Current Events, Issues

Interesting commentary on the right to “bear arms” and the historical context of the phrase that ties it specifically to military service. It’s a long read, but there’s a lot of historical background on how we got where we are when it comes to gun control (and despite the source, the article is very level-headed).

The problem I see in the editorial though is that assuming everything about the historical context is correct, particularly the part about the militia being required to bring their own weapons (which they did), that means the individual needs to have the right to own that gun, in order to bear arms in the military sense. Otherwise, members of a militia can’t “bear arms” because they’d show up to service empty handed. The article also ignores the word “keep” in the amendment. The right isn’t to just “bear arms,” it’s to “keep and bear arms.”

One of the better takeaways, though, is the danger of “quote-sharing” on Facebook, as quotes without context are meaningless and easily distorted. Think before sharing your next meme.

There is not a single word about an individual’s right to a gun for self-defense or recreation in Madison’s notes from the Constitutional Convention. Nor was it mentioned, with a few scattered exceptions, in the records of the ratification debates in the states. Nor did the U.S. House of Representatives discuss the topic as it marked up the Bill of Rights. In fact, the original version passed by the House included a conscientious objector provision. “A well regulated militia,” it explained, “composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person.” How the NRA Rewrote the Second Amendment; Politico Magazine

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