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Just What Does the 2nd Amendment Mean Anyway?

By Terry | 2nd Amendment

Most Violated Amendment

Even though it is very clearly stated to be a “right of the people”. the 2nd amendment is quite likely the most violated of all of the amendments that make up the Bill of Rights.

When our Constitutional Republic was framed it mirrored the Constitutional structure of all of the States whichSecond_Amendment-1 consented to the union.

Each of the 13 original colonies had a Bill of Rights attached to its primary Constitution which was considered a part of the whole document. None of the original colonies were Democracies. Almost all were Republics.

Our Constitution, at the insistence of the States, also included a Bill of Rights which more specifically guaranteed the natural, God given rights of the sovereign people which consented to be governed.

Affirmed in the Declaration of Independence, the main function of any government was to protect the rights of the people from being violated.

The 2nd Amendment to our Bill of Rights protected our right to keep and bear arms and read in full as follows:



Looking a little more carefully at the structure and meaning of this amendment reveals its true intent.

First of all, it is put together from two free standing ideas.

  1.  A purpose statement
  2.  A statement of substance

The Purpose Statement

The first idea expressed is that, a well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state.

This statement functions like the preamble to our Constitution. It gives a general purpose to the rest of the idea, but in and of itself does not serve to limit the right expressed.

It simply provides a context and carries no legal weight in and of itself.

For example, the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution serves as a purpose statement as follows:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The Preamble in and of itself does not alter any of the delegated powers within the Constitution or carry any legal weight, it simply provides a context for the Constitution or statement which follow. The first statement of the 2nd amendment does the same- provides a context for the statement that follows.

It does not as some gun control advocates promote apply only to the militia. It means gun ownership is necessary to secure or promote a free state.

Now that a context has been established, one can move on to the second part of the amendment with some understanding of why it is a necessary right.

The Substance Statement

The second part of the 2nd amendment states that the ownership or bearing of arms is a right of the people.

It carries legal weight and affirms a natural right additionally confirming that it cannot be abridged or violated.

This means quite clearly that the right of the people to arm themselves and keep their arms in their possession.

It further states that the Federal government cannot interfere with that right. The people are not giving the Federal government any power over this natural right. It is the people’s right, not the government’s.

Additionally, as stated in the purpose portion, this natural right is also one that is important in preserving the security of a free state.

What About the Militia?

As far as the militia goes, the powers delegated to the Federal government regarding the militia were spelled out in Article I, Section 8 as follows:

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

The Federal government could call forth the State militia’s in the service of the United States to suppress insurrections, repel invasions and execute the [Constitutionally based] laws of the union. The appointment of officers was the responsibility of the States as was the organizing, arming and disciplining of the militia.

Now the big question of the day is: where does Congress, State and Local governments get the idea that they can regulate the people’s natural right to own, keep and use arms?

Fact is, if their oaths of office mean anything, they don’t!

At best, it is a state related issue. Even then, States have been given no powers by the people who ordained and established the Constitution as noted in the Preamble above. When it comes to the issue of arms ownership and possession, our government has been given no powers in the Constitution over the people.

Our Constitution Delegated Rights to Government

In our Constitution the Federal government has been delegated powers. The people have preexisting rights.

Rights super cede powers because the primary purpose of our Constitution, which each elected and appointed representative swears to uphold and defend, was to protect the rights which already existed prior to the establishment of government.

One of those rights, as affirmed by the 2nd Amendment, was the preexisting right to keep and bear arms which, according to our Bill of Rights, “shall not be infringed“.

And well, since the Bill of Rights is part of our Constitution according to Article 5:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States,

And our Representatives do freely take an oath upon entering office which states that they:

do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion;

We have every right to ignore their dictates regarding weapons. Hence, we are Constitution able to take every step to affirm our right to keep and bear arms.

That is, is we use the clear language of the Constitution which our elected representatives freely swear an oath to support and defend.

There are some other factors here which can also be discussed.

For more background on the issue, see the resources below: