The National Criminal Registry would be in keeping with the spirit of the Second Amendment The National Criminal Registry would be in keeping with the spirit of the Second Amendment

The Second Amendment and our right to self defense

It may be time to take a page out of the left’s play book. To the best of my recollection, the left began writing its new dictionary back in the early 1970s. They quickly learned that changing words could affect the argument by reshaping the public’s perspective. To name the most obvious, a baby became a fetus (which word, BTW, means an unborn calf – Ed.), sex education became a family/life curriculum and sexual perversion became a lifestyle choice. Regardless of their objectives, this strategy has proven to be effective. Therefore, I think those on the right side of issues might be wise to start calling a spade a shovel. My first suggestion would be to stop using archaic words when defending our Second Amendment rights.

What the Second Amendment really means

The Second Amendment reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Due to the outdated words “militia” and “bear”, some of our leaders (such as Eric Holder) have sought to re-define the meaning of the Amendment by re-defining the words. I will also discuss the meaning of the word “infringe” at the end of this post.

In a 2008 United States Supreme Court Case (District of Columbia v. Heller), the Court ruled that the Second Amendment ensures an individual the right to bear arms. Regarding the word “bear”, according to SCOTUS, the word means to have and be entitled to and to have and use, among other things.

Mr. Holder disagrees. He stated that he doesn’t believe that the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to bear arms. So what does Mr. Holder believe about the Second Amendment?

Holder has argued that a “well regulated Militia” means our Armed forces or our National Guard. Does that make sense? Logically it would seem absurd that any country needs to protect its right to keep Armed Forces and at the time the Second Amendment was written there was no such thing as a National Guard. (Nor a standing army, either – Ed.) It is even more absurd when you realize that our first 10 Amendments to the Constitution were written in order to preserve and protect the rights of citizens against the government – besides which, running our nation’s military had been clearly defined within Article 1, Section 8 of our Constitution.

What did “militia” mean at the time of our Revolution?

A timeless symbol of the Second Amendment
The battle flag of the defenders at Gonzales. This was their answer to Generalissimo Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana, who demanded a return of their cannon.

Since the meanings of words are subject to change and interpretation, it would make sense to refer to how the words in questions were used at the time of the Revolutionary War. Thomas Fessenden, who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill (also known as Breed’s Hill), was deposed on April 23, 1775. At that time Fessenden stated:

I, Thomas Fessenden, of Lawful age, testify and Declare, that, being in a Pasture near the meeting house, at said Lexington, on Wednesday last, at about half an hour before sunrise, I saw a number of Regular troops pass speedily by said meeting house, on their way towards a Company of Militia of said Lexington, who were assembled to the number of about one hundred in a company, at the Distance of eighteen or twenty rods from said meeting house; and after they had passed by said meeting house, I saw three Officers, on horseback, advance to the front of said Regulars, when one of them, being within six rods of the said Militia, cryed out, “Disperse, you Rebels, immediately,” on which he Brandished his sword over his head three times; meanwhiles the second Officer, who was about two rods behind him, fired a Pistol, pointed at said Militia, and the Regulars kept huzzaing till he had finished brandishing his sword, and when he had thus finished brandishing his sword, he pointed it Down towards said Militia, and immediately on which the said Regulars fired a Volley at the Militia, and then I ran off as fast as I could, while they continued firing, till I got out of their reach. I further testify, that as soon as ever the officer Cryed “Disperse, you rebels,” the said Company of Militia dispersed every way, as fast as they could, and, while they were Dispersing, the regulars kept firing at them incessantly: And further saith not.

(Bold added as emphasis. This deposition is listed as #13, p.346 in the Concord, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts Historical Appendix Index http://files.usgwarchives.net/ma/middlesex/towns/concord/histchapp.txt

In his deposition Fessenden makes a clear distinction between “Regulars” and the “Militia.” During the 18th century, a Militia was a body of citizen soldiers as distinguished from professional soldiers. Our Founders appreciated the importance of citizens being able to defend their local turf and their necessity to bear arms in order to do just that.

The most liberal Circuit Court in the nation, the Ninth, in Nordyke v. King seemed to agree. They stated:

The right to bear arms is a bulwark against external invasion. We should not be overconfident that oceans on our east and west coasts alone can preserve security. We recently saw in the case of the terrorist attack on Mumbai that terrorist may enter a country covertly by ocean routes, landing in small craft and then assembling to wreak havoc. That we have a lawfully armed populace adds a measure of security for all of us and makes less likely that a band of terrorist could make headway in an attack on any community before more professional forces arrived.

What those Executive Orders do

Among the 23 Gun Control Executive Orders recently signed by Mr. Obama, #4 is even more disconcerting when considering Mr. Holder’s interpretation of words. This Order states:

Direct the attorney general (Mr. Holder) to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure that dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

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This EO imbues Mr. Holder with the authority to categorize individuals that he believes are dangerous and should be denied their Second Amendment rights. Of course Mexican Drug Cartels are not subject to our Constitution, but the Fast and Furious debacle can serve as a further indication of Mr. Holder’s reasoning skills. In this topsy-turvy world where up is down and down is up, only God knows how Mr. Holder will interpret the word “dangerous.” To him “dangerous people” can mean anyone that challenges the Administration’s agenda in any way, shape or form.

What does “infringe” mean?

Lastly, the Second Amendment also states that our right to bear arms shall not be infringed. The word “infringed” is perhaps the most powerful word in the Amendment, as well as the word we discuss the least – an unfortunate combination. In a March 27, 2009 interview, Holder stated that we should re-institute the ban on assault weapons. But Mr. Holder isn’t the only public official infringing upon our Second Amendment right to bear arms. Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg, both from the State of New York, are ardent Second Amendment “Infringers.” My apologies for making up a word but none that I know off seem adequate in this instance.

Webster’s 1828 dictionary gives several meanings for the word infringe that apply. The ones that speak the loudest in this circumstance are: to break, to violate, to transgress, to neglect to fulfill or obey, to destroy or hinder, to injure, to hurt, to interrupt, to disturb, to oppose, obstruct or defeat the operation or effect of, to pass over or beyond any limit, to surpass, to demolish, to pull down, to ruin or annihilate, to lay waste or to make desolate, to cause to cease, to impede or restrain or obstruct.

The Second Amendment in modern English

The Second Amendment in modern day vernacular might read something like this:

An organized group of citizen soldiers who are not part of our Armed Forces are necessary to protecting the freedoms of their local communities and defending themselves and their families. Therefore, the right of all people to have and use firearms should not be violated, transgressed upon, destroyed or hindered, injured or hurt, interrupted, disturbed, opposed, obstructed, defeated, surpassed, demolished, pulled down, ruined or annihilated, laid waste, made desolate, caused to cease, impeded, restrained or obstructed in any way.

If all of the above isn’t enough, remember that our Founders based the principles of our government upon our inalienable God-given rights. Who can argue that one of these rights is our right to self-defense? When all is said and done and all arguments regarding the Second Amendment are laid to rest, our right to defend ourselves, our families and our communities is about as inalienable a God-given right as any right can be.

In conclusion, it just may be high time we start re-defining our Second Amendment right to bear arms as our right to self-defense. Infringing upon our right to self-defense might be a more difficult case to make than taking guns away from those deemed dangerous.

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RoseAnn Salanitri is a published author and Acquisition Editor for the New Jersey Family Policy Council. She is a community activist who has founded the Sussex County Tea Party in her home state and launched a recall movement against Senator Robert Menendez. RoseAnn is also the founder of Veritas Christian Academy, as well as co-founder of Creation Science Alive, and a national creation science speaker.

constitutional law, judiciary, liberty, second amendment

Comments (21)

  • Interesting that the first four words of the 2nd Amendment are “A well regulated militia”, but this essay ignores any examination of what “well regulated” means, then or now. Even an Originalist like Justice Scalia has stated that the 2nd Amendment does not preclude regulating this rght, just as other constitutional rights can have parameters. In your revision, felons and the insane can have all the arms they want, and that there can be no.limits placed on the killing power any citizen may reasonably possess.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    • Incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial. Ms. Salanitri and I have you dead-to-rights, distorting the English language in the very way that she protests.

      • “Incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial.”

        That’s more of a dodge than a discussion, Terry.

        Roseann focuses on what the words “militia” and “infringe” mean, but conveniently sidesteps the “well regulated” qualifier in the amendment, substituting the words with “organized”, but providing no justification for the replacement.

        Here are the definitions from Merriam-Webster:

        Regulate: Control or supervise (something, esp. a company or business activity) by means of rules and regulations.

        Organize: Coordinate the activities of (a person or group) efficiently.

        So “coordinating” is obviously not the same as “regulating” and Roseann’s edit changes the Founders’ intent by removing their clear provision to be able to use rules to control how people may keep and bear arms. Simply put, there’s no questioning “IF” the 2nd Amendment allows citizens to keep and bear arms, but by design it provided for regulating “HOW” that was to take place.

        As a basic litmus test, please explain how Roseann’s re-interpretation would keep firearms out of the hands of felons or the mentally ill.

        As I’ve mentioned before, even the Justice Scalia believes there is a solid justification for applying regulations to our 2nd Amendment rights. The link below provides a starting reference:

        http://www.businessinsider.com/scalias-2008-second-amendment-opinion-2012-12

        • This is another example of why modern definitions are inapplicable to original concepts: because Progressives like you have changed them.

          You read a phrase like “well regulated” and read it within the meaning of “government regulations.”

          Back then, “well regulated” meant a lean, mean fighting machine.

          Yours is another example of that peculiar variety of circular reasoning known as:

          Your theory does not work under my theory; therefore your theory must be wrong.

          And furthermore: a person who cannot be trusted with a gun, is probably a person who cannot be trusted without a custodian. This could be an argument for re-establishing that forgotten institution called “the insane asylum.” But what happened, of course, is that the inmates took it over and flung open the doors.

          Then, too, Dr. Thomas Szasz makes a valid argument (whether it’s a winning argument is another matter) that mental defect should not provoke the State to lock someone up—but he would also revoke the McNaghten Rule (“right and wrong test of legal insanity”), the Durfee Rule (“irresistible impulse”), and other Rules that legally absolve malefactors “by reason of permanent or temporary insanity.”

          Now whether you accept that or not, I maintain this: your only sure defense against a “mentally ill” or other “dangerous” man with a gun, is you with a gun.

          • “This is another example of why modern definitions are inapplicable to original concepts: because Progressives like you have changed them.”

            I looked up “regulate” in the same 1828 Webster’s dictionary and found the following:

            “To adjust by rule, method or established mode; as, to regulate weights and measures; to regulate the assize of bread; to regulate our moral conduct by the laws of God and of society; to regulate our manners by the customary forms.”

            So even back then the word “regulate” meant the control through the application of law, and replacing it with the word “coordinate” is changing the meaning of the amendment.

            “Yours is another example of that peculiar variety of circular reasoning known as: Your theory does not work under my theory; therefore your theory must be wrong.”

            So Scalia is another wrongheaded progressive? I didn’t see any rebuttal to his statements on 2nd Amendment constraints. I’d also like to see your take on the Mulford Act, which was enacted by Reagan and backed by the NRA.

            There’s not much need to dissect your comments about the mentally ill and asylums. What matters is that your expression of the 2nd Amendment puts unlimited firearms in the hands of anyone, felons and the mentally ill included, and your only answer to this is that we should all carry guns to defend ourselves against the dangerous people we’ve just empowered with guns. Like I said, “What could possibly go wrong?” Sigh.

            You also repeat the tired sound bite that the only sure way to defend yourself from a bad guy with a gun is through you having a gun. There’s nothing “sure” about your odds in a random gunfight, nor is the safety of bystanders improved – ask the 19 bystanders accidentally shot by the NYC police bringing down a lone gunman. Heck, as the five people injured in self-inflicted gun incidents over this past weekend’s “Gun Appreciation Day”.

            I’d prefer instead to do everything possible to keep guns out of the hands of felons, fools and the mentally ill, and there is much more we can do towards that end that has nothing to do with taking guns away from responsible, law-abiding citizens. I don’t want a disarmed America – I just want an America based on reason & respect, not paranoia.

            Two last observations:

            – I was just reading about the SHOT gun show in Las Vegas, and found it ironic that the venue does not allow anyone to carry guns in from the street. If the hosts believed in an unregulated right to bear arms this rule would not be in effect, but even the gun show organizations have concerns about the risks in accommodating an “anything goes” gun-toting audience.

            Second, I’m curious as to what percent of the attendees at your recent Constitution Party meeting showed up wearing loaded firearms. Perhaps the venue didn’t allow it (and if so, why use that venue?), but the likely reason is that most of the members feel that they can move about the course of their lives without having to carry a gun on them for daily protection. How many of you keep guns at home, and have formed “coordinated” militias within your neighborhoods, per your definition of militia? Sure, there’s a difference between being forbidden to do something and not doing it by choice, but no one is actually trying to take away the guns you legally own. More to the point, most or all of you are fighting for something you don’t feel is important enough to put into practice yourselves.

          • Very briefly, because that’s all that your reply warrants. First, the only alternative that the government offers to “you with a gun” is “the police, responding as fast as possible.” Which isn’t fast enough. Dial 911, and die.

            Second, you know better than to ask the last question you asked. Your e-mail address shows that you are a New Jersey resident. Hel-LO-OOOOOOO? Doesn’t the case of State versus Brian Aikin mean anything to you? Do I have to serve up the link to articles I wrote about that case when it landed on Governor Christie’s desk as a pardon application? Of course what the governor did was to commute the sentence to time served. It let the guy out of jail but left that stupid law in place. As you should know perfectly well.

          • “Back then, “well regulated” meant a lean, mean fighting machine.”

            Well, that’s exactly what a “militia” consisting of present-day US gun owners ISN’T. How could this “militia” be called out to serve against an enemy? How could it be supplied with ammunition, spare parts and lubricants given the diversity of weapons it owns? How could it be formed into units?

            Try the Swiss model; that would count as a militia. What you have now simply doesn’t.

          • “your only sure defense against a “mentally ill” or other “dangerous” man with a gun, is you with a gun.”

            *sigh* No, it’s a locked concrete bunker with no windows.

            Armed citizens are NOT a reliable defence against a deranged gunman. The USA has a higher number of armed citizens than any other civilised country but still seems to lose a lot more people to deranged gunmen. There is no correlation. The problem is that your present gun laws make it too easy for lunatics to get their hands on firearms. I genuinely fail to see why you think it’s OK to let people buy military-type assault weapons without even checking that they’re not as nutty as squirrel poo.

          • That statistic about “higher numbers of armed citizens than any other civilized country” is misleading. That includes those who are going to keep their guns, government or no. And those who came by their guns dishonestly. It also is an aggregate number, and ignores pockets of gun prohibition where the crimes end up happening.

          • “That statistic about “higher numbers of armed citizens than any other civilized country” is misleading.”

            No, it isn’t. I’m only talking about legally owned guns.

  • I’m well aware of the guns laws in my home state of NJ, and your comments on Aitken and carrying mean I didn’t express my point clearly enough. You and your associates could obtain and bring loaded firearms to your Constitution Party meetings, and hold those meetings in a country where the sheriff agrees with your 2nd Amendment views despite state law. Any of you can choose to walk around with an unconcealed, loaded hunting rifle as an expression of your 2nd Amendment right to self-defense, and become a test case over the issue if arrested. Apparently none of you choose to do that, which implies that respect for laws, even those you disagree with, is important to all of you. When you have individuals, even sheriffs, deciding what laws to obey and which to flout, you lose the ability to rely on the social contract laws provide.

    For that matter, how many of you have “organized” active militias per your definition, and hold regular drills?

    “Dial 911 and die” is nonsense. I was talking about universal background checks and common-sense restrictions on who can purchase and carry a firearm, as well as sensible rules defining what a “firearm” is.

    In the view of the 2nd Amendment held by Roseann above, a 21-year-old drunk could stagger into a gun store and buy gun to defend himself on the spot from his equally drunk antagonist. A twitchy person can walk into the gun shop, tell the owner that he wants firepower because shapeshifting aliens are hunting for him, and out the door he goes with an AR-15.

    Your reply was also brief because you chose not to address why Roseann’s changing “regulated” to “organized” isn’t disingenuous given the 1828 definition of “regulated”. You’re also avoiding an explanation of why Scalia is wrong, and how Reagan could pass the Mulford Act with the NRA supporting it.

    • “hold those meetings in a country”
      in my last comment should have said
      “hold those meetings in a county”

      Time for coffee…

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