In the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776, we find greater explanationSubmitted by battleforce on Fri, 01/11/2013 - 06:14
By Attorney Jonathan Emord
January 11, 2013
As the Vice President completes his report recommending to the President new federal legislation that will affect gun ownership, he likely will spend little, if any, time evaluating the constitutional limits on the power of the government to impose the prior restraints he thinks appropriate. We should be mindful of the Second Amendment’s intended meaning and should respect its Supreme law limits on the exercise of government power. The text of 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.
As explained below, the Second Amendment arose as a protection for the natural right of defense, both individual self-defense and collective defense, against acts in violation of individual right, acts of oppression, and insurrection and other attempts to subvert governments protective of liberty. Under Lockean rights theory, accepted as foundational by the founding generation, one may never be forced to part with the basic right of self-defense, particularly because, as the Declaration of Independence makes clear, insufferable governments that would deprive people of their rights to life, liberty, and property may give rise to a right of revolution. As the Declaration states: “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it . . .”
In his 1803 edition of Blackstone’s Commentaries, St. George Tucker distinguished the American constitutional model from British disarmament of the populace, explaining the American law to embrace the natural right of self-defense and defining that natural right as “the true palladium of liberty.” He explains: “ . . . 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 . . . prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction. In England, the people have been disarmed . . .”
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