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, May 11, 2014

The Development and Declaration of The Right to Bear Arms in England.

By James Giudice - 5/9/2014
Observations from Chapter three, The Second Amendment Primer by Les Adams: The Development and Declaration of The Right In England.
Why does the development and declaration of the right to bear arms in England matter to modern Americans? It is because the English system of Government had a profound impact on the development of the American system of Government. As you will recall from the study of Ch.1, our founding fathers were classically educated statesmen. They were extremely well read and well versed in the philosophy of the greatest minds and systems of government throughout history, from ancient Greece until the Whigs of 18th century England. Also, they were intimately familiar with the English legal code and relied heavily on that system to establish our American Constitutional Republic.

The Development and Declaration of The Right in England page 39In her book To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right, historian Joyce Lee Malcolm points out that “a belief in the virtues of an armed citizenry had a profound influence upon the development of the English, and, in consequence, the American system of government.”

The English Declaration of Rights was passed February 12, 1689. Prior to the passage of this declaration times were more primitive, and therefore the right to bear arms was never in question. In fact there were pronouncements requiring individuals, according to their class, to bear certain armaments and weaponry. In the classical world view…

The Development and Declaration of The Right in England page 42

Don Kates has observed that “arms possession for protection of self, family and polity was both the hallmark of the individual’s freedom and one of the two primary factors in his developing the independent, self-reliant, responsible character which classical political philosophers deemed necessary to the citizenry of the free state.

The classical political philosophers believed that the cornerstone of a free state was independent, self-reliant, and responsible citizens. If one understands and embraces this viewpoint it is not surprising that as fewer people are raised and instilled with these character traits that we begin to see a fundamental change in America. We are moving further away from personal responsibility and self-reliance, and deeper into the clutches of unsustainable government dependence. As more people choose the path of dependence we sacrifice the very essence of our country, the principle of American Individualism. A principle that hundreds of thousands of Americans have fought and died to defend, a principle that I believe is the last best hope for mankind.

The English realized over 500 years ago (and subsequently forgotten) the answer to a question we continue to debate today, who is the militia? The answer, everyone, every free citizen, you are. To ensure order, justice, and virtue in a society it is necessary to facilitate every citizen’s vested interest in keeping them selves, their property, and their nation safe. There is no better way to accomplish this end than to encourage all citizens to take responsibility for the public welfare, and that begins with individual self-defense, and ends with the common defense of the nation. When all people take personal responsibility for their own affairs, and when called upon the affairs of the state, liberty is rooted in an environment where it has the opportunity to flourish because everyone has a stake.

The Development and Declaration of The Right in England page 43

“…until late in the seventeenth century, England had no standing Army. It was everyone’s business to maintain order…”

Beginning in the 17th century with Charles II, there were a number of unprecedented infringements and limitations put on the individual’s ability to possess arms. The first was the registration of arms. The monarch issued royal proclamations requiring “…gunsmiths to record and report to the crown all weapons they had manufactured and to whom those weapons had been sold…” He then sought to deprive the poor (95% of the population) of arms by requiring the ownership of “…Lands and Tenements of the clear yearly value of One hundred pounds…” in order to possess and bear arms. This meant that the crown no longer had to prove illegal intent, but rather could confiscate arms based solely upon their possession.

This dark era in English history came to an end when James II (ascended Charles II upon his death) was forced to flee England for France, and the parliament nominated William and his wife Mary as the new king and queen after they agreed to accept the English Declaration of Rights. On February 12, 1689 the English Declaration of Rights was passed by the parliament and signed by William and Mary the next day. “The declaration set forth thirteen basic rights that the new parliament believed in need of reaffirmation, the seventh of which proclaimed that it was the right of all Protestants to ‘have Arms for their defense, suitable to their Conditions, and as allowed by Law.’”

The collective versus individual right:

The Development and Declaration of The Right in England page 48

The first draft of the Declaration included these words:

“It is necessary for the publik Safety, that the subjects which are Protestants, should provide and keep Arms for their common Defence. And that the Arms which have been seized, and taken away from them, be restored”.

Here is the final wording of the text:

“That the subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their defence suitable to their Conditions, and as allowed by Law.”

Note that the word “common” no longer modifies the word “Defence,” which clearly indicates an individual, not a collective, right.”

Charles II sought to deprive the very right that made the English people citizens of a free state and revert them back to subject-hood. According to John Locke “… Self defence is a part of the law of nature; nor can it be denied the community, even against the king himself.” No king and no tyrant has the right to deprive the free individual citizen the right to keep and bear arms, especially against the power of the state for “…the law could not restore life to my dead carcass.”

James Giudice was born and raised in Forest, VA as an avid outdoorsmen and is a lifetime member of the NRA. Attending The Ohio State University from 2005-2009, James earned his B.S. in Business Administration from the Fisher College of Business. He will be attending the University of Richmond School of Law beginning August 2014, and will pursue his J. D. with a concentration in Constitutional Law. James has served as an Officer in the United States Marine Corps from June 2009 until present. He deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as a Reconnaissance Platoon Commander. Leaving active duty after 4 years of honorable service James continues to serve as a Captain in the Marine Corps Reserves.

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