Real Meaning Of The Second Amendment



By George Noga
More Liberty, Less Government

The second amendment right to bear arms often is defended in terms of hunting, sport and, above all, self defense. Although these are valid justifications, they all miss the main point. The original constitutional raison d’etre had nothing to do with self defense, sport or hunting. First and foremost, the right to bear arms is a political right. 

“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” «JEFFERSON»

When the Bill of Rights was proposed, British tyranny was fresh in everyone’s mind; hence, it was to fight tyranny that the second amendment was adopted. Gun ownership was all about protecting liberty and countering the threat from a standing army. In the pre ratification debate both Federalists and Anti-Federalists agreed the federal government should not have any authority at all to disarm the citizenry. Their only disagreement was how effective an armed population could be in protecting liberty. Consider the following by Madison in Federalist 46.

“Besides the advantage of being armed, which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached and by which militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes.”

More Guns Means Less Crime and Other Short Takes

  • In his best seller, More Guns Less Crime, John Lott proves that guns (particularly concealed) deter crimes including crimes against those who do not own guns. Once a certain critical percentage (only about 3%) of the population carries concealed guns, many criminals alter their behavior and gun crimes plummet.
  • The year following the Supreme Court’s overturning District of Columbia’s gun ban, murders dropped 25% despite dire warnings from local politicians. Note: the year DC first banned guns, murders skyrocketed. Is there a lesson here?
  • The media is paranoid about guns and grotesquely distorts its reportage. In the 2002 shooting rampage at Appalachian State, 3 people stopped the gunman by going to their cars and retrieving handguns. Everyone knew about the role guns played in stopping the killing; yet 204 out of 208 newspapers did not report guns were used to halt the killer; instead they used terms such as tackled, overpowered and pounced on.
  • Over 2,500,000 times a year in the USA guns are used to prevent violence.
  • In the wake of the recent tragic Tucson shootings (and all other such crimes), there is a cry for more gun control. Yet, the opprobrium clearly belongs with government which failed to: (1) provide for restraining the mentally ill; (2) follow existing gun laws; and, (3) heed copious evidence about the threat posed by the perpetrator.

Takeaway Point: Gun ownership first and foremost is a political right enacted expressly to safeguard citizens from government tyranny and to protect their liberty. It is not about hunting, sport or self defense.


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