Brief History of the Second Amendment

“Do not accuse anyone for no reason-when they have done you no harm.”
~Proverbs 3:30

“He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one…
~Luke 22:36

A couple of days ago, my friend (Again, shout out to @UsagikoNat ) retweeted a tweet that absolutely floored me. Bunnygirl, in her usual manner, was rather spot on in her response. I was floored not only for the crap take on the second amendment, but for it’s ignorance and inaccuracy.

Here is the tweet:

This person apparently believes that the second was put into the Constitution so that southern slave owners could prevent uprisings. Not only is this false, but it shows a degree of ignorance of US History that is absolutely astounding.

I actually have a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that someone could be so pathetically ignorant of history. The truth is, the second amendment had nothing to do with slavery. Having said that, I’m going to get into a little history here.

When the constitution was ratified in 1788, it was only on the promise that a bill of rights would be put into place. Each of the states had their own declaration of rights that enumerated the rights of their citizens. We had just won a war against the most powerful empire on earth at the time. King George had trampled the rights of the colonies and while they had rights under English common law, as well as the English Bill of Rights, King George largely ignored them.

Because the Constitution had no declaration of Rights, States like Massachusetts and New York had concerns over the omission of such a declaration of Rights and threatened not to ratify the Constitution. Because of this, the Convention promised to work on a bill of rights under the First US Congress.

The Bill of Rights drew it’s inspiration from a number of sources, among them, the English Bill of Rights and the Magna Carta. The bill of rights took almost two years to be agreed upon, but eventually in 1791, Congress gave us the first ten amendments, now known as the Bill of Rights.

Now, why was the Second Amendment added to the Bill of Rights? Well, that answer is simple although it has two parts. First, under the English Bill of Rights, a man had the right to keep and bear arms in self defense or in defense of the nation. As for the second part, well, it gets back to the fact that we’d just had to fight a war to protect and preserve our liberties and win our independence from the British Crown.

One of the things our founding fathers feared was that a standing army could be used by an oppressive despot to strip the people of their rights. Indeed, they didn’t even want a standing army at all. Instead, they preferred that the country should rely heavily on Militia. Private citizen soldiers with their own arms and acoutrements, so that if the country needed, they could be called on.

They were actually VERY clear on this idea.

This will not only lessen the call for military establishments, but if circumstances at anytime should oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow citizens…

~Federalist Papers #29

The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than Twenty-Five to Thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and United and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence…

~Federalist Papers #46

The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are of such nature. They disarm only those who are neighter inclined nor determined to commit crimes…Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the Assailants, they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man maybe attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.

~Thomas Jefferson The Commonplace Book.

I ask who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers.

~George Mason 04JUN1788

As you can see, the reason behind the Second Amendment was not slavery at all, but instead was about defense. It was for defense of the Nation against invasion, defense of the various states, defense of the people…And defense of yourself.

There is something that did have a basis in empowering white southerners to hold power over people of color though. It has a long and storied history born out of fear. Those are gun control laws. The first of those began to prevent freed slaves from owning or using firearms, lest they turn them against their former masters.

Alas, I will have to cover that in another article. Because the truth of the Second Amendment is that groups like the NRA were heavily invested in helping black Americans exercise their second amendment rights in Self defense since the earliest days of the NRA.

Take care.