Tag Archives: bill of rights
It is asserted by the most respectable writers upon Government, that a well regulated militia, composed of the yeomanry of the country have ever been considered as the bulwark of a free people; and, says the celebrated Mr. Hume;
“without it, it is folly to think any free government will have stability or security. When the sword is introduced, as in our constitution (speaking of the British) the person entrusted will always neglect to discipline the militia, in order to have a pretext for keeping up a standing army; and it is evident this is a mortal distemper in the British parliament, of which it must finally inevitably perish.”
That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
In recent years it has been suggested that the Second Amendment protects the “collective” right of states to maintain militias, while it does not protect the right of “the people” to keep and bear arms…The phrase “the people” meant the same thing in the Second Amendment as it did in the First, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments — that is, each and every free person.
A select militia defined as only the privileged class entitled to keep and bear arms was considered an anathema to a free society, in the same way that Americans denounced select spokesmen approved by the government as the only class entitled to the freedom of the press.
If anyone entertained this notion in the period during which the Constitution and Bill of Rights were debated and ratified, it remains one of the most closely guarded secrets of the 18th century, for no known writing surviving from the period between 1787 and 1791 states such a thesis.
– Stephen P. Holbrook, That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right