Writing: the origins of second amendment



    The Second Amendment has become the object of controversial overreactions .This debate arises whenever homicides or massacres are committed using firearms. One issue being discussed is whether the Second Amendment recognizes the right of each citizen to keep and bear arms, or whether the right belongs solely to state governments to maintain a military force. In both cases the actual situation appeals to an open debate about the necessity to implement firearms purchase and possession regulations.

    To understand the origins of second amendment, we have to go back to the historical context. During the 18th century, the population believed the greatest danger to this new nation was tyrannical government and that the ultimate check on tyranny was an armed population. The check on all government, not simply the federal government, was the armed population, the militia. Government would not be accorded the power to create a select militia since such a body would become the government's instrument. The whole of the population would comprise the militia. The common public purpose of preserving freedom would be served by protecting each individual's right to arms.

    However, the founding fathers had different interpretation according to Pr. David E. Vandercoy (Valparaiso University School of Law). Having been oppressed by a professional army, the founding fathers of the United States had no use for establishing one of their own. Instead, they decided that an armed citizen makes the best army of all. General George Washington created a "well-regulated militia," which would consist of every able- man in the country.

    The text of amendment was: “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.”

    This amendment text leads to two predominant interpretations of the Second Amendment:

    1.The civilian militia interpretation, which holds that the Second Amendment is no longer valid, having been intended to protect a militia system that is no longer in place.

    2. The individual rights interpretation, which holds that the individual right to bear arms is a basic right on the same order as the right to free speech.

    The advocates of the second interpretation are concentrating their arguments in the second part of the amendment text: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” For them the individual right to bear arms is a basic right on the same order as the right to free speech. This interpretation is widely mediatized by the powerful US Firearms Industry. In addition to lobbying for the Second Amendment in courtrooms and legislative chambers, The US Firearms Industry has made gun rights education a crucial role in its mission. The main reason behind this unconditional support is profit. According to CBS resource library, the industry produces about 3 million guns per year: 620,000 pistols; 320,000 revolvers; 1,300,000 rifles;  700,000 shotguns and about 60,000 machine guns are made with a combined Annual Revenue of $2 Billion. No doubt the issue of individual right to bear arms is a priority to them far from any other reasonable interpretation.

    The concern we should express; Now that the United States is protected by a trained, volunteer military force rather than a civilian militia, is the Second Amendment still valid?

    According to the historian Carl T. Bogus, the well-regulated militia referred to in the Second Amendment was, in fact, the 18th century equivalent to the U.S. Armed Forces. The United States that existed at the time the Second Amendment was proposed had no professional, trained army. Instead, it relied almost exclusively on civilian militias for self-defense-in other words, all available men between the ages of 18 and 50. In the event of foreign invasion, there would be no trained military force to hold back the British or the French. The United States relied on the power of its own citizens to defend the country against attack. This began to change with the presidency of John Adams, who established a professional navy to protect U.S.-bound trade vessels from privateers. Today, the U.S. Army is made up of a mix of full-time and part-time professional soldiers who are trained well, and compensated for their service.

    Does the second clause of the Second Amendment still apply even if the first clause, providing its rationale, is no longer meaningful?

    We are actually leaving in a modern society where the rights of every one are protected by laws and institutions. We are no longer at risk of foreign invasion and even if it’s the case we have a well-trained army. Therefore, the Second Amendment doesn’t apply anymore. Some will argue that we have the right to defend our homes and families against any possible threat using fire arms, it’s a fact. However, this right is not protected by constitution because it’s not a part of the Second Amendment. Now that we put the right to bear arms in the right context, we can discuss the way to regulate or forbid the use of fire arms. Being a society where the bear of arms is traditionally implemented, banning the sale of arms will not be reasonable. The firearms and ammunition industry has a significant economic impact, in 2009 they created more than 183,424 Jobs. The most reasonable regulations will be imposing a purchase ban of fire arms to recidivist criminals or anyone found guilty of crime. A procedure that should be implemented by firearms dealers who will have access to a data base directly connected to the FBI web site .Another propositions will be to impose a minimal age for gun purchase. In Virginia, for example, alcoholic beverages may not be sold to persons under 21, and identification must be required. A final proposition will be to create an agency to crack down on the black market of arms sale. The government will declare a war to this kind of practice like he did when we start fighting the drug cartels.

    The Second Amendment will remain a controversial subject due mainly to the different lectures of its meaning. The incapacity of Supreme Court to take any clear position by treating it as a sacred text doesn’t enrich the debate. Finally, I remained  you that George Washington suggested once: "Individuals entering into society, must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest. The magnitude of the sacrifice must depend as well on situation and circumstance, as on the object to be obtained."




Akhil Reed Amar, The Second Amendment: A Case Study in Constitutional Interpretation, 2001 Utah L. Rev. 889 (2001).


Christopher A. Chrisman, Mind the Gap: The Missing Standard of Review Under the Second Amendment (and Where to Find It), 4 Geo. J. L. & Pub. Pol’y 289 (2006).


Robert H. Churchill, Gun Regulation, the Police Power, and the Right to Keep Arms in Early America: The Legal Context of the Second Amendment, 25 Law & Hist. Rev. 139 (2007).


Saul Cornell, Commonplace or Anachronism: The Standard Model, the Second Amendment, and the Problem of History in Contemporary Constitutional Theory, 16 Const. Comment. 221 (1999).


Lawrence Delbert Cress, An Armed Community: The Origin and Meaning of the Right to Bear Arms, 71 J. Am. Hist. 22 (1984).


Robert Dowlut, The Right To Keep And Bear Arms: A Right To Self-Defense Against Criminals And Despots, 8(1) Stan. L. & Pol’y Rev. 25 (Winter 1997).


Daniel A. Farber, Disarmed By Time: The Second Amendment and the Failure of Originalism, 76 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 167 (2000).