What the 2nd Amendment Really Means

“The very existence of the Second Amendment is designed purposefully to empower the people to be able to resist the force of tyranny used against them to step over their natural rights given to them by God. That is why the Second Amendment exists. That is very specifically why the Second Amendment exists.” – Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX), in a recent committee hearing.

This is a talking point that conservatives have been using for many years now, and it’s flat-out bullshit. It’s also extremely troubling that elected officials at the highest level spout this nonsense, and even believe it.

Let me explain.

Before the Second Amendment existed, the Constitution had this to say: “Congress shall have the power… 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 [etc.].” Further, “The President shall be Commander in Chief… of the Militia of the several States.”

Later, the Second Amendment was added, which states, in full: “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.”

And that’s it. Gun rights under the Constitution are tied to participation in a Militia which exists to protect the STATES themselves from both internal and external threats. Regulation of Militias is a prerogative of Congress, and Militias fall under the command of the President. And “the people” whose rights shall not be infringed refers to the collective people of the States, not to individuals. So, all this horseshit about personal ownership of firearms being an absolute right intended to protect us from an overreaching government is invented out of thin air, and/or taken (often out of context) from various sources outside the Constitution. It’s unfortunate, and a little terrifying, to know that a significant percentage of the American public has drunk this Kool-Aid. 

Make no mistake, American citizens have a right to gun ownership, whether it’s for personal protection or sport (see the Tenth Amendment for that). What we don’t have is an absolute right to any kind of gun under unlimited circumstances. The government is perfectly within its rights to require licenses, registration, training—even insurance—and to restrict (within reason) when and how gun owners can use, store, or carry their firearms.

[Originally posted on Facebook.]

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