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The Contender
Con (against)
6 Points

The 2nd Amendment protects the right of the People to maintain a Militia, not gun ownership

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/24/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,621 times Debate No: 35947
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (14)
Votes (1)




The 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution is probably the most debated of all amendments (along with the 1st Amendment, free speech).

The finalized amendment as ratified on March 1st, 1792 reads as follows:

"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."

It is my interpretation that:

The 2nd Amendment protects the right of the People to maintain a militia, not gun ownership rights of individual citizens

I am taking the Pro stance for this.


First, I accept this challenge and thank Pro for presenting the topic for debate.

Pro is presenting his argument that the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution protects the right of the People to maintain a militia, not Individual gun-ownership as many take it to mean. Therefore, the Amendment in question cannot be considered as evidence for private Individual gun-ownership.

This is a position that is held by many "gun-control" advocates, as well. However, it is a mistaken interpretation and false premise that leads to an incomplete conclusion.
The 2nd Amendment does protect the Individual"s right to keep and bear personal weapons. I will show why this is the case. The 2nd 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."

To start with, a Militia is basically a civilian defense organization of able bodied Individuals, and at the time the amendment was written this meant men aged 17-45 approximately. They provide their own weapons, supplies, and skills and are available to be called up at a moment"s notice if necessary; they are unpaid volunteers, taking part in the above organization of their own free-will and judgment to decide to do so.
What follows is a breakdown of the 2nd Amendment as applied to the above description: "A well-regulated Militia," this would be those who voluntarily provide themselves to that organization. Then, "being necessary to the security of a Free State," gives the purpose behind the requirement for such an organization to be created. Next, "the right of the People to keep and bear arms," means that in order for these able bodied Individuals to provide for the defense they have a valid claim to keep possession of their personal weapons and any necessary supplies they need to strengthen their capabilities. And the last statement, "shall not be infringed," is the conclusion and direction for what that means to the "centralized authority" established by the Federal Constitution; this means personal weapons (gun-ownership) shall not be violated with the unjust forceful removal of those weapons from those Individuals who see fit to own them.

This protection of the Individual right to gun-ownership has been further supported by those who were involved in the beginnings of this country; St. George Tucker was such a man. He was wounded in the Revolutionary War (American War for Independence) having served as colonel in the Virginia Militia. Later, he became a law professor at William and Mary, then, sat on the Virginia Supreme Court as a justice from 1804-1811. In 1803, he published a five-volume edition "Blackstone"s Commentaries on the Laws of England".
Here is an explanation of what he wrote as well as an excerpt:

"To Blackstone's listing of the "fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject ... that of having arms ... suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law," Tucker in a footnote added: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." He cited the second amendment, noting that it is "without any qualification as to their condition or degree, as is the case in the British government." He added: "Whoever examines the forest, and game laws in the British code, will readily perceive that the right of keeping arms is effectually taken away from the people of England." In discussing the second amendment, Tucker wrote:
"This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty .... The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction. In England, the people have been disarmed, generally, under the specious pretext of preserving the game: a never failing lure to bring over the landed aristocracy to support any measure, under that mask, though calculated for very different purposes. True it is, their bill of rights seems at first view to counteract this policy: but the right of bearing arms is confined to protestants, and the words suitable to their condition and degree, have been interpreted to authorize the prohibition of keeping a gun or other engine for the destruction of game, to any farmer, or inferior tradesman, or other person not qualified to kill game. So that not one man in five hundred can keep a gun in his house without being subject to a penalty."
Tucker thus merged self-defense, prevention of standing armies, and protection from oppression all into a single concept--the generalized right of keeping and bearing arms as protected by the second amendment."( , St. George Tucker quotes)

Those who are so opposed to Individual gun-ownership, the ones who are the most public, outspoken, and seem to have an ulterior motive sometimes show themselves for what they are and speak to why keeping the Individual right to gun-ownership is so very important. Here are two quotes that speak for themselves:
Pro Gun Control: "Our main agenda is to have all guns banned. We must use whatever means possible. It doesn't matter if you have to distort the facts or even lie. Our task of creating a socialist America can only succeed when those who would resist us have been totally disarmed."
Sara Brady
Chairman, Handgun Control Inc, to Senator Howard Metzenbaum
The National Educator, January 1994, Page 3.
"If you wish the sympathy of the broad masses, you must tell them the crudest and most stupid things."
"This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!"
Adolph Hitler
Chancellor, Germany, 1933( , quotes of gun-control proponents)

This is what the 2nd Amendment was written and put into place amongst the other Bill of Rights, to record and ensure the protection from. As Patrick Henry put it in "American Patriot":

"Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?"
Patrick Henry, American Patriot ( , Founding Fathers on Arms, quotes)

In conclusion, the Individual human being is the only one that can act and is the only one who has any rights whatsoever; a group, does not have any sort of "rights" and is only a label of a collection of Individuals to begin with. The 2nd Amendment is a basic and simple statement that recognizes this fact and those who seek to control others must first disarm them. Throughout history these facts were becoming clearer and the authors of the 2nd Amendment put it into words and on paper.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to my challenger for accepting the Con stance in this debate. I had hoped, had key word here, to present a logical and coherent argument for my Pro stance on the statement "The 2nd Amendment protects the right of the people to maintain a militia, not gun ownership" BUT sadly have made a fool of myself by assuming, and wasted a lot of time. What I assumed was that certain military grade weapons (which can be seen as extreme and unreasonable) were completely banned from being owned privately by American citizens such as fighter jets(F16, A10, etc), tanks, attack helicopters, as well as the severely destructive missiles and munitions they utilize. As it turns out there are no such laws, though many require extensive background checks, permits, and tend to be prohibitively expensive, so are not commonly owned.

I doubt I am alone in this inaccurate assumption. I believe (perhaps also an assumption, haha) that armed citizens of the public, almost without regard to the number of armed citizens, could not forcefully defend this nation from external attack by a foreign power's professional military force (say Russia, or China) nor could they overthrow the Federal government's police and military forcibly if it was deemed necessary. In both cases I see the US National Guard and/or active US Army/Navy/Marine Corp/Air Force (the professional, paid, government affiliated) necessary for success. It's just a matter of financial resources. Citizens *can* own machines of war, but when each one costs millions of dollars to own and arm let alone the millions/billions it costs to organize and coordinate their use, a citizen militia simply can't compete with the professional military forces of the major powers in the world. This is a vastly different situation than when the best weapons for war also happened to be what a normal person would own to hunt (excluding navy ships and cannon) and for personal protection. At the time of the American Revolution the number of musket-armed citizens could be the deciding factor in the success of a battle and war. Now, even if AR-15-armed citizens outnumbered a professional military force by 1000 to 1, I'd still bet on the military force equipped with an air force, navy, and armored weaponry to win.
Thus I see the Amendment as antiquated because a militia, even a well-regulated one, cannot succeed in maintaining the security of the free state given the advancement in weaponry and warfare technology and tactics. The writers of the Constitution could not have foreseen the development of airplanes let alone the atomic bomb.

Aside aside,

Here is how my argument would have read (still in revision) if my assumption were true. I put a lot of effort into this so I'm publishing it even though its premise is inherently flawed:


I would like to start by saying I am not anti-gun or firearm. I do not think that guns should be outlawed. My reason for initiating this debate is not to argue guns being bad or good, whether they should be outlawed or sold over the counter at gas stations, or whether its guns that kill people or people that kill people. It is to debate the meaning of the 2nd Amendment, in which case I would argue it is explicitly regarding militias and their role in protecting the nation.

My opponent in this debate seems to ally with the anti-gun control side of the raging gun control debate in this country, the side which so often points to the 2nd Amendment as guaranteeing the right to own guns by citizens of this country, seeming to explicitly prohibit the creation of any law or regulation that would limit the ability of an American citizen to acquire, keep, and bear firearms. Such a law(s) would be considered unconstitutional , violating the 2nd Amendment. I will prove that the 2nd Amendment is being violated already, and that most American citizens would agree some of the violations are quite reasonable and even necessary. This will establish that the 2nd Amendment can legally be violated quite voluntarily when consensus exists and thus *does not* protect gun ownership since the 2nd Amendment can be circumvented when a consensus that it should be exists.

Please review the language of the 2nd Amendment:

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.

Perhaps the most glaring, though ignored or not yet recognized, flaw with the argument that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual American citizen's right to privately own guns (or firearms) is that it cannot serve its function in the contemporary era.

I say that for this crucial reason:

There are "Arms" (armaments) that *are* necessary to the "security of a free state" that have been banned from individual ownership and use by American citizens. These are things like nuclear warheads, fighter jets like F-22s and F-16s and the missiles and bombs they can carry, heavy artillery, attack helicopters such as Apaches and Comanches (to name a few used by the US military) These things most definitely qualify as armaments, arms, without which we as a free state would lack security

Even with a loose interpretation of the Amendment (that most often associated with anti-gun control views), which seems to view the right to a militia (deemed necessary to the security of a free state by the creators of the Constitution) and the right to keep and bear arms as almost mutually exclusive entities, shouldn't these arms that I've named above be legal and accessible to all who would choose to buy them?

I would say yes, with such a loose interpretation. I would even say yes, if the security of our free state were within the obligations and capabilities of a voluntary and unpaid citizenry-based militia system as was the concept of a well-regulated militia at the time of its writing and our recent independence from Britain . Yet, very few would think it a good idea or reasonable situation. (for an individual to own armaments

If we affirm that the Constitution is the foundation of all law in this country and should be interpreted and implemented today with as much diligence as possible to uphold its original intention (as best as we can know), then the Constitution is already being violated, the 2nd Amendment specifically in this case. Yet, debates about the 2nd Amendment rarely are this literal. Because. Because we live in different times and different circumstances and we must take those times and circumstances into context and consideration. There is no uproar about not being able to own an F-16 fighter jet *arm*ed with AIM-9 Sidewinder and AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missiles

Of course there isn't. That's because the vast majority of people would not consider it reasonable for other individual citizens to own or use them. Thus, it can be deemed reasonable and in some cases necessary to pass legislation to ban private ownership of a fighter jet as I described (or other seriously dangerous weapon) by individual citizens, thus undermining the 2nd Amendment.

Thank you for the accepting and leading me to research deep into this. If I win the lottery I'm going to get the paperwork started for my own fighter plane. It's gonna be awesome!


This debate is about the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and whether it protects the Individual right to private gun ownership or only the People's to maintain a well regulated militia. I take the former position and provided supporting evidence that was not disproven nor really disputed. Pro seems to be of the view that the amendment in question is antiquated and can be violated if enough of the popular opinion deems it necessary. It has been already violated to certain degrees.

I stand by my first argument and maintain that the 2nd Amendment is written as recognition of the right to private ownership of weapons for the purpose of self protection and by extension defending others. Now, Pro talked about other weaponry that seems to be available to the private person and this might be true, but why would any one want to own such a thing that would take an immense amount of resources to maintain. Though it would be awesome to fly a fighter jet, it would not serve much purpose on a personal level.

Standing armies and their possible possession of advanced weaponry can be defeated. For instance, it takes alot to mobilize tanks, infantry, and air support. A person could put together a small fighting force and use fast tactics to cripple the army that has invaded. That fighting force is a militia and made up of willing Individuals taking a stand; this cannot be done if they are disarmed.

Pro did not show any support for his stance other than to argue the practical aspects and that falls by the wayside when considering the dependency any large military force has on advanced weapons. Just one person can wreak plenty of havoc on a regiment of professional soldiers who are conditioned to obey orders without question; a requirement of any standing military. That one person could execute a mission of hit and run, then blend in with his surroundings.

This is the substance of the 2nd Amendment and why it was put place.
Debate Round No. 2


This is a bit of tangent, but I agree that a guerrilla force can do damage, but it really depends because modern armies tend to fall prey to guerrilla warfare when they are attempting to minimize collateral damage , both human life and property. If a modern army had no concern for such things, they could just demolish everything if need be, kill all civilians, bomb strategic sites of the insurgency and cut off their sources of electricity, food and water thereby stopping any resistance in its tracks. Granted this would probably entail quite a bit of human suffering and is an unlikely scenario . Armed militias composed of civilians armed with only firearms (pistols, rifles) would be no match.

Our dependence on computers and our lack of self-sufficiency with regards to food and fuel make us as a whole particularly vulnerable to strategic strikes. For instance, a foreign power that could bomb the major transit of the Midwest (highways and railways) could cripple our country's ability to feed its citizens. Without our own air defenses, we would be powerless

The US Armed forces suffered embarrassing losses in Vietnam and in the occupation period of Iraq/Afghanistan because we were trying to achieve political goals, not wipe out their peoples and cultures.

back to my main point:

My point about possible existing laws circumventing or undermining the 2nd amendment was to proved that gun rights were standing on shaky ground. If the 2nd Amendment couldn't protect arms type X then it can't guarantee protection of arms type Y. My logic on that was fairly simple. There was an Assault Weapon ban for many years and I would argue that if such were still the case than my argument would be irrefutable and clearly no weapon would be safe under the 2nd Amendment. During that time of the Assault Weapons ban the 2nd Amendment was temporarily castrated.

So war planes, helicopters and tanks are legal to possess,
Now the opposite extreme of arms:

it is interesting that states are allowed to ban items such as brass knuckles, knives of specific type, swords, extendable batons, and other weapons that are highly suitable to self-defense (in many cases non-lethal), They are banned under the idea that they are "dangerous weapons" . I believe that New York, California, and Massachusetts are especially strict on carry and concealed carry of these items. Obviously you don't want to bring a knife to a gun fight (unless you are really good with a knife), but arms are still being banned. From a literal interpretation, the 2nd Amendment is being violated and undermined in such cases. Now one might say that knifes, swords, brass knuckles and the like don't fall under the 2nd Amendment because they are not relevant to the security of a free state, which might emphasize the militia aspect of the law. Perhaps some Think tanks out there concluded that all the gun-owning citizens of the United States would band together in a time of crisis and be a useful force as opposed to total chaos ensuing. If so, they have more faith in the American public than I do, haha.

Gun rights is an interesting subject to me as I see why both sides argue what they do. Many fear the slippery slope of regulation and I was under the assumption that that slippery slope already existed. Perhaps it does

Regardless, it's been an enjoyable exploration of this topic

knife laws by state,
extendable baton laws:


This is concerning the tangent about Guerrilla warfare versus the Standing Army. My opponent made the point that the reason the modern armies tend to fall prey to such tactics is because they are attempting to minimize collateral damage, but I say this is largely not the case and add that civilian deaths are what create such an enemy as the guerrilla fighter to begin with. This is open for another debate perhaps and I would look forward to such, however, the topic is about the 2nd Amendment.

The basic foundation of this Amendment, as well as, all of the Bill of Rights, was based on Individual inherent "rights" that the authors recognized as untouchable; so, they wrote it down on paper stating this. Now, does this mean they won"t be ignored or deliberately stepped on? No, as a matter of fact, these rights are violated constantly today; as my opponent did point out, concerning the 2nd Amendment.

My opponent also, argued earlier that this Amendment is antiquated, seeming to imply that it was not necessary in today"s time; however, the question should be asked, why has no other country invaded the United States in the last 200+ years?
Basically, brute military force will not work by itself and so the push for laws to violate these rights, such as, the 2nd Amendment continues ad nauseum. Many of the founders recognized that the only way this country would fall is from within. This certainly seems to be occurring today with the types of things that have been done outside of the congressional route.

If foreign troops come here it will be through our own "government" people bringing them here and they will act on some "authority" outside of our own Constitution. This is more subtle than a direct invasion and many may not see it happen. So, refusing to acknowledge any sort of infringement on the 2nd Amendment is needed more now than ever before. The premise that this debate is based on falls short of this and gives the enemies of personal Freedom, ammunition to eradicate it and gain further control over our lives.

To sum up, here is the premise statement:
"The 2nd Amendment protects the right of the People to maintain a Militia, not gun ownership."

I have shown why this is a flawed interpretation and that it leads to an incomplete conclusion. The amendment in question concerns Individual Rights and has to when maintaining a Militia in the interest of the "People." If the Individual right to keep and bear firearms is negated then, the "Peoples" right to maintain a Militia will necessarily fall flat on its face; for it is the Individual who makes up the "People" to begin with. It is also, the Individual who will defend hearth and home, fighting the aggressors every step of the way.

Therefore, the 2nd Amendment is a written protection meant to ensure and record the Individual right to keep and bear arms, this leads to the people in general and they create a defense organization that is referred to as a militia. This same debate was fought out when the Federal Constitution was ratified and those who recognized this and other rights, pushed hard to get the Bill of Rights installed. It was meant to keep those "government" people from over stepping their bounds; unfortunately, a person may have to take up arms in order to stop it from going further. Most decent human beings do not wish to do the latter, except as a final and last resort; as happened at the battles of Lexington and Concord.( )

Thank you once again to Pro, for giving the opportunity to debate this topic. I will leave it to the voters now to decide the victor of the debate.
Debate Round No. 3
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Kitk34 4 years ago
I would like to add that there is mention of 'Militias' in the debate, but they are demonized, so, you are not likely to hear talk about that kind of thing very much online. The mainstream media has a hayday over anyone even discussing a 'militia'. Why?

I agree that the 'gun-control' debate does have to do with self-protection and my argument still applies. The more Individual civilians are empowered to practice and defend themselves the less likely they will fall prey to criminals looking for easy targets.
Posted by Kitk34 4 years ago
A Militia or several are really a back-up defense. Think about our military spread out around the world and trying to get them back here if need be. It would not be ludicrous at all considering the amount of gun-owners there are with a variety of quantity and quality. Something to be considered is those who are returning home from over seas fighting the same type of person that the Individual here would likely turn into; 'insurgents'. There will always be a need for boots on the ground and a sniper can have a serious effect on a regular soldier, no matter what country they are from. An unconventional fighter is a real pain in the rear to regular troops and depending on how many there are and skill level they can effectively bring troop movement to a halt. The US Armed forces have recently dealt with this for the last 12 years.

An outside invasion is the least of my concern, at the moment because as I see it, there are those who are selling this country down the river to the ones who would likely invade by brute force to begin with. See, it is a nice set-up; pass the laws and disarm the population, then, turn the whole shebang over and no one is the wiser. When someone attempts to invade and occupy, even today, you have to deal with the population of that location. But if the 'authority' in that location has done the work for you, there is no need to use up resources and man power, trying to beat the people into submission.

What it boils down to is that the 'government' people who have continuously stepped out of bounds, act as if they know what is best for me. I say adamantly that I will judge my own life and make my own decisions as I see fit to do so; I can protect and take care of myself. Yet, I mean no harm to those who mean no harm to me or mine.
Posted by PiningForASilverLining 4 years ago
i do agree that for a hypothetical militia to exist individuals must be allowed to own weapons of their choosing. The amendment does say "well-regulated" militia, which is open to its own interpretation. Much of the gun-control debate in the country today focuses on self-protection. Little to no mention of militias, well-regulated or not, or the security of the state takes place. Most are concerned about robber bandits and thieves and the like, protection of private property and person.

200+ years without Invasion... well lets see....early in our history it would have been a logistical nightmare. This is one reason why England did not crush our revolution. Ships and troops had to travel across an ocean. Even during the Civil War when we were quite vulnerable the logistics were prohibitive for any enemies we may have had abroad. Today such logistics are less concern, but we have the world's most powerful military and stockpile of nuclear arms. It would be ludicrous to think that our civilian population's defensive capabilities plays a large deterrent to foreign invasion. We speak English, which everyone seems to understand, unlike when we go the middle east and have no clue what they are saying to each other
Posted by Kitk34 4 years ago
My final argument has been posted, fyi.
Posted by PiningForASilverLining 4 years ago
well, I still hold the belief that the 2nd Amendment was concerned with ensuring the security of the nation more so than self-protection on an individual by individual basis. The founders wrote it knowing that there were serious advantages to using militias as opposed to a large standing army. They also knew that there was no feasible , politically or logistically, to disarm a population who had just won their freedom thanks to the efforts of individuals utilizing their private armaments and knowledge of them. Fear of government was also stronger then than now (even with all the fear and paranoia today).

If a new government were being formed today I think it would be agreed that a large and powerful standing army is quite necessary to the security of the state and not militias as they wouldn't be effective against modern armies of foreign powers utilizing mechanized air, land, and naval arms, long range missiles, and stuff like that. Basically we have to partake in the arms race and constant standoff between nations. Few Individuals can afford to buy M1 tanks, ~1 million each, or fighter jets at $millions per plane, so we pool our money in the form of taxes and fund the army, navy, and air force to purchase and organize these machines of war.

I was never arguing for strong gun control, only that gun control laws (bans on specific types of guns) *could* be enacted, circumventing the 2nd amendment, if the public sentiment and political will existed. It would be true if other forms of "arms" had already been subjected to such bans, rendering the 2nd amendment tenuous in the protection of "arms". It appears that the only types of arms that are 100% illegal to possess are nuclear warheads, chemical and biological agents like Serin, anthrax, etc.. That seems to be the case based on International treaties the United States has signed.

I debate for knowledge, not simply for winning. I'd probably make a lousy lawyer in that sense. let's continue
Posted by Kitk34 4 years ago
I am curious as to whether you are changing your argument position? I guess after I read your rnd 2 argument, it seems that you are considering the 2nd amendment basically obsolete. Is this accurate? Because my initial impression was that you were conceding and I was unsure. You did make some good points to be considered concerning such weapons as fighter jets, other war type weapons and I am working on a rebuttal.
Posted by Kitk34 4 years ago
Thank you. I look forward to your response. Please, take as much time as needed of the alloted time.
Posted by PiningForASilverLining 4 years ago
A very well thought out opening argument KitK34. I look forward to dissecting it and presenting counterpoints
Posted by Kitk34 4 years ago
Okay, I will get my argument written up and posted asap. Thank you.
Posted by PiningForASilverLining 4 years ago
that is correct.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Themoderate 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Reasons why I am voting CON is because in the in the 2nd Amendment is staes " 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." It is simply making a list of who has the right to bear arms. CON used great sources to back it up. PRO was rather uneducated about this debate and only used a few sources to back his point to which CON used more sources to back his points. PRO did not show any support for his stance other than to argue the practical aspects . I believe CON swept this.