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A few Ricochet members have thoughtfully engaged with my comments on the nature of the Second Amendment in the most recent episode of the Libertarian podcast, which can be found here.
Whiskey Sam wrote the following:
Richard ignores any context of what influenced the writing of the 2nd amendment, its philosophical underpinnings, and the arguments made during ratification of the Constitution in the Federalist Papers and other debates of the time. The idea that it is limited to forming a militia doesn’t hold up when taking all of this into consideration nor when considering the English Bill of Rights of 1689, which was a major influence on the Founders and goes far beyond a simple right for forming a militia.
Tough criticism, so I took a look at the English Bill of Rights of 1689 to see what it had to say about guns. Here is the applicable text:
“That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law;”
The differences are too obvious to count. The restriction to Protestants is not part of the Second Amendment. There is no reference to any militia, which was not a creature of English law because England is not a federalist nation, but a unitary state; and the privilege, even for Protestants, is hedged in by limitations that are unspecified but surely substantial.
It was indeed a common feature for the English to give extensive rights and then to subject them to extensive limitations without guidance or explanation. The federalism elements in the Second Amendment are unmistakable. It is dangerous to go too far beyond them.Published in