Sunday, April 20, 2008
Understanding the Second Amendment
This is just a note, not a detailed examination, so don't expect comprehensiveness. I only wish to highlight what I feel to be the proper meaning of the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which reads thusly: "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." Many interpret this to mean that a militia, while once needed to defend the country, is no longer required since we have a rather massive apparatus of defence and protection, provided by the various levels of government. So we no longer need a militia. But this is to misunderstand the purpose of the Second Amendment, which was to ensure that regardless of the capacity of the government to provide protection, security, and defence, citizens need to retain the right to bear arms so as always to be able to defend themselves and not have to depend on the government for protection. The US system of government is built upon citizen self-reliance, where citizens take responsibility for many things, including self-defence, and where the state builds upon that self-reliance and capacity for self-defence, rather than substitutes for it. Citizenship entails self-reliance in a range of areas, including defence, and free governments are those which submit to that state of affairs rather than constantly seeking to replace it with a dependent, subject faux-citizenry.