Uncommon Sense

August 16, 2019

A New Slant on the Second Amendment Debate

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.
(Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution)

Quite a few people are unaware that until quite recently most people and most Supreme Court Justices viewed the Second Amendment as addressing other than an individual right. Since its ratification, Americans have been arguing over the amendment’s meaning and interpretation. One side interprets the amendment to mean it provides for collective rights (of militia members), while the opposing view is that it provides individual rights.

Until quite recently, this was considered mostly a collective right, not an individual one, with few Supreme Court cases addressing that matter (in effect, they were hiding from an definitive decision). That all changed with District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008. (Yes, 2008, eleven years ago, peeps! Pay attention!) The case centered on Dick Heller, a licensed special police office in Washington, D.C., who challenged the nation’s capital’s handgun ban. For the first time, the Supreme Court ruled that despite state laws, individuals who were not part of a state militia did have the right to bear arms. As part of its ruling, the court wrote, “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home” (Empahsis mine. SR).

So now the Second Amendment addresses the government’s ability (inability, actually) to control an individual right. And that will be the case until a reversal of this opinion is had, so basically forever.

But, consider this. If you strip out all of the militia verbiage (which creates the collective vs. individual brouhaha) and just look at the rest of it, it says:

“. . . the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Keep and bear. “Keep” refers to people who already have an “arm” and that they are to be allowed to keep (store, house, etc.) those arms and “bear” means to carry and, in this case, use the arms involved. But it says nothing about the government infringing upon the right to acquire firearms. (None other than Antonin Scalia stated in that 2008 decision the opinion that for him, “to bear” was simple enough, meaning “to carry.” And “arms” were just weapons. He conceded that there was an idiom, “to bear arms,” which meant to belong to an organized military force. But this was only a possible import of the phrase, not its core meaning. So, while establishing this new individual right, he also established with the terms “keep” and “bear” were in this amendment.)

So, while the government cannot infringe the right to keep and bear arms, it is free to legislate who can acquire arms and for what purposes. We can limit what arms can be acquired, how many, how much ammunition, etc. and the conditions that need to be met to be able to acquire them, which includes having a license, passing a training program, being sane, providing insurance against criminal use, etc.

Well, what do you think?


  1. I just love how all of those originalists feel free to inject their interpretations when it suits their purpose.

    Just like how corporations get treated as persons despite the fact the word corporation isn’t used once in the Constitution. Of course, they are only treated as persons when it is convenient. They don’t pay income taxes as people. We don’t tax their income, just their profit (and not always that). I wish I was only taxed on my “profit”. We don’t give corporations the death penalty when they kill someone. They might pay a fine. But when it comes to religious liberty. Oh, yeah, they are just like the rest of us people.


    Comment by James Cross — August 16, 2019 @ 11:24 am | Reply

  2. It’s a public health issue. Parsing words isn’t going to help address the actual issue.


    Comment by john zande — August 16, 2019 @ 11:37 am | Reply

    • Well, obviously, but “public health” isn’t in the Constitution and the Second Amendment is.

      On Fri, Aug 16, 2019 at 11:37 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 3 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 16, 2019 @ 11:44 am | Reply

  3. I think you have a point. The problem is … how do you convince the powers-that be of this and then persuade the plethora of gun-lovers?


    Comment by Nan — August 16, 2019 @ 12:38 pm | Reply

    • I think there needs to be a counter narrative. As often as they whip out the Second Amendment, we whip out the Counter Narrative (think *Cleavon Little* in Blazing Saddles).

      This will have an effect, not on the zealots, but on the general population who is in favor of more gun controls and they will exert pressure on their politicians. (Hey, it is not a magic wand. Think about the effort the NRA went to to spread their bullshit memes.)

      On Fri, Aug 16, 2019 at 12:38 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 16, 2019 @ 12:50 pm | Reply

  4. I like your thinking on this issue. You are correct, the Constitution makes not one word on getting said arms, nor the shot and powder to shoot them.
    I could be snarky and shout, “I got mine! Too bad for those who don’t own any.” Ah, but that would be very rude of me. Oh, wait, I just did say that. Oh well move along folks, nothing to see here.
    To an aged former US Marine, gun control means being able to hit what I aim at. I do favor limiting the ownership of guns. Mentally ill folks should never be allowed to have them and one final comment, nobody has need for the private ownership of any assault rifle even without an extra large magazine. Besides, the assault rifles are among the damn but ugliest things ever made.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Walter Kronkat — August 16, 2019 @ 2:07 pm | Reply

  5. There are a lot of problems with the 2nd amendment and how it is treated. One is that among some people it has literally become a cult, with all the trappings of one. It has gone from being a single line in the constitution to literally being a “god given right” according to these people.

    Another thing is that people seem to forget that the constitution can be changed. Just because something is in there it doesn’t mean it has to *stay* in there.


    Comment by grouchyfarmer — August 16, 2019 @ 4:00 pm | Reply

  6. A thought… Guns will be with US for sometime yet. I think they should tax guns. Yes, they are personal property, but so is a car (which also kills a lot of people). An annual tax on all operable weapons (no tax on guns made un-gunable). And, regulate the possession and manufacture of ammunition. Hope is running low in this gun-nutty country, someones gotta give. GROG

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by grogalot — August 16, 2019 @ 4:16 pm | Reply

    • Scottie posted a meme today that includes your suggestion, along with a couple of other “requirements” that would accompany gun ownership. If you’re not a follower, you can find the post here: https://scottiestoybox.com/2019/08/16/lets-make-this-the-law/

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Nan — August 16, 2019 @ 4:31 pm | Reply

      • Thanks, Nan.


        Comment by grogalot — August 16, 2019 @ 7:21 pm | Reply

      • I love Scottie. Somehow my “follow” of his site got broken, so thanks for the link!

        On Fri, Aug 16, 2019 at 4:31 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Steve Ruis — August 17, 2019 @ 11:31 am | Reply

    • $1,000 a bullet.

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by john zande — August 16, 2019 @ 6:22 pm | Reply

      • That was Chris Rock’s solution, although he pegged it at $5000 per bullet (possibly he’s as rich as Croesus)!

        On Fri, Aug 16, 2019 at 6:22 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:



        Comment by Steve Ruis — August 19, 2019 @ 1:05 pm | Reply

        • $5,000 is even better!


          Comment by john zande — August 19, 2019 @ 1:12 pm | Reply

          • His routine is really funny with a guy threatening another to murder another guy … when he can save up enough to cap his ass!

            On Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 1:12 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


            Liked by 1 person

            Comment by Steve Ruis — August 19, 2019 @ 1:17 pm | Reply

    • Yeah, it is fascinating that all of these mass shootings are “something we can do nothing about” is only claimed in the US. Every other country seems to have done something about them. Maybe those words are not a statement of futility (“something we can do nothing about”) but actually a positive affirmation … “Heck yeah, we can do nothing about that! Watch us!”

      On Fri, Aug 16, 2019 at 4:16 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 3 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 17, 2019 @ 11:29 am | Reply

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