2nd Amendment is Another Constitutional Check & Balance


The 2nd 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.minuteman statue

Now let’s look at 3 key words in the Amendment: infringed, militia, and arms. But, we won’t be using today’s modern dictionary. Words change over time. Few people remember when “hip” only referred to one’s pelvis. So, to avoid any misinterpretations of the original intent of our Founding Fathers I will provide definitions given us by one of our Founders, Noah Webster, from his seminal work American Dictionary of the English Language 1828.


  1. To break, as contracts; to violate, either positively be contravention, or negatively by non-fulfillment or neglect of performance.
  2. To break; to violate; to transgress; to neglect to fulfill or obey; as to infringe a law.
  3. To destroy or hinder: as to infringe efficacy.


The body of soldiers in a state enrolled for discipline, but not engaged in actual service except in emergencies; as distinguished from regular troops, whose sole occupation is war or military service. The militia of a country are the able bodied men organized into companies, regiments, and brigades, with officers of all grades, and required by law to attend military exercises on certain days only, but at all other times left to pursue their usual occupations.


Weapons of offense, or armor of defense and protection of the body.


Infringing includes: banning types of firearms, establishing environmental restrictions on manufacture of lead bullets, restricting magazine capacities, barrel lengths, automatic-fire selection, prohibitive licensing and regulatory rules on the manufacture, transport, and sale of firearms and ammunition, prohibitive taxes on firearms and ammunition, requiring expensive time-consuming gun permits, requiring firearm training, restrictive open and conceal carry laws, “gun-free” zones, and federal government indirect control of the availability of firearms and ammunition on the open market by spending billions of dollars of said products to sop up supply.  Just for example.

Conservative talk-radio host Mark Levin made a perfectly wonderful point about the 2nd Amendment and militias this week. Contrary to Leftist propaganda and ill-informed liberals, a militia is NOT a quaint old-fashion term our Founders used to describe a nation’s army. Mr. Levin made the important distinction between militia and standing armies.  More accurately, state militias and a national standing army. Our Founders were intimately aware of the differences.

Our Founding Fathers were scared to death of standing armies, fearing an ambitious President or centralized government might use a national standing army to establish authoritarian rule over the populace under force of arms. State militias serve a critical role as a check against a national standing army.  Noah Webster’s definition of militia supports Mark Levin’s brilliant point.

What did our Founders mean by arms? Reading in context the Amendment and Webster’s  definition of militia, we can reasonably surmise arms include those weapons of offensive and defense typically used in warfare. Does that mean citizens should own canon and mortar? Not exactly. However, states and local governments, responsible for organizing and training militia, would be reasonably expected to have the money, storage, and transportation necessary to own and employ large armaments such as canon. The individual “able-bodied men” of militias were only expected to bring their own weapons and ammunition from home to the battlefield, i.e. small arms. Therefore, the individual’s right to keep and bear arms includes any small arms as would be fitting warfare of the age, e.g. rifles, shotguns, handguns, ammunition, swords, bow, body armor, etc.

My next article will examine the importance of the 2nd Amendment, why it cannot be removed from the Constitution, and President Obama’s ambitious threat to infringe 2nd Amendment rights with a stroke of his pen and phone (click HERE to read.)

photo credit: Minuteman statue at sunset via photopin (license)

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2 thoughts on “2nd Amendment is Another Constitutional Check & Balance

  1. Pingback: 2nd Amendment: Pull-in-Case-of-Emergency | Prodigal Sons of Liberty

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