The Second Amendment is an individual Constitutional right. It is right there in the Bill of Rights.
In a broken culture, with broken families and a dysfunctional, government-rationed, educational system, too many Americans have no basic understanding of the Constitution. As a result, there are a growing number of Anti-Second Amendment myths and explanations
The Constitutionally ignorant among us need a lesson in the Bill of Rights. So, here is some First Amendment Rightsplaining for those prone to parroting false talking points about our Second Amendment Rights.
It’s worth reminding Americans that the Second Amendment isn’t a Republican or Democratic right, it is an American right.
Here is 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.”
A well-regulated “Militia” is not the military, the army, the national guard, or the police. It’s the individual. It is each of us … individually.
Those who want to use First Amendment rights to limit your Second Amendment rights often focus on the word, “Militia.” They fall prey to the Constitutionally vacant argument that the word “Militia” indicates the Founders wanted to create and arm a military or organized government force.
That argument couldn’t be more wrong. It is also demonstrably illogical to anyone who has read the Constitution.
The Amendments were passed as part of a deal to ratify the Constitution. They are Amendment’s BECAUSE they came AFTER the ratification of the Constitution.
Are you following me? Good.
Why would the Founders, hell-bent on protecting God-given, natural, individual rights, stick a collective right of the military into the Bill of Rights? And, why would they do that when they already ratified the US Constitution and set up a Commander-in-Chief and the power to raise an army?
There are many unsubstantiated, desperate, anti-Bill of Rights arguments, but none are worse than the false notion that the Second Amendment is a collective right designed to support the military or some quasi-government entity.
“Well-regulated” defines the individual, not the state of regulation of guns, rights, or armies.
“The wedding was gay,” would have meant something quite different in 1918 than today. One-hundred years ago, the use of the term gay had one commonly understood meaning. It reflected the idea of happiness and fun. Meanings and understandings evolve, but history doesn’t change. People just try to re-write it.
Not surprisingly, in the era of big government, anti-Bill of Rights types want to use the term “regulation” as we use it commonly today and apply it to the Second Amendment as written then. Moreover, they want the term to modify the right, rather than the individual, something the English language would have rejected under the Amendment’s construction at any period.
A “well-regulated” militia, at the time, meant that it was necessary and essential for Americans to be able to competently handle and be proficient with their weapon. Well-regulated described the “militia,” which was the individual. Indeed, the Second Amendment makes plain that being well-regulated was “necessary” to the security of the state. Of course, for many anti-gun advocates, they fail to recognize that the state … is the people … “we the people.”
“Necessary to the Security of a free State” explains the purpose of having this individual right for Americans, and that such Americans must be well-trained.
Of all the clauses in the short Second Amendment, this one is the most often overlooked and forgotten. Having a well-regulated militia is not necessary to shooting dear. It is necessary to liberty, and security, and freedom. An armed populace is armed to defend itself not merely from each other, but from the tyranny of a government that would reduce its freedoms.
Moreover, our country was not founded on the idea that government would always be there to protect you from every evil or event, as we know it cannot.
Sometimes you might hear the anti-gun zealots explain how absurd in the modern era it is for Americans to protect themselves from the government. Sometimes they snicker and say, “how does a person with a rifle fight an army of tanks and nuclear weapons.” Governments with planes, tanks, and missiles, routinely fall to rebels armed with mere rifles. Look around.
The larger point is this, the Founders already created an army to protect the union. The individual right was a key addition to ensure that the individual could be the last line of defense for their country and the first line of defense for themselves, their families, and their communities.
Make no mistake, however, the right is there too so that Americans can protect themselves and their posterity from anyone who infringed on their freedom and security, including the government. That’s reality.
“The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
I suspect that even if the Second Amendment said only this some radicals would still say the right is a “collective right.” In fact, I have read that argument repeatedly. It goes like this, the use of the word “people” conveys a “collective” or “group” right rather than an individual right.
Those “people” who make that argument must ignore every other word and the momentous events of world history at the time of the Constitution’s drafting to reach such an improbable reading. Obvious, the term “people” in the First Amendment does not change all our rights to collective rights.
At the time of ratification of the Constitution, letting people have “Free Speech” was radical enough. Prohibiting the government from suppressing the press, or peaceably assemble were all radical ideas. Indeed, individual freedom and liberty were fledgling experiments.
Letting the free people keep weapons for their security and the being necessary to the free state, that was the newest form of radicalism.
The Second Amendment is both a right … and an explanation of why that right is necessary.
That is precisely why the Founders crafted the Second Amendment as they did. In securing the God-given right to self-defense, the Founders wanted Americans and those who followed our liberty gambit to understand that liberty and freedom ultimately rest in the hands of the people, not in the power of a few in the government.
Two-hundred and twenty-plus years later, the left is trying to undermine liberty by dismantling this key, individual, fundamental right.
In so doing, the left would put your security, your liberty, and your self-defense solely in the hands of the few … wearing government uniforms. They would have an all-powerful government rationing security and liberty.
Not one part of that notion is consistent with the American revolution, the American experience, or our American Constitution.
Author: Richard Kelsey
Richard Kelsey is the Editor-in-Chief of Committed Conservative.
He is an Attorney, a former Assistant Law School Dean, Law Professor, and Virginia state court law clerk. Dean Kelsey was also the CEO of a technology company specializing in combating cyber-fraud. He is a regular commentator on legal and political issues in print, radio and on TV.
Rich graduated from George Mason law school, clerked for the Arlington Circuit Court, and later joined an AM LAW top 10 law firm practicing commercial litigation. He left the firm to be counsel and CEO to a consulting firm, rising to CEO of Turiss, LLC, a technology firm specializing in computer forensics, digital investigations, and fighting cyber-fraud through civil intel services and new technologies. Upon the sale of the company, Kelsey returned to Mason Law, where in the years before his return, he both taught at the school and served as President of the Law Alumni Association. Kelsey was the Assistant Dean for Management and Planning.
At Mason, Dean Kelsey taught legal writing and analysis and an advanced litigation seminar. In 2014 he was elected by the graduating class as the faculty speaker at their graduation. While serving the former George Mason Law, Kelsey conceived of, planned, and brought to fruition Mason’s Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, known as CPIP.
Rich has appeared on radio, TV, and in print hundreds of times as both a legal expert and political and legal commentator. He provided the legal analysis for all stages of the Bob McDonnell trial and appeal for numerous outlets including NPR and WMAL. He writes on occasion for the American Spectator and CNSNews.com. He returned to private practice in September of 2016, and he is working on a book/expose on legal education.
In his free time, Rich is part of the baseball mafia of Northern Virginia, serving on numerous boards and as a little league and travel baseball coach.
Rich has many opinions, and they are his own. His Twitter handle is @richkelsey.