There’s Gun Control in the Second Amendment?

 

Well, the President of the United States told us this week, that:

“No amendment, no amendment to the Constitution is absolute,” he said. “You can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theater — recall a freedom of speech. From the very beginning, you couldn’t own any weapon you wanted to own. From the very beginning that the Second Amendment existed, certain people weren’t allowed to have weapons.”

We need to cut our President some slack, as he suffers from advancing dementia.  If I recall correctly, the text of the Second Amendment reads:

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.

Now, the plain text of the amendment looks pretty straightforward to me.  I do not see any mention whatsoever in the Amendment about “weapons”, types of weapons, or who should be allowed to own any particular type of weapon.  I do see, however, the words “Shall Not Be Infringed”.  That says to me that the rights of the people to keep and bear arms cannot be limited by the government (at least by the Federal government).  The definition of the word “infringe” is “act so as to limit or undermine” something, so the Founders’ intentions were quite clear when they wrote this amendment to our Constitution.

To my way of thinking, there is a chance that the federal “background check” system would infringe on the People’s right to keep and bear arms.  I’m not a constitutional scholar, but that’s what it looks like to me.

In any case, our demented President is dead wrong about the Second Amendment allowing “certain people to not have weapons”.

There is no Gun Control in the Second Amendment. [for that matter, most types of modern guns hadn’t even been invented in the 1790s.  The rifle was a new thing, and most soldiers had muskets]

[originally posted at RushBabe49.com]

Published in Guns
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 44 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    RushBabe49: “No amendment, no amendment to the Constitution is absolute,” he said. “You can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theater — recall a freedom of speech.

    You can yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, if it is in fact on fire. What are you going to yell: “voter suppression?”

    Oh, and private ownership of artillery wasn’t banned by the Second Amendment either. And in some locations every male between sixteen and forty five was considered to be “the militia.”

    • #1
  2. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    The pResident’s claim is easily falsifiable if any citizen owned a cannon — the nuclear weapon of its time. Let’s see if we can find any account of that being the case. 

    • #2
  3. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Interesting discussion along the lines I described in comment #2: https://ar15armory.com/forums/topic/123890-privately-owned-cannons-circa-american-revolution-and-after/

    • #3
  4. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    I have also read that, contrary to the notion it only referred to colonial / state governmental units, the term “well regulated militia” meant a well-supplied one, i.e., no shortage of firearms as well as powder and ball, but it was up to the citizens to keep up their own arms and ammo, and to muster upon notice.

    • #4
  5. KevinKrisher Coolidge
    KevinKrisher
    @KevinKrisher

    I understand there is some fuzziness in the constitutional language, which the president made worse by talking about “weapons.” 

    As you point out, the second amendment refers not to “weapons” but to “arms.” In the eighteenth century, “arms” generally meant muskets, pistols, and edged weapons, which were commonly used for hunting and personal protection as well as for military purposes.

    Weapons that were used exclusively for military purposes, such as cannon and grenades, were generally referred to as “ordnance.” Courts have upheld laws banning private ownership of military equipment, which is why you can’t buy a machine gun or a hand grenade at WalMart.

    Of course, the president is still talking nonsense. For purposes of crime control, it doesn’t matter whether the second amendment bans the ownership of military equipment or not. Military equipment is almost never used in crime. For that matter, rifles or shotguns of any sort are used very rarely. Almost all of the weapons used in crimes are pistols, sharp objects, heavy objects, and fists: https://www.statista.com/statistics/195325/murder-victims-in-the-us-by-weapon-used/

     

    • #5
  6. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    • #6
  7. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    I understand that the drug cartels which are currently being invited into our country have, and use, some heavy-duty weapons.  They have machine-guns and grenades, as I recall.  Why don’t I think the feds will be going after their illegal weapons?

    • #7
  8. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    I understand that the drug cartels which are currently being invited into our country have, and use, some heavy-duty weapons. They have machine-guns and grenades, as I recall. Why don’t I think the feds will be going after their illegal weapons?

    Someone might get hurt.

    • #8
  9. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):
     Why don’t I think the feds will be going after their illegal weapons?

    Because it’s much easier, and safer, to go after law-abiding citizens.

    • #9
  10. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    re Cannons…I have the impression that cannon were sometimes included in political parades, ‘why’ I have no idea.  The very first telegraph conversation, in 1844, included reporting on a political convention and included the following:

    “”Have you any news?” “No.” “Mr. Seaton’s respects to you.” “My respects to him.” “What is your time?” “Nine o’clock, twenty-eight minutes.” “What weather have you?” “Cloudy.” “Separate your words more.” “Oil your clock-work.” “Buchanan stock said to be rising.” “I have a great crowd at my window.” “Van Buren cannon in front, with a fox-tail on it.””

    https://www.heritage-history.com/index.php?c=read&author=perry&book=inventors&story=morse

    • #10
  11. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    Percival (View Comment):

    RushBabe49: “No amendment, no amendment to the Constitution is absolute,” he said. “You can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theater — recall a freedom of speech.

    You can yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, if it is in fact on fire. What are you going to yell: “voter suppression?”

    Oh, and private ownership of artillery wasn’t banned by the Second Amendment either. And in some locations every male between sixteen and forty five was considered to be “the militia.”

    But you can yell “fire” in a crowded theater, even if there isn’t a fire (Brandenburg vs. Ohio, 1969).

    • #11
  12. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    It is alarming that Mr. Biden is obliviously and willfully ignorant of what the 2A actually means: that the individual states have the right to protect themselves from armed tyranny by the Federal government in the form of the standing military. What ought to be even more alarming is that he then followed up these comments by threatening those who disagree with him with attack by F-15s and nuclear weapons(!).

    In other words…the current President of the United States has publicly and unmistakably validated why the Second Amendment is necessary. Whatever military capacity the US military has that might be used against its own people in order to enforce its tyranny, the States have the right to comparable capabilities (or at the least, effective counter-measures.)

    • #12
  13. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

     

    I was thinking of that story too.

    • #13
  14. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    In broad terms, President Biden is correct – there are implicit limitations on the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. But, those limitations are far more limited than Democrats and Leftists like to pretend.

    “Freedom of speech” does not include the right to commit fraud, or to produce pornography, or (in the case of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater when in fact there is no fire) speech designed to elicit a response by others that is likely to lead to death or injury. Free exercise of religion does not necessarily mean we have to permit human sacrifice.

    There are ongoing arguments about what “arms” meant at the time the Constitution was adopted. But, privately owned ships had cannon (the biggest weapon of the day). As several of the comments note, limitations are practical. In the 18th Century, practical limitations on personnel, technology, and mobility controlled who was likely to own weapons. Today, practical limitations on personnel, technology, and mobility are similarly limiting. And the reference to “militia” is not necessarily a limitation, as some argue (that only those individuals actively participating in a formal militia are allowed to own firearms). A decent argument is that a populace in possession of and familiar with firearms is a condition precedent to being able to form a militia. You have to have an armed citizenry in order to assemble a militia. 

     

    • #14
  15. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    “Freedom of speech” does not include the right to commit fraud, or to produce pornography, or…

    Yes it does.

    It does not protect obscenity.

     

     

    • #15
  16. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    “Freedom of speech” does not include the right to commit fraud, or to produce pornography, or…

    Yes it does.

    It does not protect obscenity.

     

    So said SCOTUS at least, however many years ago; but that could change at any time.

    • #16
  17. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    “Freedom of speech” does not include the right to commit fraud, or to produce pornography, or…

    Yes it does.

    It does not protect obscenity.

     

    So said SCOTUS at least, however many years ago; but that could change at any time.

    • #17
  18. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    “More, more, I’m still not satisfied!!” has been a part of my internal tape for nearly 40 years.  Works in a variety of situations, too.

    • #18
  19. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    I’m so happy to learn that I’m not the only Smothers Brothers fan on Ricochet!

    • #19
  20. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    “Freedom of speech” does not include the right to commit fraud, or to produce pornography, or…

    Yes it does.

    It does not protect obscenity.

     

     

    Thank you for the correction. My primary point remains that there are implicit limitations on language that seems absolute. The problems arise because Leftists read those limitations as swallowing up the entirety of the original language. 

    • #20
  21. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    speech designed to elicit a response by others that is likely to lead to death or injury.

    In Brandenburg vs. Ohio (1969), “The Court held that the government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that speech is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action”.

    The decision basically did away with Schenk vs. US. (1919), which had adopted a “clear and present danger” test for inflammatory speech.

    • #21
  22. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    For the love of God, private citizens owned private warships at the start of our nation.  The word is privateer, they were used during the revolutionary war and after.

    • #22
  23. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    For the love of God, private citizens owned private warships at the start of our nation. The word is privateer, they were used during the revolutionary war and after.

    Precisely. The argument that “we (the LE/military) got ’em so you don’t have to” is actually a good one when you can trust them and they are capable of protecting you. But that doesn’t abrogate your rights. It is not the same thing as “we got ’em, and you can’t have them”.

    • #23
  24. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Percival (View Comment):
    Oh, and private ownership of artillery wasn’t banned by the Second Amendment either. And in some locations every male between sixteen and forty five was considered to be “the militia.”

    I thought about buying a cannon one time.  I was a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  Every year, we put on a reenactment of the Battle of Aiken.  There where lots of people who brought their cannons . . .

    • #24
  25. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Fritz (View Comment):

    I have also read that, contrary to the notion it only referred to colonial / state governmental units, the term “well regulated militia” meant a well-supplied one, i.e., no shortage of firearms as well as powder and ball, but it was up to the citizens to keep up their own arms and ammo, and to muster upon notice.

    Well-supplied and well-trained . . .

    • #25
  26. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):
    “More, more, I’m still not satisfied!!”

    Have you been talking to my wife?

    • #26
  27. Barry Jones Thatcher
    Barry Jones
    @BarryJones

    KevinKrisher (View Comment):

    I understand there is some fuzziness in the constitutional language, which the president made worse by talking about “weapons.”

    As you point out, the second amendment refers not to “weapons” but to “arms.” In the eighteenth century, “arms” generally meant muskets, pistols, and edged weapons, which were commonly used for hunting and personal protection as well as for military purposes.

    Weapons that were used exclusively for military purposes, such as cannon and grenades, were generally referred to as “ordnance.” Courts have upheld laws banning private ownership of military equipment, which is why you can’t buy a machine gun or a hand grenade at WalMart.

    Of course, the president is still talking nonsense. For purposes of crime control, it doesn’t matter whether the second amendment bans the ownership of military equipment or not. Military equipment is almost never used in crime. For that matter, rifles or shotguns of any sort are used very rarely. Almost all of the weapons used in crimes are pistols, sharp objects, heavy objects, and fists: https://www.statista.com/statistics/195325/murder-victims-in-the-us-by-weapon-used/

     

    The items you refer to are technically “small arms”. There are numerous examples of private ships being referred to as “armed” when they carried cannon and many privately held merchant ships were so armed. In fact during the revolutionary war the Continental Congress had difficulty arming(there is that word again) the warships they had authorized to be built because private citizens had acquired so many cannon to arm private ships for letters of marque and privateering ventures.

    • #27
  28. James Salerno Coolidge
    James Salerno
    @JamesSalerno

    The federal/central/national government cannot pass any arms control regulations, whatsoever. They can arm the state militia (I think a Republican should grow a set and run on this platform).

    The states can pass any gun control legislation they wish. Or cannon legislation, or talk legislation, missile registration, whatever. 

    • #28
  29. davenr321 Coolidge
    davenr321
    @davenr321

    Back to this one, eh? Biden as always been aggressively, vocally, anti-2A. …and since (close enough) automatic weapons were known (Puckle gun) at the time of the Constitution’s writing, we all ought to be unified against these arguments regarding the state-of-the-art of weapons circa 1789 vs. 2021 having relevancy. 

    • #29
  30. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    davenr321 (View Comment):

    Back to this one, eh? Biden as always been aggressively, vocally, anti-2A. …and since (close enough) automatic weapons were known (Puckle gun) at the time of the Constitution’s writing, we all ought to be unified against these arguments regarding the state-of-the-art of weapons circa 1789 vs. 2021 having relevancy.

    I was thinking more the Girandoni air rifle which was in country and used by Lewis and Clark

    • #30