“Understanding the History and Purpose of the 2nd Amendment” – J. Adam Snyder
Many are currently quoting the 2nd Amendment in mass droves as some type of argument both for and against common sense gun control laws, however those doing so seem to unfortunately be unaware of the 2nd Amendment’s actual origins. Before the Constitution as we know it today was drafted, there was a document called “The Articles of Confederation” which served as a rough outline for the Constitution. It was crafted by many of the Founding Fathers, although James Madison produced the vast majority of its content.
In the original texts, Madison worded the 2nd Amendment as follows:
“A well regulated Militia composed of the body of the people trained to arms is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free State.”
However, Madison felt that his wording was too complex for the average layperson to understand. Taking into account that he and his fellow Founders were all well-educated scholars, something that the majority of the population at the time wasn’t (most people were illiterate afterall), Madison redrafted the 2nd Amendment in an attempt to make it easier to understand for all.
The end result is what we have today:
“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.”
So what does this all mean exactly?
Taking both drafts into account, the Founding Fathers were indicating a need for an early National Guard program of sorts to protect the colonies from threats both foriegn and domestic. This is not to say that they were opposed to the common man bearing arms, as Jefferson clearly stated that “A free people will never be debarred from bearing arms.”
However, in the context of the time, Jefferson was essentially paraphrasing a statement outlined by Washington in his 1st national address regarding the purpose of the 2nd Amendment which reads as follows:
“A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.”
In summary, he was advocating for a National Guard. Under the draft, common civilians were allowed to personally own firearms for hunting and self-defense purposes. However there was a limit on what arsenals they could own, and if a civilian desired to extend beyond that he was required to register and train with his local state-militia. I personally agree with our Founding Fathers, many of whom were also Brother Freemasons. I support the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, but I support the Right to do so responsibly.
The last thing our Founding Fathers wanted was the easy availability for civilians to own high-capacity weaponry, along with the utmost prevention of Congress establishing a standing army (hence why the Constitution allows Congress to collect unlimited taxation on virtually anything accept the military, and to reform it every two years). If one truly wishes to “go back” to what the Founding Fathers intended, you would see a very small Congressional military with no ability to fight over seas alone, and a major National Guard influence within every individual state and territory, which are confined exclusively within their state borders except in the case of national emergency.
© – J.Adam Snyder