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No, The Founding Fathers Didn't Give You a Right to Bear Arms


No, The Founding Fathers Didn't Give You a Right to Bear Arms

John Atcheson

For most of US history, all the way through to the end of the 20th Century, the introductory phrase “a well-regulated militia” was seen by courts to constrain the clause “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” In short, that individual “right” was contingent on the need to keep a well-regulated militia, and hence it protected the States’ interests in having a militia, not an individuals’ right to have and carrying a gun.


Thank you for the historical review. It might also help to set the historical context in observing that there was no standing US military at the time. I understand the 2nd Amendment was also promoted by the slave states, to allow armed pursuit of runaways.


Thank you John for pointing out the connection between corporatism and the NRA. Anytime someone supports the NRA, they support the 1%. It is jut one of the tools used by the 1% to undermine democracy and has been one of corporate America’s most successful strategies since the dismantling of a government by and for the people.


Excellent article. Thanks very much.


Absolutely 100% correct! If you own a gun you are part of the National Guard. This is only legal grounds to change our blood soak society. If you want to change gun laws this is the only way it is Constitutional.


The Second Amendment guarantees our First Amendment and all of our other rights. If we do not carry arms then to whom did the Connecticut Valley gun makers sell the millions of pistols they produced since the middle of the 19th century to?


It’s interesting to learn that “Fear and Greed” and men still in possession of “Prehistoric Brains” are those responsible for the state of our madness.


The founding fathers didn’t want a standing army. Congress set the tone for regulated gun ownership via the state militias in 1792:

Of course, as the country expanded, we did develop a standing army.


We have a legal system based on a fiction: That the Constitution means what political appointees say it means. Orwellian.


Well, conservatives did a good job of stifling news of the operation!


This is a call on a linguistic ju jitsu - but I do think, in the long run, an important teasing apart of conceptual conflations. What is the difference between ‘nation’ and ‘country’? These are frequently and subtly shifted about when what we are really talking about ‘expanding’ are the machinations of an empire that has been going to great lengths to prevent recognition of it - because it sure is not democracy.

The shreddings of democracy have been allowed on the fringes of the fabric of life here only so long as the determinant elements of the narrative can be controlled, manipulated and slathered in snake oil.

Another linguistic wall in need of some well aimed sledge hammers is the juxtaposition of ‘democracy’ against ‘socialism’ as if they are mutually exclusive. They are for predatory capitalism - but complementary for societal and ecological well being.


Hope you enjoy this off-topic intrusion PB…I have been reviewing this issue after an infuriating and shallow narrow report on “wild horses” on NPR yesterday really annoyed me - I’m hoping to prod a more informative and complete piece…probably unlikely!

http://www.globalserve.net/~yuku/tran/thor.htm - mention of a “PB” in this piece reminded me of you.



Of course, we know the founding fathers were all about democracy, just not the popular type.


I’ve tried to motivate myself to read about this issue to see who is right about what the “founding fathers” (I really hate that term) intent was. E.g. https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3830&context=lcp, but I really don’t care what they wanted, and I’m surprised that anybody else in the US does either (except to the degree that if it matches what a person wants, then they will spout off on their great wisdom). Life in the US now bears almost no resemblance to that in 1776 and the so called founding fathers (most of them anyway) are not anyone I would look up to for moral authority. I think it’s time to go for the gusto - we should at least talk about how we should rewrite the second amendment now assuming we want it all (I don’t, but I’m willing to compromise).


The 2nd Amendment doesn’t need to be rewritten, it just needs to be exercised like much of the Constitution. “A well regulated militia,…” means what it says. Please read my earlier post and this link.


I had to read the article three times and am still not sure about the cascade of events. It seems that we are building a democracy on the firmament of quicksand?

What worries me is that those of little grey matter will still be able to dominate any conversation about the issue by grunting up some spit.

I have been hearing about the second amendment since the nineties. So it has simply been a repeat until real progrom?


Thanks Emphyrio. As I recover from the Flu, these articles were a refreshing change from the carnage of the day in America.


The article didn’t jibe with my memory. I checked, and the NRA opposed the Brady Bill in the 80’s on the claim it was unconstitutional. Perhaps they just hadn’t convinced the courts of it yet.


Every once in a while we here of far-right conservatives who want to repeal the 14th amendment. Supposedly the constitution is a “living” document and it does allow for amendments and repeals of amendments.

I’d bet, however, that as soon as that reasoning were applied to the 2nd, it would go beyond just a very difficult ratification process that many citizens would not support to being something that you should be banned from politics (and of course, in their opinion, shot,) for even suggesting.


Atcheson’s historical critique of Heller versus D.C., notwithstanding, he was remiss in not stating the decision in it’s entirety. The NRA and the gun lobby did not regard it as a total victory, as he suggests. In fact, the gun lobby was openly critical of Scalia and Thomas for parts of the decision.

In short, the decision only defended the right of an individual to own and use a gun for lawful use, such as self-defense, in the home. It did not guarantee an individual the unrestricted right to own and use a gun for any use outside the home.

As a summary, quotes taken from Scalia

Second Amendment rights are not absolute, according to Scalia. Thus, the amendment does not grant the “right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever for whatever purpose” (Heller., at 2816). Among “presumptively lawful” regulatory measures are laws that (1) prohibit carrying concealed weapons, (2) prohibit the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, (3) forbid the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or (2) impose conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. He adds that he could also find “support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons” (Id., at 2816, 2817). In a footnote, Scalia says the list of presumptively lawful measures “does not purport to be exhaustive.”

This is very relevant to the current controversy. The federal government, then, has every right to impose bans on weapons, restrictions on carry and accessories that can be used. The Second Amendment does not prohibit the government from banning AR 15 style weapons. Politicians and NRA zealots who claim, otherwise, are either ignorant or frauds. It’s time to call them out on this.