Why bear arms? and where does it go?
…But the most important reason American civilians should have access to these guns has nothing to do with recreation or even with defense against criminals. It has to do with the main purpose of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, an aspect of the “assault weapon” story that the national press has almost completely ignored. The Second Amendment states: “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 meaning of the Second Amendment is very clear to the vast majority of scholars who have examined the paper trail left by the Founders. James Madison’s friend Tench Coxe expressed their concerns succinctly in 1789: “As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”
The Founders also made it clear that the “militia” consisted of the whole armed people. The Federalist Papers and other writings indicate that they feared large professional military forces and select militias (like the National Guard). Citizens and their privately owned guns were part of the system of checks and balances that the Founders felt was necessary to keep government from drift ing into tyranny. Authors of the 50 law review articles that support this interpretation include such prominent, liberal, non gun-owning scholars as Sanford Levinson of the University of Texas, Akhil R. Amar of Yale, and William Van Alstyne of Duke.
According to Title 10, Section 311 of the U.S. Code, the National Guard is still only the orga nized part of a militia that consists of practically all able-bodied males and some females between the ages of 17 and 45 who are citizens of the United States or have declared an intention to become citizens. The only 20th-century Supreme Court ruling touching on the Second Amendment ( U.S. v. Miller, 1939) acknowledged that militiamen called to service “were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time “ [emphasis added].
…American citizens have traditionally had access to rifles and pistols with more power and magazine capacity than those issued to common soldiers. In keeping with the traditional American view of the militia, the Army’s Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship has long sold sur plus pistols, rifles, and carbines, including semi-automatics, to the public at bargain-basement prices. No one claims that Americans have caused problems with these surplus military small arms. Yet since common soldiers started carrying automatic or burst-fire rifles, American citizens have no longer had access to up-to-date military small arms, and federal law now even restricts their access to semi-automatic variations of these guns. So not only do we have the large professional military and select militia that the Founders feared, but there is a movement afoot to get militarily effective small arms out of civilian hands.
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