The thing that gun-loving folks don’t get is that rights have limits. And that limit is when the exercise of your rights causes harm to other people. Which is what legal and illegal guns do to people every day. (Sorry, which is what the people who own legal or illegal guns do to each other every day.)
Actually, you may tolerate limits on your rights but that doesn’t mean that they exist/should exist. A right isn’t “limited”. Nobody staples my mouth shut in fear that I could commit slander or violate confidentiality agreements. The right to free speech in unlimited, because you can shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater because Congress could not make any law prohibiting it and you probably wouldn’t go to a theater that forced patrons to have their lips stapled shut.
Now, there’s no law against shouting. But if someone gets trampled to death in the panic you just caused, you’re in trouble.
As a matter of fact, you just admitted that such “limits” are only about causing harm to other people. Nowhere in the Second Amendment does it say that it’s one’s right to harm others, so the Second Amendment is not limited on that aspect. Owning a gun does not harm anyone, and you’re using a game of semantics to compare owning a gun to outright harming other people, justifying restrictions on the ownership.
And by the way the Second Amendment cites a “well-regulated militia,” which, while vague (in fact the amendment itself is terribly written) does take the right to bear arms out of the same unlimited category, as, say, the right to religious expression, whether it be Christianity or Satanism.
Actually, it’s only “vague” and “terribly written” because you’ve been told. You’ve you’d have looked into it yourself, it’s pretty clear.
The whole Bill of Rights is used to limit the scope of governmental powers. Why would the Second Amendment limit the people? Makes no sense.
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.
Pretty straightforward. “A properly working civilian force comparable to a military being necessary for the security of a free country, the right of the people to own and carry weapons and it’s ammunition shall not be broken, breached or undermined.”
It says right there that it’s the right of the people to keep and bear arms. If I said “A well-balanced breakfast being necessary for the start of a healthy day, the right of the people to keep and eat food shall not be infringed” - who would have the right to own and eat food? The people or the well-balanced breakfast?
Don’t believe me?
1. “Well regulated” didn’t always mean what it means today:
The following are taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, and bracket in time the writing of the 2nd amendment:
1709: “If a liberal Education has formed in us well-regulated Appetites and worthy Inclinations.”
1714: “The practice of all well-regulated courts of justice in the world.”
1812: “The equation of time … is the adjustment of the difference of time as shown by a well-regulated clock and a true sun dial.”
1848: “A remissness for which I am sure every well-regulated person will blame the Mayor.”
1862: “It appeared to her well-regulated mind, like a clandestine proceeding.”
1894: “The newspaper, a never wanting adjunct to every well-regulated American embryo city.”
The phrase “well-regulated” was in common use long before 1789, and remained so for a century thereafter. It referred to the property of something being in proper working order. Something that was well-regulated was calibrated correctly, functioning as expected. Establishing government oversight of the people’s arms was not only not the intent in using the phrase in the 2nd amendment, it was precisely to render the government powerless to do so that the founders wrote it.
In fact, “regulated” was closer to it’s parent word “regular” than today’s meaning.
2. The mention to a well-regulated militia was not necessary for the right to exist, it was left there as an explanation to why it’s a right.
Justification clauses are actually more abundant than you think.My modest discovery is that the Second Amendment is actually not unusual at all: Many contemporaneous state constitutional provisions are structured similarly.
Rhode Island’s 1842 constitution, its first, provides:http://www2.law.ucla.edu/volokh/common.htmThe liberty of the press being essential to the security of freedom in a state, any person may publish his sentiments on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty … . 4
So, does freedom of speech only apply to the free press? Or any person?
The justification (prefatory clause) is part of an absolute construction. The first part is a non-finite clause - which is a dependent/subordinate clause - making the “right to keep and bear arms” an independent clause. i.e. the first part cannot stand as a sentence on it’s own and serves merely to add additional information. The part that mentions the right to keep and bear arms not only is not “subordinate to the well-regulated militia”, it can stand on it’s own as a sentence.
3. Bearing arms refers to militia service, not to the act of carrying weapons.
Cramer and Olson, on the other hand, argue that to the extent this is true, it is due to selection bias:
If you look in databases consisting almost entirely of government documents, it should not be a surprise that most of the uses will be governmental in nature.
Searching more comprehensive collections of English language works published before 1820 shows that there are a number of uses that are clearly individual, and have nothing to do with military service.
Many of Cramer and Olson’s examples are taken from British works, but this appears to me to be legitimate. In 1791 formal written American English usage was not, to my knowledge, significantly different from that of Great Britain. One such example is from Debrett’s 1797 Collection of State Papers Relative to the War Against France, in a discussion of orders from the French Army on the occupation of “the country beyond the Rhine”:
The inhabitants of the villages, who shall take arms against the French, shall be shot, and their houses burnt, as shall likewise all who bear arms without permission from the French generals.
While the phrase “take arms against the French” refers to military action, possibly collective rather than individual, “bear arms” here clearly refers to individual carrying of weapons. As Cramer and Olson note, it could refer to militia activity only in the extremely unlikely event that French generals were in the habit of giving permission to enemy militia to fight against them.
I’d say that by now, you’ll think that the Second Amendment is actually crystal clear and was very well written.
It’s just that these days we don’t know basic linguistics and we don’t bother educating ourselves about it.