Right to bear arms in the US: Did the framers intend an individual right to arms for self-defense?

  • Of course they did.

    It is obvious that the framers of the Constitution intended for the 2nd Amendment to apply to the individual. When Gen. Gage ordered all private weapons (bayonets as well as rifles, pistols and blunderbusses) be surrendered to the authorities it was used as one of the "Declaration of Causes of Taking up Arms" by the Continental Congress. Noah Webster was certainly in a position to know what the phrase "bear arms" meant. He wrote in "An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution", "Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every Kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed...". James Madison repeated this argument in the Federalist #46. Read Cesare Beccaria's "Essay on Crime and Punishment" which strongly influenced Jefferson, Madison and many others. It clearly backs the individuals right to self-defense with a firearm. John Adams opening statement in the Boston Massacre Trial was a quote by Beccaria and during the course of his speech he added "the inhabitants had a right to arm themselves at the time for their own defense". The Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights was the first document to use the term "bear arms" it states "The people have a right to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state". Jefferson's proposed Virgina Constitution stated "No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms".
    To assume that the 2nd Amendment is collective but that all the other rights are individual is inane. It is inconceivable to believe that the Framers intended that a free person had no right to bear arms or that we should seek permission from a State or Federal authority in order to do so. To do so only serves to illustrate an ignorance of our founding, our history, and our founders intent to establish a Nation of Freemen.

  • Yes, for self-defense and defense against a tyrannical government

    Yes, the framers fully intended for individuals to own firearms for the purpose of self-defense, but also primarily to protect against a tyrannical government. There are many people who say our government can never become tyrannical, but they forget that the British Crown was once our government (of course, during the time of the original colonies). My understanding of the writings of the Founding Fathers tells me that the right to bear arms was intended to allow individuals to own weapons equivalent to whatever government at that time might have had. Back then, that was firearms. Today, that would include fighter jets, attack drones, etc... Though, I wouldn't expect to see any government allowing an individual to own such a thing, especially in the U.S.

  • The Founding Fathers didn't know the future

    Back in the early days of the US, guns could fire about 3 shots a minute, and would miss most of the time. People were still worried about the British, so there was more of a reason to have a gun. The framers did not envision guns that could fire hundreds of rounds a minute, and mow down dozens of people in a matter of seconds. I believe the Second Amendment is outdated today, and should be modified to fit the current technology.

  • The framers did not intend an individual right to arms for self-defense.

    The frames did not know that fire arms would become as deadly as they have in the 21st century. At the time of the constitution's creations, guns were very inaccurate and it took several minutes to reload them. Knives were more dangerous. Clearly, no one in their right mind would permit today's guns in a constitution.

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