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Letter: The founders’ true intent

There can’t be a single person in the United States who considers him- or herself a real person who isn’t horrified by what happened in Newtown, Conn. The National Rifle Association, gun-control advocates and gun-rights advocates all go running to the Second Amendment. So let’s just do that – Justice Antonin Scalia would be proud.

Everybody knows what it says: the right to bear arms. Scalia says the “intents of the founders” is the only true interpretation of the Constitution. Let’s look at it from that viewpoint.

The right to bear arms. Why and what kinds? The latter is easier than the former. Let’s see: knives, slingshots, bows and arrows, swords, single-shot muzzle loaders (about as accurate as a spit ball thrown at a distance of 50 feet and hitting the broad side of a barn) and single-shot pistols (even less accurate). Oh, and of course, single-shot canons – but they were kind of hard to bear.

Why the right to bear arms?

1. We were a fledgling nation with a federal army about as effective as a screen door in a submarine. An armed citizenry – the NRA can tell you what that means.

2. We were an expanding nation; people needed arms not simply to defend themselves but also to put food on the table.

Our forefathers couldn’t have imagined rocket-propelled grenades, stinger missiles and, in a few short years, nuclear weapons that all can be borne.

So let’s give the NRA exactly what it wants. Let’s go exactly back to the intent of the Second Amendment: the right to carry knives, swords, bows and arrows, single shot rifles, pistols and slingshots.



Legacy Comments8

We can have an academic discussion about what the founders intended the Second Amendment to accomplish, and that would be an enjoyable intellectual exercise that I would be happy to engage in, but I'm afraid it would not get us any closer to solutions to our gun violence problem. If we want to find solutions, we need to set some realistic goals such as a 10% reduction in gun violence in 5 years and then set out to find ways to reach the goal. That would be a better use of our time. Any good ideas out there?

But Reed, when they wrote the 1st amendment they couldn't have foreseen the internet, iPads, cell phones, facebook, twitter, etc, etc. Does that mean we should go back to stone tablets? Quill pens? Mortar and pestle?

Dan, Veritas more or less nails the glaring flaw in Justice Scalia’s Heller opinion: Tito sniffs that the Second Amendment’s statement of purpose (“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State...”) is merely a “prefatory clause,” implying no limitation whatsoever of the scope of the Amendment’s “operative clause” (“...the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”). The Court’s majority thereby produced a purely political decision that entirely avoids having to discuss the fact that the ideal of a citizens' militia, “comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense,” so critical at the Founding, has been completely evaporated in the modern era of thermonuclear and similar defense.

Not so Common, if only the government has weapons and guns, then only the government will be able to ever govern. If a president declared martial law in an instance to grab absolute power, do you think that the citizens should not rise up and revolt? Even if your theory is correct that it is a militia, we still have the right but the Constitution to form a militia. How would a "militia" arm itself, with broomsticks? Reading the opinion on here form progressives, I would have to say that overall, we have a reason to stay armed. You folks are so willing to trade away freedoms in the name of what you perceive as safety and fairness that it is truly troubling. Are you also aware that the government has been buying up tons of ammunition and stockpiling it. There is little or no ammunition available out there right now, much less automatic rifles and guns.

But Itsa - the issue is the founders' intent. This notion that the founders drafted the 2nd Amendment to make it easier for the people to revolt is not historically accurate. Veritas has shown evidence of the true intent - and it has everything to do with protecting the nation from foreign enemies and internal uprisings. That is what the Constitution says the militia is for. And the militia, by the way, is intended to be an arm of the government, not a rebellious batch of renegades trying to overthrow the government. Your idea, while arguably a reason for supporting the 2nd Amendment, is nevertheless not formative of that amendment.

The Founders' Intent -- see this link -- the Militia Act of 1792 -- says NOTHING about hoarding weapons to use against the government, but makes clear that the original intent of the "well-regulated militia" as being the basis of the right to keep and bear arms was to secure the fledgling US government against ALL foes, including foreign and domestic.

DAMNED IF YOU DO -DAMNED IF YOU DON'T Focusing on ways to toughen our gun laws would be a total waste of time if the sole purpose was to prevent an emotionally or mentally unstable person from killing other people. Using sound minds and judgment we should not lead a posse of police officers, the FBI ,and the president, etc., to make us feel good for a short period of time . Should we prevent the sale of automobiles just because they are the number one device involved in deaths ? One male person from Massachusetts has a record of driving while drunk ( eight times ). He hasn't killed anyone yet. What should we do with him or his car? The only answer which would be very costly should be researching a program to identify those individuals who could duplicate the actions of Adam Lanza. I'm sure your aware that hiding guns from the killers would be less costly than researching the program mentioned above.

Like the letter from Epsom today, your letter contains little substance, and almost no facts at all, merely opinion and innuendo. We have issues to solve. Sarcasm, name calling, and sophistry should not be all your side can resort to, surely you can start looking at facts and start a debate using some.

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