Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - Bill of Rights

"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."

Preservation and Proposition

Our mission is to document the pivotal Second Amendment events that occurred in Frontier Mercersburg, and its environs, and to heighten awareness of the importance of these events in the founding of our Nation.

We are dedicated to the preservation of the place where the Second Amendment was "born" and to the proposition that the Second Amendment (the "right to bear arms") is the keystone of our Liberty and the Republic.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Why We Are Armed

By JW Ross

In the Federalist Papers Noah Webster argued that the proposed Constitution provided adequate guarantees to check the dangers of any standing army. His reasoning acknowledged checks and balances, but did not rely on them. Rather, Webster argued:

"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every Kingdom of Europe. The Supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States."

Anti-federalist argued, in turn, that that a standing army was a threat to liberty. James Madison agreed with Webster. Although, he too felt that the proposed Constitution offered sufficient guarantees against despotism by its checks and balances, the real deterrent to governmental abuse was the armed population. To the Antifederalist criticism of the standing army as a threat to liberty, Madison replied:

"To these [the standing army] would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from amongst themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by government possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops .... Besides the advantage of being armed, which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit."

Another leading Federalist, Alexander Hamilton, voiced a similar view. Hamilton suggested that if the representations of the people, elected under the proposed Constitution, betrayed their constituents, the people retained the right, and obligation, to defend their political rights and possessed the means to do so.

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