Have you ever heard a gun grabber say, “Gun control is allowed in the Second Amendment, it says ‘well-regulated!’” or “the right to have guns only belongs to the Army!” While the logic of these arguments is laughable, let’s briefly put an end to them and show that every gun restriction goes against the Constitution.
Taking the context of the Second Amendment is critical. In the eighteenth century, the term “regulated” did not mean what it means today. In Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English Language, the dictionary of the time of America’s founding, “regulated” is defined as “adjusted by rule, method or forms.” So, “regulated” meant well-rehearsed and uniform – without oversight from the government.
If anything, according to this clause, the government should promote private firearm ownership, not restrict it. It’s the opposite of what the gun grabbers propose – everyday citizens should be trained in the use of firearms, not have their access controlled by the government!
Individual vs Collective
What the “well-regulated” clause boils down to is belief in an individual or collective right. Should the people have the right, or does it belong to a militia?
Throughout the Bill of Rights, each amendment refers to an the right of the people. The First, Fourth and Eighth Amendments, for example, all refer to an individual’s right. (No one challenges that one’s freedom of speech is a collective right.)
However, the Second Amendment is the only amendment that some claim a “collective” right. But this is not consistent with the intent of the framers, as they believed in the individual right to keep and bear arms.
George Mason debated, “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.”
In his view, every law-abiding citizen should have the right to bear arms.
The Founders didn’t use free speech to fight tyranny; they shot back.
“Shall Not Be Infringed”
Let’s not forget about the latter half of the Second Amendment: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Not only does it state that the people have the right to keep and bear arms, but also this right shall not be infringed. It simply describes what is being protected — the individual, private ownership of firearms.
This means that all restrictions on the private ownership of firearms are an infringement. Yes, even having to get a permit to carry a gun, or going through a background check to buy a gun, infringes upon the Second Amendment.
Every gun law is an infringement.
Jordan Stein is the Founder and President of Students at Liberty for Gun Rights.