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.
An important principle to understanding the 2nd, or most amendments, comes from the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
It is a truth that everyone has natural, God-given rights, that cannot be taken from you. The Constitution of the United States was created to protect those rights. It becomes the duty then of the government of the United States to uphold and defend those natural rights. The entire foundation of the United States and its Constitution was created by this principle.
“True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands and averts from wrong-doing by its prohibitions.” – Cicero
It is imperative to understand this because the Constitution did not create our rights, they are given to us by God. The brilliance of the Constitution is that it acknowledges this principle and protects our natural rights.
This idea, as it relates to the right to bear arms, was understood by our founders and was recognized by the courts:
“All men are born free and independent, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties.” – John Adams
“The right . . . of bearing arms . . . is declared to be inherent in the people.” – Fisher Ames, A Framer of the Second Amendment in the First Congress.
The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second Amendments means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress. (US v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 (1875))
This knowledge matters because if our rights were granted to us by the Constitution, then they could be just as easily taken away from us. If they are given to us by God, then no power on earth can remove them, try as they might. At best, a repeal of the 2nd amendment would mean no more than that the United States no longer protected our natural right to bear arms. It would not take away our natural right!
What the founders said about the right to bear arms:
“[T]he said Constitution [should] be never construed . . . to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms.” – Samuel Adams
“[T]o preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.” – Richard Henry Lee, Signer of the Declaration, A Framer of the Second Amendment in the First Congress.
“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed – unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” – James Madison
Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court:
We consider whether a District of Columbia prohibition on the possession of usable handguns in the home violates the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
The Second Amendment is naturally divided into two parts: its prefatory clause and its operative clause. The former does not limit the latter grammatically, but rather announces a purpose. The Amendment could be rephrased, “Because a well-regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” Although this structure of the Second Amendment is unique in our Constitution, other legal documents of the founding era, particularly individual-rights provisions of state constitutions, commonly included a prefatory statement of purpose.
Logic demands that there be a link between the stated purpose and the command. The Second Amendment would be nonsensical if it read, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to petition for redress of grievances shall not be infringed.”
We start therefore with a strong presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans.
Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding. (DC vs. Heller)
The opinion of the court makes it clear the framer’s intention. Add that to their own words, and it is evident that the natural right to defend one’s life is upheld by the 2nd amendment to the Constitution and should be revered as such. Any attempt to misconstrue the intentions of the founders would be an attack on natural rights and an affront to liberty, which has become all too common in our society.
“Shame on this age and on its principles!” – Cicero