Second Amendment about freedom

February 24, 2013 

Re Feb. 13 letter by Whit Peterson, “Thank you, Celia, for take on NRA”

Let me try one more time to make a point about Gun Control and the second amendment.

The Second Amendment; “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.”

The above amendment says absolutely nothing but what is written. The right of the people to keep and bear arms is an extension of the natural right to self-defense and a hallmark of personal sovereignty. It is specifically insulated from governmental interference by the Constitution and has historically been the linchpin of resistance to tyranny.

The press and the general public seem willing to ignore the actual purpose of the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment is about ensuring a “free state.”

On April 19, 1775, British regulars marched on Lexington and Concord to seize the guns of American colonists that had been stockpiled in case of revolution.

It may be an abstract concept for us. But when the 1st Congress of the United States met in 1789, the memory of 1775 was fresh. More so, what they saw as an abridgment of their freedoms in 1775, they viewed as an abridgment of their freedoms going back to the Revolution of 1688.

One of the rights that came out of the Bill of Rights of 1689 in England was a right to bear arms for defense against the state. The English Bill of Rights accused King James II of disarming protestants in England. That Bill of Rights included the language “That the Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law.”

The Second Amendment, contrary to much of today’s conversation, has just as much to do with the people protecting themselves from tyranny as it does burglars. That is why there is so little common ground about assault rifles; even charitably ignoring the fact that there really is no such thing. If the Second Amendment is to protect the citizenry from even their own government, then the citizenry should be able to be armed.

There will be arguments and bodies to suggest that we might, as a nation, need to rethink this. The Founders gave us that option. We can amend the Constitution.

In doing so, we should keep in mind that in the past 100 years Germany, Italy, Russia, Japan, China and other governments have turned on their people at various times and, restricted freedoms, starting often with gun ownership. You may think a 30-round magazine is too big. Under the real purpose of the Second Amendment, a 30-round magazine may be too small.

As Obama announces how he will curtail the freedoms of the Second Amendment, we should remember Justice Robert Jackson’s 1943 opinion:

“The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”

The writer lives in Surfside Beach.

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