However, in order to understand the 2nd amendment, it is necessary to preface it with a little background so that you have some context from which it came into being.
The Declaration of Independence was the document which framed the reasons for our war for independence and provided the philosophical foundations of our Constitution states:
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 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—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.”
What the framers were declaring with this statement is that we are all equal in our rights. We, as God’s creation, are given unalienable (Defined by Merriam-Webster as “impossible to take away or give up”) rights by our Creator, also referred to as Nature’s God. Additionally, these natural born rights are not granted by government as in Monarchies at the time or today as in Communist nations and totalitarian regimes.
Furthermore, the framers also affirmed that the purpose and main function of any and more specifically our government was to secure or protect the people’s natural rights. What is more the power of government was given to them through the consent of the people who created the government.
Therefore, government was instituted to serve the people by protecting their natural, or God given, rights. Also, whatever powers government was granted were not “just” or valid unless they come from the people and secure their natural rights.
During the process (called ratification) of getting the States to adopt our current Constitution a Bill of Rights, which each State had appended to their State Constitutions, was insisted upon. Without it, the largest States like New York, would not ratify the Constitution.
James Madison, often referred to as the “father of the Constitution” wrote that the Bill of Rights was “calculated to secure the personal rights of the people.” The first 10 amendments were added to the Constitution to guarantee the significant concern of the citizens that the Federal government would not trample on the individual rights of the people.
The ensuing Bill of Rights to our Constitution represents the fundamental freedoms that are at the heart of the American way of life. The often ignored 9th amendment states that the rights stated in the Bill of Rights are NOT the only rights individuals possess:
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
While the Bill of Rights included freedom of speech and religion, a right to privacy, the right to keep and bear arms and others, the 9th Amendment affirms that these were not the only rights the people possessed.
The 10th amendment states:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
This amendment affirms that all of the rights delineated in the Bill of Rights and even those NOT granted (as noted by the 9th amendment) are reserved or belong to the States or to the people. The Federal government only has those powers specifically enumerated or spelled out in the Constitution. All others belong to the States and to the people.
So, with this background in mind, I would like to take a brief but careful look at the 2nd amendment in the next post.
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