To the editor:
What were the discussions and intents for the Second Amendment?
The past several weeks we have been bombarded with calls to limit, even delete the Second Amendment to our Constitution.
Even if a cursory read was given to this amendment would anyone find that the originators intended hunting as the purpose for such a personal guarantee?
One must be conversant as to why the Revolution was ever fought to be able to grasp the significance of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Following is some of the dicta that were in place at the formation of our Bill of Rights.
Noah Webster similarly argued:
Before a standing army can rule the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.
George Mason argued the importance of the militia and right to bear arms by reminding his compatriots of England's efforts "to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them . . . by totally disusing and neglecting the militia." He also clarified that under prevailing practice the militia included all people, rich and poor. "Who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers." Because all were members of the militia, all enjoyed the right to individually bear arms to serve therein.
The framers thought the personal right to bear arms to be a paramount right by which other rights could be protected. Therefore, writing after the ratification of the Constitution, but before the election of the first Congress, James Monroe included "the right to keep and bear arms" in a list of basic "human rights," which he proposed to be added to the Constitution.
Patrick Henry, in the Virginia ratification convention June 5, 1788, argued for the dual rights to arms and resistance to oppression:
Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.
Samuel Adams proposed that the Constitution:
Be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms; or to raise standing armies, unless when necessary for the defense of the United States, or of some one or more of them; or to prevent the people from petitioning, in a peaceable and orderly manner, the federal legislature, for a redress of their grievances: or to subject the people to unreasonable searches and seizures.
In short, the Constitution protects its citizens from the excesses of government.
This may be an inconvenient truth to some but thank goodness it is true nonetheless.
Without this protection the remaining Amendments are valueless as they cannot be protected and that which cannot be protected is vulnerable to extinction.
Joseph L. Kibitlewski, PhD.