The Right to Bear Arms

The Right to Bear Arms

( – There may not be a more controversial amendment to the US Constitution than the Second. The right granted to us to keep and bear arms and its meaning has been debated basically since it was ratified. Surely, the Founding Fathers had their reasoning and intentions as to why the citizens of a nation would need to have the ability to own firearms. Let’s take a look at the argument.

Reason for the Second Amendment

At the time the Constitution was created, some armies were working to oppress the people they were meant to protect. Many key players believed the federal government should only be able to raise an army against foreign adversaries, although it had received the power to raise an army in times of peace by the Constitutional Convention. Residents who opposed a strong central government suggested that a federal army would take away from the states’ ability to defend themselves against oppression.

They feared Congress would inadequately arm the militia, allowing members to be at the mercy of Congress, so James Madison proposed the Second Amendment. However, this amendment did not ease concerns of the federal government becoming too powerful. It did, however, create the idea that the government should not have the power to disarm the citizens it serves.


The clause in the 2nd Amendment “well-regulated militia” has led some people to believe that the only people who should hold the power to have firearms are groups such as the National Guard, which replaced state militias following the Civil War. Those on the other side of the argument, often gun rights activist groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA), urge that the right to defend and protect themselves is given to all citizens and not just militias by the Second Amendment.

Final Notes

Perhaps the answer lies in the definition of a militia, which is simply one of the following three:

  • A military force raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency
  • A military force that engages in rebel or terrorist activities in opposition of a regular army
  • All able-bodied civilians eligible by law for military service

Going by the above definitions, most Americans should qualify as potential “militia” and therefore, for the good of the country, be free to own and bear firearms. After all, at the time of its drafting, the militia was composed of citizens of the free state. Controversy over the Second Amendment’s meaning will likely continue, however, as long as individual interpretations vary.

One thing is for certain, the United States has not fallen under the rule of a tyrant since the Second Amendment was ratified — which is likely the reason for it in the first place, as the Founding Fathers intended.

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