Opinion: Why do we need a Second Amendment in the first place?

Property rights, including ownership of guns, are protected by traditional English common law which is supported by the US Constitution. So, if guns are part of private property, there seems little use in having a separate personal right to own one. It follows that the Second Amendment must have another use. It does. It allows states to defend themselves by the use of a state militia.  Owning weapons was not a controversial topic among the citizenry back in 1787.  But the right to have a state militia was a subject of debate. Those favoring a strong central government wanted the Congress to control the state militias while those supporting states’ rights wanted local control. The result was a compromise in which the Congress had control under Article I, Section 8 while the states had the right to command the units. The notion of federal authority appears in the requirement that the militias be “well regulated,” while the power of the state appears in the guarantee that the militias’ right to exist should “not be infringed.”  Today, the PA militia is known as the PA National Guard and is well-armed, regulated, and subject to the call of the federal government as well as Governor Wolf. Personal gun ownership is not an issue. To harp on the Second Amendment as a kind of “superright” to own a gun is just a mind game played by the gun lobby. 

Now, if you have a deep distrust in your federal government’s ability to protect you, and even believe that the government will actually attack you, then the right to self-preservation will include the use of fire arms. But you do not need to call on a Second Amendment guarantee from a government you do not consider legitimate. 

Bruce Taylor
Palmyra Twp