“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, 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, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Whether or not you learned it in History class or from a “Schoolhouse Rock” video, the preamble to the Constitution is familiar to almost any American citizen.
When I was in school, there was a copy of the Constitution posted in every classroom, a replica of the original, written in script with curly, burnt edges. Beside it hung the Bill of Rights, and an American flag, which we stood up and pledged allegiance to every morning. For my entire public school career, I knew those documents were there, and I knew they protected me and people had died for the right to print, display and abide by them. But I never really read the whole thing, and I never understood the process of amending those documents. Until now.
There is much talk about our Second Amendment rights on television, the radio and especially the CB. I’ve heard everything from “the president is going to sign a bill today and the Army is coming after your guns tomorrow” to “Congress is declaring war on American citizens.” Granted, you can’t believe half of what you hear on the CB, and the other half is probably suspect as well — but there does seem to be a current of misinformation in it all about what process would actually have to take place to disarm the American public.
The Second Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791. It was part of a nifty little thing called the Bill of Rights, a document our forefathers put together to ensure our basic rights and freedoms were not infringed upon. The Second Amendment is the only one which states a purpose, and is the shortest amendment in text.
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.
The text leaves way for much discussion about what a “well regulated militia” is. Also, when the Amendment was ratified, there wasn’t any such thing as an automatic assault weapon, so the type of arms this amendment protects has been the subject of many screaming sessions on Capitol Hill. There is a huge difference between a black powder rifle and an M-16.