Why was the Second Amendment added to the Constitution?
“The experience of the American Revolution, where a “well regulated Militia” of all armed and able-bodied citizens proved very important, combined with knowledge of other militias in history to influence James Madison and other Framers of the Bill of Rights to include the Second Amendment in their document.” The American Heritage History of the Bill of Rights: The Second Amendment,” p. 43, copyright 1991
“Throughout much of American history, people debated whether the right to own and use weapons should be given to everyone. The Framers of the U.S. Bill of Rights recognized this debate when they included “the right to keep and bear arms” in the Second Amendment. The right to own and carry those arms that could be used by a person serving in a militia is clearly protected by the Second Amendment. When it comes to other weapons and other rights having to do with weapons, disputes arise. Each side interprets the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in ways that support its own position. For the past two centuries, Congress and the judicial system have worked to define the limits to the Second Amendment.” The American Heritage History of the Bill of Rights: The Second Amendment,” pp. 26-27, copyright 1991
What are some possible scenarios for U.S. gun owners to fight a tyrannical government?
For an individual or a small group, fighting against what that individual or group considers a “tyrannical government” using “arms” is almost certainly not viable. It would likely be considered domestic terrorism or treason. Examples of this kind of situation include:
- Bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, 1995
- Occupation of the Oregon Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (2016) and a discussion of how “it provides a lesson in how not to go about resistance“
- A war-game scenario where “an extreme right-wing militia takes over the town of Darlington, South Carolina, placing the mayor under house arrest and disbanding the city council. Local police are disarmed or are sympathetic to the militia’s cause and integrated into the militia.” Read a summary of the scenario.
Flip side: How about the U.S. government becoming undeniably tyrannical?
There are probably many ways this situation could play out, but a couple that seem most relevant to the Second Amendment debate include:
- According to Article II, Section 2, Clause I of the U.S. Constitution, the President of the United States is “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.” As a Second Amendment war-game, let’s imagine the President orders the U.S. Army and Marines to occupy all county administration buildings across the U.S. in addition to the city administration buildings of all U.S. cities over 50,000 population. Do we believe the citizen militia as created by the Second Amendment would begin using their “arms” to target and kill members of the U.S. military who are following Presidential orders? Under what conditions would the “locals” successfully capture the local government buildings when fighting the superbly-equipped and funded U.S. Army and Marines?
- If the U.S. President (for example) “goes rogue,” instead of overtly using the military, it would likely be more effective to control the entire U.S. by taking over the internet, the power grid and the banking system. Pretty much every other activity of significance would then be controllable. In this hypothetical scenario, guns would likely not be involved from the government side, and the citizen militia’s guns would be ineffective.
“Confessions of a Progressive Gun Nut”
This posting would not be complete without highlighting a very interesting article called “Confessions of a Progressive Gun Nut.” It is worth your time to read, and has many thoughts that run counter to the section above.