The Second Amendment is all over the news, but Jana Riess asks why Christians aren’t more concerned with limitations of the Second Amendment. She contends what we have is not so much freedom as license.
Americans willingly accept limitations on our First Amendment rights — we believe in freedom of the press, for example, but we also have checks in place in cases of libel; we uphold the freedom of religion, but not where such freedoms impinge upon the rights and safety of other people. But Second Amendment rights are largely off the table. Politicians know that to discuss their limitation would be political suicide….
Second Amendment rights are not absolute. They arose in a particular historical context, when a new nation remembered how British soldiers had disarmed ordinary colonial families and quartered themselves in the colonists’ homes. Disarming the colonists robbed them of their right not only to defend themselves against attack, but to hunt for their food. Guns were often necessary tools of survival in the late eighteenth century….
Having just read Os Guinness’s new book on sustainable freedom (see Saturday’s post), I am aware that freedom and license are not the same. What Americans are guaranteed is freedom. What we are practicing, however, is license — an unchecked and potentially dangerous licentiousness that exacts a human cost.
Tyranny is the normal concern for those who believe in a loose interpretation of the Second Amendment. But this piece, by Thom Hartmann, contends that the Second Amendment’s history — where it was originally “country” and then shifted to “State” — involves permission of a State to use armed militias to protect slavery.
The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says “State” instead of “Country” (the Framers knew the difference – see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia’s vote. Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that . . . and we all should be too.
The crucial lines are found in these two versions of the wording for the Second Amendment:
His first draft for what became the Second Amendment had said: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country [emphasis mine]: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person.”
But Henry, Mason and others wanted southern states to preserve their slave-patrol militias independent of the federal government. So Madison changed the word “country” to the word “state,” and redrafted the Second Amendment into today’s form:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State [emphasis mine], the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”