the Leftist manipulators to action because they specialize in the big lie. That really is all they have because their philosophy is parasitic and must have and control the peoples freedom and wealth through taxation to make themselves relevant.

    And the crazy thing about this new level of technology is that it cuts deep both ways. But I believe that at the moment it cuts more deeply against the lies of the Left and better reveals them rather than allowing them to stay hidden in the shadows of political manipulation. OH, and don’t forget an American political chimera like Trump to illustrate the differences and set a new way to conduct political warfare and battle.

    Speaking of which, this should be a very interesting week in America and the world, “IT” is close.

  • Cotour

    PS: Your question also begs that there be perfection in the world. And that is a common tactic of the Left, “Its not perfect” so we must fix it. That is a false argument, no thank you, nothing is “perfect” but our system, as dirty and filthy as it is is still the best, period.

    I listened to people like the Socialist economics professor Richard Wolf and Noam Chomsky and Wolf specifically readily recognizes that capitalism is tremendously successful. But its so successful in his estimation that the people who are able to build a successful business and create wealth need that all to be taken away from them and their company’s become cooperatives where the people own the accomplishment ultimately.

    This kind of thinking obviously is stunted and idealistic and the specialty of the leftist thinker, which you are kind of sounding like because things are not “perfect”. When in doubt defer to the Founders they understood properly the subject at hand.

  • F16 Guy

    This analysis of Californians educational abilities is probably comparable with many other states.
    Schools (including college) no longer teach children HOW to think, but rather, WHAT to think. And what they are learning is far from the “three R’s.” Asking schools to teach the true history of 2A is wishful thinking. They often spend only a mere 2 days discussing WW2 !!

    https://tinyurl.com/yb2kkfon

  • wodun

    That there are Americans today that do not know these facts, and refuse to learn them, speaks very poorly of them.

    The larger problem is that far too many Americans view the constitution, flag, and our society as illegitimate. When they view something as illegitimate, it doesn’t matter what the intended purpose of it is.

  • wodun

    First, the constitution was written at a time when the citizens had moral principles (for the large part).

    Perhaps. There was an American ethos but we were a rough around the edges group and there was plenty of corruption. The Founders left us a good system that at times has been something we grew closer to but in too many ways have drifted away from.

  • Phill O

    I must agree with you wodun. Your founders were, as a group, less self centered, I believe, than leaders of today. Yes, judging by what they left as the constitution, they were well aware of the human condition.

    Just compare what they developed in light of what we know of the Clintons and the others of the Obama administration, and we see a clear contrast.

    One must make rational comparisons also. Consider the number of people killed by drug impaired drivers in Colorado etc and we see they are far greater than the mass shooting by a large margin. Not that the mass shooting should not be addressed (and the mental health conditions that lead to them) but the affect of impaired drivers also need to be addressed.

  • Cotour

    The Founders, self centered? No time for that in their reality.

    The Founders existed on the transitional edge of the British colony America and America the independent country. The context that they grew up in was that of oppressed people being abused by their “Superiors”, very much aware of the history that preceded them. The Clintons grew up totally buried within the security of a relatively safe and stable country and an evolving to the Left culture.

    The Founders were a product of the harsh realities of the world, the Clintons are the product of the fantasy that is America, paradoxically removed many, many levels from reality specifically due to the former perspective of the Founders. The Clintons are a product of the successes of the Founders efforts in a very real way. They are certainly the other edge of the sword. Some Americans call the Clintons “Progress”, some Americans.

    An interesting perspective fact: In 1776 the population of America was aprox. 2.5 million, in 2018 aprox. 326 million, 130 times bigger and a 21 trillion dollar economy.

    Capitalism and the Constitution, perfect? No, but its the best system of economics and governance to date that man has constructed. You can not argue with results, this is where the future of the world is manifested.

  • Edward

    Phill O wrote: “I must agree with you wodun. Your founders were, as a group, less self centered, I believe, than leaders of today.

    The Founding Fathers had first hand experience with overbearing tyranny. Ironically, such tyranny was exactly what the Pilgrims had fled. The Founding Fathers were not so interested in power as they were interested in being left alone.

    Today, there are many who believe that the rabble (that is you and me) are incapable of running our own lives wisely — they think we are still children. What these tyrant wannabes do not realize is that they are even less capable of running our lives wisely. They run their own lives well (except for all that criminal activity and tyrannical aspiration), see that we live differently, project their own needs and desires onto the rest of us, and conclude that we are messing up. Big time. Therefore they conclude that we (children) need to be directed as to how to run our own lives, and they even had the audacity to us how to spend our own money.

    The Founding Fathers understood that each person has his own desires and needs and that these differ from everyone else’s. “To each his own” is the phrase that applies.

    The Founding Fathers also understood that any government will grow into a tyranny, as ours is now doing, and that an unarmed populace is virtually helpless against any tyranny. The disarmed Soviet Union fell only because members of the military eventually turned against that tyranny. Our current tyrant wannabes understand that an armed populace is difficult to control, and that is why they are using Fabian strategies to slowly convince the population that being disarmed is the same as freedom and liberty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *