What Was The Intent Of the Authors Of the Bill of Rights?

The Second Amendment written 1791, stated, “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.” In 1939 in United States v. Miller, the Supreme Court stated, “The significance of the militia was that it was composed of “civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.” It was upon this force that the States could rely for defense and securing of the laws, on a force that “comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense,” who, “when called for service . . . were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.” The arms in common use were muzzle-loading muskets.

“The Second Amendment has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud; I repeat the word, ‘fraud,’ on the American public.
The distortion of the intent of the framers of the Bill of Rights by the gun lobby is glaring, as they focus their argument on the last half of the amendment, while ignoring the first half, on which it was based.”
–Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren E. Burger (1991)

Blind Activism

Five conservative activist justices have overturned 70 years of legal precedent in ruling that the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to bear arms. The majority has decided to re-interpret history and the framers intent that there is a right to keep handguns in the home for self-defense. Justice Scalia went further in his arguments with the disturbing concept that individuals have a right to arms for the purpose of resisting a tyrannical government. A statement of this sort feeds extremist positions like those of Sharron Angle, Republican Candidate for the Nevada Senate. “Our founding fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason, and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government.”
Justice Stephen Breyer criticized Scalia’s insurrectionist reading of the
Second Amendment stating: “The Civil War Amendments, the electoral process, the courts, and numerous other [democratic] institutions today help to safeguard the States and the people from any serious threat of federal tyranny.”

Justice Stevens in his dissent alluded to a remarkable statement made earlier in the Court’s term by Chief Justice John G. Roberts in Robertson v. United States ex rel. Wykenna Watson, wherein he stated, “A basic step in organizing a civil society is to take that sword (referencing the sword of liberty) and turn it over to an organized government, acting on behalf of the people. Indeed, the …power a man has in the state of nature is the power to punish the crimes committed against that law. [But this] he
gives up when he joins [a]…political society, and incorporates into [a] commonwealth.”

Stevens further stated, “Although the court’s decision in this case might be seen as a mere adjunct to Heller, the consequences could prove far more destructive—quite literally—to our nation’s communities and to our constitutional structure.” He said the Court should have proceeded more cautiously in light of “the malleability and elusiveness of history”and because “firearms have a fundamentally ambivalent relationship to liberty.”

Josh Sugarman, Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center, stated, “The gun lobby and gunmakers are seeking nothing
less than the complete dismantling of our nation’s gun laws in a cynical effort to try and stem the long-term drop in gun ownership and save the dwindling gun industry. The 30,000 lives claimed annually by gun violence and the families destroyed in the wake of mass shootings and murder-suicides mean little to the gun lobby and the firearm manufacturers it protects.”

Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of Legal Community Against Violence (LCAV) said, “It is disappointing, but not surprising, that the Supreme Court has decided to extend the Second Amendment to state and local governments.” LCAV also stated on their website:

The Court stated: “It is important to keep in mind that Heller, while striking down a law that prohibited the possession of handguns in the home, recognized that the right to keep and arms is not ‘a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.’ We made it clear in Heller that our holding did not cast doubt on such longstanding regulatory measures as ‘prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill,’ ‘laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.’”

…We believe that state and local legislators should have been permitted to continue to tailor gun laws to fit their particular needs, and expect that this decision will result in an enormous increase in the number of frivolous lawsuits challenging reasonable gun laws… However, we are encouraged that the Court reiterated that the Second Amendment is consistent with a broad variety of reasonable gun violence prevention regulations and expect that the overwhelming majority of those legal challenges will be unsuccessful.”

Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence stated, “Justice Samuel Alito – who wrote the majority
opinion – also made it clear that common-sense restrictions on firearms will survive. In the McDonald decision, the incorporation [of the Second Amendment] does not imperil every law regulating firearms.”

About 10,000 Americans died by handgun violence, according to federal statistics, in the four months the Supreme Court debated which clause of the Constitution it would use to further its activist reversal of 60 years of precedent on the Second Amendment.

Despite some news reports to the contrary, in its McDonald v. Chicago decision, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Second
Amendment individual right to possess guns in the home does not prevent legislators from enacting common-sense gun laws. Further
that the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. The Court rejected the gun lobby’s mantra that “any gun, for anybody, anywhere” is a right protected by the Constitution.

These five justices acknowledged that the decision might “lead to extensive and costly litigation, but said that was the price of protecting constitutional freedoms.”

Five conservative activist justices have overturned 70 years of legal precedent in ruling that the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to bear arms. The majority has decided to re-interpret history and the framers intent that there is a right to keep handguns in the home for self-defense. Justice Scalia went further in his arguments with the disturbing concept that individuals have a right to arms for the purpose of resisting a tyrannical government. A statement of this sort feeds extremist positions like those of Sharron Angle, Republican Candidate for the Nevada Senate. “Our founding fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason, and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government.”

Justice Stephen Breyer criticized Scalia’s insurrectionist reading of the Second Amendment stating: “The Civil War Amendments, the electoral process, the courts, and numerous other [democratic] institutions today help to safeguard the States and the people from any serious threat of federal tyranny.”

Justice Stevens in his dissent alluded to a remarkable statement made earlier in the Court’s term by Chief Justice John G. Roberts in Robertson v. United States ex rel. Wykenna Watson, wherein he stated, “A basic step in organizing a civil society is to take that sword (referencing the sword of liberty) and turn it over to an organized government, acting on behalf of the people.

Toni Wellen is the chair of the Santa Barbara Coalition Against Gun Violence. She lives in Carpinteria.