"Every time another mass shooting happens in an American school, in an office, or at the mall, after a day or two of mourning politicians on the right raise their voices in defense of the Second Amendment, their other main argument being, guns do not kill people, people kill people while outraged politicians on the left advocate over and over again with the same theatrical conviction for the issuing more gun laws, laws known to have very little impact on the gun problem in America. Neither one quotes though the entire text of the Second Amendment, and there is a reason why they never do that. If they did, the conversation on the right to own guns being established in the Second Amendment would be over in a minute time. Similar to that, on the right or on the left, as in always biased and never impartial, media organizations too somehow forget to put up on the screen or on the front page of their publications the complete text of the Second Amendment. Indeed, everyone is protecting the gun industry, for this is where the money and the votes come from election time.
Nowhere in the Second Amendment stays written that people have a right to own arms, and this is where the debate should end. To bear in “the right to bear arms” means to carry, and as the member of a government regulated militia you would have obviously had to bear, to carry a weapon issued by the government. The key issue is that the Second Amendment is about being guaranteed the right to enroll in a government-regulated militia, and not about gun owning. In line with that the text says, as a member of a “well regulated Militia” you have a right to keep at home the weapon or the weapons issued by the government.
Your right to purchase a gun at a store, if the government approves the selling of it to the public, is a matter of free speech, reason why we do not have separate amendments guaranteeing our right to purchase shoes, beer, and so on. Since most guns are weapons of war, though, the selling of powerful military-style guns to the large public is something the government is by law entitled to regulate as a way of protecting lives. This is established under the provisions made in the Fourth and the Fifth Amendment through the due process clause.
There is nothing in the Constitution that says people have a right to access any weapon they fancy. Once again, because most guns are instruments of war, it is up to the United States Congress to decide what kinds of guns should be available in stores. As a result, if a government made of the representatives of the people finds it to be in the best interest of the people to ban the selling of assault weapons, it has a right and it is its duty to do so. Just because people elect government officials, their duty is not to provide for whatever people want but to make decisions based on a rational logical determination of what the community needs, and in doing that they are supposed to contribute to the greater good. Because government officials are the ones to decide in the case of what guns should be sold in stores, with help of the National Rifle Association the gun industry spends millions of dollars lobbying politicians on both sides of the isle, and millions of dollars scaring the population of America into becoming mentally dependent of guns.
The gun industry and politicians in America promote the false notion that under the terms of the Constitution people are allowed to carry guns in the streets of our towns and cities and to form militias outside government regulation. (See the case of the Michigan Militia, a group that at its peak had all the characteristics of a paramilitary organization.) That could not be further from the truth, though, and that claim is completely debunked in the Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, an article of constitution neither Republicans, not Democrats mention when discussing guns after the latest shooting tragedy in America. Those among the public also repeating ad nauseam the words “Second Amendment” after the latest school shooting in order to promote the false notion that open carrying would have saved lives, they too appear to be oblivious to this otherwise significant part of the law of the land.
Among others, when it comes to the issue of running local militias and arming them, the United States Constitution states actually loud and clear that
“The Congress shall have power
To declare war, (…)
To raise and support armies, (…)
To provide and maintain a navy; (…)
To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;
To provide for [pay close attention to this part] organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;” (My emphasis.)
Keeping that in mind, let us read now the complete text of the Second Amendment:
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.
There is an obvious connection between the Second Amendment and the Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. Article 1 eliminates actually all confusion about “the right to bear arms” in the 2nd Amendment and about the existence and the role of local militias, except that no one among our politicians and about the media organizations what that clarified and founds the confusion to be more beneficial to their agendas. According to Article 1, Section 8 and to the complete text of the Second Amendment, local militias were not to be independent, privately ran organizations. They were to be formed and operate under direct federal jurisdiction, as in according to the rules established by the federal government.
As this article in the Constitution establishes, the local militia should “execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.” In other words, the militia was not to be used as an instrument of insurrection against the government, which was what some of the founding fathers were advocating for and what some of the today’s gun advocates profess to be their sacred goal. To the contrary, their role was to help suppress insurrection against local or federal government. At the same time the Constitution was providing the legal guarantee that the government would not turn into a dictatorship, into an enemy of the people.
The militia was meant to protect what later would be rightfully defined as being a government of the people and for the people. In other words, the militia was to be a People’s Army regulated by the government and operating for the benefit of the people. More proof this was precisely what the principals among the founders had in mind, in The Federalist Paper No. 29 of January 9, 1788 titled Concerning Militia, Alexander Hamilton, argues that
THE power of regulating the militia, and of commanding its services in times of insurrection and invasion are natural incidents to the duties of superintending the common defense, and of watching over the internal peace of the Confederacy.
It requires no skill in the science of war to discern that uniformity in the organization and discipline of the militia would be attended with the most beneficial effects, whenever they were called into service for the public defense. It would enable them to discharge the duties of the camp and of the field with mutual intelligence and concert an advantage of peculiar moment in the operations of an army; and it would fit them much sooner to acquire the degree of proficiency in military functions which would be essential to their usefulness. [What follows is the part of most relevance to the topic at hand.] This desirable uniformity can only be accomplished by confiding the regulation of the militia to the direction of the national authority. It is, therefore, with the most evident propriety, that the plan of the convention proposes to empower the Union “to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, RESERVING TO THE STATES RESPECTIVELY THE APPOINTMENT OF THE OFFICERS, AND THE AUTHORITY OF TRAINING THE MILITIA ACCORDING TO THE DISCIPLINE PRESCRIBED BY CONGRESS.” (Full capitalization in the original.)
As we can see, local militias were intended to be part of a national law enforcement organization “watching over the internal peace of the Confederacy (…) whenever they were called into service for the public defense.” Not only that but Hamilton specifically quotes the part of the Article 1, Section 8 referenced here, and he does that in support of his view that “This desirable uniformity can only be accomplished by confiding the regulation of the militia to the direction of the national authority,” as in to the direction of the federal government.
The conversation on militias and gun ownership took an unexpected turn though when in Federalist Paper No. 46 published on January 29, 1788, James Madison proposed that the government was to have a federal army of only 30,000 regular solders and allow instead for 500,000 people enrolled in local militias to bear arms for the purpose of protecting the country from outside and inside peril, which was basically how they were able to win the Revolutionary War. In his opinion, 30,000 troops were more than enough to repeal foreign invaders, a serious underestimation, but not enough to oppress the states, as in to defeat half a million armed ordinary people that would have risen against a rogue government. Madison’s point of view was that this way people could overturn a rogue government and that a dictatorial government could have never imposed an unconstitutional decree on the people. The problem with his logic was, America was not a monarchy and the system was such that no one political group or body of representatives could have taken over the government. In other words, even though there were times along its history when things looked like America was coming close to that, the chances that America would become a dictatorship were slim to nonexistent.
While Madison was certainly well intended, without government control, militias could have actually turned rogue themselves and overthrown the government, and not just a rogue government for all kinds of reasons. More than that, lack of “national authority,” as Hamilton described Congress oversight in this matter, would have made possible for silent, subversive foreign intervention to occur, with foreign entities manipulating local militias into taking arms against local or federal government. Last but not the least a dispute between local militias could have thrown the country into chaos, division, and even cause the end of the United States the founders were envisioning, something the country came very close to during the civil war.
This was why in the end the founders would abide actually by the provisions made regarding this issue in the Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. The Second Amendment was added seven months after the Constitution became effective, and it was done as a concession made to Madison and to other anti-Federalists. Precisely because of how the Article 1 addresses this issue, though, and because of the actual content of the Second Amendment, this controversial amendment does not have much of a legal weight and it was never of relevance to the people and to the republic. It only became the center of attention in the last decades when those advocating for out of control gun ownership would use it as a marketing propaganda device.
According to the Constitution, the Congress has the power to “provide for (…) disciplining the militia.” The only attributes local governments, the states have in this instance are to appoint officers and to train the militia. That too, however, has to be done “according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.” In other words, Congress is basically to be in complete control of the local militia, of what kinds of guns the people are allowed to keep, and there is nothing in the text of the Article 1, Section 8, or in the text of the Second Amendment for that matter suggesting people are entitled to carrying guns in bars, at the market, or in schools, or to own military grade or military style weapons. Again, the Constitution does not establish what types of weapons should be made available to the public for purchase, nor does it say, or imply, people should be allowed to own any kind of weapon they want to own. This is where the National Riffle Association comes in.
The NRA, which has plenty of money to donate to politicians and access to voters that vote politicians into office, tells the politician what to do and what not to do in terms of legislating protection against gun violence. Among others, this shows how detrimental to the well being of the nation is actually the popular vote and why democracy with its democratic elections that allow for general participations is not the progressive institution many claim it is, especially when the electorate is constantly fed false information through the political system and through a mass media subservient to the political system and controlled by corporations, with some of those corporations selling guns to those who vote in elections. On that note, one wonders how would gun enthusiasts in America who always point at the constitution in defense of the right to own arms view the gun ownership issue if the knew that certain prominent conservative legal figures in the country have exposed this pro-gun NRA propaganda scheme for being actually “the fraud of the Second Amendment?” Indeed, the one who came to this logical conclusion, and did it publicly, was former Chief Justice Warren Burger, a Republican Supreme Court Nominee. He made his remark as he was looking into the gun problem in America, a gun problem that, as Americans know it too well today it has since been exacerbated. According to him, the way the NRA and the gun industry interprets the Second Amendment is “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have seen in my lifetime.” (Chief Justice Warren Burger, January 14,1990)
The fraud consists precisely in the gun industry perpetrating the false narrative about the Second Amendment guaranteeing the right of the people to own firearms when in reality the text does not come even close to providing for that. It includes festering our communities with a culture of fear of others, of people of other religions than the Christian religion, and of fear of government, something James Madison alluded to in his argument with Hamilton and with many other founding fathers concerning militias, an argument he actually lost. The NRA narrative is meant to create the mentality that if anyone in American owned a gun, there would be no violence in the streets and no mass shootings. Their idea is the good guys with guns would kill the bad guys with guns, and that happens to be a very bad idea. In fact, this was one of the reasons why a majority among the founders did not subscribe to Madison’s pro-independent militia advocacy.
Obviously though, every “good guy” owning a gun is something very profitable for the gun industry. In reality, the gun industry puts guns equally into the hands of good guys and bad guys. Not only that but many a time good guys who at one point passed all those “tough” background checks become bad guys when something drives them to act irrationally, hence the mass shootings in schools, at the mall, and at your work place by individuals no one expected they could do such a thing. In addition to that statistics show there is no safety in a higher number of guns owned, and that, in fact, the opposite is true. In terms of violent gun death rates the unstable countries of the underdeveloped world and the turbulent South Africa are the only nations surpassing the United States, and yes, Americans own more guns than any other nation on the planet. Obviously, does not make them safer. In fact, from that point of view America has turned into one of the worst places to live on the planet. More guns per capita is going to turn actually America into a world of constant mayhem, and with mass shootings being reported in the media almost every month and with the less spectacular shootings, as in shootings that make only a couple of victims receive less media exposure, we are not far away from that. Just in case you were wondering, the gun industry is a $40 billion a year business, and it is currently thriving."
A Time of Change, Volume 1, pages 127 to 133
A Time of Change is a work in progress more than thirteen years in the making. Since the time this excerpt was posted here the text was edited, again, possibly multiple times. The final version will be available in the published book.