Re: GUNS: Defensive Use

Hagbard Celine (
Mon, 07 Jul 1997 01:38:08 -0400 wrote:
> It seems to me that the intent of the 2nd ammendment had little or nothing to
> do with self defense.....or hunting.

I've done little legislative history concerning the 2nd, but an educated
guess would be that to get it ratified, the delegates made both of those
arguments, and more. Hunting for meat and/or the skins trade was pretty
important both economically and also for an individual's livelihood. And
self-defense has always been offered as a valid reason for weapons
proliferation. Unfortunately, the Congress was secret and the only notes
made were Madison's and Jefferson's (?) so we have a tough time knowing
what they were really trying to do.

What is crucial is that the drafters offered a reason for the Amendment
within the text itself, "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the
security of a free state..." However, is this the only reason? And what
happens when a well-regulated militia no longer becomes necessary?

Anyway, I personally feel that the legislative intent is irrelevant.
There are several canons of statutory construction, some placing
emphasis on the "plain meaning" of the words as written, others
emphasizing legislative intent, still others ignoring both and opting
for Constiutional dynamism. I tend to feel that especially where the
original intent is cloudy, and the plain meaning of words such as
"militia", "Arms", and "infringed" is unclear, a more suitable line of
inquiry is "What effect should these words have on our lives today?"
This is a somewhat distilled version of Constitutional dynamism.

> Taken in context with the Declaration of Independence...and the Federalist
> Papers...I would interpret the 2nd ammendment as the ultimate gaurantor of
> individual rights...or to put it crudely.....when the government gets outa
> hand...the citizens have the means to slap it down..

The Framers built-in a self-destruct mechanism. This is an entirely new
idea to me, and quite interesting.

> In that context automatic weapons...not to mention rockets..mortars or pocket
> nukes seem perfectly acceptable.

Exactly. The definition of "Arms" as it is used in the 2nd is one of the
biggest problems.