As a novelist, I have a great love for language. The precise turn of a phrase can conjure the most wonderful and vivid visions in our imagination. Use the wrong words and your writing is easily forgotten. Use the ideal words and you can paint a scene so tactile, a reader will remember it for the rest of her life.
Unfortunately, language can also be abused. People can twist it around and attempt to alter the meaning of words and phrases to suit their own agendas. There is no better example of this than politics. Political rhetoric is known for being perversely malleable. Politicians are ridiculed by comedians for this all the time. Redefining words. Altering meanings. Mislabeling intents. Circumventing answers. Politics is notorious for such iniquity.
For over 200 years, the founding morals of the United States of America remained respected and sacrosanct; free from this type of manipulation. Since its inception, our great nation has always maintained a strong and solid core of values, because it was built upon this unshakable base of three documents – the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
Every American should read these three documents. Understand them. Know what they mean. And if you’re like me, you’ll have them framed and hanging on your wall.
At the start of the 21st century, even these proven and infallible documents have started to come under attack by treasonous politicians and depraved ideologies. No facet has been attacked more by these enemies of freedom and liberty than the First and Second Amendment. These traitors to the values of America have dared to twist language around and deride those who support and defend the Second Amendment. In the process of trying to usurp our cherished freedoms, these traitors have the gall to call our patriotism into question. Being willing to both kill and die in preservation of our highest ideals is the ultimate act of nobility. When Alexander Hamilton said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” the only people who regarded him subversive was the tyrannical King George III and his loyal subjects.
Historically, their type of deranged corruption of language is always used by those who seek to impose tyranny upon a free people. Only those who seek to rob people of their freedom attempt to poison the eloquence of articulate and defiant language.
Today, there are some who even say these rights should be repealed for being outdated. Such a suggestion is so grotesquely ignorant of history and the value of our inalienable rights that I do not even wish to dignify that notion with an acknowledgment of existing. Unfortunately, with each passing generation, as increasing quantities of the populous grow more and more uneducated and incapable of critical thinking, even these ignorant notions of repealing our rights must be duly noted, so they can be unequivocally eradicated for their sheer stupidity.
The Constitution isn’t a carton of milk that gets spoiled and thrown away. The Bill of Rights wasn’t written with an expiration date at the bottom. Claiming the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence will become outdated is utterly insane. Those 3 documents are a perfect expression of liberty and that freedom is an eternal human rights which will never become outdated. The necessity of freedom was a valid and intrinsic aspect of all human lives 30,000 years ago and will remain an essential facet of humanity for as long as the human race exists.
Claiming the Founding Fathers didn’t anticipate the potential of advancements in firearm technology is not only insulting to their intelligence, but a misguided rationale that could be used to steal other rights. The Founding Fathers couldn’t have predicted future technologies like radio or motion pictures either. Does that mean the First Amendment doesn’t apply to the local news, since the Founders couldn’t have anticipated the invention of television? Of course not. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech under any circumstances, even when using technology that never existed in 1791. The Second Amendment inarguably applies to a Glock and an AR-15 just as much as it applies to revolvers, muskets and shotguns.
The Second Amendment isn’t exclusively about guns – it does not say “guns” or “firearms”, it says “arms”. As a result, it includes guns, knives, swords and all other armaments. Make no mistake, the Second Amendment is about the irrevocable human right to defend ourselves. Any talk of eliminating such a right would not merely outlaw firearms, it would revoke your freedom to protect yourself in any way. Losing that right makes everyone a victim. No true American will ever stand for that. I know I never will.
Speaking of Alexander Hamilton, did you know he wrote a series of incredibly important essays back in 1787, to explain to the citizens of the United States what the intentions were behind the Constitution. You know about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, but few citizens are educated on the existence of these essays. These 88 essays (also written with the help of James Madison and John Jay) are known today as The Federalist Papers. I was never told about The Federalist Papers in school and I bet you weren’t either. To me, that is a travesty of our educational system. Along with the aforementioned triad of our founding documents, these papers hold equal credence. The reason The Federalist Papers are so vitally important to our history and our future is because they extrapolate upon the original intent of the Constitution, and by extension, the Bill of Rights. Consequently, when people today try to twist the meaning of these documents by claiming the language of the 18th century is unclear, a resource like The Federalist Papers serves to explain exactly what the founding fathers intended these documents to mean.
Many people who try to undermine our Constitution attempt to twist the meaning of phrases into something else. They will claim that meanings are difficult to understand, which of course implies that you and I are stupid and they are far more intelligent and educated than the rest of us. Not to mention these rights were drafted less than 200 years ago, in plain English, by fellow Americans. They weren’t written 5000 years ago in hieroglyphs! Anyone claiming that “we don’t know what the intention was” behind the Bill of Rights is a liar with a sinister agenda. Thanks to The Federalist Papers, we don’t need to subjugate ourselves to anti-American opinions which redefine our fundamental ideals. The Federalist Papers are a way to confirm and elaborate upon the true objectives behind the Constitution, written by some of the most pivotal authors of those documents.
In the interest of language and respecting the real purpose to our Bill of Rights, let’s take a closer look at the Second Amendment and what it means. I’ll also reference the Federalist essay #29 entitled “Concerning the Militia” written by Alexander Hamilton for the Daily Advertiser on Thursday, January 10, 1788. Speaking about such things is important, because the shadows are at the door, and they are whispering lies to your children. Children need to be taught what these words mean, and adults need to be reminded.
Amendment 2 – 15 December 1791
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.
When people first hear the amendment, it sounds grammatically incorrect, because it starts with the phrase, “A well-regulated Militia…” then goes off on these phrases that seem disconnected from the whole.
Grammatically, it seems like it should say:
“Since a well regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
But, that isn’t what it says. Instead, let’s look at the punctuation in a new way and clarify the meaning in that manner. Allow me to illustrate what the Founders were actually saying. If you scrutinize the placement of the commas, it becomes clear. Let’s replace the first and last comma with parenthesis, and the second with a semicolon.
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.
Now it makes more sense. A well regulated Militia shall not be infringed. The two phrases within the parenthesis are clarifications upon the reason for the existence of said militia and the rights of the people who comprise it. Replacing those commas with parenthesis and a semicolon doesn’t change the meaning. Not at all. It doesn’t change the intent. It clarifies and broadens it. By modern standards, the phrasing simply reads far more clearly. No longer sounds odd. You can see how articulate and efficient the founders were in their phrasing when we see “shall not be infringed” was intended to be applicable to our right to keep and bear arms, but also applicable to the very existence of our militia. This simple modernization in punctuation reinforces the original intent immensely.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s look at the meaning overall and phrase-by-phrase.
In essence, this says every American citizen has the freedom to defend themselves and our nation and you are allowed to possess weapons to do so. Furthermore, the government has never and will never hold the authority to eliminate this right.
Now, let’s break it down word-by-word and examine it closer.
A well regulated Militia…
The phrase “well regulated” could mean two different things.
One definition of “regulated” means a series of rules and restrictions.
Another definition of “regulated” means trained or educated by adjusting to a standard.
Which meaning of the word “regulated” did our Founders intend? A militia that was trained properly, or a militia that was closely restricted?
That one word, “regulated” is extraordinarily important. In fact, it may be one of the most contested words in the amendment. The reason it’s so vital is because that word is often the excuse used by Marxist politicians and fascist media outlets who seek to disarm the public. These traitors who wish to circumvent the Bill of Rights will contend that “well regulated” grants lawmakers the ability to place rules and restriction on firearms.
This is a complete lie because the context of the phrase speaks of the militia being well regulated, not the firearms themselves. The phrase is “well regulated militia” not “well regulated arms”.
Taken in historical perspective, it’s clear that the Founders were speaking about training, not restrictions. We had just gained our freedom from England in the Revolutionary War a mere 15 years earlier. Defending your home and your country from tyranny was still very fresh in the minds of every American. Not only did American citizens want to make sure we had an armed militia, we wanted to make sure our neighbors weren’t incompetent morons who couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. Since your neighbor needs to have your back, we want to make sure they know how to use their guns.
Plus, had the word “regulated” been intended to be synonymous with “restricted” then the adjective of “well” would have been grammatically awkward. Grammatically speaking, the phrase “well trained” makes far more sense than “well restricted”. Had the definition been intended as rules and restrictions, the word “well” would have been omitted.
A regulated Militia… would imply rules and restrictions.
A well-regulated Militia… indicates prudently educated and trained.
Alexander Hamilton himself confirmed my interpretation when he wrote:
“the plan of the convention proposes to empower the Union to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by congress.”
This edict to have a properly trained militia was never initiated by Congress, nor any other organization, until a century later with the founding of the National Rifle Association in 1871 to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.” In truth, by training citizens about firearms for nearly 150 years, the NRA has been doing what Congress was supposed to do.
Hamilton also acknowledged it would be difficult to maintain adequate training for a militia when he said:
“A tolerable expertness in military movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not a day, or even a week, that will suffice for the attainment of it. To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss… Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped; and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year.”
Once again, Hamilton proposed that we meet once or twice a year for training. That is what the phrase “well-regulated” means. Not restrictions. Training.
Finally, the end of the Second Amendment unequivocally states these rights shall not be infringed. Regulations are clearly a form of infringement. Consequently, we can logically conclude the phrase “well regulated” was obviously intended to indicate that members of the militia should be taught to use firearms properly.
The phrase “well regulated” could just as easily say “competently trained” instead.
A competently trained militia…
That is the next word we need to look at: Militia. Oddly enough, today there are many American citizens who have no idea what the word “Militia” means. This is inexcusable, since you can just look it up in a dictionary. People who hate and fear firearms insist that a militia is another word for the police or military. That is a lie. Remember I said these people love to alter the meaning of words? They will twist things around to suit their agendas. A militia is an army comprised of civilians. That has been the definition of the word “militia” since the 1690s – a century before the Amendment was written. Members of the militia are not police officers. They are not military personnel. In fact, Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution clearly differentiates between the Army, Navy and Militia. For over 300 years, the word militia has always meant men, women, boys, girls, mothers, fathers, grandparents, everyone from your neighborhood. Just because someone is afraid of guns doesn’t mean they get to change the definition of a 300-year old word to conform to their own desires. The militia is us. Your fellow citizens. Your neighbors. You. Me. We are all members of the citizen-soldiers called the militia. Every single able-bodied American citizen is part of the militia of the United States. This has been true ever since 1776. That has never changed and it never will.
There are those today who obtusely maintain that a militia is a bad and scary thing. Even unnecessary. Despite living in a nation where Islamic terrorists are now murdering fellow Americans at Christmas parties, a small minority of citizens still insist that no civilian ever be armed or capable of defending their own lives. Instead of bravely defending themselves and their neighbors, these cowardly traitors expect only the men and women of our police and armed forces to protect them. Ironically, most of these people who insist that you not own a gun and call the police instead, are the same traitors who protest against the police. They distrust the very idea of a militia. This is not only selfish and naive, but a great insult to us, their friends and neighbors. Alexander Hamilton even had to address this same argument 200 years ago when he said:
“There is something so far-fetched and so extravagant in the idea of danger to liberty from the militia, that one is at a loss whether to treat it with gravity or with raillery; whether to consider it as a mere trial of skill, like the paradoxes of rhetoricians; as a disingenuous artifice to instill prejudices at any price; or as the serious offspring of political fanaticism. Where in the name of common-sense, are our fears to end if we may not trust our sons, our brothers, our neighbors, our fellow-citizens? What shadow of danger can there be from men who are daily mingling with the rest of their countrymen and who participate with them in the same feelings, sentiments, habits and interests?”
Earlier, I quoted Hamilton, speaking about the fact that Congress should train the militia. Did you know that wasn’t just part of the Federalist Papers? That decree is part of our existing Constitution. According to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, Congress has the power to call us forth in our duty as members of the militia:
“To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;”
While corrupt politicians try to undermine the Second Amendment, the Constitution clearly states that the government is supposed to provide us with training and arms. I bet you didn’t know that. We should receive firearms vouchers from the government and we should be able to buy guns using said vouchers. Wouldn’t that be cool? That’s what the government should be doing – provide for arming us. Like I said, read the Constitution. The government is supposed to be giving us guns. Article I, Section 8. Says so right there. To provide for arming the militia. It’s important that you understand how our government is supposed to be functioning.
This same section of the Constitution also provides rules and regulations for the Army and Navy. Again, this is important for those who try to claim that the militia is the military. Anyone who claims the militia is police or military is lying. The Constitution clearly distinguishes the militia from the Army and Navy.
The militia stands at all times, regardless of being called forth by Congress or not. It shall not be infringed. Benjamin Franklin, in 1755, defined the militia as a “voluntary assembling of great bodies of armed men… without call or authority from the government.”
Alexander Hamilton maintained that the United States should not have a standing army and that the entire defense of our nation be done through the militia. In fact, the Constitution specifically states that the United States isn’t supposed to have a standing Army and Congress may only collect taxes to support the Army for two years:
“To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;”
Hamilton would have been mortified at the existence of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines because he maintained that we should defend ourselves with the militia, not a military. He was very clear on this opinion when he stated:
“If a well-regulated militia be the most natural defense of a free country, it ought certainly to be under the regulation and at the disposal of that body which is constituted the guardian of the national security. If standing armies are dangerous to liberty, an efficacious power over the militia, in the body to whose care the protection of the State is committed, ought, as far as possible, to take away the inducement and the pretext to such unfriendly institutions… To render an army unnecessary, will be a more certain method of preventing its existence than a thousand prohibitions upon paper.”
When every citizen is armed, you don’t need an army. For those of you who couldn’t follow it, that was pretty much what he said.
The word “militia” could just as easily be the phrase “soldiery comprised of all free citizens” instead.
A competently-trained soldiery comprised of all free citizens…
The next phrase is one that is scrutinized a lot by those who would seek to disparage the Second Amendment.
“being necessary to the security of a free State”…
What was intended by the phrase, “security of a free State”?
Some would argue that the word “State” indicates a government entity. They would say we are not securing individuals. We are not securing the people. We are securing the State. Therefore, some argue, only during times when there is an invasion or a threat to the State are the rights of the Second Amendment validated. During peacetime, there is no threat to the security of a free State.
There are two blatant flaws with this logic.
The first and most obvious flaw is that it neglects to acknowledge domestic threats and it presumes invasions are announced ahead of time. The Japs didn’t pass out fliers on December 6th. (Ironically, the United States did drop leaflets over Japan before we nuked them in 1945, but that’s because we’re a compassionate nation.) Just because America hasn’t been invaded by a military force since 1941 doesn’t mean it will never happen again. America is already being invaded again. We suffered 3 separate terrorist attacks on American soil in 2015 alone, resulting in the death of 14 citizens in San Bernardino, California and 5 soldiers in Tennessee. Whether the next invasion happens in one year or 5 years or in 50 years, I don’t know, but we the militia need to be armed beforehand; not after the fact.
The second flaw is presuming the word “State” is intended to mean the governing collective.
I contend that the word “state” was chosen with an intentional triple-meaning; the “state” of ones individual being, the land itself, and the governmental body.
The phrase “security of a free State” could just as easily be the phrase “preserve the freedom of individuals, their lands, and their leadership”.
A competently-trained soldiery comprised of all free citizens, being necessary to preserve the freedom of individuals, their lands, and their leadership…
The meaning behind the next part of the Amendment is pretty obvious:
“the right of the people to keep and bear arms”
Let’s work backwards this time. What is meant by the word “arms”? Did it mean “firearms”? Did it mean “armaments”? Or did it mean both? Once again, we can logically conclude that the word “arms” was carefully chosen as a succinct term to be inclusive of both firearms and other armaments. Knives. Guns. Swords. Brass knuckles. Slingshots. Bow and arrows. You name it.
Why use the phrase “keep and bear”? Why not just use the word “bear” or “keep”? The word “keep” implies that the arms in question are the property of an individual. Your personal arms remain in your custody at all times. They are not stored or kept by any other agencies of government or private companies or individuals. The right of the people is to keep, to continually maintain, ownership of their arms.
And what of the word “bear” in this context? “Bear” is intended to mean carried on your person. You “keep” the arms at home and you “bear” them on your person. You are allowed to walk around with a handgun strapped to your hip or a shotgun slung around your shoulder or a rifle on your stagecoach. Or these days, in your truck. Bearing arms means being armed anytime you see fit to be so.
The phrase “the right of the people” is quite clear as well. Owning and keeping and bearing arms is a right for all citizens of the United States. You. Me. Your neighbor. Every free citizen. Not for those who are incarcerated or illegal aliens or visitors who are vacationing. Just for We the People.
The phrase “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” could be more clearly defined as “the right of the people to always possess and carry firearms and armaments”…
A competently-trained soldiery comprised of all free citizens, being necessary to preserve the freedom of individuals, their lands, and their leadership, the right of the people to always possess and carry firearms and armaments…
The final phrase of the Second Amendment requires no interpretation whatsoever because there is no part of “shall not be infringed” that is difficult to understand. Nevertheless, there are courts and politicians and lawmakers who are too stupid to comprehend such a clearly articulated edict. According to Webster’s dictionary, the word “infringe” means “to wrongly limit or restrict” and Black’s Law dictionary defines “infringement” as “a trespass or encroachment upon”. Since many laws in in our nation are slowly encroaching upon our rights and restrict the ownership of firearms, I propose reiterating the word “infringed” with multiple synonyms.
A competently-trained soldiery comprised of all free citizens (being necessary to preserve the freedom of individuals, their lands, and their leadership; the right of the people to always possess and carry firearms and armaments), shall never be revoked, suspended, ceased, prevented, licensed, or infringed in any manner, in any location, or at any time; including by any court, citizen, law, order, committee, decree, edict, action, Congress, President or member of government.
You want to amend the Bill of Rights? That is the only option I’m giving you. My rewritten version of the Second Amendment should help clarify the intentions behind the original phrasing, for the benefit of those who might find the grammar of the original to be antiquated and thus difficult to understand.
Some people claim the Second Amendment was never a controversial issue until just recently. They claim the National Rifle Association started bringing it up all the time as justification to own firearms. I’m a member of the NRA and from the history I’ve studied, I can confirm this is entirely true. In every decade before the 1970′s, the NRA didn’t feel the need to constantly bring up the Second Amendment because back then, treasonous lawmakers weren’t constantly trying to undermine it like they do today. In fact, after the NRA was founded in 1871, for over a century, it existed purely as an organization dedicated to safety, training, and marksmanship. Starting in 1975, the NRA stepped up and started advocating for the preservation and protection of our rights, because that was the era when politicians started to repeatedly attack our sovereignty.
Preserving our rights has never been about you, or me, or our children, or our elders. This is about something far greater than ourselves or our lives. This is about the opportunity for our people to remain free. Ensuring that our future generations are never enslaved by tyrants, or slaughtered by terrorists, or brutalized by criminals. Despite the cynicism of those who try to brainwash us into selfishness through the media, we are not a nation of narcissistic citizens only looking out for ourselves and our own families. We are united in common values and aspirations. There is no denying we are also a nation of people who disagree on everything and have conflicting opinions and traditions. Our very heritage and ancestry is often at odds. But the one thing we all share, the one facet of human existence that all Americans embrace and love, the one thing that makes us truly United States, is freedom. Blacks, Christians, whites, Jews, Latinos, atheists, Asians, men, women, children – we can all join hands and agree – no one is going to tell us how to live. That is our choice. Our freedom. And when that liberty we share comes under attack, no matter what our petty disputes, no matter what disagreements we may have, all of us need to look out for each other, support each other, and know that your neighbor has your back. The Second Amendment assures we are going to be able to do that. We will forever have the power to protect not only ourselves and our families, but our friends, neighbors, and all our highest ideals of the American Way.