The Second Amendment | The National Constitution Center | US government and civics | Khan Academy
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The Second Amendment | The National Constitution Center | US government and civics | Khan Academy

August 25, 2019


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  1. The meaning of the 2nd amendment hasn't changed. The original protection from an overreaching Government is still one of the main reasons that it shall not be infringed upon (though it already has been…by an overreaching Government).

  2. Good job Khan Academy for talking to Alan Gura! Most MSM would rather get opinion on the 2nd Amendment from David Hogg or Dianne Feinstein than someone who actually knows what they are talking about.

  3. You are guy are lying if there was no second amendment then the government will try to take all the guns. The safe peaceful town of Deerfield is doing just that stripping away peoples right and forcing them to get rid of there guns. You morons don’t realize the only thing protecting your life and freedoms is guns. Look at the UK they are banning people for interviews, they are charging people for videos about a dog. And they really taking away the ability to even have kitchen knives.

  4. Why shouldn't we be able to own tanks or "bazookas," machine guns, and explosives? If there is no criminal action or intent, I see no reason why someone shouldn't be able to own or operate one, especially since not being able to would give the government a definite monopoly on force. Why do people think that times have changed enough that we can throw away our ability to maintain control of the government?

  5. I'd use a tank to defend myself on the street. I wouldn't need to fire the gun. Who the hell would mess with a guy in a tank?

  6. Thank God for a pretty objective and reasonable look at the amendment. I don't care what side you're on, this is a bit of a breath of fresh air.

  7. Washington DC is a legislative Democracy ruled by Congress.
    The states are a Constitutional Republic. Read "Meet Your Strawman", and "The UCC Connection".
    Common law should be the law of the land.
    Shall not be infringed!

  8. It is interesting to me that so many people go to the tank argument when discussing limits of the 2A as if there were not tanks in the hands of civilians. Not all have the guns disabled either. Also, bazooka? You can own those too.

  9. George Washington who fought the militias in the whiskey rebellion said this about the militia, "When government takes away Citizens right to bear arms it becomes citizens duty to take away governments' right to govern."

  10. The U.K. gradually removed people’s right to bear arms, but by bit. Now we don’t even have Free Speech, let alone guns. It’s gone that far.. Guns back up the people’s civil liberties. It’s the ultimate back stop.

    We now have Hate Laws, where anyone who decides they are “offended” can complain to the Police. The law is Subjective and Subjective laws are the tool of tyrants as history has shown.

    A man in Wales was recently arrested for having an old collectible doll in his first floor bedroom window. This is one example.

    The message is clear. You cannot objectively know the “right opinion”….so: Go home and shut up, citizen, your government is in charge and your fellow citizens can report you at anytime”.

    It is no coincidence IMO, that the decline of an armed population has resulted in a huge decline in our civil liberties.

    But don’t worry, the gun, knife and acid attacks at all record highs. Over 50 people stabbed in London in 3 months. Even if that doesn’t matter, the bad people just run people over if they can’t get any of those three.

    Rights don’t come from Government. We are born with them as Rational Animals. We don’t have claws or teeth to defend ourselves, we have our mind. In order to survive and thrive a person must be free to own property and defend it. That also means free to speak. In order to learn and grow, we must risk being offended. The government rules by consent…. I remove my consent.

  11. Plain and simple: The second amendment allows the Country (The People) to protect itself from a Government.

  12. We have the right to bear arms, by the constitution, so lets call out our congress and senators, why are they infringing on our constitution rights, no state should regulate our rights also, there is no clause in the constitution that a state has the right to infringing on our rights

  13. You people are stupid it's meaningless that means nothing anymore out of date update it so people know what it is properly and you can't read common sense it's so obvious what it means

  14. Miller case it was found that the sawed off shotgun was illegal because it was a gun under the 1934 NFA act it was not a commonly used gun by the government. It had a two fold ruling, he needed a tax stamp to own that rifle, but the court found that whatever weapons the government possessed the people can own. To me that was a good thing. Funny he left that out.

  15. So, since the States are no longer naming the officers for their State militias, or regulating a now non existent organization….
    How could the citizens of a State legally form a militia today?

  16. There were gun control laws imposed in the "Wild West" which was in some towns rather than a state or area. That in no way means it was a legal law. Governments and powerful people have always imposed weapon bans on common people they wanted to control.
    Look at todays laws against weapons in states like California, NY and others. Many of those laws are clearly infringements on peoples rights to arm themselves and the lawmakers who passed those laws knew they were conflicting with the Constitution, but they don't care. They pass them anyway.

  17. The meaning of well regulated in the late 1700s was fine tuned, or well trained like a well regulated watch. Not the same as say our use of the term federal regulation today.

  18. This is a point by point rebuttal of the claims made in the video.

    The words "self defense" do not appear in the Second Amdt. precisely for the reason that the Amdt was not about self defense, but, first, about national defense, and second, about state defense. The Heller Court invented the phrase "self defense" out of whole cloth.

    The claim that "the" means a pre-existing right was also a claim made in the Heller Court and it contains a number of fallacies.

    First, the Heller Court tried to argue that "the" referred to the "unorganized" militia. But in fact the only militias the states knew before the federal Constitution were the well-regulated militias of the Articles of Confederation (1777-1787).

    Second, to say the right pre-existed the Constitution is to stumble on the fallacy that it is therefore protected by the Constitution. In fact, if the right pre-existed the Constitution then it is not protected by the Constituton. Justice Waite in "Cruikshank" (1876) got it right, and Scalia in Heller, even though he quoted Cruikshank, got it wrong. For Waite, that meant the Constitution does not protect the right and pursuant to the Ninth and Tenth Amdts the right is retained by the States or by the municipalities of the State ("the People").

    Contrary to the video, by far the single most important word, or rather letter, in the entire Amdt is the first letter, A. That humble article governs the entire Amdt.

    For the goal is A (one, single, not many) militia. This proves that the Heller Court's reading of the second clause as an individual right was wrong. Because if read as an individual right, the second clause would contradict the first clause, for it would enable not ONE militia but MANY militias and not for "the security of a free state" but for whatever cause the armed citizen imagined, which might even be Marxist, supremacist, fascist, anarchic, etc.

    We must keep in mind that the immediate cause of the federal Constitution was the Shays rebellion, which literally terrified the young democracy so much that Jefferson had to rationalize it twice in two famous letters, while both Washington and Madison (who wrote the Amdt) said that was the cause of the national Convention.

    What is often ignored in the British Bill of Rights that enabled private guns is the phrase, AS ALLOWED BY LAW. The fact is, Parliament always had final control over which arms were allowed. In any case, the real issue was not an absolute right to arms, but the fact that the Catholics had that right but not the Protestants.

    The claim that the Constitution changes meaning is a claim that Scalia himself would reject. So one can't have it both ways. But even if one accepts that claim, then it's a knife that cuts both ways. Clearly the technological advancement of arms make guns far more lethal today than in the Founding Era. In fact there was nothing lethal at all about arms in the Founding Era when the Bill of Rights was ratified. What threat could a crazy citizen do with a gun that was awkward to carry, that took considerable time to load and ignite, that could not shoot accurately and that could only fire a single ball at a far shorter distance than the arms of today?

    Another area the Heller Court stumbled on (and I count 70 material errors in that opinion) is that Scalia contradicted himself in Harmelin v Michigan 1991, where he specifically argued that when the federal Const omitted phrasing of the State Const that was "telling" that the federal Const chose deliberately not to "replicated" the state right.

    And clearly Madison deliberately chose not to replicate the wording of the State Constitutions. Similarly, we know for a fact that Madison read and thanked Tench Coxe for a letter he wrote that read the proposed Amdt to protect "private arms." The letter was ad populum, to help Madison to ratify the Const. So whether Coxe actually believed that the Amdt protected "private arms" or simply stretched meaning to ensure ratification is an issue. But regardless, the fact is Madison saw the words "private arms," thanked Coxe for the letter and obviously he or his committee deliberately chosed NOT TO INCLUDE "private arms" in the Amdt. That could not possibly have been an oversight. It was clearly deliberate as Scalia argued about the federal Const. not replicating the protection of proportinate sentencing in "Harmelin."

    In fact, George Mason requested that Madison just use one of the State Amdts to expedite writing the proposed Amdt and, as can be seen, clearly Madison or his committee refused to replicate the language of the State Constitutions, almost all of which had similarl phrasing "in defense of themselves and the state."

    Even that phrase is contentious. Because later state Constittutions altered the phrase to "in defense of HIMSELF and the State," which suggests that even "in defense of themselves and the state" was a redundant construction; that is, in defending the State, the citizens would naturally be defending themselves as well.

    Clearly if read as an individual right, there is no way to distinguish between a Constitutional militia and insurgents, except by who wins. In fact, by the individual right reading, for all we know, Washington was the war criminal when, as president, he rode against the Whiskey rebels and the Whiskey Rebels were the Constitutionally protected militia. This is the kind of absurdity that and individual right reading of the second clause results in.

    To say that the government should not have a monopoly on force contradicts the classic statement of Max Weber that a state is defined by its monopoly on the legitimate use of force.

    An individual right reading of the second clause creates what I call an "ontological" dilemma. How can we know when a militia is legitimate? We can't, except on the basis of who is victorious. But that would found our republic not on laws but on brute force, clearly not the intention of the Founders, who considered, as Hamilton wrote in Federalist 84, the Constitution itself as a bill of rights.

    Regarding Miller (1939) that has been misconstrued numerous times to imply an individual right, on the misunderstanding of the principle of "justiciability" and how courts opine on an issue. A court cannot bring an issue, but only accept a case brought by a citizen (or rather "the people" that advocate for that citizen).

    Now the cautious way the court handled the case without violating the principle of justiciability was its ratio decidendi, that this particular gun was not used in a militia.

    That did not imply, as gun rights apologists like to rationalize, that if the gun WAS used in a militia it would be protected by the Constitution. It simply meant that the particular case only brought up that particular issue. The rest is obiter dicta, not binding as precedent.

    I like to compare the ratio decidendi of a case with a mother who tells her child he cannot play because it's raining out .

    A child's rights apologist would argue that therefore the mother implied that if it were not raining out the child (and thus all children) can play. But that's not how mothers "rule" in their homes.

    The next evening Tom thinks he can play since it's not raining out, but now Mother says, "You can't play because it's too dark." The day after that, "because your grades are too poor," etc.

    The mother, like a court, only "rules" on the specific case brought before her.

    I consider the Heller opinion one of the greatest snow jobs in judical history. The McDonald "incorporation" of that opinion (incidentally by the same justices!) was even more problematic. How can a court incorporate the Bill of Rights or any right thereof? It's constitutionally impossible. But I believe Americans are no longer interested in "doing" democracy; they just want to "have" democracy, as the 1960s distinction put it. As Lincoln said, when the Court is the final arbiter on what the Constitution means, we have ceased to be our own rulers.

    At this point I stopped commenting.

  19. The 2nd ammendment neither establishes any state militia, nor authorizes its armament. It presumes a militia to exist, and recognizes that the people are its members.

  20. The only problem that I have with Mr. Winkler's stance is that it's completely based on flawed logic from the Supreme Court. Defining "arms" as something common and used for 'legal' purposes is completely asinine and arbitrary. Arms are literally any weapon and it's ammunition. Just because we've allowed the government to trample and pervert words does not invalidate the origional intent. And yes, contrary to the typical ignorant rhetoric; an individual with enough cash and a clean background CAN purchase a fully functioning tank…

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