"The purpose of the right to bear arms is twofold; to allow individuals to protect themselves and their families, and to ensure a body of armed citizenry from which a militia could be drawn, whether that militia’s role was to protect the nation, or to protect the people from a tyrannical government."
by:
Glenn Harlan Reynolds
Assoc. Prof. of Law, Univ. of Tennessee
Source:
A Critical Guide to the Second Amendment, 62 TENN. L. R. 461, 475 (1995).
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Reader comments about this quote:
An extremely accurate assessment of natural law, the Constitution's foundational intent, and an historically correct assessment. On the subject, I've always thought Tennessee's Constitution added to the U.S.'s Constitutional understanding. "That government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind. That the citizens of this state have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense; . . .. That no citizen of this state shall be compelled to bear arms, provided he will pay an equivalent, to be ascertained by law." (Article I, Section 2, 26, 28)
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Individually owned guns are more often a source of injury to those individuals and their family. Amateurs do not a militia make, that take discipline. These laws and this aspect of the constitution are no longer appropriate in the current world. They met the needs of a frontier land, and stand in the way of the needs of the country today.
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA, US     
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    No Reston, the very fact that we have not had a total dictator yet shows the positive effect of the second ammendent.
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
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    As usual Reston's wild imagination is full of it. The right keep and bear arms and the purposes for doing so are as clear as the morning sun. And the reasons are, if anything, more valid today than they have been since 1776. Only someone who worships Big Brother could think otherwise.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Even the most careless or casual perusal of the Founders' writings will find that the second amendment had nothing to do with hunting or sporting purposes. Guns prevent the strong from injuring the weak, be it a strong man or a strong government at home or abroad. Liberty as an idea is impossible for an unarmed populace.
     -- Justin, Elkland     
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    Reston, we are wasting our valuable time explaining our reasons. I have tried but alas it falls on death ears.
     -- RBESRQ     
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    It is wrong about the tyrannicl government part.! That part is takine care of by the vote. Who is to decide that the government is tryrannical? Many on this site have already decided (guys like Carlton) but have guns stopped it, or have they broken out their guns), heck no they haven't. So that part and those who espouse it are just mouthing a lot of hot air. Now one guy recently did decide that the government was tyrannical and did something about. I speak of Loughner in Arizona. Is this guy your hero, is this what using guns against tyranny is all about.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Waffler, its not 'who' that decides what is tyrannical, it is the law and, the degree of anti-law enforcements that decides what is tyrannical. Man can not make law, only God can make law; as example: the statist theology's fiscal policies are contrary to law (you can't borrow out of debt - that is economic tyranny, there is more) Your reference to guns not having stopped tyranny's resurrection in the States united is an ignorance of one who has forgotten history (all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, - Declaration of Independence). AND, for the Wafflerworlders Manchurian style madness does not qualify for free men with intact inalienable rights, throwing off tyranny; it does qualify for liberal's false flag in an agent provocateur show
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    The Second Amendment, unabridged as was the intent of the Founders, is meant to protect the First Amendment and the lives and safety of all of us as individuals. As we have seen today, both of these are under threat of extinction by those seeking power over us. "Political correctness" is but another way of abridging both. According to the U.N., the right to bear arms is for the protection of the State, and is not intended to protect the individual, and our current administration favors the U.N. arms control treaty. Our nation, our freedom, our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and our sovereignty are in great danger.
     -- Joy, Hansville     
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    Waffler, as usual using a genuine nut job to make your point serves only to make your words all the more pathetic. You really are a hysterical individual.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    PS Waffler, this particular nut job had an Obama sticker on his car.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Reston is not alone in his consistent understanding of what is sane and democratic. You who are always on the side of a fascist system you are so ignorant of you call it socialism. Look up the definitions for heaven's sake so you can at least know what nonsense you believe.
     -- dick, Fort Worth     
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    dick, I looked up the meaning of socialism and fascism and posted it last week, I guess you missed it. Here is the nonsense you believe. Socialism is: A; "Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or, by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy. B; a system of society or group living in which there is no private property. C; a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state" (merriam-webster dictionary). "An economic system in which the production and distribution of goods are controlled substantially by the government rather than by private enterprise, and in which cooperation rather than competition guides economic activity (like the union being management of a nationalized business). "There are many varieties of socialism. Some socialists tolerate capitalism, as long as the government maintains the dominant influence over the economy; others insist on an abolition of private enterprise. All communists are socialists, but not all socialists are communists. "(The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition) "The stage in Marxist-Leninist theory intermediate between capitalism and communism, in which collective ownership of the economy under the dictatorship of the proletariat has not yet been successfully achieved." In the Union of Socialist Amerika (USA), under a collectivist redefinition of We The People, there is no allodial freehold (no outright private ownership or enterprise) The statist state claims inherent right sovereignty as an organic hegemony, owning all property, rights, etc. The USA's helots, serfs, and otherwise collective are allowed certain title (a title is a limited claim to possession, not ownership) or license by an omnipotent lord and master (state). Fascism, as defined by despots (Mussolini, Hitler, etc.) is a system of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned by a collectivized central government that also often plans and controls the economy. A primary aspect of the fascist style of socialism is known as corporatism. Corporations are administrative bifurcations of the state. The state owns everything. The state owns the Corporation, all property and rights, etc. and designs how a corporation may function. Stock holders and officers are only allowed certain day to day administrations. Through the corporation, the state owns and controls the economy, distribution and production - people being only a numbered chattel of the collective. Further, fascism usually employs a caste designation to its subject patrons (economic - the wealthy elite vs all others, a plutocracy above all others, racism, friend/foe, etc.) By way of example, liberal fascists (socialists) make derogatory claims as agent provocateurs, like those whites that wont accept socialized medicine are just racist crackers. The statist theocracy that now infests this land is a socialist regime, diametrically opposed to free enterprise, law, justice, freedom, liberty, an individual sovereign's creator endowed unalienable right and the constitutionally established government of the representative republic.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    dick, who do you think is on the fascist side? Who specifically advances a statist big government, corporatism, foreign wars without a congressional declaration or, a caste system? Cal, jim, Justin, Carlton, Publius, Archer, along with most of the here regular non-liberal bloggers seem to follow a libertarian / Constitutional line. I know I do. You make some of the most thought through intelligent comments for a liberal, To whom were you directing your comments?
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    dick...You're right, its not socialism to control ones ability to defend himself. It's communism.
     -- Publius     
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    Reston...How is the right to bear arms no longer appropriate to the current world? Has today's government proved wiser, more noble, or more trustworthy than the government of our forefathers? Are there less people throught our land that will break any law they have to (including gun laws) to illegally take what they want than there were years ago? Is mankind less greedy, sinful, or governments less apt to become tyrannical than they were in the 18th century? Have we somehow figured out how to just get along? Until we do, until there is no more clash of culture or opinion and not one ounce of greed or lust of power in any living being's heart, until there are no more laws broken or governments necessary; the innocent citizens will need their guns, because the criminals and the tyrants will have theirs.
     -- Publius     
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    Waffler...The vote does not completely save us from tyranny. Governments, no matter the form, tend towards tyranny and lean farther from the purpose of their original establishment as they grow older. Being able to democratically select our representatives only slows this process, it doesn't stop it. There is no controversy that we are less free than our forefathers were. In fact, we have less rights and privlages than any American generation before us. The government takes your rights one law, one bill, one generation at a time. A government becomes completely tyrannical once it takes away your ability to choose its officials. But it will never be able to do so if its citizens are heavily armed. If its citizens give up their arms, there is nothing to stop the government from taking away your right to vote and every other right you love so dearly. The government may not suddenly resort to tyranny as soon as it takes away our guns, but it will be one major step closer. It may take another generation or two before this government no longer rules by the consent of the governed. The governed being our children that will remember us as being the generation that left them with nothing to fight with.
     -- Publius     
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    Had the individual right to bear arms never been guaranteed, America would not have become the bastion of liberty it is. Look to history, dick, Reston, Waffler -- those nations which have successfully disarmed their populace have been oppressed time and time again. Look at Switzerland where every man is trained and possesses arms as per the US principle. The chance of being harmed by a lawfully armed American citizen is less than the chance of burning your house down by accident. Arms are power -- and with power comes responsibilty. The populist statists ignore fundmental truths -- that there are those that will use their powers, whatever they may be, to steal and intimidate others. An armed citizenry makes their crimes harder. The disarming of urban citizens and the prohibition on drugs is the primary reason for gun-related deaths in the US. Remove the profits from black market trading, and watch crime dissipate. Cities that prohibit hand guns have the most gun-related deaths. The statists do not want the individual to have any power -- especially the power to resist arbitrary authority and its 'enforcement.'
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    You are in a fantasy world Publius. People have been talking like you for decades and yet no action by guns. It is all BS and really in my view just the talk of cowards.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    PS: I meant to say "the talk of cowards, and intellectual midgets". The talk of guns and their use is in and of itself an act of tyranny and terrorism. I have them and carry them in the backcountry, I don't talk about using them against my fellow man or democratically elected goverment.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Then tell me Waffler, since you believe yourself to be such an intellectual giant, if everyone in both houses of congress decided that from this day foward there would be no more elections; they will serve for life and select there own successors and they sign it into law, what will you do about it? You can call that a fantasy if you want, but it is a possibility and I am not willing to leave any possible way for my liberty or the liberty of my children to be taken from us. I'm not talking about taking up arms against a democratically elected government; I'm talking about using arms as a last line of defense of my life and liberty, whether its against a criminal, an invader, or God forbid, my own damn government. You seem to think that I believe I should grab my gun evertime I disagree with the President or Congress. I believe a gun should only be used as a last resort; as long as we can sway the government without a gun we won't, but when the voice of We the People is finally silenced, our guns won't be. You should read Federalist Paper No.46. And by the way, our Founders said that this is the only reason we have the 2nd amendment. Are you saying that Madison, Jefferson, Franklin and Washington are intellectual midgets?
     -- Publius     
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    I think your sci-fi example is a fantasy Publius. The guns we have wont stop what you described. The overthrow of the Soviet System, the velvet revolution in Prague, the recent events in Tunisia, and now Egypt are not accomlished by the force of arms.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Waffler...The places you have described have strict gun laws. That is what allowed tyranny to take root in the first place. How long did these people suffer from the totalitarian rule of their government? A lot longer than they would have if they were armed. An armed populace is not just useful for fighting against tyranny, it is a deterent from tyranny ever occuring. A government that fears its citizens is by far more honest and submisive to the will of the people.
     -- Publius     
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    Most on this site Publius claim we have lived here under tyranny for a long time and that we live under it now, soooo what the hell good are the guns?
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Waffler as usual is stuck like glue to his deity, the Government. When they push too far Waffler, you'll see what the guns are for, and that time is approaching.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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     -- Roland, Bonner's Ferry      
    Also no standing Army.
     -- Al, DC     
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    Retson makes a valid point. In the C18 the fear of invasion and corruption of a fledgling state legitimised gun ownership and the idea of a collective militia. Today this is a form of collective paranoia which the right to bear arms helps to maintain. The purpose right to bear arms is therefore the maintenance of this collective madness and the production of massive profits for the gun manufacturers.
     -- Mick, Manchester     
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     -- jim k, Austin      
    It takes a well informed mind to "understand" we are as a people At Liberty, under siege, of tyrannical forces within government.
    The case for Constructive Fraud willfully committed by Congress and the IRS against We the People is well documented. What scares the hell out of the socialist/ communist leaning leadership and following, is President Donald J. Trump, backed by the loyal Patriots without and within the ranks of government forces. MAGA, Semper Fi and God Bless
     -- Ronw13, OR     
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    There are thousands of story's with regard to lives being saved by gun ownership, I personally carry a concealed weapons permit and warn those wishing the same to make sure the read all the state and federal rules related to concealed weapons permit. You need look no further than the consequences of countries that have been disarmed... I also advise those wishing to purchase a gun to make sure the gun is registered, and that they take a course in gun ownership, its maintenance, and storage, and make sure they retain the gun manual.
     -- robert, somewhere inthe USA     
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    The anti-American govt-as-god lefties here are making me wretch.

    Democrat fools could be America's undoing;
    would they even be happy then? I think We all know the answer to that.

    THIS ONE'S FOR YOU, RESTON:
    Govt-owned guns are far more often a source of needless injury than those held in responsible private hands. Amateurish Colonial Militia won America's Liberty, did it not? Our Constitution and Natural Law are no longer tolerable by the losing globalist tyrants, now that they're exposed by altenate media and pursued by Trump. Guns worked to dispatch tyranny in 1776, and they will suit Our needs today if TPTB cannot be routed any other way.
     -- Mark W, Aurora, CO     
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    When it comes to providing protection against powers, both foreign and domestic, one can join the national guard or remain in the military reserves until age requires surrender to infirmity. The training and discipline necessary to use modern weaponry requires these organizations for proficiency. That presumes we are a nation which is free from anti-government paranoia wherein a bunch of yahoos run around on the weekend wearing camouflage and sporting M-15s. In a contest where a trained, disciplined military confronts a patchwork group would be like a boxer facing a street thug. No contest. Lets put aside the militaristic aspect and address the question of personal self defense. In a world where guns can be carried openly and retribution both immediate and legal, are duels not far from resurgence ? Will ambush be any less likely? If this fellow from Georgia can make such a claim, can the dame be said for New York City or Madison, Wisconsin ? I, for one, doubt his claims; but would need to understand the overall sociological situation in which they are made before deciding whether those claims are correct, and just, in the abstract. These arguments are all spurious in light of the fact that one has little, or nothing, to do with the other. There are a number of times during a day when I have thought: If I had a gun, I'd shoot your.... I spent 11 years in military service and can hit at what I am aiming. I am not about to carry a weapon based on a feeling from a state of exhaustion or frustration. There may be many responsible gun owners; but the "statistics" (I think) do not bear true that unilateral arms will eliminate aggression by man to man.
     -- John Shuttleworth, NYC     
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    Irrelevant, Shuttleworth. The fact that millions of military-grade arms are owned and distributed throughout the country serves as a CHECK against legislation that further erodes our rights. Sure, usurpation is happening slowing, but an armed populace at least keeps it slow. The government is already acting outside of its Constitutional boundaries, and the vote is unable to stop it. How far will our government go and how far will the People allow it? If the People have been disarmed in mind and body, who do they think they are? Doesn't matter what they think, they have no power and must obey those WITH the power.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Robert, you've been on this site for years (as RBESRQ above) -- when did you switch your position on personal gun ownership? Perhaps some of the liberals could benefit from your reasoning. ;-)
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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