Archive for November, 2007

Original 2nd Amendment

Posted in Politics on November 24th, 2007

Because my previous post, 2nd Amendment On Trial, had generated a goodly amount of interest and commentary I felt that it might be interesting and potentially valuable to make a post regarding the original form and intent – as best as can be derived through historical sources – of the Second Amendment.

On June 8, 1789 James Madison introduced the Bill of Rights to the first session of the first congress of the U.S. House of Representatives. Within was contained what was to become the 2nd Amendment. His original text follows:

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; but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.

Annals of Congress,
House of Representatives, 1st Congress, 1st Session: pp. 451

It is pertinent to note that The Bill of Rights was not originally intended to composed of numbered amendments to be added at the end of the Constitution. These Rights instead were to be inserted into the existing text of the Constitution. The Second Amendment was to be inserted in the First Article, Section Nine, between clauses 3 and 4, following the prohibition on suspension of habeas corpus, bills of attainder, and ex post facto laws, all which are individual civil rights asserted by individuals as a defense against government tyranny.

On August 17, 1789 The House entered the following reworded 2nd Amendment into the House Journal:

A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms.

Annals of Congress,
House of Representatives, 1st Congress, 1st Session: pp. 771

The House of Representatives debated the revised Amendment until August 24. This debate primarily centered on the possibility that the future US government could use the “but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms” clause to disband the militia. This was resolved on August24, 1789 and a reworded the 2nd Amendment was sent to the U.S. Senate:

A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.

Journal of the Senate of the United States of America,
Volume 1: pp. 63

This modification to the Amendment prevented the government from using the religion of any of its people as a means to disband the US militia made up of the body of the people. They couldn’t claim that Thou Shalt Not Kill or An It Harm None, Do As You Please were religious mandates that would prevent States or communities from raising a fighting force in their own defense.

Sadly, between September 4 and September 9, 1789 the Senate voted to change significantly the language of the Second Amendment by removing the definition of militia, and striking the conscientious objector clause. The final version to leave the Senate was:

A well regulated militia being the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Journal of the Senate of the United States of America,
Volume 1: pp. 71

This abbreviated version of 2nd Amendment was sent to the House of Representatives on September 9, 1789 and was voted on and accepted on September 21, 1789. Strangely the Amendment was modified somewhat during the course of this – without further ratification by the Senate. The final version that the House sent to the States for ratification was:

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.

Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States,
Volume 1: pp. 305

As you can see the 2nd Amendment underwent a great deal of revision just in course of its birth. What we have today bears little resemblance to what was originally intended and written. History is unclear on the reasons for many of the revisions. One thing remained clear in the course of all the debates and revisions though – the primary purpose of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution was to guarantee that the People had the means to protect their liberty from the possible tyranny of our own government.

Related Reading:

U.S. BLACKS AND THE 2ND AMENDMENT: Communities Rifle Associations, Inc.
The Oxford Guide to United States Supreme Court Decisions
District of Columbia v. Heller
A Short History of Nearly Everything
DC: The New Frontier

2nd Amendment On Trial

Posted in Politics on November 20th, 2007

According to FOXNews, after a week of delaying their decision on whether or not to hear the case, the US Supreme court confirmed Tuesday, November 20th, 2007 that they would in fact finally decide if the Second Amendment of the Constitution protects an individual’s right to own guns or instead merely sets forth the collective right of states to maintain militias.

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will decide whether the District of Columbia can ban handguns, a case that could produce the most in-depth examination of the constitutional right to “keep and bear arms” in nearly 70 years.

The justices’ decision to hear the case could make the divisive debate over guns an issue in the 2008 presidential and congressional elections.

The government of Washington, D.C., is asking the court to uphold its 31-year ban on handgun ownership in the face of a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the ban as incompatible with the Second Amendment. Tuesday’s announcement was widely expected, especially after both the District and the man who challenged the handgun ban asked for the high court review.

The case is District of Columbia v. Heller, 07-290. Arguments will be heard early next year. It looks like, after decades of confusion and speculation, the official interpretation of what rights are guaranteed by the US Constitution’s 2nd Amendment will finally be decided. To my mind it’s long overdue.

Related Reading:

DC Universe: Rebirth Deluxe Edition (DC Universe Event)
Great Decisions Of The U. S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction
The First Amendment::Cases, Problems, and Materials, 2nd edition.[Hardcover,2008]
Politics

Don’t GETOSAMA In NY!

Posted in Society on November 20th, 2007

GETOSAMA license plateAccording to the Post Chronicle the New York Department of Motor Vehicles has banned the vanity license plate GETOSAMA because they deemed it offensive. DMV spokesman Nick Cantiello said the GETOSAMA plates violate a regulation banning any tag that is obscene, lewd, lascivious, derogatory to a particular ethnic or other group or patently offensive.

So let me get this straight, a vanity plate saying “GETOSAMA” – obviously referring to Osama Bin Laden, an individual who the US federal government has a $25 million bounty on for Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States – is either “lewd, lascivious, derogatory to a particular ethnic or other group or patently offensive?”

Other sources:

It seems that the NY DMV is either overwhelmingly caught up in extreme Political Correctness or they’re “paying the tax” to CAIR.

Related Reading:

The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom
New York Atlas and Gazetteer
Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive?
Osama Bin Laden
LA NY: Aerial Photographs of Los Angeles and New York