Interpreting the Second Amendment

By Angelou del Angel | Published Wednesday, January 30, 2013

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In government class a couple of semesters ago my professor, Kent Miller, explained what, to date, I still find the most balanced view of our right to bear arms.

First, of course, there’s the conservative interpretation which focuses on “the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed.” This is easy enough to grasp and leads to the quick interpretation that we should have the right to own whatever weapon we want.

We left-leaning folks, on the other hand, tend to focus on the phrase “well-regulated militia,” which, interpreted another way, implies that one should be a member of a militia in order to own a weapon. That is where Professor Miller’s explanation ended, and here is where my own pondering on the second begins.

The founders could have gone a few ways in writing the amendment. Instead of assuming everything to be timeless and perfect, the third amendment suggests the extent to which the Constitution and Bill of Rights are still products of their place and time. After all, when was the last time we had a Supreme Court case regarding the quartering of soldiers?

Said cherished document could have been phrased in perfectly clear fashion to favor one view or the other. The Founding Fathers could have left out any mention of militias. Or, the amendment could be worded so that one would unquestionably need to be part of a militia in order to have a gun. So, which was it?

Forward-thinking as the convention was, and knowing how they designed the Constitution to change via amendments, it’s possible that they left the second Amendment intentionally vague so that future generations could interpret it as the times demanded. Then again, maybe the second isn’t a product of foresight at all. Minutemen were crucial in winning the Revolutionary War, hence the mention of “well organized militias,” possibly as much as the third was a response to Britain’s Quartering Act.

Allow a moment to demystify and humanize the Framers a bit, (yes, despite all our reverence, they most certainly were human) and think back to the times of the Constitutional Convention. Just getting the Constitution ratified at all was quite a contentious battle that’s why the Bill of Rights came to be in the first place.

Perhaps then, the wording of the second Amendment is purposefully vague so that each side at the time would read into it what they wanted to hear, and thus approve, leaving these kinds of problems for us down the line!

Angelou del Angel
Dallas (formerly Bridgeport)

23 Responses to “Interpreting the Second Amendment”

  1. Andrew Wynn says:

    Those who wrote the Constitution wrote many other things besides, and an intellectually honest evaluation of those writings expose the contemporary liberal’s interpretations to be completely invalid and perversions of logic.

  2. Robert Cox says:

    Well spoken, Andrew!

  3. Jim Popp says:

    Our founders had recently won a war with what they felt was an oppressive type of government full of tyrany and in writing the Second Ammendment, they said exactly what they meant. They meant for the citizens to be armed in order to prevent a tyranical government from ever being able to oppress the people of our country again, plain and simple. Your professor obviously has his opinion and many of us have another opinion as to the interpretation of the Second Amendment. His opinion carries no more weight than anyone else’s opinion, and since he is a professor in this day and age, I’m not surprised he sees it from the liberal point of view, as you do. It’s a shame that you both just happen to be wrong too.

    The words “Shall Not Be Infringed Upon” as you have pointed out, are definitely there, and folks like me would add to that, there to be adhered to by ALL future governmental administrations of our country, from that original point on. These were not stupid men, our Founders, and they were all quite capable of stating very clearly what they meant to say. Had they wanted to say something different when writing the Second Ammendment, they would have, but they did not. Instead we have a Second Ammendment that is very clear in what it states as the rights of citizens to have and bare arms. I believe that “Shall not be infringed upon” is there to clarify our firearms owning rights in the Second Amendment further and makes it rather emphatic at that. That statement left no room for further discussion on the matter. Also, please notice that there is no mention of firearms for only hunting in the Second Ammendment either, as I keep hearing our present administration talk so much about when they say that they’re not trying to hamper hunters and sportsman.

  4. James Cooper says:

    I sorry, but your government professor doesn’t know what he is talking about. If you really care to understand the Constitution,
    pick up a copy of either of Mark Levin’s books;”Ameritopia” or,
    “Liberty And Tyranny”. You can listen to his show on WBAP daily.
    Mark is one of the leading authorities on the Constitution today.

  5. Well, so now we see what happens in red counties when one tries to show understanding and credence to both sides of an argument…

  6. El Pulpo says:

    The same thing would happen in blue counties also but it’s just that you either don’t want to acknowledge it or you’re naive.

  7. Andrew Wynn says:

    Does one plus one equal three? Some may be of the opinion that it does, but what would be the point of debating it? Why would anyone even consider the notion for a moment? Just because it may be someone’s opinion does not give that notion weight.

    There is right and there is wrong. Words mean things. There are absolutes, and unfortunately the liberal mind refuses to accept that fact. It is a fact nonetheless.

    Relativism is a symptom of the illness known as liberalism.

  8. Boy, it is so nice to know there are so so so many Constitutional experts that live here in Wise County. Let’s just dissolve the State Supreme Court and why stop there, let’s do the so the United States Supreme Court. To dangerous to let the extreme liberal Chief Justice Roberts decide along with his other 8 other members of the court what the Constitution says. Their opinions should not carry any weight with all the education and experiences that they have, the liberal elitist! What funny is these same people who support individual freedoms on their guns won’t allow certain people to marry, women to choose and as long the their rights are not trampled, nuts to the rest. Also they cannot except that even the constitution does not allow to do anything you want anyplace. We as a society set standards and we set limits. Even ones that on surface appear to “abridge” our rights. I won’t give you any obvious examples, I will let the Constitutional Experts let you know what they are! Bye the way does not take a gun, rifle or shotgun to defend the house, think about that too!

  9. Andrew Wynn says:

    So, Charles…you’re perfectly willing to have fallible men who are political appointees read something and interpret it to mean something entirely different from what it clearly says in pretty plain English. You must lead quite a serene existence, having abandoned the idea of thinking for yourself.

    Like I said, some would not question a Court ruling that declares that one plus one equals three.

    The Constitution was written for all to read and understand. The Supreme Court and all the other federal courts were not established to relieve us of the responsibility of thinking for ourselves.

    It seems to me that the very fact that I have been asked on multiple occasions to swear to uphold and defend the Constitution strongly implies that I am also recognized as being capable of reading and understanding it

    Somehow we’ve been conditioned to believe that the Courts are in the business of “interpreting” the Constitution. Poppycock! It’s not written in a foreign language, it’s written in English. The Courts are to APPLY the Constitution, not “interpret” it in such a way as to twist it’s meaning.

  10. Ah, now we have the pro active judge argument. That is why we have a Supreme Court, to interpret the Constitution and the laws that are made to implement the Constitution. Do you believe that the founder were perfect, infallible in what they were doing? Do you believe that these men ( and only white men with property, yes they dodged the question of slavery altogether and several were slave owners ) or was the 14th amendment a mistake. No constitutional right is absolute, or else why are we fighting a drug war, or again, why are some people allowed to marry some people but not others. And why would you care who gets married to who. I doubt that even enlightened men of the late 18th century could conceive of a Ak 47, or a AR 15 or a Tommy gun of the 1930’s! If were going to be allowed any type of WEAPON i want a 3.5 inch rocket launcher, or better yet 105 MM howitzer. Now that fire power! Absurd, or course it is, but so is some the weapons common on the shelves of the gun shops around this country. Your one of those who believe the Constitution is a Moment of Stone, unassailable and subject to only one type of interpretation, yours and those that think like you. A wise women, who was a Century old told me that stones in the stream used to be great mountains and because they did not bend and did not flow they because smaller and smaller, and even as stone they will continue to grow smaller and smaller until they are nothing but sand and we will never know how great that they once were. I met many here in Wise County and Texas who believe certain Documents and Books are not allowed to be questioned or “assailed’ in any way and if you do then you are not worthy of this great Country. I just beg to differ is all. United States Supreme Court will soon get more on issue of guns, and I believe you will not like their decisions, then what will you do?

  11. Andrew Wynn says:

    Pro active judge argument? No sir, it’s called strict constructionism.

    The Founders meant for the citizenry to be well armed and in part to resist government tyranny…like it or not.

    Let’s take your First Amendment rights…surely the Founders never could have envisioned the kinds of communication we engage in today. Where the judiciary is free to drift where it pleases, perhaps your right to use the Internet and express yourself freely would be taken away. Where the judiciary respects the Constitution to the letter, your rights are preserved.

    Now, as to those men who wrote our founding documents: you seem to be distrustful, even disdainful. After all, they were fallible men. Even though the documents they wrote gave rise to the most successful nation ever on the face of the earth and which challenged European dominance within 50 years of coming into existence, you have no respect for them. And then to consider the fact that you think other men somewhere are more trustworthy and can make the republic function better if they are free to change the meaning of the Constitution on a whim—perhaps even changing the republic into something else—I find this most perplexing.

    Progressivism is a cancer.

    Save the cute stories about rivers and stones. They are irrelevant.

  12. Mr Wynn!
    You are absolutely correct! Progressivism is a cancer and maybe we should have cut this cancer out starting when? I would say perhaps in 1775 when a group of men got together in Philadelphia and not only slashed the ties to the old country but formed a type of Government not seen on the planet, In order to form a more perfect Union,to establish Justice, Insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, just a bit from some old document! Can’t seem to find these words anyplace else must have been a new idea about 237 years ago! Isn’t progress a new and different idea? i would check your rocks they beginning to show some cracks.

  13. Rusty White says:

    While I find it heart warming to see so many “claiming” to be strict constitutionalist , the hypocrisy in Wise County and this state is plain for all to see, is it not? We see those claiming the language is clear and not to be altered in “ANY MANER” or rewritten to serve as the supposed self justification of a minorities self serving beliefs or agendas, REALLY???

    Amendment 4 “”The right “””of the people “””to be secure in their persons, houses “””, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,
    Article VI
    2: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be the “”””supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby,”””
    5th Amendment
    No person shall be held to“”””nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,”””” “”

    So tell me again how “some “ claim to support our Constitution then out of the other side of their mouth claim forcibly taking blood is not Unconstitutional??? Am I reading the 4th amendment wrong, is it not plain English, or is it “now” legal for “some” in any city, county or state to over rule the Constitution for their “minorities” self serving beliefs and agendas?


  14. Andrew Wynn says:

    NO, sir, Mr. Randolph. Having to correct your misrepresentations seems to be becoming a full-time occupation.

    “Progressive” is just the term contemporary liberals have hidden behind since their philosophical lurch into full-blown socialism began in the 80s.

    If you think the Founders would not immediately incite rebellion against the current federal government if they were to rise from the dead this day, you deceive yourself. You’ll have to work MUCH harder to deceive me.

  15. Rusty White says:


  16. Rusty White says:

    To One and All,

    For me the Constitution “is not” to be altered in any form or manner, PERIOD! Sadly our generation has failed miserably in protecting the Freedoms, Liberties and unbiased Justice those before us sacrificed and passed on to us, not in parts or bits and pieces but in whole! We were to preserve them and do the same for those coming behind us, were we not?

    Once we allow the Pandora’s box to be opened what will be left of our original Freedoms, Liberties and Justice we were “all” entrusted with preserving and passing down? The very document that made our nation the greatest in the world, will we become parts and bits and pieces of the “once” greatest nation on earth?

    We still claim to be the freest, fairest, most just nation on earth, yet we have more people per capita behind bars than “ANY” other country on this planet, fact! Sadly the every growing numbers of these “criminals” have no victims or violence in their “supposed” crimes!

    Now we have those today “cherry picking” our forefathers mandates to suite their own self serving beliefs and agendas, and then claiming to be “strict Constitutionalist” , intellectually dishonest at best, disgustingly selfish at worst! Some claiming this is a different time and age, that the laws and ways of the past do not fit in today’s world, if this is true does that include what is in the “BIBLE” as well? Be careful what you ask for, or manipulate in to being! IMHO


  17. Rusty…

    You make some good points, but if the constitution is not to be altered in any form or manner, then why was it written with the provision to be amended?

  18. Rusty White says:


    Thanks, I was not clear as to who can, (but my opinio is it should not be)and yes it can be “amended” by Congress, not a local or state judge! Yet we have those claiming it is legal for a state judge to ok the forcibly taking of blood? They can’t have it “both ways” either we live by it, or throw it all out! If they keep manipulating it to serve a “minorities” self serving beliefs and agendas, soon it will not be worth the paper it is written on, will it not?

    What Freedoms, Liberties and Justice will we have to hand down to those behind us, will it be “anything” like what was handed down to us?????

  19. Rusty,

    It was written with wiggle room to be amended or interpreted as the challenges of successive times demanded. That is the brilliance of the Framers. Now, in defense of our essential liberties, that is why the amending process is purposefully difficult…through 2/3 vote of Congress and the states. Hence, only 18 Amendments have been necessary after the first ten that came packaged with it.

    Nobody is taking anybody’s guns away…but commonsense measures like universal background checks (closing the gun show loophole) and an expansion of the mental health system are needed. And while I do agree with the pro-gun points about assault weapons, that semi-auto is not the same as full auto, bear in mind a casual observer won’t know the difference.

    In fact, you’d think the NRA would be in favor of the latter especially, to keep their chapters in close contact with mental health professionals..not because they’d be assumed to be nutjobs, but just because folks get down in the dumps. Then you wouldn’t just have someone with depression…they’d have depression and a gun.

  20. Rusty White says:


    The “wiggle” room you speak of, is only for Congress to decide, on this we agree. Sadly many at the city, county and state levels “know” they can manipulate their accountability for “not” following the laws. Simply because they also “know” few people can afford to fight back when they or their rights are violated!

    Do you believe our founders expected a change where our “public servants” can now enter your home without a warrant, I THINK NOT! And by the way CONGRESS “DID NOT” vote on this new power, nor have they voted to accept blood being forcibly taken, FACT!!! We are not talking about in “hot pursuit” were talking about entering under the “assumption” ( or the fabricated assumption) a law maybe being violated!!! Do you or anybody else “REALLY” believe these new police powers will not be misused??? And when they are, “not if” they are, who will demand justice, the same courts that believe they have the power to force a citizen to give blood “evidence“ against themselves? I don’t claim to be the most educated person posting on this forum, “but” is not the 4th and 5th Amendments clearly against these new abuses of powers???

    When our supposed public servants disgustingly hide behind the so called approval of a judge, then what is to be said for:

    Article VI

    2: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the *****Judges in every State shall be bound thereby,****** any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

    Do you or “anyone” else dispute the “KNOWN” following facts in this statement, welcome to the “new” America one can have as many and as much Freedoms, Liberties and Justice AS ONE CAN AFFORD!!!

    When your tax funded public servants believe they can make their own laws and don’t have to follow our written laws, why do the citizens being abuse have to obey or follow any of them???? ALL OR NOTHING, PERIOD!!!


  21. Rusty White says:


    As for this BS about guns, I ask “if” the British had of had automatic weapons and we were forced to have single shot weapons, would we be free today??? One must “always” remember, political parasites “prefer” unarmed peasants!!! I believe every citizen should have the right to have EXACTLLY the same weapons their public servants may one day use against them, FACT! We always hear our public servant claiming they need more weapons to keep a head of the bad guys, well guess what we the tax payers are becoming out gunned by BOTH!!!

    If more citizens carried weapons, at the very least criminals and crazy people wouldn’t get off as many shots, would they? Unless we can eliminate crazy people, they will always find a means to act. In China we are hearing stories of crazy people attacking school children with knives and axes, do we not? In other countries citizens “”openly”” carry automatic weapon EVERY WHERE, they don’t have the problems we are having, so one has to believe “types” of weapons and magazines are not the problem, right?

    Laws are made for those that willingly follow and accept them, criminals and crazy people don’t give a dam* about our laws, do they? So in reality, no matter how well meaning any new laws will ONLY effect those already following them, right? Or “force” normally law abiding people to become criminals to protect their freedoms, right?

    Our energy and money should be going towards finding out why a country like ours is “creating” a second class society that in turn helps produce so many criminals with no hope or futures, while not helping those with mental problems, should they not?


  22. The Second Ammentment is very clear to me. But then again, I feel threatened by our current current much the same as our founding fathers did by their previous government. Now if you want to idly sit by and let the government overtake “your world”, then have at it. As long as that doesn’t infringe on my rights, have at it.

    The militias of the day were normal every day civilians, like you and I. Well, like me, not so much you. They were armed and ready to defend our country against a tyranical government at any time. The thought process of the 2nd ammendment at the time, before it was even penned, was assumed. It is not only your right, but your duty to your country, to be ready. Now you can take your liberal whimpy beliefs and gladly hunker down in a blue county and live out the rest of your life in bondage. Those of us who reside in the red however will still be safe, with our guns.

  23. Robert Cox says:

    This country is in HUGE trouble. Wow!


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