LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Some obvious truths about guns

Posted

To the editor:

This is the text of the Second Amendment: “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.”

During every discussion of gun control and the Second Amendment, many people insist that the first part of it is totally meaningless and irrelevant, and that only the part about the right to bear arms is important — not only important, but tantamount to being a sacred right. If that were the case, why did the Founding Fathers include the first part?

I might agree with you if the Second Amendment read, “A well-nourished populace, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It is obvious that the two parts of that statement are not related. (They would be if, say, the founders also included something about killing wild creatures for food with arms.)

Why is the construction of the Second Amendment any different from a statement like this: “A healthy, physically strong populace, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of people to be saved from starving to death whenever humanly possible, shall not be infringed.” Do you think the meaning of the second portion of that statement is totally divorced from the first part?

If you agree that we should try to prevent people from starving to death, is the first part of that statement totally irrelevant and meaningless?

Many scholarly, thoughtful interpreters of the Second Amendment have examined the discussions that led to its inclusion in the Bill of Rights and have concluded that its main purpose was to enable the members of militias who hunted fugitive slaves to have a constitutional right to bear arms. The arms available then were muskets, which were inaccurate except at close range, and could discharge only a single ball without having to be reloaded — a process that would take at least 30 seconds.

The Founding Fathers, without any doubt whatsoever, had no other weapon in mind, and did not have in mind people who were not members of militias.

Why is that not obvious?

Miriam Helbok

Miriam Helbok

Comments

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Holocaust survivor

"The arms available then were muskets, which were inaccurate except at close range, and could discharge only a single ball without having to be reloaded "

Amazing how someone with no knowledge is able to make up lies and they are close minded the truth

Black powder shooters go after targets at some amazing distances all the time. 1000 yard shot are not uncommon. The trick there is seeing the target. Could I do it? Not at 1000 but 3 and 400 yard shots would be doable and at a target (not a game animal) I would attempt 500 and beyond.

Good barrels, good powder and balls, sure, why not?

I had an Italian Harper's Ferry 1803 and used it out to 400 yards on targets.

When the Nazis came to my fathers home they confiscated his firearms even though he was a police officer in Berlin

The same thing happened here in the USA as "gun control" was and still is a means of keeping blacks for obtaining legal gun ownership and thus "controlling " them as the democratic party still tries to enforce these raciest laws

One has to wonder why Schmuer used the Nazi confiscation laws verbatim to again stop poor people from giving the G-D given right to defend themselves and their family

The Clinton anti gun views are for others not them as they like Bloomberg and other elitists are either armed or have 24 -7 armed protection that of course poor people do not have

Ever contact one police plaza and ask "how much money in cash do I have to show to get a pistol license"

What fees do does one have to pay to have the "right" to buy a rifle or shot gun for either home protection or hunting?

Those of us that survived Hitlers "control" know how easily history can be repeated .

Friday, December 8, 2017
TruthTeller

Sorry ms Helbok, but the only thing that's obvious is that a government going "full rogue" wants to disarm the population so no one can fight back. Good to see some pushback to your letter here. These people are right, you are in the company of Hitler, Mao and Stalin who all tried to confiscate guns. 1776 will commence again if you people ever try to disarm the people because us normal people out there know your brand of intolerance leads eventually to concentration camps and re-education centers.

Friday, December 8, 2017
SJCBronx

I agree with this letter. The 2nd Amendment was written in 1791 and since then we have free elections to guard against autocracy, and police and armies to "protect the security of a free state."

What we do have currently is too many guns. At only 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. owns 35–50% of the world’s civilian-owned guns. 30,000 people die each year, 100,000 are injured. The 2nd Amendment is an anachronism and we can only hope its days are numbered.

Monday, December 11, 2017
Jim Macklin

Too many pundits and talking heads comment on te Second Amendment but have never read all 89 pages of Justice Scalia's HELLER opinion. They read a summary written by someone with an agenda. Often the first clause is cited as being ignored by Second Amendment supporters. Cited as a limitation and the only REASON FOR PLACING TE RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS into the Constitution. A time line will help [ I hope ].

1775 The British march out of Boston to confiscate the arms kept in armories at Concord and Lexington. That started the war for independence.

1776 The Congress drafts the Declaration of Independence which contains the reason why arms can be needed.

1788 the Constitution is drafted and includes State Militias. This was not seen as sufficient protection of the citizens' rights and freedom. Thus a Bill of Rights was demanded.

The right to keep and bear arms was written to explain why it was written. The first clause is a simple sentence followed by one comma and then a statement of the right.

I won't try to repeat Justice Scalia's dicta and opinion he, but I will paraphrase the Second Amendment to make it clear what was intended.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state ? [Yes, therefore]

"The right of the people to keep and bear arms sall not be infringed."

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Michael Hinman

Great comment, Jim!

I do think we're missing a little historical context here.

The reason why state militias were so important at the time of the Constitution's writing is because there was no federal army. I know that's hard to imagine today, but there was quite a while after the United States was officially founded there was no federal army — primarily out of fear it would rise up and overthrow the government.

Instead, defense — and enforcing law and order on a larger scale — was tasked to state militias. And that task came with conscription — every white male of a certain age were REQUIRED to own a musket, not for private use, but specifically because they were required to serve in a militia.

Not saying that makes the rest of your comment incorrect, or that I necessarily disagree with it — but I did want to point out some additional historical context, because I think it's important for this discussion.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
12 Yr Marine / Presently NY National Guardsman

(food for thought) We live in a country where 80% of all gun crimes are committed by 12% of the population. This same 12% commits 75% of all crime in America. My job in the NY National Guard is to deal with this situation. If you stop this group, gun violence will ALMOST DISAPPEAR. I'm legally allowed to have my firearm with me 24/7 so I'm good no matter what. I guess the solution is for civilians to keep debating the 2nd Amendment... Yeah, that sounds about right.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
SJCBronx

The overall statistics are fairly clear (and thank you for your vital service with the National Guard). There are a lot of guns swishing around the country, and they are too easily purchased and obtained. Other developed countries have fewer gun-related deaths because they don't confer constitutional rights to own guns, and states that have gun control laws also have gun-related deaths. Since Sandy Hook in 2012, there have been 1500 mass shootings - which is 1500 too many. And we know making guns less available would be hugely helpful to police and the National Guard. Justice Scalia's opinion is one interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, and in the end I'd say has not helped in turning these statistics and tragic circumstances around.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
SJCBronx

I meant: "and states that have gun control laws also have fewer gun-related deaths."

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
TruthTeller

Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation and look at the result there.

To me it's just a simple equation......the government has nothing to fear from an unarmed population, which is why they want to come for our firearms. Tyrannical governments in the past often ban guns as their first step. What is so hard to understand?

Are your minds so coulded by establishment thinking that you can't conceive of a government going "full rogue." If that is the case, you have a lot of history to read. In the meantime, I'll rest much easier knowing that millions of my fellow patriots are armed and that we have a fighting chance when this government decides that it's little experiment in freedom no longer suits the elite who control it.

PS- If guns were illegal, criminals would still get them and use them.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017
sjcbronx

That's a Trump administration talking point that has been debunked. Gun laws in Chicago have been relaxed over the past few years. The city dropped a ban against handguns in 2009, and reaffirmed the ban 2010. And they ended a gun registry program in 2013 when they passed a law that allows people to carry concealed weapons.

And neighboring states play a large role in what happens in that city. Both Wisconsin and Indiana have weak guns laws (they don't require licenses or permits to purchase a gun or waiting periods.) And both are heavy suppliers of weapons that cross state lines, into Chicago.

A vague fear about the government coming for you, and you handling the situation with a gun, is an absurd flimsy excuse that allows unnecessary loss of life to continue.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017
TruthTeller

There's nothing vague about the fear of Governments "coming for us" as you put it. Democide, which is a term that means Governments killing it's people, is unfortunately responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions of people in the 20th century alone. Our own government is basically on a bloody rampage the world over killing and maiming civilians in pretty much every country we are invading. And according to your side, the police in this country are shooting and killing blacks at epidemic proportions. So no, there is no vague fear. I have a real fear.

This government has already faked the Gulf Of Tonkin which got us into a war which unnecesarily killed 50,000 troops. They faked Oklahoma City which killed 168 civilians, and of course our Government, with help from Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UK perpetrated 9/11, which saw 3000 civilians die on a single day, as well as thousands more now suffering from cancer due to 9/11. So please spare me the establishment talking points about the Gov't being benevolent and that the problem lies with us.

Fact is, very little gun crime is perpetrated by responsible, law0abiding gun owners. Most of it is perpetrated in the inner cities by gang members and their fellow travellers, who, as you say, get their guns illegally.

The left is so obsessed with control and banning things that y'all don't remember an era called prohibition, where the Miss Marples of those days banned Alcohol. What did that being us? One thing was organized crime, which we are still dealing with today.

Be careful what you're obsessed with banning! The unintended consequences could be devastating!!

Oh, I almost forgot, the left's "savior" Barry Soetero was perhaps one of the biggest illegal gun dealers along with his Attorney General Eric Holder. Just look up "Fast and Furious" where this gov't admitted dealing guns to Mexican cartels, some of which were used to kill American citizens. So if you're gonna ban guns, be consistent. Demand the gov't give up their guns. Only then will the world truly be a safe place.

Thursday, December 14, 2017
SJCBronx

Militias were also used to quell internal rebellions (as in Shay's Rebellion) and attacks by indigenous people defending their lands. One thing the Heller decision showed is that "originalism" does not keep judge's views from seeping into decisions.

Originalists look at "original intent" of founders by considering their writings at the time, and precious drafts of constitutional amendments. They also look at "original meaning," or how ordinary folks interpret laws handed down to them, the latter partly done in the Heller decision by looking at state constitutions that were written around the same time as the constitution. In doing that, they did some cherrypicking.

Justice Ginsberg waggishly told another justice, you can't just pay attention to part of the amendment, you have to look at the whole, and if you did, you'd see states could raise their own militias. Justice Scalia immediately replied, oh, that part is "obsolete."

Tuesday, December 19, 2017