What Does the Constitution Even Say?

What Does the Constitution Even Say?

Matt Brownsword

Picture 1“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.”

The famous Second Amendment to the Constitution, as drafted by James Madison and passed by Congress in 1789, has been ceaselessly debated throughout the centuries following its creation. In two Supreme Court cases in 2008 and 2010—District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago, respectively—the Court ruled that the Second Amendment gives all citizens the right to possess firearms, even if they do not participate in militia.

However, given the recent school shootings and the massive amounts of murders by firearms in the United States, the questions again have arisen: How did the Founding Fathers interpret this amendment? Why did they make it in the first place? How can it be applied today? In order to answer these questions, a careful examination of the past as well as the present is necessary.

The obvious question is the “why?” Why did the Founding Fathers, who had just seen the destructive and awesome power of firearms in the hands of revolutionaries, legislate an amendment that had the potential for creating such tradegies?

The answer is almost as obvious, but often overlooked: Like most of the legislation passed under any administration, its origins were based upon the political philosophy of the time. Liberals like Madison, in that era, were most threatened by the tyranny of government, specifically, the monarchies—ironically, they supported lasseiz-faire economics. And, after Americans believed that they had been severly oppressed by King George II, this fear of monarchies had been exacerbated and reached its peak. Madison, whose distrust of all forms of government, even the one he helped create, needed to create a legal way for oppressors to be overthrown, if the need arose.

This sentiment is also evident in the Declaration of Independence: “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.” The Founding Fathers believed that it was the right of the people to overthrow a suppressive government—just as they had in the Revolutionary War—and in order to give that right to the people, the people had to be able to have means to overtake government—having guns.

In 1776, a militia overthrew an overbearing government with the same weapons, with access to rifles and cannons and all the militant technology that the British possessed. Nowadays, if civilians of the United States government were allowed to have access to have the same weapons as the United States, people could wipe countries off the face of the Earth, never mind commit the atrocities that are seemingly weekly occurrences.

The Founding Fathers believed that “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is [the people’s] right, it is [the people’s] duty, to throw off such Government” and in order to secure that right, Madison added the Second Amendment. He gave the people the means to act upon their right, with the right to own guns and participate in a militia, independent for government control.

Now this does not necessarily mean that these court cases are wrong: The Founding Fathers may have intended—and probably, being good tenets of liberalism, been fine with— people owning guns for personal self defense and even getting inexorable amounts of pleasure through hunting or going to a shooting range. However, again, being the annoying kid in the class that follows every rule, a good pupil of liberalism knows that those rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happines” are only justified in the private sphere if they do not cause harm to others.

So, congratulations, responsible gun owner, the Constitution says you have the right to own a gun! However, if the Founding Fathers were the liberals that the Declaration of Independence hints that they are, they would have assumed that the government would take every precaution necessary to guarantee that those guns would not be used to harm others.

So, sorry gun owner, this means you might have to fill out a background check for any gun purchases. The Founding Fathers do not apologize for the inconvenience.