[OPINION] Misinterpreting The Second Amendment

by Ronald A. Sobieraj

New Jersey was the first state to adopt the Bill of Rights on November 20, 1789.

James Devine’s “Voice of the People” column of July 18 (included in NJTODAY.NET’s print edition on July 26) attacked part of the Bill of Rights by misinterpreting the Second Amendment (the only one with a preamble). It says 1) a militia (armed citizens who elect their officers) is necessary for the security of the people, and, there should be no infringement or restriction by the Federal Government on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. This was well understood for over two centuries.

Editor’s Note: The Second Amendment, as preserved in the National Archives, 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.”

The idea of a large standing army was undesired by most Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries. You can read a good history book to learn more. Leonard W. Levy wrote “Origins of the Bill of Rights” to educate all those who want to learn more about this topic and the politics of its adoption. Do they use Longfellow’s poem about the ride of Paul Revere in school anymore?

The phrase “well regulated” then meant “well practiced”. That is why there should be no infringement or restriction on the people’s right to keep and bear arms. In 1968 there were 15,000 firearm deaths in this country. Passage of the Federal Gun Control Law resulted in this increasing to 31,000 as of 2011. What is the use of a law that increased rather than reduced these deaths?

In 2003 New Brunswick had a gun buy-back program. A year later the results were published in the local newspaper. In the year before this event there were 12 murders; in the year afterwards there were 24 murders. If an organization holds a gun buy-back event where they pay $50 or $100 for any surrendered firearm, how much will they make if they sell these items for three or four times what they paid for them?

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