With so much debate over what the Second Amendment truly means I feel that a simple history lesson is needed, along with a few simple common sense observations about the past and a hypothetical “what if?” to hopefully make our dedicated anti's understand plain English. Before we can understand the Second Amendment we must first understand why it was written in the first place, so here's a simple history lesson thanks to the history channel.
LEAD UP TO THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR
For more than a decade before the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775, tensions had been building between colonists and the British authorities. Attempts by the British government to raise revenue by taxing the colonies (notably the Stamp Act of 1765, the Townshend Tariffs of 1767 and the Tea Act of 1773) met with heated protest among many colonists, who resented their lack of representation in Parliament and demanded the same rights as other British subjects. Colonial resistance led to violence in 1770, when British soldiers opened fire on a mob of colonists, killing five men in what was known as the Boston Massacre. After December 1773, when a band of Bostonians dressed as Mohawk Indians boarded British ships and dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor, an outraged Parliament passed a series of measures (known as the Intolerable, or Coercive Acts) designed to reassert imperial authority in Massachusetts.
In response, a group of colonial delegates (including George Washington of Virginia, John and Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, Patrick Henry of Virginia and John Jay of New York) met in Philadelphia in September 1774 to give voice to their grievances against the British crown. This First Continental Congress did not go so far as to demand independence from Britain, but it denounced taxation without representation, as well as the maintenance of the British army in the colonies without their consent, and issued a declaration of the rights due every citizen, including life, liberty, property, assembly and trial by jury. The Continental Congress voted to meet again in May 1775 to consider further action, but by that time violence had already broken out. On April 19, local militiamen clashed with British soldiers in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, marking the first shots fired in the Revolutionary War.
DECLARING INDEPENDENCE (1775-76)
When the Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia, delegates–including new additions Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson–voted to form a Continental Army, with Washington as its commander in chief. On June 17, in the Revolution’s first major battle, colonial forces inflicted heavy casualties on the British regiment of General William Howe at Breed’s Hill in Boston. The engagement (known as the Battle of Bunker Hill) ended in British victory, but lent encouragement to the revolutionary cause. Throughout that fall and winter, Washington’s forces struggled to keep the British contained in Boston, but artillery captured at Fort Ticonderoga in New York helped shift the balance of that struggle in late winter. The British evacuated the city in March 1776, with Howe and his men retreating to Canada to prepare a major invasion of New York.
By June 1776, with the Revolutionary War in full swing, a growing majority of the colonists had come to favor independence from Britain. On July 4, the Continental Congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence, drafted by a five-man committee including Franklin and John Adams but written mainly by Jefferson. That same month, determined to crush the rebellion, the British government sent a large fleet, along with more than 34,000 troops to New York. In August, Howe’s Redcoats routed the Continental Army on Long Island; Washington was forced to evacuate his troops from New York City by September. Pushed across the Delaware River, Washington fought back with a surprise attack in Trenton, New Jersey, on Christmas night and won another victory at Princeton to revive the rebels’ flagging hopes before making winter quarters at Morristown.
SARATOGA: REVOLUTIONARY WAR TURNING POINT (1777-78)
British strategy in 1777 involved two main prongs of attack, aimed at separating New England (where the rebellion enjoyed the most popular support) from the other colonies. To that end, General John Burgoyne’s army aimed to march south from Canada toward a planned meeting with Howe’s forces on the Hudson River. Burgoyne’s men dealt a devastating loss to the Americans in July by retaking Fort Ticonderoga, while Howe decided to move his troops southward from New York to confront Washington’s army near the Chesapeake Bay. The British defeated the Americans at Brandywine Creek, Pennsylvania, on September 11 and entered Philadelphia on September 25. Washington rebounded to strike Germantown in early October before withdrawing to winter quarters near Valley Forge.
Howe’s move had left Burgoyne’s army exposed near Saratoga, New York, and the British suffered the consequences of this on September 19, when an American force under General Horatio Gates defeated them at Freeman’s Farm (known as the first Battle of Saratoga). After suffering another defeat on October 7 at Bemis Heights (the Second Battle of Saratoga), Burgoyne surrendered his remaining forces on October 17. The American victory at Saratoga would prove to be a turning point of the American Revolution, as it prompted France (which had been secretly aiding the rebels since 1776) to enter the war openly on the American side, though it would not formally declare war on Great Britain until June 1778. The American Revolution, which had begun as a civil conflict between Britain and its colonies, had become a world war.
STALEMATE IN THE NORTH, BATTLE IN THE SOUTH (1778-81)
During the long, hard winter at Valley Forge, Washington’s troops benefited from the training and discipline of the Prussian military officer Baron Friedrich von Steuben (sent by the French) and the leadership of the French aristocrat Marquis de Lafayette. On June 28, 1778, as British forces under Sir Henry Clinton (who had replaced Howe as supreme commander) attempted to withdraw from Philadelphia to New York, Washington’s army attacked them near Monmouth, New Jersey. The battle effectively ended in a draw, as the Americans held their ground, but Clinton was able to get his army and supplies safely to New York. On July 8, a French fleet commanded by the Comte d’Estaing arrived off the Atlantic coast, ready to do battle with the British. A joint attack on the British at Newport, Rhode Island, in late July failed, and for the most part the war settled into a stalemate phase in the North.
The Americans suffered a number of setbacks from 1779 to 1781, including the defection of General Benedict Arnold to the British and the first serious mutinies within the Continental Army. In the South, the British occupied Georgia by early 1779 and captured Charleston, South Carolina in May 1780. British forces under Lord Charles Cornwallis then began an offensive in the region, crushing Gates’ American troops at Camden in mid-August, though the Americans scored a victory over Loyalist forces at King’s Mountain in early October. Nathanael Green replaced Gates as the American commander in the South that December. Under Green’s command, General Daniel Morgan scored a victory against a British force led by Colonel Banastre Tarleton at Cowpens, South Carolina, on January 17, 1781.
REVOLUTIONARY WAR DRAWS TO A CLOSE (1781-83)
By the fall of 1781, Greene’s American forces had managed to force Cornwallis and his men to withdraw to Virginia’s Yorktown peninsula, near where the York River empties into Chesapeake Bay. Supported by a French army commanded by General Jean Baptiste de Rochambeau, Washington moved against Yorktown with a total of around 14,000 soldiers, while a fleet of 36 French warships offshore prevented British reinforcement or evacuation. Trapped and overpowered, Cornwallis was forced to surrender his entire army on October 19. Claiming illness, the British general sent his deputy, Charles O’Hara, to surrender; after O’Hara approached Rochambeau to surrender his sword (the Frenchman deferred to Washington), Washington gave the nod to his own deputy, Benjamin Lincoln, who accepted it.
Though the movement for American independence effectively triumphed at Yorktown, contemporary observers did not see that as the decisive victory yet. British forces remained stationed around Charleston, and the powerful main army still resided in New York. Though neither side would take decisive action over the better part of the next two years, the British removal of their troops from Charleston and Savannah in late 1782 finally pointed to the end of the conflict. British and American negotiators in Paris signed preliminary peace terms in Paris late that November, and on September 3, 1783, Great Britain formally recognized the independence of the United States in the Treaty of Paris. At the same time, Britain signed separate peace treaties with France and Spain (which had entered the conflict in 1779), bringing the American Revolution to a close after eight long years.
After the American Declaration of Independence in 1776, the Founding Fathers turned to the composition of the states’ and then the federal Constitution. Although a Bill of Rights to protect the citizens was not initially deemed important, the Constitution’s supporters realized it was crucial to achieving ratification. Thanks largely to the efforts of James Madison, the Bill of Rights officially became part of the Constitution in December 1791.
THE BILL OF RIGHTS
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
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.
No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States
respectively, or to the people.
So now the history lesson is done now on to the questionnaire part of this examination.
Did our founding fathers intend for the second amendment to only apply to what would be our current military, police, and national guard?
To answer this just think about it, were our founding fathers entitled government officials? Were they part of Britain’s standing army? Or were they just simple colonists that were tired of being ruled and taxed by a government that was abusing their power? I think that we all know that the answer was simple colonists that were tired of a tyrannical government, so why would our founding fathers pass such an amendment, or any of the amendments for that fact? Easy, they passed this amendment, and the others to protect the rights of the people and ensure that what they themselves had just endured wouldn't happen again. With knowing what has happened why would anyone think that any of the Bill of Rights' amendments pertained to anyone other than “the people”?
Now that that's answered, time for the next question commonly asked, would our founding fathers have limited any of these rights because of advances in technology?
Seeing that during the revolutionary war the colonists were supplied with that eras most advanced technology and new technology had always been pursued and developed one would think that not only did they know that technology would advance, but would also plan for it since even in the battles leading us to independence being limited in any way would have been catastrophic, so limits on this amendment wouldn't make sense, otherwise they would have stated muskets and cannons instead of arms and “shall not be infringed”.
So now for the big WHAT IF in response to statements that the second amendment isn't needed anymore, as if we don't have the need to defend ourselves anymore because we now have our military, police, and national guard to do it for us (which are all run by big government , I'm sure that the founding fathers would have trusted that <sarcasm>) .
First off, police-military-national guard can't be everywhere at all times, so the need to defend yourself is still there. Imagine that for example terrorists, or some hacker was able to disable our power grid and widespread rioting and looting began across the U.S., would our military and police be able to handle wide spread unrest? Would they be able to protect you and your family? Or would they be outnumbered and spread too thin to be able to help anyone? Riots in Ferguson and Detroit already answered this question for us, and that's on a much smaller scale than what could happen in a terrorist or hacker attack, or even just a widespread failure of services. Maybe it's a slim chance of that ever happening, but riots and looting in your city could happen, and without notice and our police forces don't have the manpower to just instantly stop it to protect you.
So if you're an anti second amendment or a pro gun control person hell bent on reinterpreting the second amendment for your own agenda, stop, unless you can explain to me why a group of colonists that had to fight a big government for their rights would turn around and give any right or control of it to government only !
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