Sangamon County Rifle Association
Right Reason on Second Amendment Rights
Jim Butler, President, SCRA
August 2009 GunNews
The original purpose of the Bill of Rights was to prevent federal intrusion into the fundamental liberties of the people. The collective-rights interpretation of the Second Amendment (found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008) contends that the militia clause limits the scope of the right to keep and bear arms, guaranteeing only that states can maintain a National Guard. The flow of this interpretation is clear in the language of the Second Amendment, which secures the rights of the "people" and not the "states," to keep and bear arms.
The right to be armed for personal protection is well recognized by common law and preserved under the Ninth Amendment. Self-defense is generally viewed today as it was in 1765 when Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries was first published in England. Blackstone described the use of arms for self-defense as among the "Absolute Rights of Individuals".
Blackstone's Commentaries is the basis of the American legal system and as such is used by the U.S. Supreme Court in its decisions involving common law and in its understanding of the roots of our constitutional rights.
When adopted by the states, the Second Amendment generated no controversy. State and federal militia laws required citizens to keep arms and ammunition in their homes. These statutes specified everything from the number of cartridges to the amount of gunpowder that Americans were to keep on hand. Arms and accouterment for militia service were exempted from levy for indebtedness, and failure to have the proper equipment could draw fines.
Patrick Henry at the time was concerned as how to provide firearms to those who could not afford them. The bearing of arms was both a right and responsibility of citizenship, with arms being legally denied to those who were not citizens.
Many people still think the police are required to protect them. The U.S. Supreme Court reiterated, in the 2005 case of Castle Rock v. Gonzales, that government cannot be held liable for failure to protect the lives of its citizens. Otherwise, you are on your own when it comes to personal self-defense as it remains an individual responsibility. Be prepared.
Every year, people in the United States use a firearm to defend themselves against criminals an estimated 2,500,000 times -- more than 6,500 people a day, or once every 13 seconds. Of these instances, 15.6% of the people using a firearm defensively stated they "almost certainly" saved their lives by doing so.
Firearms are used 60 times more often to protect lives than to take lives!
Does anyone remember the Rodney King riots, where one of the most telling images was that of Korean storekeepers standing guard over their property armed with the very same "assault rifles" which had earlier been so vilified?
The right of self-defense and the right to use firearms for defense of yourself and family are the cornerstone of individual rights enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. It also protects and secures the other individual rights as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
Jim Butler's Commentaries
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