The 2nd Amendment is an Individual Right, no doubt about it

The question under consideration is what does it mean? Is the right under question an individual right that cannot be generally voided by the government or is it a corporate right only for members of a militia such as the National Guard?

“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. [link]

First we notice there are more commas than Strunk & White would recommend. Obviously, the commas were inserted by someone with a different set of rules for commas, perhaps the writer believed in inserting commas whenever the reader might take a breath. Given that the commas are in weird places, we will have to discount comma placement somewhat when we analyze the text. I make this argument up-front, even though it will not have anything to do with the way I parse the language, because there are those who make a big deal of the commas in the argument. Consider this a prophylactic measure against obsessive comma-parsing.

Then we notice from the other 9 amendments in the Bill of Rights that they are all amendments that apply to individual rights, not corporate rights.

Then we ask ourselves, why was the amendment written? Let us assume for a moment that the amendment was meant to apply to corporate rights. It only applies to militias: Armed militias. Given that armed militias are bands of armed men established by the government, would there be any doubt that a militia would be allowed by the government to bear arms? Why would the Constitution need to be amended in order to allow members of an armed militia established by the government to bear arms? The government under question would guarantee this right as a matter of course. Even the tyrannies in China and Myanmar allow their militias to be armed. Wouldn’t this be a nonsensical amendment, written by idiots, passed by fools, only challenged by the likes of Humpty Dumpty intent on redefining the meaning of an armed militia, or armed, or militia?

Or perhaps the amendment was written by a poor speller with a petty focus, and the amendment guarantees the right of people to bare their arms in short sleeves? I apologize for the joke, but it’s almost impossible to stay earnest when surrounded by so much silliness.

We could presume that the founders of the USA were not fools and idiots and petty-minded jokers, and that they wrote this Amendment because it protected a controversial right (to be armed) that was granted to all free men (and women) which future governments might wish to void through legal action? In fact, that is what the government of Washington DC has done with its gun ban. Mr. Heller, who filed the lawsuit challenging the ban, is allowed to carry his gun when he is at work to protect the local nobility in Congress. But he is not allowed to carry it when he is at home with his own non-privileged family. The Washington DC ban is a profoundly anti-democratic law that discriminates against people who don’t have all the juice of a standing Senator or Representative.

That’s why there can be no doubt whatsoever among the serious minded that the 2nd Amendment is an individual right.

The WSJ lists some things the Supreme Court said in DC v. Heller.

Chief Justice John Roberts asked why the Framers included the word “people” if the Amendment only applied to militias. Justice Antonin Scalia discussed the importance the Framers attached to providing citizens the means to protect against tyrannical government. Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the Court’s swing vote, informed all in attendance that “In my view, there’s a general right to bear arms quite without reference to the militia either way.”

Counterarguments are welcome. Please, give it your best shot!

Heh heh.

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4 responses to “The 2nd Amendment is an Individual Right, no doubt about it

  1. I’ll be satisfied if they repeal GCA ’68 and NFA and impose Vermont CCW on the other 49 states, with all felons forfeiting their RKBA until their civil rights are formally restored.

  2. “Then we notice from the other 9 amendments in the Bill of Rights that they are all amendments that apply to individual rights, not corporate rights.”

    Well, and states’ rights (abrogated, restricted-away, measured, controlled and utterly ignored ad libitum by the political elite, to about the same degree that individual rights are, that is to say widely and deeply)–10th Amendment. Of course, the Great Unitarian-Baptist Shootout was really about repealing the 10th Amendment without the messy political process of actually repealing it. (Ending slavery was simply a convenient excuse that has been made into the tail that wagged the dog. A good thing, formally–though not factually–ending chattel slavery, but at best a disingenuous pretext, not the true goal of the war.)

    A “right” is only a right as long as a government cannot license it. The Framers obviously understood this, hence the frequent language in the Bill of Rights such as “Congress shall make no law” and “shall not be infringed” etc. Interesting word, “infringe”. Violate, invalidate, encroach upon, etc. Reading the word “infringe” makes me wonder whether the federal government should own any firearms of its own… *heh*

    But specifically as to the right of the people to keep and bear arms (not, sadly, to arm bears *heh*): rights, as the Founders understood them, did not, COULD not emmanate from the government. A legitimate government could recognize and honor God given rights (such as the right to sellf-defense and defense of ones community, State and nation, etc., that the 2nd Amendment enshrines), but to the degree that a government removes, restricts or in any way abrogates those God given rights, to that same degree that government delegitimizes its rule.

    In fact, isn’t that the essential argument of the Declaration of Independence, that the British king had ceded his legitimate right to rule by trampling the colonists’ rights? An because the king had done so, it was within the colonists’ rights to refuse to be ruled by him. (Essentially the same argument made by those oppressed who attempted the “Whiskey Rebellion” that *sigh* George Washington ordered put down; essentially the same argument the South made when Northern industrialists’ bought and paid for politicians sought to trample the South… Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.)

    BTW, I in no way would argue that one of the results–the formal end of chattel slavery in the U.S.–of the Great Unitarian-Baptist Shootout was in any way undesireable. Indeed, it was essential and inevitable. The unfortunate byproducts of that war have lived on far, far longer than formal, legal chattel slavery had a foothold in the the U.S. and are very, very much still with us today, not in sall part in the slow death of the Constitution as it falls further and further into the poisonous swamp of Mr. Lincoln’s desire for a larger and ever more powerful federal government that is diametrically opposed to almost all the principles the Founders held dear.

    *sigh*

    Oh. Well. With any luck, I won’t live to see the day when the apotheosis of Mr. Lincoln’s “federal” government at last results in the complete subjugation of a.once free land.

    (Is it that bad? No, not yet. But we are no longer a republic in fact, and the form is withering as well.)

    I know, I know: get my own blog. *heh*

  3. Wow. Such two wonderful discussions of the 2nd Amendment! lol. Great job, Wolf Pangloss and David. Keep up the great work. (David, cheer up. We’ll take it back before it gets that bad…)

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