In a recent study done by the Violence Policy Center (VPC), they reported what most would think to be common truth; more guns equal more deaths. Of course it is presented in a more eloquent manner alongside the statistics and research done that led to this conclusion which will be addressed momentarily. However, before addressing those things there are other pressing issues relevant to this which need to acknowledged and have context provided for.
Whenever mentioning this blatant fact that guns kill, some have the audacious logic to presume that more guns would resolve this issue while others cling to the cliché that “guns don’t kill, people kill.” All the while other half-way adherent individuals call it an issue of freedom. But does the Second Amendment really grant individuals the right to bear arms?
We all know 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.” However, many questions arise from this amendment and the only way to answer these questions and to logically analyze the context of this amendment and in its most true form is to come from a practical and a historical perspective.
The historical context of this amendment is often misconceived or not even acknowledged. To start, they are talking about a MILITIA. If they deemed it necessary to emphasize the common individual they would have well specified so. Keep in mind the situation in which the country was in when it was founded as well as when this document was written. Not only did they still have the British lurking to the West alongside Loyalists still amidst the colonies, but they also had to deal with ferocious wildlife showing up on their front step at any given moment as well as the Indians who were growing increasingly hostile due to their harsh treatment and current situation. Thus, a militia was a sensible go-to for maintaining a well-balanced government in each state. Another interesting point is how advanced their military technology wasn’t, having the most advanced weaponry of the time being the highly inefficient, inaccurate, time consuming musket.
Now according to these facts, in a literal historical perspective, every citizen has the right to musket if said individual is in a militia! But enough of historical literalisms.
One of the two main reasons Thomas Jefferson implemented this Amendment was to dissipate the possibility of standing armies forming in America. Because throughout history, standing armies posed an imminent threat to any nation and held the potential to overthrow their respective government. Consequently, when soldiers returned home from battle Jefferson made a law of disbandment precedent. However these soldiers still had access to artillery and were allowed to form militias in their state.
According to this context, those arguing that they have the right to guns in order to defend themselves against a despotic-turned government are blatantly inaccurate due to the evidence that the Second Amendment was written in order to avoid possible ousting.
Jefferson’s pragmatism shined thoroughly through his second purpose. Prominent slave owners, specifically George Mason and Patrick Henry didn’t want Virginia to join America due to Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution which gave the federal government the power to raise and supervise a militia, and this threatened their hold on their slaves because it presented the possibility of having slavery overturned. And in order to appease them Jefferson allowed them to have a “well regulated Militia” by “state” which were essentially slave patrol militias that ensured that slaves in the Southern states didn’t escape North.
So essence, this compromise was to get Virginia to sign off the Constitution. But the compromise also made guns laws a more local, “state” and its effects reemphasized the police-esque states of the South. Not to mention how an ostensibly simple compromise for the sake of keeping a stranglehold on slavery led to thousands of Americans dying in modern times due to the shakiness of the entire issue.