Here’s the time-line to keep in mind.
- British citizens settled in the New World over a couple of centuries.
- Britain’s King George, strapped for cash, taxed the colonies to help pay the country’s bills, but did so without consulting his citizenry in that New World — he effectively made them non-citizens.
- The settlers rose up (1776), kicked the British out and created their own country under the terms of its first “Articles of Confederation” (ratified by the states in 1781).
- That government failed (was deemed unworkable) on several fronts.
- A “constitutional convention” then created what we know today as the Constitution of the United States (ratified by the states in 1789).
- Fearful of the power of the government thusly created, however, that same “constitutional convention” immediately proposed twelve (12) Amendments for consideration by the states.
- The first two (2) of those were rejected but the remaining ten (10) were approved by the states.
- “Article the Fourth” in the original proposals, after taking out the two rejected proposals, therefore became the “Second Amendment”.
- Because they list inherent rights, those ten amendments are known as the “Bill of Rights” — they state rights not granted by governments but, instead, which belong to everyone regardless.
Here is a copy of “Article the Fourth” in the original proposals — click for a larger version to make it easier to 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.
Looks like they transcribed it right.
Many today would have us believe that the founders intended that “the people” meant those who were formally enlisted in service to the government, either in active service or “in reserve” as the militia.
But the sentence doesn’t say that. What it says is that “a well regulated Militia” is the goal and, to get there, the people who would form that Militia must have arms. The government doesn’t supply the arms. The people do and, when trained, they then form that “well regulated Militia”.
Please note that in 1776, those who were in active service or “in reserve” were in service to the British crown. They were the “red coats.”
Had the British crown had a provision such as some believe our second amendment should be worded and had the colonists agreed to that interpretation (of such a non-existent rule in British law), then only the British troops and authorized militia would have been armed.
The colonists, without arms, would have had no chance. They would have been easily defeated and we would all be subjects of the British crown today.
There might well be no United States of America and certainly our history would have been very, very different.
The colonists prevailed only because they did have firearms, and knew how to make the ball ammunition and gun powder required to fire them, and how to aim and strike what they intended, the armed forces of tyranny.
When the Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights were ratified by the states in 1789, the War of Independence was fresh on their minds. Loved ones, killed or maimed in that war only a decade past, were personally known to those who wrote and ratified these rights.
They knew that the rule of law works only when the powers that be agree to comply. They knew that when a ruler with sufficient power chooses to ignore written law, that there was only one way to ensure their inherent rights.
And that was by force.
The Second Amendment acknowledges — not grants but acknowledges — the inherent right of “the people” to keep and to bear arms no matter what anyone else might say or try.
And the Second Amendment reminds us this is our inherent right.
It warns us that, like those who approved it, we also may someday need to rise up against rulers that ignore written law and the rights of man.
It alerts us to the fact that it sometimes becomes necessary, as it did for them, for armed “people” to band together, form “The Militia” and resist that tyranny.
What happened this week in Nevada was exactly that. Free men — with arms — banded together to oppose what they saw as tyrannical forces.
Whether you agree or disagree with what happened, and whether or not you think that matter is settled or not, it was nonetheless a demonstration of this inherent right of free men.
And while the circumstances are very different, what has been happening over the past several weeks in the Ukraine is also worth considering in this same light.
In both situations, matters are hardly settled. Much upheaval and violence may still come.
Who shall prevail?
Did you pay your taxes to fund the federal government today? And did you also fund your state and local governments?
And are they protecting your rights?
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Preamble to the Constitution of the United States