The Second Amendment spelled out over american flag.

Constitution; Part 6, Second Amendment, part I

When the Constitution was written, its main purpose was to set up a working government for the colonies so that the United States could continue to grow and expand. Both in population and territory expansion. In addition to that nearly impossible feat, was the desire to govern in a new and maybe even an 'experimental' way.

That experiment was to give equal power and control between the states and federal government, under the leadership of the people, so one didn't overpower the other. This was a mind-blowing concept at the time, but a concept that many historians believe helped the United States to rise in dominance so quickly.

The first 10 Amendments, which are in the Bill of Rights, are the heart of this document. and became about in 1791, after efforts were made to unite the states under the original Constitution. Many states were unhappy with the basics of the original Constitution, as they remembered the strong government laws and ties that Britain placed on them under their rule. The states felt that there was too much potential for the newly formed U.S. government to follow suit in the future.

This is where James Madison stepped in. He took much of the 13 colonies governing laws and worked to lay out a combination that kept a positive and fair balance to both state and federal rule, at the same time, giving real power to the people.

A very, very difficult task.

Last month, we covered the 1st Amendment. Why it was first and the supreme knowledge and power that it holds. Plus, the reason we need to keep and protect it at all costs.

This month, we are going to look at the 2nd Amendment. This is probably the one area in the Bill of Rights that causes the most problems and controversy. But it is placed second for a reason, and the more I study the Constitution so that I may write these blogs, the more I think it is right where it needs to be, in second place. 

Because I think it IS the second most important amendment!

Let's begin by looking at that short, 27-word sentence, that has led to much controversy and many court cases reaching the Supreme Court level.

“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.”

Let's break this down, starting with the first few words 'well-regulated militia'. What does that mean? A quick trip to Google informs us that 'well regulated' has these two meanings.

  • 1) controlled or supervised to conform to rules, regulations, tradition, etc. and
  • 2) to the property of something being in proper working order.

Keep that close. 'Militia', as established during the Revolutionary War era referred to 'groups of men who banded together to protect their communities, towns, colonies, and eventually states'.

Remember, the United States had just recently declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776. and many people in the colonies at the time believed governments (Britain) used soldiers to oppress the people. These same people thought the federal government should only be allowed to raise armies (with full-time, paid soldiers) when facing foreign adversaries. For all other purposes, they believed, it should turn to part-time militias, or ordinary civilians using their own weapons.' as the first defense.

So, reexamining the beginning of 2A, we see that 'a controlled, supervised, group of ordinary men and women, in proper working order', was introduced in those first few words.

Again, keep this in mind.

Now looking at the next few words, 'being necessary to the security of a free State' we will analyze as follows. 'Necessary' means 'required to be done, essential, or needed'. 'Security' means 'the state of being free from danger or threat'. And 'free state' means 'a state of the U.S. that was prohibited from slavery before the Civil War'.

It is important to understand that 6 of the 13 original colonies were slave-owner colonies at the time. So, I will admit that this part confuses me a bit because it makes the Second Amendment sound like it leans toward the  7 unslaved colonies vs. all 13 colonies. Since I wasn't there, and since many things happen in 250ish years, I am going to lean toward 'free state' meaning all 13 colonies, especially since all 13 ratified the 2nd in the Bill of Rights. This then makes me think 'free state' is more in line with the idea that the U.S. was now under no one's rule but their own. Free to make decisions and laws as needed among the 13 states.

Then let's wrap up this first prefatory part of the second amendment by agreeing that “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,' means; 'controlled or supervised to conform to rules, regulations, and traditions, in proper working order, is essential and needed to keep the threats and dangers at bay for all 13 free standing states in the United States'.

       Whew! Got that?

       Are you still with me?

       Shall we move ahead? 

Good. Here we go. The second half of the Second Amendment is the operative part. So, let's break it down First, 'the right of the people'. In the case of law, 'right' means 'protected by law. It is a power, demand, claim, or privilege guaranteed to people under the law'. This is different from moral rights or natural rights. 'People' refers to 'all individuals of the state not in regard to any distinction of race, sex, age, etc'.

Next, we have 'to keep and bear Arms'.  'Keep' means to 'retain possession of''. 'Bear' has many meanings but, in this case, is best referred to as 'the ability to 'carry' . And 'arms' is 'armament and ammunitions'.

So putting all that together, we can say that the second half of the Second Amendment means, 'protected by law for all individuals of the state, not in regard to any distinction of race, sex, age, etc'., can retain the possession of, and carry, armaments and ammunitions'.

Now put part 1 and part 2 together and here is your Second Amendment in dissected terms. ''A controlled, supervised, group of ordinary men and women, in proper working order is essential and needed to keep threats and dangers at bay for all free-standing states in the United States, and all individuals of those states are protected by law, with no regard to any distinction of race, sex, age, etc'., allowing all individuals to retain the possession of, and carry, armaments and ammunitions'.

Wow!  Powerful, deep, but in my eyes, brilliant, though not perfect. There are flaws. But in fairness, there are flaws in all things touched or created by human beings. And add in the fact that no one, nobody now or ever, has a crystal ball and can see the future, the founding fathers did a very good job of putting together this amendment.

Next month we will look at some of the pros and cons of this piece of legislature and examine it a little closer.

See you then!


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