The Instigator
robzilla180
Pro (for)
Losing
15 Points
The Contender
Rob
Con (against)
Winning
23 Points

Does the Second Amendment provide private citizens the right to own a firearm?

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Pro Tied Con
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/10/2007 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,899 times Debate No: 188
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (10)

 

robzilla180

Pro

George Washington said, "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." The second amendment reads, "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." I believe that the founding fathers' intention regarding the second amendment was to make sure that citizens always had access to a firearm for self-defense, hunting, and other reasons.
Rob

Con

The Second Amendment states:

"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."

Notice the first clause in this sentence: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state...". This seems to be the same structure used by sentences like, "Things being as they are, we shouldn't run away." In other words, the first clause justifies the second: it can be rewritten "Because things are as they are, we shouldn't run away," or in the case of the Second Amendment, "Because a well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

This suggests that the latter right is contingent upon the former necessity. In logical terms, it's "If a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free State, then the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"; when the antecedent ceases to apply, we need no longer accept the consequent.

The "well regulated militia" in this case was a citizen's militia, as illustrated by earlier drafts of the Second Amendment: "A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". In other words, the reason people needed to have firearms was so that they could mobilize for military action at a moment's notice (hence the use of military terms like "bearing arms" in the amendment).

In the early Revolutionary War, colonists struggled against British attempts to disarm their militias, citing the 1969 English Declaration of Rights, Common Law, and their own militia laws; the Second Amendment served to codify the right of people serving in militias to bear arms, thus preventing future incidents like this. Another reason for the amendment, primarily cited by Anti-federalists such as Jefferson, was to ensure that the people retained the power required to overthrow the government if necessary, thus serving as a safeguard against tyranny.

Both of these justifications for having an armed citizen militia are inapplicable to modern life. We no longer rely on roving bands of armed citizens to enforce the peace; we have an established military and police force, which mass vigilantism would only get in the way of. Moreover, it is no longer even remotely realistic for us to adhere to the Jeffersonian ideal of keeping private citizens well-armed enough to be able to overthrow the government if needed; mere firearms would be absolutely useless for that task, and we would indeed need to give things like tanks and cruise missiles to civilians if we wanted them to even have a chance of overthrowing the government by force.

In other words, a well-regulated citizens' militia is no longer necessary to the security of a free State; and as such, the "right of the People to keep and bear arms" is no longer mandated by the U.S. Constitution. The Second Amendment makes no statements about what should be done if militias become unnecessary, as it is outside of that amendment's scope.

If individuals do have a right to bear arms, that right is not clearly granted to them by the Second Amendment, and will need to be explicated elsewhere in U.S. law. If they do not, the Second Amendment, properly interpreted in its historical context, is no obstacle to even the strictest gun control and regulatory measures.

An irrelevent side-note: that something is constitutional does not make it moral. The Constitution as originally written allowed for slavery; if people had been too concerned with legalities to continue the real-world human lives involved, that might never have been changed. Therefore, it is somewhat beside the point to be worrying about what the founding fathers thought instead of thinking about what actually is the most humane and beneficial course to take today, especially when dealing with an issue like technology, which naturally changes with the times. But we're not debating that here, it's just important to keep in mind.
Debate Round No. 1
robzilla180

Pro

"In the early Revolutionary War, colonists struggled against British attempts to disarm their militias, citing the 1969 English Declaration of Rights, Common Law, and their own militia laws; the Second Amendment served to codify the right of people serving in militias to bear arms, thus preventing future incidents like this."

The only reason that we've never needed to use a militia before is because we've never been invaded. What happens if we were invaded? Are you saying that the thing for us to do is to just lay down and surrender?

"Both of these justifications for having an armed citizen militia are inapplicable to modern life. We no longer rely on roving bands of armed citizens to enforce the peace; we have an established military and police force, which mass vigilantism would only get in the way of. Moreover, it is no longer even remotely realistic for us to adhere to the Jeffersonian ideal of keeping private citizens well-armed enough to be able to overthrow the government if needed; mere firearms would be absolutely useless for that task, and we would indeed need to give things like tanks and cruise missiles to civilians if we wanted them to even have a chance of overthrowing the government by force."

If you believe that a militia is just a roving band of people relying on vigilantism, then you obviously don't understand what a militia is. A militia was a recruited band of citizens under military authority. A high ranking officer in the military was given a field order to recruit for a militia. So it wasn't citizens running around doing who knows what. The founders understood how ludicrous that would be.
Rob

Con

It sounds like you concede that the Second Amendment was specifically intended to grant a right to militias, not merely to "private citizens" in general. As such, your argument has now shifted to one that Revolutionary-era-style militias are still important in modern times; but to forward this case, you present a false dichotomy. You seem to suggest that either all private citizens need to be armed at all times just in case we are someday invaded (never mind how realistic or practical that is, what the odds are of us facing a conventional land invasion in any future war, or how many people will die from gun violence in the meantime..), or that we must "just lay down and surrender". Surprisingly, you seem to have forgotten that the United States has an established military, and they are the country's primary defense if we are ever "invaded"; unlike in the Revolutionary War, when private citizens belonging to militias were commonly required to bolster the army, we now have a sufficiently well-established military for both defensive and offensive purposes to render this a historical relic.

Regardless, I think the central thrust of this debate, that "the Second Amendment provides private citizens the right to own a firearm," has been effectively refuted. We agree that this is a right granted to militias, or at most members of the reserve militia: being a "private citizen" doesn't automatically make one a potential militia member, so all private citizens do not have such a right granted to them by this particular amendment.
Debate Round No. 2
robzilla180

Pro

robzilla180 forfeited this round.
Rob

Con

Rob forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by jathan 9 years ago
jathan
I agree that it seems that the voting was based only on whether or not you agree with the position of those debating versus whether or not they actually presented a valid argument. As you know I completely disagree with your interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, but I did vote for you Rob as you clearly won the debate.
Posted by gack1224 9 years ago
gack1224
CON is right. You people are voting on what you think you ought to have rather than the reasoning Rob put forward which makes quite a lot of sense. The Second Amendment is essentially an if and only if statement in which it is only necessary to possess weaponry privately (as citizens) when war or invasion is at hand. The Government can't disarm its own people against an enemy however, that's currently not how it is. As of now, we are not being invaded at home nor are we under any imminent threat of attack from a foreign nation. If anything people should be issued guns when war begins on our own soil.

The War on Terrorism does not justify gun ownership for two reasons, regular people have no right to judge other people as criminals (except police, who are not regular) and even if there was an attack, owning a gun would not help.

CON won this debate. Get over it and start your own debate if you think it went the wrong way (argumentation-wise).
Posted by Rob 9 years ago
Rob
And the fact that "citizen" is used in some definitions of "militia" is irrelevent, because (1) the real debate is whether the Second Amendment gives a right to _all_ citizens, not whether it gives a right to certain citizens; and (2) not all U.S. citizens qualify to even be potential members of a militia. The Vice President, judicial and executive officers, members of the armed forces on active duty, customhouse clerks, federal post office employees, workmen in armories, arsenals, and shipyards, pilots on navigable waters, and mariners in the sea service of U.S. citizens, are all ineligible to join the U.S. militia. Does the Second Amendment still apply to them? If so, robzilla failed to explain why.

To make his individual-rights case, robzilla needed at the very least to justify giving firearms to people who are not even in the reserve militia, especially since he made the mistake in the second round of implicitly conceding that my interpretation of the Second Amendment as applying only to "A well regulated militia" was correct. Whether he was ultimately right or wrong, I think it's fairly clear that robzilla lost the debate.
Posted by Rob 9 years ago
Rob
It looks like people are voting based exclusively on their own opinions, not based on the actual substance of the debate. Certainly there are plenty of good counterarguments robzilla180 could have lodged against my round-1 and round-2 claims; what is significant is that he failed to use any of them at all. Instead he fell for my "militia" trap and apparently conceded my point that the second amendment was first and foremost a right for militias, not for all private citizens; thus he focused in round 2 only on the irrelevant point of whether militias are still necessary in this day and age, forgetting the individual-rights issue which is the real core of the debate. In my view, he lost the debate simply because he lost focus and did not provide any real support for his own position, instead getting lost on a tangent.

Whether he was right or wrong is immaterial, since he provided no arguments for his position; in fact, not counting quotes, he only wrote fewer than ten sentences in the entire course of the debate. That he failed to reply to my points in round 3 is just the final nail in the coffin.
Posted by Dolfan34 9 years ago
Dolfan34
The definition of militia is as follows:

mi·li·tia –noun

1. a body of citizens enrolled for military service, and called out periodically for drill but serving full time only in emergencies.

2. a body of citizen soldiers as distinguished from professional soldiers.

3. all able-bodied males considered by law eligible for military service.

4. a body of citizens organized in a paramilitary group and typically regarding themselves as defenders of individual rights against the presumed interference of the federal government -Dictionary.com

Notice the word citizens in 3 of the 4 definitions for the word militia. And Rob's idea that we could not overthrow the government is insane. There are roughly 1 million Americans in the US Armed Forces. There are about 300 million americans. You do the math. And that's assuming that all 1 million people in the Armed forces agrees with the government. We as private citizens were given the right to "keep and bear" arms. As long as there are people competent enough to read the constitution that right won't be infringed.
Posted by jathan 9 years ago
jathan
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."
-Thomas Jefferson

"Besides the advantage of being armed, which the 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 of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it."

Madison from Federalist 46

In both cases, the individual citizen must have the right to bear arms in order to guarantee their freedom; Though the militia was the popular expedient, Madison points out it is the people that are armed.
Posted by robzilla180 9 years ago
robzilla180
Yeah I guess he did. lol I'm just used to being the "Rob". sry.
Posted by Ineffablesquirrel 9 years ago
Ineffablesquirrel
I think he meant the other Rob, whose name is actually "Rob" and not "robzilla180".
Posted by robzilla180 9 years ago
robzilla180
Ld? Policy? i'm not sure I know what you mean. but sure! as soon as I find something I disagree with you on, i'll be sure to challenge you! :)
Posted by Lostdeathwing 9 years ago
Lostdeathwing
Rob, Just letting you know I admire you as a debater, and would really love to debate you on a topic of your choice, Please Challenge me Soon.
p.s. Are you LD, or Policy?
10 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Mohrpheus 7 years ago
Mohrpheus
robzilla180RobTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Vote Placed by Ineffablesquirrel 8 years ago
Ineffablesquirrel
robzilla180RobTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Vote Placed by jathan 9 years ago
jathan
robzilla180RobTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by CongressmanDrew 9 years ago
CongressmanDrew
robzilla180RobTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by The_Silent_Consensus 9 years ago
The_Silent_Consensus
robzilla180RobTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by Rob 9 years ago
Rob
robzilla180RobTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by clsmooth 9 years ago
clsmooth
robzilla180RobTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by Buckshot 9 years ago
Buckshot
robzilla180RobTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by Dolfan34 9 years ago
Dolfan34
robzilla180RobTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by james94 9 years ago
james94
robzilla180RobTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30