The slaughter of small children along with teachers, a principle and so many other innocents was the furthest thing from James Madison's mind when he wrote the Bill of Rights...Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has argued that Madison's real intent was not to guarantee all individuals a right to gun ownership, but to assure the states that the federal government would not disband their militias.
Thus it's the only Amendment that comes with an apologia, a rationale:
A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state....
The First Amendment bluntly asserts our natural right to freedom of and from religion, and to democratic dialog and belief.
But the Second is compelled to say why. And it starts with a monumental hyphenation: WELL-REGULATED.
Why? Because to be of any value to a free state, a militia---a citizen army---must be organized. It can't be a bunch of free-lancers running around with uncontrolled weapons, killing whomever they please.
And what's the goal?
SECURITY, as explicitly as Madison could make it.
That means safe not only from foreign invaders, but from unconstrained gun bearers killing small children, theater-goers, presidents, civil rights leaders, rock stars, random bystanders and whomever else they feel like with every whim.
Now we have once again come to know that too many of those within our midst, bearing weapons without constraint, pose the greatest threat of all to the security of our free state.
If we are INSECURE in the belief that we can send our children to an elementary school and not have them killed, then we are SECURE in absolutely nothing.
Guns kill people, and guns in the hands of crazy people kill children....and so many others....and we have seen the reality of this far too often not to act.
It has become clearly "necessary to the security of a free state" that the right to bear arms must be "well-regulated," as in an organized militia.
As a nation, society and species, how many more times do we have to be shown that we are not yet highly enough evolved to allow guns in the hands of anyone who wants them?
But what about:
The right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
It comes, as noted, heavily pre-modified.
AND, it does NOT say "all people" or "any person" or "all citizens" or "any American" has the unrestricted right to own firearms.
It says THE people.
Attorney James Madison, revolutionary lawyer, visionary and genius, was nothing if not precise with his language. His Bill of Rights is as great a literary and legal masterwork as has ever been written.
Madison knew exactly what he said: THE people.
That does NOT mean every individual. It means THE PEOPLE AS A WHOLE.
It is US, as a community, as THE people, that has the right to bear arms. Even to maintain militias.
But we, as a sane society, have the right---the RESPONSIBILITY---to well-regulate the ownership of guns.
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