When Madison penned his original draft of revisions or amendments, to the US Constitution in 1793 he wrote two amendments for what ultimately was consolidated into the current Second Amendment, one for the rights of individuals to keep and maintain arms (similar to the Pennsylvania Constitution) and one for the States to keep and maintain militias.   Congress combined these and the version that passed reads:

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 amendment was a compromise between Federalists — those who supported the Constitution as it was ratified — and the anti-Federalists — those who supported states having more power. Having just used guns and other arms to ward off the English, the amendment was originally created to give citizens the opportunity to fight back against a tyrannical federal government.

Those who take the collective side think the amendment gives each state the right to maintain and train formal militia units that can provide protection against an oppressive federal government. They argue the “well regulated militia” clause clearly means the right to bear arms should only be given to these organized groups. They believe this allows for only those in the official militia to carry guns legally, and say the federal government cannot abolish state militias.  Those with the opposite viewpoint believe the amendment gives every citizen the right to own guns, free of federal regulations, to protect themselves in the face of danger. The individualists believe the amendment’s militia clause was never meant to restrict each citizen’s rights to bear arms.  In both cases, it is clear that the intent is that should the government fail to serve the public good, should the governments behavior rise to the condition where “ it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them…” or “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security…” the people have the means to fulfil the threat. 

Today Donald Trump invoked “the rights of law abiding Americans, including your second amendment rights.   To Arms my Fellow Americans, to Arms.  Gather on the Green all ye Minutemen and be prepared to defend your communities.

Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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