The Supreme Court of the United States is preparing to hear the case of the District of Columbia v. Heller, the first time since 1939 that the SCOTUS ruled on the Second Amendment. Recently, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled 2-1 that the Second Amendment is a right "for the people," that is, an individual right. And they are absolutely correct in their ruling when the mind of the framers of the Constitution is taken into account. The Second Amendment reads:
"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 central question boils down to the first two clauses of the Amendment, and this is where gun control advocates get their ammunition, as it were. The Second Amendment applies only to militias, not to individuals, goes an argument.
However, historically speaking, the militia was considered every able-bodied free man between the ages of 15-45. For example, in the, "The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619," states on page 127
24. "That no man go or send abroad without a sufficient partie will be armed."
25. "That men not go to worke in the ground without their arms and a (centinell upon them.)"
Thus it appears that there was no central "armory" for these men to check their arms in at the end of the day, especially when considering that number twenty-seven on the same page states:
"That the commander of every plantation take care that there be sufficient of powder and ammunition within the plantation under his command and their pieces fixt and compleate."
Thus, in 1619, it appears that Colonists were working and living with weapons at the ready since the threat of attack was present.
Gun control advocates might be tempted to disregard the above paragraph stating that it was from a time when America was a frontier and danger lurked nearby. Let us then examine the, "The U.S. Militia Act of 1792, Chapter XXXIII, Section 1," which states:
"Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective states, resident therein, who is or shall be of the age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five year (except as in herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia by the captain or the commanding officer."
Thus, it is clear from the outset that the House and Senate considered every white man (slavery was still an issue) between 18 and 45 a militia member and that when a male turned eighteen that the proper Non-Commissioned Officer "shall without delay notify such citizen of said enrolment."
Here again, gun control advocates might argue that these citizens where only to be called upon in an emergency and thus draw their arms from a central armory. But they would be wrong. The Statute clarifies this by stating,
"That every citizen so enrolled and notified, shall within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet, and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch with a box therein to contain not less than twenty-four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball."
It is starkly clear that the infant U.S. Government expected every militia member to provide for their own arming and since said members often lived far away from a town, it does not pass the common sense test to think or say that they turned their weapons in and rode home defenseless. It simply does not make sense and the verbiage in the Statute is clear with the word SHALL, as in, "shall not be infringed." It is also fair to note that the U.S. Government was not afraid of its armed citizens, but rather, demanded that they be armed.
Why should today be different?
The anti-gun crowd might then say, "Well, if these people were enlisted in the militia but were without a weapon, what then?" A good question and answered in, "The Colony of New York's Militia Laws," on page 52/53, that permits militia officers to sell arms to them for 1/5th of their value through any payment possible. The statute reads:
"But if any person shall not bee able to provide himself Armes and Ammunition through meere poverty, if he bee Single, shall bee put to Service by the Constable and Overseers of the place where he dwelleth, or they shall provide him Armes and Ammunition, and shall appoint him where and with whom to worke it out."
Clearly, if a man showed up for militia training or enlisted without a firearm, and could not afford it, then the State or Local government provided a weapon to him, for his usage, which he obviously paid for by working for said provider.
In South Carolina, it was against the law to go out of doors without a weapon as stated in, "The Statutes at Large of South Carolina: Edited Under Authority of the Legislature," on page 418:
"who shall be at any such Church, or any other places of public worship, as aforesaid, shall come and resort without his gun or a pair of horse pistols, and ammunition, as aforesaid..." (it goes on to state that the Church-Wardens will inform said parties that they are in violation of the law and that they shall be fined.)
The fine was twenty shillings for each act of coming outside without a weapon and thus, it is very apparent that there is absolutely no way that weapons in South Carolina were stored in a central armory or the law would consistently be violated. The Stature also stated that duly appointed law enforcement officials were allowed to demand proof that said citizens were armed when out and about!
The mindset of our Founding Fathers, who grew up in this atmosphere, was that it was necessary for all able-bodied men to be armed. The importance of the right of individuals to keep and bear arms was never in question. In modern America, it should not be in question either, considering the mountain of evidence that when the people are disarmed, the criminals remain armed, and crime skyrockets. An armed American can be called a "citizen", while those who would allow themselves to be forcibly disarmed, aspire to be known as, "subjects."