At the time of the passage of the Bill of Rights, the people of a young nation had just gained their independence by defeating a country that had the greatest military in the world. At Concord in 1775, a confrontation between British troops and Minutemen occurred when the Minutemen received word that the British were after the people’s gunpowder. After a skirmish, the British searched house to house for individual “military stores.” The British were trying to confiscate and control all military-type arms that the Minutemen could use to defend their liberty.

The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the Constitution and was passed because most people believed the Constitution would not restrain the central government from abridging individual rights. The Bill of Rights would stop a centralized government from encroaching on the inalienable rights of the people. Therefore, the Bill of Rights was adopted to protect the people from an oppressive central government. When debating the formation of the Constitution and the first 10 amendments, the framers wanted to protect the people’s rights from being infringed again by an all-powerful centralized government. The second of those amendments was adopted to defend their newly gained freedoms.

When the Second Amendment states in part “arms shall not be infringed,” the arms refer to military arms. The framers wanted the people to have access to military arms like the British to defend individual fundamental rights. The Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights protects the people’s unalienable right — not a right granted by the Constitution or by government. The original purpose of the Second Amendment was to stop Congress from making laws that allowed any infringement upon the right of the people to keep and bear military-style arms.

“As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.” — Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler, Published by Houghton Miflin, 1943, Page 403.

“Right now, though, we’d be satisfied not with half a loaf but with a slice. Our ultimate goal — total control of handguns in the United States — is going to take time. ... The final problem is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition ... — totally illegal.” (The New Yorker, July 1976) by Nelson T. Shields, founder of Handgun Control Inc.

Ken Rachal

retired professor