Brent R. McLafferty (Jan. 9) and Keith King (Jan. 20) stated in letters to the editor that the meaning of the Second Amendment is that citizens need to be armed to protect themselves from tyranny of their own government.
However, no such thing is stated or inferred in the Second Amendment, and the legal argument for this interpretation is feeble at best.
The Second Amendment:
“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.”
One needs only to read the Militia Act of 1792 to understand what the framers of the Constitution intended. The first Act, passed in May 1792, provided authority for the president to call out the militias of the several states “whenever the United States shall be invaded, or be in imminent invasion from any foreign nation or Indian tribe.” It conscripted every “free, able-bodied white male between the age of 18 to 45 into a local militia company.”
The act authorized the president to call militias into federal service “whenever the laws of the United States shall be opposed or the execution thereof obstructed, in any state, in combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the Marshalls of this act.”
President George Washington first invoked the Militia Act to quell the Whiskey Rebellion in Western Pennsylvania.
The Militia Act of 1792 was amended several times, but the gist of the act remained the same. Nowhere does it state that its purpose is to arm oneself against one's own government.
I've read the U.S. Supreme Court's Second Amendment cases, and the court consistently has concurred that the Second Amendment grants a general right to own guns and that the government has the right to regulate guns.
In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), Section 2, the Supreme Court ruling states, “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever, and for whatever purpose,” and Section 2, in concluding “that the sorts of weapons protected are those 'in common use at the time,' finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”
Considering that three massacres have been carried out (Aurora, Colo., Newtown, Conn., and Webster, N.Y.) with dangerous and unusual weapons (AR-15-style assault weapons) in just six months' time, I believe all of us would be well-served to ignore the propaganda of extremists and actively support President Barack Obama's gun-control recommendations.