Knowing Your Government: The Second Amendment Explained In Plain English

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.- Second Amendment U.S. Constitution

This Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the first ten amendments contained in the Bill of Rights.

In Federalist No. 46, Madison wrote how a federal army could be kept in check by state militias, “a standing army … would be opposed [by] a militia.” He argued that state militias “would be able to repel the danger” of a federal army, “It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops.” He confidently contrasted the federal government of the United States to the European kingdoms, which he contemptuously described as “afraid to trust the people with arms.”

Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist Paper 29 wrote the following about “organizing”, “disciplining”, “arming”, and “training” of the militia as specified as follows:

If a well regulated militia be the most natural defence of a free country, it ought certainly to be under the regulation and at the disposal of that body which is constituted the guardian of the national security … confiding the regulation of the militia to the direction of the national authority … [but] reserving to the states … the authority of training the militia … A tolerable expertness in military movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not a day, or even a week, that will suffice for the attainment of it. To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss … Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the People at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped; and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year

 

During the Revolutionary War era, “militia” referred to groups of men who banded together to protect their communities, towns, colonies and eventually states, once the United States declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776.

The right to keep and bear arms (often referred to as the right to bear arms) is the people’s right to possess weapons (arms) for their own defense, as described in the philosophical and political writings of Aristotle, Cicero, John Locke, Machiavelli, the English Whigs and others.

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