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What is the History of the 2nd Amendment? -Overview

  • James Madison and Patrick Henry authored the 2nd amendment.
  • Militias are an army of armed citizens used to supplement an army in emergencies.
  • The 2nd amendment prevented the Federal Government from wielding absolute power over state militias.
  • The National Guard replaced the militia.

2nd Amendment Debate

For decades, possibly a century or more, arguments suggest the Framers of the Constitution intended the 2nd amendment to prescribe a right for a State (e.g. Virginia, North Carolina) to “defend itself”. The history of the 2nd amendment shows the Framers intend to allow “ordinary, non-militia citizens” the right to bear arms. Instead, the 2nd amendment became ratified to protect the Federal Government from severely limiting militia power when responding to uprising or invasions. James Madison, who authored the second amendment, persuaded by Patrick Henry, the then Governor of Virginia, to put the amendment before the Virginia Congress for ratification debate. Four years prior to the Constitution (1874), Patrick Henry fortified Virginia, our most populous state, with a militia to protect slave owners from uprising and to prevent invasion from the English and Spanish. Henry feared the Federal Government’s right to create and arm militias could severely limit their power; thus, the second amendment was born.

State Gun Laws After 2nd Amendment Ratification

States enacted gun laws controlling the “right to bear arms” before the ratification of the Constitution. It was only after ratification, the “right to bear arms” saw significant regulation. It was commonplace for states to keep a list of those who kept guns and govern their usages. Some of these laws also prescribed harsh penalties for not taking part in gun checks. In the years before the War of 1812, several Southern states outlawed the concealed carrying of a handgun, Midwestern states followed a few years later. States also ordered their citizens who owned firearms to pledge allegiance to the state or face confiscation.

How the NRA Shaped our Right to Bear Arm

The National Rifle Association (NRA), founded in 1871, is an organization dedicated to protecting your second amendment rights. Prior to the 1960s, the National Rifle Association supported gun control, such as a rigorous tax on Tommy Guns or federal licensing and recording keeping of gun customers. It wasn’t until the 1960s, when the NRA lobbied and aggressively opposed certain gun laws. Prior to the late 1960s, gun control at the state and federal level was common. In 1968, the Gun Control Act became law after the high-profile gun-related deaths of JFK, Robert Kennedy, and Rev. Martin Luther King. One of the key provisions of this law was the creation of a national gun registry and licensing for all whom owned firearms. The NRA blocked this national registry and licensing. In the 20 years after the assassination of JFK, the National Rifle Association successfully lobbied the rollback of dealer gun inspections and restrictions on transporting, purchasing, and selling firearms across state lines. The 10 years preceding the rollback ushered in new laws banning assault style weapons and requiring backgrounds checks. The NRA strongly opposed these laws and begin media campaigns against them. Through lobbying, media, court cases, and congressional donations; the NRA has successfully preserved our “right to bear arms” under the second amendment.

The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Gun Control History

Is Gun Control Really Infringing on Your 2nd Amendment Right? Whether you want to believe it, gun control has existed for a century or more. It not only has proven useful, its not considered an infringement of our rights. One of the key pieces of legislation blocked by the NRA was the transportation of guns across state lines. There is research from Penn Medicine showing homicides increase in strict gun law states if they border states with lenient gun laws. I believe in our “right to bear arms”. However, stricter gun laws could be the answer for the developed country with the most gun deaths.

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