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A Right Granted by Government? No. In essence, the Second Amendment is simply an affirmation—a statement of a pre-existing state of human existence that cannot legitimately be taken away by any person, power, authority or government, due to the simple fact that it was not bestowed upon mankind by any of these in the first place. Furthermore, the Second Amendment not only asserts absolute liberty to be an irrevocable, absolute condition, it also states that no authority or government may legitimately even interfere with or impede the ownership of firearms, as it clearly states that the right “shall not be infringed.” The word “infringed” is particularly relevant in relation to claims that the Second Amendment is subject to so-called “reasonable” restrictions. I contend that the words “shall not be infringed” were included precisely to address the concern the framers had that future leaders may attempt to diminish, limit or impair this basic right. “Infringe” was used intentionally, as opposed to words like “negate,” “cancel,” or “remove.” To the chagrin of many, this means even so called “military style assault weapons” (a wholly inaccurate term for semi-automatic rifles, intended to frighten and manipulate those who are ignorant when it comes to firearms) are within the domain of weapons referred to as “arms.” What did the framers Intend? Knowing something of how the Second Amendment came to be helps explain the reasoning behind it and why it is still relevant today. Lengthy discussions concerning the Right to Bear Arms are nothing new, as prior to the ratification of our Constitution they were often included as the framers debated the apportionment of power and responsibilities between citizens, states and what was to become the federal government. An analysis of these debates provides clarity as to what the framers were thinking as they weighed various expressions of governmental powers and their relationships to states’ and individual’s rights. Eventually, these debates concluded and our Constitution was drafted, along with a robust, declarative list of amendments—the rights and specified restrictions on federal powers we call “The Bill of Rights.” What is obvious from the text of these debates is that the right of individual citizens to bear arms was an obligatory, pre-assumption. If need be, the power of the people, as expressed through spontaneously formed state militias, would provide an inherit counter-balance to any federal force (standing army) gone awry. And these militia, while “well regulated,” could only form if individual citizens were already armed. The discussions of Federalist 28, 29 and 46, in particular, unambiguously extol the framers’ mistrust of an “all-powerful” federal government; indeed, nearly the entire volume known as the Federalist Papers is all about this distrust. The debates that comprise these documents—the Federalist Papers—are the discussions of John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. In these, much discussion involves how armed citizens would stand as the final guarantors of freedom and the last line of defense against a federal government run amok. While I suppose most Americans would doubt the possibility of our federal government today ever A L I V E E A 20 S T B A Y j u l y 2 0 1 6


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