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The Second Amendment
America’s original and REAL Homeland Security.
The Second Amendment
America’s original and REAL Homeland Security.

A short, but important history lesson...

The Founding Fathers were very specific on WHO and WHAT the Militia,

referenced in the Second Amendment was. The miscreants and zealots who

argue that the militia is meant to mean only the National Guard are idiots.

For, if they studied a little history, they would find that there was no

National Guard when  the Constitution was  adopted on Sept. 17, 1787, and

ratified in 1789.

The U.S. Supreme Court  has in all cases dealing with  the Second

Amendment, affirmed the rights of  individuals to keep and  bear their

private arms.

"Well regulated", had a completely different meaning 200+ years ago than

it does today. When the 2nd Amendment was drafted, "well regulated"

meant well equipped and armed. NOT regulated by a command

structure, as the Military is today.

Under the laws of the United States during the first century of its existence, able bodied males, age 16 to 60, were not only permitted, but REQUIRED to possess military type arms (that would be, the assault weapons of the day).

The same Congress that wrote the Bill of Rights enacted the Militia Act of 1790 (adopted 1792), which clearly states:

"The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 18 years of age... The classes of  the militia are (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard... and, (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard (everyone else in the Country over the age of 18, The “People”)."

The National Guard, which did not effectively exist for the first 100 years of this county's history, was specifically created under Congress's power to "raise and support armies", and not under its power to "provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the militia."

Why? Because an army can be sent abroad, while the militia can be used only to protect the homeland against invaders and internal tyranny. Furthermore, the Second Amendment could not refer to the arms of the National Guard, since the Guard's weapons are owned by the Federal and State Governments, not by the individuals serving in the Guard. Only the “unorganized militia,” THE PEOPLE kept their own arms for the defense of the Nation.

The Founding Fathers...

"Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence."   ~ George Washington ~

"A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves... and include all men capable of bearing arms. To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms..."   ~ Richard Henry Lee, 1788 ~

"I ask sir, what is the militia?  It is the whole people... To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."  ~ George Mason, 1788 ~

"The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms."   ~ Samuel Adams, 1788 ~

“Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American...The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”  

~ Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788 ~

“Whereas, to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them; nor does it follow from this, that all promiscuously must go into actual service on every occasion. The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle; and when we see many men disposed to practice upon it, whenever they can prevail, no wonder true republicans are for carefully guarding against it. Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.”          ~ Richard Henry Lee, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788 ~

"Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?"   ~ Patrick Henry ~

On the original meaning of the

2nd Amendment

Henry E. Schaffer

"Whereas in all well regulated Governments, it is the indispensable duty of every Legislature to consult the Happiness of a rising Generation,

and endeavour to fit them for an honorable Discharge of the Social Duties of Life, by paying the strictest attention to their Education."

  These resounding words were the opening of a November 12, 1789 Act of the North Carolina Legislature which was passed on December 11, 1789 and which chartered the University of North Carolina.  Noting that this Act was contempor-aneous with the Bill of Rights (which was transmitted to the state legislatures on September 25, 1789) and that the North Carolina Legislature was active at that time, North Carolina being one of the original 13 states, let us pay particular attention to the usage of the words "well regulated" found both in this Act and in the 2nd Amendment of the BoR. The use of "well regulated" in this act can shed some light on the meaning of the 2nd Amendment.

  The 2nd Amendment reads: "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."

  The debate between the collectivist and the individualist interpretations of the 2nd has often focused on the meaning of "well regulated" in the opening phrase "well regulated Militia".  The collectivists claim this this refers to a Militia which is tightly controlled by the government, deducing this from the etymology of "regulated" which relates to "ruled".  However, this ignores the usage of the word "regulate" in which the "rule" refers to the proper operations of a device rather than to man-made laws.  We still see this in the word "regular", which in many contexts means "properly operating."

  Let me give two examples of usage of the word "regulate" which have been in existence for quite a long time and which have the same

"properly operating" interpretation.

1) Horology:  The adjustment of a portable timepiece so it will keep time in the different positions in which it may be carried and kept (and perhaps at the different temperatures which it may encounter.)  A (mechanical) wrist-watch which has been so designed and adjusted is said to be "regulated" and likely has this word stamped or engraved on its back-plate.

2)Firearms:  The adjustment of a multi-barrel firearm (e.g., a double barreled shotgun) so that the barrels shoot to the same point-of-aim.

If such a gun (a double barreled shotgun or a three barreled "drilling") ails to shoot properly, it is considered to be "out of regulation" and

needs to be "re-regulated".

Both of these uses have meanings *related* to the "to rule" of man-made laws, but are more in the nature of "to adjust to or to be in a state of proper functioning".  So a "well regulated watch" or a "well regulated double barreled shotgun" both would have meaning of "having been put into properly functioning condition".

From my reading of material from the colonial era, I have come to understand that "well regulated militia" had a meaning at that time (ca. 1789) in the nature of "a properly functioning militia" - which would mean something along the lines of a properly trained and equipped militia (since it was common at that time for militiamen to bring their own firearms, with which they were already proficient.)

  The language of the NC Legislature in 1789 strengthens this interpretation.  What can "well regulated Governments" mean other than "properly functioning Governments"?  Surely it didn't and couldn't refer to a government under

the control of man-made laws, for it is the government itself which makes these laws, and it would neither be noble nor sensible for the Legislature to be proclaiming that it is controlling itself.

An additional contemporaneous document which exhibits the same meaning is the Federalist Paper #29, in which Hamilton is discussing the composition of the militia and says, "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." (emphasis added)

Note that "well-regulated" clearly refers to how well the militia functions and how well trained are the militia members.  It does not refer at all to the degree to which the government controls the militia or the members of the militia.

This interpretation is also borne out by some old or obsolete definitions in the Oxford English Dictionary.  "Regulated" has an Obsolete definition (b) "Of troops: Properly disciplined" and then "discipline" has a definition (3b) applying to the military, "Training in the practice of arms and military evolutions; drill.  Formerly, more widely: Training or skill in military affairs generally; military skill and experience; the art of war."

The "people" have the 2nd Amendment right, not the militia.  Today many people make a large distinction between the two groups, perhaps

confusing "militia" and "Army".  The militia is more inclusive, including the Armed Forces, the National Guard and the unorganized component described in the U.S. Code as "The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except [for felons], under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States..." The age and gender restrictions might be challenged as discriminatory.

The historical basis for a more inclusive definition includes the U. S. Supreme Court statement that "It is undoubtedly true that all citizens capable of bearing arms constitute the reserved militia force or reserve militia of the United States as well as the States; ..."  From

this we see that the mention of the militia does not conflict with the individualist interpretation.

Therefore I conclude that the meaning of the 2nd Amendment is, "A properly functioning Militia is necessary to the security of a free State; therefore the (pre-existing) right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."


Act of NC Legislature of Nov. 12, 1789 - Legislative Papers, H. of C.,

1789, AH.  Cited in A Documentary History of The University of North

Carolina 1776-1799  Compiled and Annotated by R. D. W. Connor  The

University of North Carolina Press 1953.  Volume 1, page 23.

Original Charter of the University, December 11, 1789, An Act to

Establish a University in this State.  N. C. Laws, 1789, S. R., XXV,

Chap. XX, 21-25.  Cited in Connor (1953) Volume 1, page 34.

Federalist Paper #29

Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, 1989.

United States Code, Title 10, Section 311(a)

Supreme Court, Presser v. Illinois  116 U.S. 252