Amendment II (idea)
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|In regards to the 2nd Amendment, legal scholars have researched the term bear arms. In pre- American Revolution times this term invariably had a military context. When referring to non-military use we see terms like "have" or "carry" -- not "bear". So, to be consistent with the framer's word usage, it would read:|
"A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,.the right of the people to keep and use a military weapon, shall not be infringed"It is also relevant to examine the phrase "right of the people." This is what causes the debate over collective vs. individual rights. In other places the framers specifically say "person." Here they could just as easily have said "...the right of every person to keep and bear arms...." If it was intended as an individual right, why didn't they phrase it as such? These were men well aware that every word was being scrutinized. The ratification debates were heated, everything was done with deliberation.
As for using a weapon for other purposes, including self-defense, it's difficult to figure out exactly what the framers intended. But the NRA types cannot be happy with the amendments that were proposed and NOT accepted. An example:
That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power. Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776, Declaration of Rights, art. 13This specifically mentions the right of arms for self-defense. Other states proposed the right to have weapons for hunting. The fact they are NOT part of the Bill of Rights means something -- they were rejected.
Also, "gun rights" supporters never want to acknowledge that the Second Amendment was designed to preclude the need for a standing army. An army, our own federal army, was considered a greater threat than a corrupt government or foreign invaders. This predicated the need for a well-regulated militia. In other words, citizens need guns so that we don't need an army.
To me it's clear: the Constitution clearly gives every citizen the right to own a weapon for military purposes. I should be able to go out and buy any assault weapon I want -- or a tank for that matter. And the Army should be all but disbanded.
Or we could decide that we depend on our armies today; that the Second amendment is outdated. In which case, we should be intellectually honest and admit that the right to own a military weapon is outdated as well. In either case, weapons lacking military significance aren't addressed -- i.e., laws restricting their posession or use are not unconstitutional. And this is how the Supreme Court has ruled in the past -- including the 1831 Mitchell case. In closing, let me say that at the time of the Constitution's ratification opinion was by no means unanimous on any subject. ilcylic can produce a dozen more quotes and it won't prove anything -- though it would be more honest to give full quotes:
"No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms (within his own lands or tenements)." --Thomas Jefferson: Draft Virginia Constitution, 1776.The parenthetical note that Jefferson adds subtly changes the "support-level" for the NRA position.