Archive for Friday, May 11, 2007

Who has right to bear arms?

May 11, 2007


To whom, and for what purpose, does the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grant the right to "keep and bear arms"? Examination of the origin and precedents of the language of the Second Amendment may shed light on its meaning.

As the chief architect of the Bill of Rights, James Madison "drew heavily on the amendments suggested by his state's ratifying convention and those listed in the Virginia Declaration of Right." (Richard Labunski, "James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights," p. 199) Article 13 of the Declaration, approved in June 1776, reads: "That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that, in all cases, the military should be under the strict subordination to, and be governed by, the civil power."

In June 1788, the Virginia Ratifying Convention approved the proposed U.S. Constitution "with amendments recommended but not required." (Labunski, p. 113) The relevant part of the 17th recommended amendment reads: "That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated Militia composed of the body of the people trained in arms is the proper; natural and safe defense of a free state. That standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided." New York's Ratification Document dealing with arms rights includes nearly identical language.

Each of the documents cited above includes a warning about standing armies and emphasizes the role and importance of a well-regulated militia. Identical or similar language appears in the constitutions (1776 to 1780) of North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Delaware and Massachusetts.

The fourth of nine amendments that James Madison proposed to the First Congress in June 1789 includes this paragraph: "A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" (Labunski, p. 270).

The version ultimately proposed by Congress and later ratified by the States to become the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution 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" (Labunski, p. 279).

Proponents of the individual-rights interpretation emphasize the second half of the Amendment and often disregard the first half entirely. But both are parts of the same sentence and they are logically and grammatically related. The first half functions as a subordinate clause, justifying the right stated in the second half, which functions as the main clause. Inserting the subordinating conjunction, "because," at the beginning of the Amendment and replacing "being" with "is" clearly expresses its meaning.

Individual-rights proponents also claim that the term, "the people" means each person. That applies only in the sense that each person in a militia may have a firearm. But a militia operates as a unit with a collective purpose: defense of the state. Thus, "the people" has a collective meaning, just as it does in the Preamble to the Constitution ("We the people") and in the First, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments.

What do the courts say about the Second Amendment? In U.S. v. Miller, 1939, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled "we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep such an instrument [a shotgun]." (Henigan, Dennis et al. "Guns and the Constitution: The Myth of Second Amendment Protection for Firearms in America," viii).

The meaning of the Amendment has been addressed by federal and state courts more than 30 times since 1939. With one exception (currently under appeal), these courts decided that "the Second Amendment refers to the right to keep and bear arms only in connection with a state militia"(

In contrast to the Second Amendment, the constitution of many states addresses arms rights unrelated to a militia. Bearing of arms is granted to individual citizens, or to every person, or to each citizen, although the right is often qualified or subject to regulation.

It is difficult to understand why so many supposedly knowledgeable persons believe that the amendment grants each individual the right to bear arms. Two examples appeared recently in the Lawrence Journal-World: Sen. John McCain (April 19, 7A) and Peter Brown (April 24, 7B).

- John R. Ratzlaff, a Lawrence resident, is retired from Fort Hays State University, where is is a professor emeritus of geoscience.


Devon Kissinger 8 years ago

This is the case the Brady's prefer to cite. There was no arguement from the appellee's attorney, he was dead, IIRC he was hit by a train.

US v Miller (1038) SCOTUS By the time the case reached SCOTUS, Miller was dead and his lawyer did not present any arguments before the court. The decision was decided by one Supreme Court justice based on the presentation of the United States side with no input from the Jack Miller side. Not exactly the ideal test case for either side of the RKBA

Cite as U.S. v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939)



No. 696. Argued March 30, 1939. - Decided May 15, 1939.


The National Firearms Act, as applied to one indicted for transporting in interstate commerce a 12-gauge shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches long, without having registered it and without having in his possession a stamp-affixed written order for it, as required by the Act, held:

  1. Not unconstitutional as an invasion of the reserved powers of the States. Citing Sonzinsky v. United States, 300 U. S. 506, and Narcotic Act cases. P. 177.

  2. Not violative of the Second Amendment of the Federal Constitution. P. 178.

The Court can not take judicial notice that a shotgun having a barrel less than 18 inches long has today any reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia; and therefore can not say that the Second Amendment guarantees to the citizen the right to keep and bear such a weapon. 26 F. Supp. 1002, reversed.

APPEAL under the Criminal Appeals Act from a judgment sustaining a demurrer to an indictment for violation of the National Firearms Act.

Mr. Gordon Dean argued the cause, and Solicitor General Jackson, Assistant Attorney General McMahon, and Messrs. William W. Barron, Fred E. Strine, George F. Kneip, W. Marvin Smith, and Clinton R. Barry were on a brief, for the United States.

No appearance for appellees.

bullmoose06 8 years ago

If I remember my American Military History there was a requirement for ALL MALE Citizens to be part of the local militia, at the time of the American Revolution and the writing of the United States Constitution.

The participation in the muster of the local militia varied from community to community depending upon the local circumstance. But all male citizens were considered to be a part of the militia.

Further the militia is broken down into two parts the organized and the unorganized militia. Most of us are familiar with the organized militia the weekend warrior or minuteman. But there was also the unorganized militia composed of the remainder of the male population of the community. All male citizens fell into either of these two militias

If we are to take this commentary to its logical conclusion then there is a requirement for all male citizens to be armed and for the states to maintain an organized militia. Most likely along either the Swiss or Israeli model. I think some of you just might panic over the thought of every competent male being required to have an M-16 or M-4 in their home and to be proficient in its use.

trinity 8 years ago

oh give it up marion, this guy's by far more intelligent and thoughtful than you'll ever hope to be.

Flap Doodle 8 years ago

"scenebooster (Anonymous) says: "I think some of you just might panic over the thought of every competent male being required to have an M-16 or M-4 in their home and to be proficient in its use." I'd be very interested in your definition of "competent"."

Kinda sounds like the state of affairs in Switzerland.

Flap Doodle 8 years ago

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." --Thomas Jefferson, quoting Cesare Beccaria in On Crimes and Punishment (1764).

paladin 8 years ago

I have the right to bear arms because I chose make it so, to proclaim and reserve and commit to that right, irregardless of social approval or the law. Anyone who does not is a vulnerable fool, given the nature and character of the world we live in today.

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

Where do I sign-up for the local militia?

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

If I lived in Baghdad I'd definitely carry a gun. Carrying a gun in Lawrence would seem a paranoid thing to do.

paladin 8 years ago

I'd rather be a live paranoid than a dead chump. Nowhere are you safe, even inside your own house. Paranoid? Read the papers, watch TV, take a look around. There is no place safe, there is only the delusion of safety. Your safety is your responsibility.

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

paladin, that truly is paranoid. Thank you for the confirmation.

paladin 8 years ago

Anything can happen, anytime, anyplace. Evidently it hasn't happened to you, yet. Congratulations.

mom_of_three 8 years ago

And having a gun is no guarantee that you will be able to protect yourself from the unexpected, Paladin.
I understand the right to protect yourself, and some think they need guns to do it.

bullmoose06 8 years ago

Why is carrying a gun in Lawrence a paranoid thing to do. The last several mass shootings in the United States took place in gun free zones.

In general everyone seems to be missing the point. It was a mentally ill person that conducted the killings not the handguns themselves. Take away the handguns he could have used fireworks. Takewawy the fireworks and he would use other methods to kill. Handguns are not the problem here its the fact that we are so concerned with not hurting someones feelings or their "right to privacy" that the "normal" safeguards are useless in keeping handguns or other dangerous items out of the hands of those that are not competent.

TheHeartlessBureaucrat 8 years ago

I like the choice we have as to whether we allow weapons in certain areas. Considering how many "no firearms" signs I see up around town, if you do choose to bear arms, there's a limited number of places you can bring your piece.

So go and bear your arms...over there...


kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

Mr. Ratzlaff, you spent a long time to come to your obviously forgone conclusion of denying individuals the right to bear arms. My response will be shorter. ALL of the Bill of Rights 1-10 Amendments deal with INDIVIDUAL rights, except for the 1st which limits the powers of congress, but even that, in respect to the "people".

What makes you think that the 2nd Amendment can be taken out of the general context and theme of the Bill of Rights? The 2nd Amendment refers to the individual's right. The PEOPLE have a right to keep and bear arms, it clearly states. Period, end of argument.

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago


You're so proud of the gun free zones making your nanny world safer. So was the VP of Admin. at V-Tech a few months before the killings. He publicly ridiculed students who wanted to carry legal firearms on campus. We haven't heard him being so vocal recently, though, have we?

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

If someone wore a crash helmet to drive automobile and never drove any faster than the minimum legal speed limit, and never drove anywhere unless it was a necessity that would seem paranoid to me, but, if you look at injury and death statistics it would be clear that person's actions would be far more appropriate than someone carrying a gun to protect themselves in Lawrence.

I'm not opposed to people carrying guns and in some sitiuations and locations I would carry one myself, but just doing everyday things in Lawrence Kansas? Nope... and I'd not live anywhere where I felt it was necessary.

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

Just wondering... has any eyewitness from Virginia Tech come forward and said: "If I could have had a gun, I would have had a gun, and I would have had the training and the will to take out the crazed killer and I would have taken him out"?

This is what it would take to make kneejerk's comments about VT significant. Otherwise, it's sensationalized speculation.

paladin 8 years ago

Life has no warranty and no guarantees. There are only actions, inactions, and, of course, odds.

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago


Likewise, as you say, it's sensationalized speculation to just assume that a firearm may not have mitigated so many deaths. We'll never know either way, but we do know that the V-Tech killer killed as many as he could, then killed himself. It can't get much worse than that, so one can only say with surity that a person with a firearm, within reach of Cho, would not have made the situation worse and may be prevented so many deaths.

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

Oh, kneejerk... there is no way to say that a person with a firearm within reach of Cho could not have made the situation worse. And make no mistake, it could have been much, much worse.

And, without the fictitious hero that I defined, it just aint going to happen.

bangaranggerg 8 years ago

I happen to know from experience that the human body will reject a transplant of arms from a Brown Bear, I'll let you know next week about polar bears' legs on a homless canadian man.

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

Stuckin, there are many examples of everyday citizens defending themselves successfully with a firearm and even examples of students and teachers who were able to use a firearm to stop a bad guy. V-Tech is a "you'll never know" because it's history. All things being equal, I'll choose a fighting chance against just being a target.

Right after Kansas passed the concealed carry law, a CCH in Topeka stopped a gunman in a Quick Trip. But that was swept under the table by the liberal media who was clearly against the CCH law passing. So, how can you just categorically state that similar successful self-defense situations couldn't have happened at V-Tech? I'll just don't like firearms, so you feel you must be against anything firearm related? You've never been in a situation where you had to defend yourself against injury or possibly your life?

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

kneejerk, First of all, I own firearms and have most of my life. I have nothing against them. And, of course, I haven't categorically denied anything, I've mostly asked questions that I hoped would lead to some realizations of some realities.

And yes, I've had to defend myself on a number of occasions, but in Lawrence that has never been with a gun. Have you had to defend yourself with a gun, in Lawrence, or anywhere?

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

...with that said, Stuckin, I am now ready for the usual accusations of "redneck", "Dirty Harry wannabe", "conservative Bush-loving Repub.", etc, etc. But, I'll pick a fighting chance over no chance any day.

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

I've been in situations that didn't require me to actually use the firearm, but I had it, would have used it to defend myself and it was comforting to have. The situation didn't deteriorate to that point, though, and I'm glad for it.

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

~chuckle~ kneejerk, you'll not get that from me.

And, by the way, there are sections of Topeka that I would feel safer in carrying a gun, but I have no need or desire to go there.

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

kneejerk, and was that in Lawrence?

Baille 8 years ago

Aren't there limits on the kinds of arms we have a "right" to bear? I don't see Marion reselling yellow cake down at the smoke shop. Nor do I see such restrictions in the Second Amendment. How odd. Can anyone offer a rational, constitutional explanation as to why my right to bear certain arms is being infringed?

Gareth Skarka 8 years ago

"it was comforting to have."

And there you have it. Another meek little boy, scared of the world and looking to his phallic replacement for comfort. The gun lobby in a nutshell.

How sad it must be to be so frightened of everything.

brass_tacks 8 years ago

Just wanted to throw this out there for those of you advocating a swiss or israeli style militia system. Less than 1 month ago, a swiss man killed 1 and injured 4 in a mass shooting. He used a gov't rifle that he was given upon completing his training. He was fully qualified as a competent user, but that did not prevent him from committing murder. 5 years ago, a swiss man murdered 14 people with his gov't rifle, after receiving. In 2006, at least 6 swiss citizens used their gov't weapon to murder their wife or partner. Those are only documented examples from the first half of '06. In fact, Switzerland's record is pretty poor on this. Also, keep in mind switzerland has less than 8 million citizens to begin with, so these numbers are even more "impressive". No matter what the level of training or competance, or how often people assert that they will use their weapon responsibly, the fact is, more guns=more gun violence. Training and licensing only makes better shots out of people, all of whom, including every person posting on this board, have within them the potential for spontaneous violence.

acg 8 years ago

stuckinthemiddle-"where can I sign up for the local militia?"

Tsk, tsk, militias make Uncle Sam nervous and twitchy. ; )

Baille 8 years ago

The Swiss are crazy. Absolutely nuts Everyone knows that.

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

See, I told you the Gareths of the world would raise their ugly heads with stupid comments about firearm=redneck. The usual liberal, nanny-state thinking. Someone else will just take care of them and protect them. Go ahead Gareth, remain positively really haven't been around much, have you?

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

~chuckle~ That was beautiful, Che... you made my day.

Navin_R_Johnson 8 years ago

Mr. John R. Ratzlaff,

with all due respect sir, you seem as qualified to interpet constitutional law as my cat is to read a newspaper.

Ahem..."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."

didn't realize that was such a brain-teaser John! what part of "people" was trippin' you up there brother? glad to set you straight on the path of righteousness though; now go stand in the corner with that conical hat on until further notice.

oh, and if anybody disagrees with me, you're either one wickedly unattractive woman with bodacious saddle bags or a man needin' a good caning.



stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

So, where is this well regulated militia that is of such necessity?

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

There you go again with the Kung Fu grasshopper talk, stuckin. According to Gov. K. Sebelius, our well regulated militia with all their vehicles is stuk in Irak with Jon Carry's recruits.

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

Che, from clicking on a few of the links you provided, I think the militia guys are in more need of a webmaster than shootin' irons.

TheHeartlessBureaucrat 8 years ago


Good point!

BUT, laws and signs are not a RAY SHIELD that will stop violence in your door. But it sets up a barrier of consequences that if you bring a gun in to a space that prohibits firearms, one has recourse to remove the individual with the gun before they fire a shot.

Please keep in mind that everything this country tries to outlaw remains in the hands of individuals who want that contraband regardless of the consequences. This includes such naughty items as the long list of illegal drugs that everyone still owns...we could go on and on.

As far as gun violence goes, the toothpaste is out of the tube. The problem is controlling the mess.


Tony Kisner 8 years ago

Following this Prof's thoughts; if the 2nd amendment only protects the individual soldier's right to bear arms, who would restrict the individual soldier from possessing arms? "Here, welcome to the army we got a fight today with the British, but we didn't issue any guns to the soldiers because we don't trust them."? Maybe the amendment was to be invoked by the US government it's self. The British send a note, "hey were coming back, got a few things to settle, but you can't use guns this time." The newly formed US government could then look for relief using the 2nd amendment "Oh yah? Prior to our Bill of rights we would have agreed to your demands to not use guns, but now we got us some of them there rights. Bring it on!" (Would not actually need to carry the guns just the red herring alone "come and get it, but I got a gun and a big dog", would probably slow most invading armies)

Actually I'd think the 2nd amendment would not be necessary under this assumption. Using an all volunteer army it would be up to the individual to bargain for the use of a gun while under contract with the US government. If you forget to put in a clause that you to get to carry a gun once you sign on too bad; should have read the fine print. If you ask to carry a gun and they say no way, do not sign.

Not sure what the amendment is but could you not look for relief under equal protection? Private to commander "Hey they got guns? Where is mine?" Maybe it's like gays in the military don't tell and don't ask, "Here is your gun but don't tell the other soldiers, then everyone will be wanting one."

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago


Check out the storefronts of Lawrence businesses that have been robbed at gunpoint recently. Several of them had/have the No Guns Allowed sign. The only people you'll be removing with No Gun signs are law abiding ones. I wonder how safe those business owners feel now?

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

kneejerk, so, you're saying that the National Guard is the militia? But the state supplies the guns and the guardsmen and guardswomen don't keep those guns at home or carrying them around town.

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

Stuck, au contraire, they do carry them around town. Their personal firearms.

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

Easy_Does_It - too funny! Yep, can you imagine Gen'rl Custer....."ok men, bring the big gun DID bring the big"

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

kneejerk, but not as part of being in the "well regulated militia". And, of course, not all guardsmen and guardswomen carry their own personal firearms around town. If I had to guess I would guess that it's actually a minority of guardsmen and guardswomen who carry their personal firearms around town.

A question for all the carry and conceal enthusiasts: Where, or how do you carry and conceal in the summertime?

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

No Scenebust, Che speaks with a straight's the scary truth. Liberal lefties do tolerate criminals, hate the death penallty and do love a good revolution in the name of the downtrodden and they don't like the established pohlice nor military. Lefties would like nothing more than to rid the country of guns, thereby making it easy for criminals and revolutionaries and terrorists to do their evil. Those bad 'ol lefties.

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

~chuckle~ kneejerk, please tell me that your 3:10 is tongue in cheek. I kind of half figured it was when Che said it.

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

stuckin., summertime carry=crotch holster. I'm sorry, I read well regulated as well hung. Haven't you noticed a lot of severe summer chafing going on around Lawrence?

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

~laughing~ kneejerk, you're cracking me up.

Baille 8 years ago

"There you go again with the Kung Fu grasshopper talk, stuckin. According to Gov. K. Sebelius, our well regulated militia with all their vehicles is stuk in Irak with Jon Carry's recruits."

Nope. Kneejerk. The Guard ain't militia. Sounds like you need to hit the books.

Anyway why can't anyone explain to me why I am not free to bear any damn arm that I want whenever I want? Seems like the gummint is infringing all over us and we just sit back and take it.

Tony Kisner 8 years ago

Stuck - I think you missed the professors point. He says the 2nd amendment protects the individual in the militia the right to carry a gun. I see no restrictions, so if they leave thier government issued bazooka at home it's the individual militaman's decision, but they certainly could walk down Mass. carrying one - the 2nd amendment appears to protect that right?

Also if I told you where I conceal something, then it wouldn't be concealed then would it? Nice trick question.

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

Baille, you can't even own what is no doubt the best home defense weapon ever, a sawed-off shotgun.

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

Baille, let's defer to Daniel.

Main Entry: militia Pronunciation: m&-'li-sh& Function: noun Etymology: Latin, military service, from milit-, miles 1 a : a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency

Sounds like the National Guard to me. As far as me needing to hit the books, that's another story, but not in this case.

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

Easy_Does_It, I believe you're absolutely right about 0f all that, except for the part about my question being a trick. I really want to know where a guy who is wearing shorts and a short sleeve polo shirt to a party at his neighbors' is going to hide his piece.

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

kneejerk, So, then... does guardsman Joe Blow's right to carry his own personal firearm around town have anything to do with the fact that he's in the militia/National Guard?

Tony Kisner 8 years ago

I think that is why Tony Saprano wears those shirts untucked that hang down. On other hand if it's just a mixer at the neighbors think you would maybe just lay it down on the table. Who ya going to shoot? Guys from the othe hood drive by to make trouble, you just flash a little steel they get the message.

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

Stuckin, I'd say no, off duty Joe Blow guardsman can carry or not based on his compliance with local laws and his tastefully concealed crotch holster....those suckers really conceal too......well, for some of us....:)

Tony Kisner 8 years ago

kneejerk - you must have big faith in your saftey, maybe even keep the chamber empty when concealed in such a manner. Turn you from a rooster to a gledding....

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

kneejerk, Okay, then, Joe's personal firearm has nothing to do with the militia/National Guard. So, how does the 2nd Amendment in anyway give Joe a right to own and or carry a gun that has nothing to do with his belonging to a militia?

The 2nd Amendment is clearly about militias being able to defend the State. It says nothing about personal self-defense.

I'm for the right to conceal and carry for the purpose of self-defense (though I think real men wear their guns out in the open) but the 2nd Amendment says nothing about it.

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

Easy, Easy Does it....not a gledding OR a gladding, 'cause I sure wouldn't like it for chambering...i recommend conditon 1, Colt Pocketlite pardner.....

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

stuck, read on to the other amendments, they give one the right to defend one's home, and, oh, by the way, the 2nd one says you don't have to hit the intruder with your purse.

Flap Doodle 8 years ago

"kneejerkreaction (Anonymous) says: Easy_Does_It - too funny! Yep, can you imagine Gen'rl Custer:.."ok men, bring the big gun forward:you DID bring the big gun:men::?""

Legend has it that the 7th Cav did leave a couple of Gatling guns behind in camp when they went to the Little Big Horn.

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

Stuck, if you think REAL men carry out in the open, then I might recommend a new holster I'm patenting....the forehead holster....comes with or without optional built-in sunglasses. NO one will ever guess you're packing, cause I designed it to look like a trout.

paladin 8 years ago

Where's them rights come from anywho? They a built inta us er does some highups give em ta us? I say my right ta have a shootin iron is a built in kind of a thing. Seems ta me.

stuckinthemiddle 8 years ago

kneejerk, Tongue in cheek, again, I suppose ~chuckle~ on the amendment that gives you a right to defend your home... and the trout.

I actually love the trout idea.

paladin 8 years ago

Who says I cain't own a sawed off shotgun? Got one right here a layin in my lap. I guess I own it, cause there ain't no mouse in my pocket.

Gareth Skarka 8 years ago

"See, I told you the Gareths of the world would raise their ugly heads with stupid comments about firearm=redneck."

Where did I say that? I didn't make any comment about rednecks at all -- but my, my, you are oversensitive about it, aren't you....overcompensating, perhaps?

"Someone else will just take care of them and protect them. "

Never said that, either. Reading isn't your strong suit, is it.... I'm just saying that I don't need a gun to make me feel safe. I'm confident in my ability to be aware of my surroundings and aware of the situations I find myself in, and in my ability to handle myself in the event of danger.

"Go ahead Gareth, remain positively really haven't been around much, have you?"

Actually, I have. I've lived in Atlanta, New York City....and I've travelled to places that would make a midwestern yokel like you curl up and cry.

I don't need a gun to make me feel like a man. Why do you?

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

Stuckin....copied from the Bill of Rights.....

Amendment IV The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches......

I'd say a burglar would fall under unreasonalbe searches....

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

Gareth, having lived half my life outside the US, the other half in large cities I'm not sure what a midwestern yokel is, but you're teaching me quickly. So, you don't need a gun to make you feel safe? Why, because you have some kind of extrasensory built in self defense system or can you run really, really fast?

Bad things that happen to you in life happen quicker than the drivel that you just deposited onto this page. SInce you don't need a gun to make you feel like a man, let me tell you that criminals need one to make them feel like a criminal. So, you choose big man.

Tony Kisner 8 years ago

I'm not so sure Stuck.

Again I don't have access to the constitution but I believe that the Federal Government is restricted from making laws regarding the government of the States. So why would the States need a special amendment to have the right to form a military with arms? I believe the States already have that right, it would be redundant.

The term local militia appears to be local, like West Lawrence vs. East Lawrence. If East Lawrence was to rise up and try to take over West Lawrence (and all the spoils of war including those fancy BMW's) how are those in West Lawrence to protect their selves but with their 2nd amendment guns?

I still don't buy the argument that a constitutional amendment is needed to arm a militia Federal or State? Who is going to deny them the right? Could not the Southern States then sue for succession using this 2nd amendment, we have the right to an armed militia to protect us from the Federal Government; then we must be free to choose our on destiny outside of the Federal Government?

If the militia is the only group that can have arms, then how is the home owner to exercise the right to not have to give access to their property to the militia?

Gareth Skarka 8 years ago

kneejerk, are you aware that violent crime is actually decreasing, right? In 2005 the Department of Justice released data that indicated that the violent crime rate in the US was at its lowest level since they started tracking crime in 1973.

Yet people like you insist on seeing the world as filled with dangerous criminals (and most likely non-white, right, buddy?) just waiting to do harm to you & yours at any moment.

Like I said earlier: How sad it must be to live your life feeling like that.

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

Gareth, non-white crime, you say? Well, statistics show that the majority of crime is committed by non-whites on their own kind, so you're right there. Remember Gareth, these are STATISTICS, wo don't call me a racist you liberal commie fag. And maybe violent crime is at it's lowest level per capita, but our population has doubled, so unless violent crime has dropped by 50%, I'd say you're full of it, again.

And, since you feel so sorry for me, don't, I live quite well.

dbushong 8 years ago


Why would I spend any time on an article that finishes up with (and please read with me carefully) this?

where is is a professor emeritus of geoscience

"Is is" [sic] "geoscience" [sic]

If I were interested in grammar, or "geoscience", I might consult this expert, regarding gun crime, or crime, or guns, or maybe the time of day.

Then again, maybe not.

This article is a good example of a bad example -- careless in the details. If you can't spell, or can't check your grammar, then why would I value your opinion about something as important as civil rights?

Dave Hudson, NH

paladin 8 years ago

I'm a hopin yer wide awake and real awaaaare like when a couple a big gorillas bust in yer front door and commence'n ta tearin at the nightie the little woman's a wearin whilst a beatin you upside the head with a iron pipe er suchlike.. Hey, it happens. Handle that. It don't take no shootin iron ta make no man feel like a man, leastways not the lead shootin kind, but there's times it jest might take one ta be a man and do what a man need's ta do. Thems the facts, like em er not. Like, reality, duuude.

kneejerkreaction 8 years ago

Well written, Paladin, my Arkansas friend.

Baille 8 years ago

"Baille, you can't even own what is no doubt the best home defense weapon ever, a sawed-off shotgun."

I know! Infringment all over the place! How do they get away with it?

By the way, Kneejerk, while Daniel does many things, he is kinda weak on the constitutional analysis. Just because we can all read the Second Amendment doesn't mean we understand the jurisprudence surrounding it. A little bookwork would suggest that the National Guard arises under the war powers allowed a sovereign under our federal and state (?) constitutions - both on a national and a state level. (Not to be confused with the actual War Powers Act.) Arguably, and I think persuasively so, this is different than a militia as meant in the Constitution.

Baille 8 years ago

"This article is a good example of a bad example - careless in the details. If you can't spell, or can't check your grammar, then why would I value your opinion about something as important as civil rights?"

Because if you took the time to look past the form you might find he was right about the substance? Because even though the copy guy gots a little bit o' the sloppy at 3:00 a.m., Professor Geoscience did his research and, although wrong in your opinion, presents an interesting and worthwhile argument? Because there ain't nothing better to do in NH on a slow, cold Friday?

james bush 8 years ago

What would Jimmy Carter(the great appeaser) say.............. the islamists and the hamas ...........anyone but US as in USA!

paladin 8 years ago

Bullhunkey! Let em restrict away. I'm a holdin on ta my guns, ya nutcase. Fer as I kin tell, ya don't know nuthin bout nuthin, jest see what ya wana see an believe what ya wana believe, irregards ta anithin elset. Yer livin in a dreamworld. The thing is, what THEY do is jest no nevermind ta me. THEY don't represent me an I ain't abiding by none a their rules. More folks'll be athink along this line a thought afore long, sooner er later.

Gareth Skarka 8 years ago

"you liberal commie fag."


That about sums up the reasoning ability of the gun nuts, right there.

james bush 8 years ago

As long as our justice system treats criminals as victims and victims as non-entities, every citizen(legal, that is) should assure that his/her firearms are in working order and close at hand!..........look at whom our parole boards and liberal judges release and how many innocent people become the criminals' new victims. Police officers are at a loss to "protect" the public; they can only apprehend lawbreakers after they've assaulted someone. The legal system has been infected by the aclu types and liberal do-gooders. Keep your weapons for self protection until .................................!

Tom McCune 8 years ago

Constitutional nitpicking notwithstanding, the common sense answer is that the same general principles that apply to automobiles should apply to guns. Properly used, an automobile is a valuable tool and an enjoyable recreational implement. The same is true of a gun. Improperly used both are dangerous devices. Far more people are killed by motor vehicles than by guns in this country.

To operate an automobile (in most places) you must obtain a license, which requires passing a written test evincing knowledge of the laws, a driving test demonstrating technical competence, and an eye test. You must also have insurance or evidence of financial ability to stand behind any damage you might cause to others. The government can revoke your driver's license for good cause but cannot deny you a license just because it just doesn't think you really need to drive. If gun laws went that far and no farther, it would be OK with me. Confiscation or prohibition are un-American.

When Jeremy Bentham wrote that, "Every law is an infraction of liberty" he was not arguing for anarchy. He was pointing out that in any free society we make tradeoffs between individual liberty and collective safety.

(For purposes of argument, let's not quibble over the differences between laws concerning OWNING a car and OPERATING a car.)

GunShowOnTheNet 8 years ago

The Preamble to the Bill of Rights makes it crstal clear whose Right it is; The Conventions of a number of the States having, at the time of adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further DECLARATORY and RESTRICTIVE clauses should be added, and as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;

Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two-thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States; all or any of which articles, when ratified by three-fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the said Constitution, namely:

...Amendment II

DECLARATORY; (Common Defense) A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state,

RESTRICTIVE; (Self-Defense/Preservation, The First Law of Nature).

the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and this without any qualification as to their condition or degree, as is the case in the British government...."

"....This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty....The right of self-defense is the first law of nature; in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Whenever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction."

"...In America we may reasonably hope that the people will never cease to regard the right of keeping and bearing arms as the surest pledge of their liberty..."

  • St. George Tucker, Blackstone's Commentaries, (1803).

"The right of self-defence never ceases. It is among the most sacred, and alike necessary to nations and to individuals."

GunShowOnTheNet 8 years ago

No "permit" required, nor "registration". It is an INALIENABLE RIGHT, not a "privilege".

"The language of the second amendment is broad enough to embrace both Federal and State governments--nor is there anything in its terms which restricts its meaning. The preamble which was prefixed to these amendments shows, that they originated in the fear that the powers of the general government were not sufficiently limited. Several of the States in their act of ratification recommended that further restrictive clauses should be added. And in the first session of the first Congress, ten of these amendments having been agreed to by that body, and afterwards sanctioned by three-fourths of the States, became a part of the Constitution. But admitting all this, does it follow that because the people refused to delegate to the general government the power to take from them the right to keep and bear arms, that they designed to rest it in the State governments? Is this a right reserved to the States or to themselves? Is it not an inalienable right, which lies at the bottom of every free government? We do not believe that, because the people withheld this arbitrary power of disfranchisement from Congress, they ever intended to confer it on the local legislatures. This right is too dear to be confided to a republican legislature."

"The prohibition is general. No clause in the Constitution could by any rule of construction be conceived to give to Congress a power to disarm the people. Such a flagitious attempt could only be made under some general pretense by a state legislature. But if in any blind pursuit of inordinate power, either should attempt it, this amendment may be appealed to as a restraint on both."

"The power to tax the exercise of a privilege is the power to control and suppress its enjoyment. . . . A State may not impose a charge for the enjoyment of a Right granted by the federal constitution. . . . Thus it may not exact a license tax for the privilege of carrying on interstate commerce. . . . This tax is not a charge for the enjoyment of a privilege or benefit bestowed by the State. The privilege in question exists apart from State authority. It is guaranteed the People by the federal constitution."

  • Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105 (1943).

Gareth Skarka 8 years ago

Sure, it's nicer....but once someone has called me a "fag", I think they've already lost the debate.

Flap Doodle 8 years ago

Has anybody on this thread been called a Nazi yet?

paladin 8 years ago

I'm with them other folks. A bear jest has arms, was borned with em. Ain't got nothin ta do with his rights. Jest the way things is. What he does with em is a whole other story.

paladin 8 years ago

An I jest have gun cause I'm a gun totin fool. A gun nut. So what? Why would anybody care, long as I don't do nothin untoward er outa line with em. They's laws fer anyathin like that there. Why's there need ta be laws bout havin arms long as ya don't do nothin bad with em that there's already laws agin. Think some on that there.

GunShowOnTheNet 8 years ago

"The defence of one's self, justly called the primary law of nature, is not, nor can it be abrogated by any regulation of municipal law. This principle of defence is not confined merely to the person; it extends to the liberty and the property of a man: it is not confined merely to his own person; it extends to the persons of all those, to whom he bears a peculiar relation -- of his wife, of his parent, of his child, of his master, of his servant: nay, it extends to the person of every one, who is in danger; perhaps, to the liberty of every one, whose liberty is unjustly and forcibly attacked. It becomes humanity as well as justice."

  • By James Wilson, 'Of the Natural Rights of Individuals', (Signed the Declaration of Indepedence, Congressman, Delegate to the Constitutional Convention and Supreme Court Justice). 1790-1792.

"For, in principle, there is no difference between a law prohibiting the wearing of concealed arms, and a law forbidding the wearing such as are exposed; and if the former be unconstitutional, the latter must be so likewise. But it should not be forgotten, that it is not only a part of the right that is secured by the constitution; it is the right entire and complete, as it existed at the adoption of the constitution; and if any portion of that right be impaired, immaterial how small the part may be, and immaterial the order of time at which it be done, it is equally forbidden by the constitution."

  • [Bliss vs. Commonwealth, 12 Ky. (2 Litt.) 90, at 92, and 93, 13 Am. Dec. 251 (1822)

"All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void."

  • Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (2 Cranch) 137 (1803).

"Now, in questions of this sort, precedents ought to go for absolutely nothing. The constitution is a collection of fundamental laws, not to be departed from in practice nor altered by judicial decision, and in the construction of it, nothing would be so alarming as the doctrine of communis error, which offers a ready justification for every usurpation that has not been resisted in limine. Instead, therefore, of resting on the fact, that the right in question has universally been assumed by the American courts, the judge who asserts it ought to be prepared to maintain it on the principles of the constitution."

  • John Bannister Gibson, in dissent in Eakin v. Raub, 12 Sergeant and Rawle 330, Pennsylvania 1825.

Jamesaust 8 years ago

Here's the text, whole: 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 NRA reads this as: "The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed," with two preceding, dependent clauses by way of explanation.

The courts have traditionally read this as: "A well regulated Militia shall not be infringed [by guaranteeing the people] the right to keep and bear Arms," with an interrupting, dependent clause by way of explanation.

The trouble with the first is that pesky comma right in the middle: "...Arms, shall...." The NRA interpretation is grammatically impossible, not just unwieldy but impossible. While modern day ignoramuses (the product of poor education) may fling punctuation around with abandon, not so the authors of this text. "Shall not be infringed" completes something but it is NOT "keep and bear arms." Grammatically, the only other candidate is "well regulated militia."

What's more, while the Second Amendment is clear enough that government cannot extinguish gun ownership, the NRA is untruthful in its attempt to erase "well regulated" from the Amendment and replaced it with "unregulated" and "incapable of regulation." You don't even need a high school education to figure out what "well regulated" means.

GunShowOnTheNet 8 years ago

"No, surely, No! they meant to drive us into what they termed rebellion, that they might be furnished with a pretext to disarm and then strip us of the rights and privileges of Englishmen and Citizens."

"Self-preservation is the first law of nature, and has been implanted in the heart of man by his Creator, for the wisest purpose; and no political union, however fraught with blessings and benefits in all other respects, can long continue, if the necessary consequence be to render the homes and the firesides of nearly half the parties to it habitually and hopelessly insecure."

paladin 8 years ago

Ain't nobody got no right to no bear arms. Leave them bears alone an don't go shootin em, they ain't done nothin ta ya'll. As ta guns, bought a AK-47 tother day fer 5 bills. That a good price er not? Took er out by the river an kilt some beer cans. It was lots a fun. Cheap thrills.

miker 8 years ago

Maybe we should arm bears for their own preservation ?

GunShowOnTheNet 8 years ago

"Also, the conditions and circumstances of the period require a finding that while the stated purpose of the right to arms was to secure a well-regulated militia, the right to self-defense was assumed by the Framers."

"The militia is the natural defense of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic Usurpation of Power by rulers. The Right of the Citizens to Keep and Bear Arms has JUSTLY been considered, as the PALLADIUM of the LIBERTIES of The Republic; since it offers a strong moral check AGAINST the Usurpation and Arbitrary Power of rulers; and will generally...ENABLE the PEOPLE to RESIST and TRIUMPH OVER THEM."

"If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, (Notice the use of the word CITIZENS - NOT MILITIA!), without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair...."

GunShowOnTheNet 8 years ago

"The right [to bear arms] is general. It may be supposed from the phraseology of this provision that the right to keep and bear arms was only guaranteed to the militia; but this would be an interpretation not warranted by the intent. The militia, as has been explained elsewhere, consists of those persons who, under the laws, are liable to the performance of military duty, and are officered and enrolled for service when called upon.... [I]f the right were limited to those enrolled, the purpose of the guarantee might be defeated altogether by the action or the neglect to act of the government it was meant to hold in check. The meaning of the provision undoubtedly is, that the people, from whom the militia must be taken, shall have the right to keep and bear arms, and they need no permission or regulation of law for the purpose. But this enables the government to have a well regulated militia; for to bear arms implies something more than mere keeping; it implies the learning to handle and use them in a way that makes those who keep them ready for their efficient use; in other words, it implies the right to meet for voluntary discipline in arms, observing in so doing the laws of public order."

  • Thomas M. Cooley, General Principles of Constitutional Law, Third Edition [1898]. (Mr. Cooley was Dean of the University of Michigan's Law School, Michigan Supreme Court justice, and a nationally recognized scholar).

james bush 8 years ago

Do it like islamists.............once the aclu loses the war, we can fight back with our pickups and the few guns the aclu didn't take away!

james bush 8 years ago

Raise poppies like the Afghans!

james bush 8 years ago

The aclu made normal people think the guy with a gun on a rack in his pickup was the bad guy....WRONG!

arpjoe 8 years ago

John R. Ratzlaff, a Lawrence resident, is retired from Fort Hays State University, where is is a professor emeritus of geoscience.

Ratzlaff must have rocks for brains. He must not have read about the recent US Appeals Court for the District of Washington ruling that the 2nd Amendment of the Bill of Rights is an Individual Right. Gun control does not work and even the Federal Courts are starting to acknowledge it.

paladin 8 years ago

Without guns, owned by your forebearers, you would probably not being living the fat, generally peaceful and quiet and stable, decadent lives you are living. This great, depending on one's perspective and values, country would not have been pacified and assumed and developed. The probable fact is that you, who are reading this, would not even exist. There is no currently perceived, practical need for the average American to have guns, granted, under normal circumstances. Its your choice. And, it may be a desirable and sensible choice under your current circumstances. But, things can change in a heartbeat. Tragedy is just a kiss away. You probably will live and die without ever needing a gun. But, if you do, you'll be helpless and at the mercy of others, who may not share your moral values, social goals, or concordance of law and civil harmony. This may be a deranged aggressor, common criminal, or your government turned to tyranny. You will have no practical defense. You will be victimized. Why stack the odds against yourself.

jonas 8 years ago

"paladin (Anonymous) says:

I'd rather be a live paranoid than a dead chump. Nowhere are you safe, even inside your own house. Paranoid? Read the papers, watch TV, take a look around. There is no place safe, there is only the delusion of safety."

You know, though, that the media promotes this stuff, making it seem rediculously common, because it boosts ratings, right? Looking around, I see a place where bad things don't really happen all that often. Often enough to take some precautions, not often enough to live my life in fear.

Nick Yoho 8 years ago

I think we should give out guns as High school Graduation gifts.But then some idiot would want to teach them safety and gun control,hell probably ethics too! Never mind.

paladin 8 years ago

I am as close to being fearless as one can possibly get. Given my history, its understandable. I do have some fears, but not of criminals with sixguns, just those with inkpens. And fear for the future of my grandchildren in a rapidly failing American society. No fear of death, unlike most.

Nick Yoho 8 years ago

KVK is trying to be funny you fool.

Nick Yoho 8 years ago

I actually haven't revealed my views on either wedge issue,righty,But I will over time.I'm not into labels,but I probably lean left on most issues.I don't have a problem with responsible Adults owning guns,just no ammo!ha just kidding.No with some screening,gun ownership is a right,and might be all that we've got,if we have to exercise a few of our constitutional rights.This is one area both sides should be able to find some common ground. Now as for a womans right to choose,let her.In fact Encourage it!There are waaay to many humans here already.Harsh,I know.Don't care.Why are all the "pro lifers"against social welfare?you want to bring into the world all these unwanted children ,then blame the parent when they can't handle it.And wonder why there are so many ghetto youths.Then,want to send them off to die in unjust wars.Republicans are such F*en hypocrites.

hornhunter 8 years ago

That is just the old Constitution, this is the new and improved version,
No where in it does it state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. But you can bet they still WILL NOT get mine!

50YearResident 8 years ago

I remenber 3 recent murder victims here in Douglas Co. that might still be alive if they would have had concealed carry in effect. All three interrupted home robberies by comming home while the crime was in progress. Two of them were a man and wife within the city limits of Lawrence and the other was a man living just outside of Lecompton. I think all three would still be alive if they had concealed weapons. That is hitting pretty close to home! Remember those of you that think weapons are a bad thing for the average Kansan, the same thing could happen again. "When weapons are illegal, only the illegals have weapons."

notme 8 years ago

My Epiphany Our forefathers understood a standing army could be misused. Congress is using the situation in Iraq to gain control of the military. The courts have let congress abuse the constitution for hundreds of years. Fear congress. Love the individual

redneck 8 years ago

Here it goes again. Do you liberals even understand the definition of lawbreaker? It might just mean "people who break laws". Why are you so insistant on taking guns away from law abiding people? Spend your efforts taking guns away from the criminals and the mentally ill people. Just like the people at Virginia Tech. We were so darn busy protecting the rights of this mentally ill person that WE (as a society) sacrificed 30+ inocent people. Now we can all feel proud of yourselves because this mentally unstable person didn't have HIS rights taken away. Sounds like we as a society needs our heads examined. Pull your heads out of the sand!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.