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Shall Not Be Infringed, Today?

After looking at what the framers meant the second amendment for let’s see how it should fit into today’s modern world.

The Scope of The Problem

Before we fall into the trap of sensationalized news it’s very important to know the actual numbers so we know how big the problem actually is.
In 2017 the US had 39,000 gun deaths. of the 39,000, roughly 60% were suicides and 3% officer involved shootings and accidental gun deaths, which leaves 37% (14,000) as gun homicides.

With shooting like Parkland, Dayton, Sutherland Springs, and the many more mass shootings that have been in the news the past few years it would seem like it’s a major problem contributing to the 14,000 gun homicides. The fact is the about 85 people died in active shooter situations according to the FBI(this number excludes the shooter). If the definitions is expanded to all incidents that involve for or more gun related injuries. The number jumps to 375 fatalities.

Of the 14,000 homicides 64% where committed with a handgun, 4% were committed with a rifle(assault style weapon, like an AR-15, would be included here), and 2% involved shotgun, with the other 30% being unidentified.

Does gun control work?

This map shows the Murder rate. in each state, including non gun related murders.

Looking at the map above a fair comparison would be between Texas and California. Both states have large metropolitan areas along with large rural/agriculture areas to offset the cites. With regards to gun control, looking at just the number of registered guns in the state, California has 8.7 guns per 1000 people, and Texas having 20.8 guns per 1000 people. (Side note: Texas has no registration mandate in its law, and California has a mandatory registration of Assault rifles, and personal imported handguns so both these numbers will be low. This study only counted the 5.2million registered firearms out of the estimated 393 million firearms). Texas and California have nearly identical murder rates even with Texas having twice as many firearms per capita.

There are countless more statistics that could be cited and discussed, to see how the Second amendment fits into today’s America. What’s your opinion, How do you see the Second Amendment fitting in modern life over 200 years after it was written.

Shall Not be Infringed

In today’s heated political climate, gun control has become a very hot topic issue on both sides of the isle. The best way to understand the complex mess of laws, hearsay, and utterly false information, is to break the problem down into three parts, first what did the founder originally wanted the Second Amendment to do, second what the actual scale of the problem is, and finally have any state and/or comparable nations implemented positive solutions.

What did the framers mean when they wrote,” 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 first part is often used to say that gun control is a part of the constitution and the government has the right and responsibility to regulate guns for the safety of the nation. There is another way to look at this wording. By looking at the 1828 Webster dictionary we can see that is another way to look at “well regulated”. The first definition doesn’t make a lot of sense for the framers to use in the second amendment, since it deals with setting a standard type. It wouldn’t make sense if the government ment said that you could only uses 30-06 cartridges for rifles, 20 gauge for shotgun or 9mm for handguns. The last on is the definition we’re familiar with today. Definition number two however, has been pushed to the obscure word nerds of the english language between 1828 and today. It’s very reasonable that the framers wanted the government to ensure that all the able bodied men were aloud to be trained or “regulated”, since at the time the US didn’t have an official army. (side note The Constitution granted congress the ability to raise an army but didn’t mandate it, therefore in early America, the national defense would have been local militias.)

Another place to look for the founders original intent is the Federalist Papers. Federalist No. 29, by Alexander Hamilton, yes the one in the play, states early on that, “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.” This clearly states that the government is to put the militia into well working order. Which brings the final piece of “A well regulated militia,” into play, who is part of the militia. For this we need to look at who made up the militia during the Revolutionary war. In Federalist No.46 James Madison suggest that, an army of 1/100 of the total population, about 25,000 – 30,000 men at the time, conjoined with “a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberty…” This would suggest that the militia isn’t part of the government’s military, but a completely separate organism, free from the government’s control.

Madison also touches on what the purpose of the local militias in Federalist No. 46. Local militias would serve two main purposes as Madison sees it. The first being a supplementary fighting force for national defense. By allowing local militia groups, it would increase the defensive force of the USA by twenty fold. Secondly the local militias would serve as a check on the federal and state governments, since the militias would be organized at the local level free from state and federal government.

There’s a lot more to unpack just on the second amendment’s wording, but for time’s sake we’ll let it rest. We’ll look at how the second amendment should be implemented in part two of this post.

The History

To understand the Constitution, we first need to know where it came from and why it’s structured the way it is. During the Revolutionary War (1777) the Continental Congress drafted and approved The Articles of Confederation. The Articles set up a very loose federal government. They organized America much the same way the EU is organized today. Each state kept its own sovereignty. The Articles only gave the federal government the power to regulate foreign affairs, print and borrow money, organize a military, and control Indian affairs. However, with the structure of the Articles, the federal government had no teeth to exercise its powers. The government had to beg the states for money, men and even the regulation of foreign affairs. Between the Revolutionary War and the current Constitution, it was common for states to make treaties with European nations, and disregard any treaties made by the federal government.
The complete lack of an organized federal government is why the Constitutional Convention convened in secret in 1783. The founders were looking for a new type of government structure that was between the loose confederation that was currently in place and the monarchies and parliaments of Europe. The framers wanted to make a government that was chained to the people, which would protect the natural freedoms and rights that all people have. It also needed to have enough power centered at the federal level to preserve the union. Lasty, it needed to have checks to keep the powers of government in the original location. They derived these values for the new government from historical literature, documents and thinkers such as Socrates, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, the Magna Carta, the Christian Bible, etc. They believed that for a free country to stay free, there must be a social responsibility of the free to act morally and fairly. The Framers wanted the government to act like a hockey ref. It’s supposed to keep the players under control without giving either team an unfair advantage.
I hope this brief overview of why we have the constitution, and where the framers derived their ideas from, gives us enough of an understanding to dive into the rest of the constitution.