The right to bear arms

In the light of so many tragedies with guns, some people argue we should severely restrict or even ban guns. This article is in defense of the Second Amendment.

My belief is my own. It is not based on others’ arguments or what the major political parties may believe or argue. I believe my argument is based on what the founding fathers intended with the Bill of Rights and is not a “partisan” defense.

Before I discuss and defend the Second Amendment, let me start with the First.

I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment. What gives us the "right" to free speech? Is it the U.S. Constitution or the Bill or Rights? The answer is neither.

Philosophically, we have the right to free speech because we are human beings. People living in China under the Communist dictatorship have the right to free speech, too. That right is being repressed (immorally, of course.) Are Chinese citizens "illegally" being silenced? No, they are not. The dictatorship is immoral but they have enacted laws to prevent free speech. So they are lawfully preventing the "human right" to free speech.

If you are with me so far, you will understand that the Constitution does not create rights, it lists examples of rights. It gives some reasons why the examples it lists are rights. But the rights are "inalienable" and humans are born with them.

That is why we have the right to bear arms. It is not because we may one day need to join the is because, "for example," we may one day need to join the militia. If militias were never again needed by some miracle, we would still have the right to bear arms.

We could probably make a list of 100 "rights" that we have. The bill of rights lists the top 10 according to the framers. It was not meant to be restrictive of those rights nor to imply that those are the only rights.

This interpretation of the Constitution is consistent with protecting individual liberty, which is a top priority of mine. Sometimes protecting individual rights are difficult. Hateful speech can be painful and can incite violence. Does that mean we should allow our government to restrict speech that is offensive? If we do, we prevent the occasional riot, but that then allows government to censure critics like in China.

Our framers thought it was much more important, in fact, it was critical and necessary, to restrict the ability of government to suppress individual rights because an "evil state" was a greater threat to the country than an "evil individual."

If you look around the world, you know the framers were right. And I'd bet that in every country where the "right to free speech" is not protected, they also just happen to have very restrictive gun laws or bans. Coincidence?

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A well-regulated militia

"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 intent is in the first half of the above sentence. The corresponding right is in the second. It can be interpreted that the right to bear arms is provided to one and all in order to cover for the eventuality of maintaining a well-regulated militia. If necessary.

Now, that militia was using muskets and pistols, not automatic and semi-automatic rifles. The number of bullets per second spewing out of the business end of today's weapons is staggering, and most probably beyond the imagination of those who drafted the Bill of Rights.

The Second Amendment may also be seen as an appeasement to make non-Federalists agree to sign the Constitution.

When was the last time a civilian's arms were used for the purpose of anything close to a "well-regulated militia"?

At the end of the day, the Second Amendment is an amendment. We have the duty to re-evaluate our circumstances and amend it again if necessary, to qualify what we mean by "arms". If we are so cocky about our AR-15's saving us from a rogue federal army, we are so nuked.

Bill of Rights

Hi Viola,

The Bill of Rights, as I explained, does not "establish" rights, it protects "natural" rights that we have as human beings. Let me refer you to this link which explains the history of the Bill of Rights:

You have a fundamental right to "free speech," and the bill of rights lists several freedoms in the first paragraph along those lines. The second individual right is to bear arms. Etc.

I don't need to debate "the reason" why, in 1781 or so, the Founding fathers considered it necessary to list this right, second from the top. They do give a reason, but the reason is irrelevant to the right. The right is a "natural right" and cannot be diminished by the government. That's the point.

Expressing these rights in writing wasn't thought to be necessary by some, because some considered them obvious and covered by states' rights. But others were concerned about Federal over-reach so they listed the rights they wanted to protect. According to the website, 17 were originally proposed but only 10 got through the approval process.

We might agree that amendments can be repealed or changed, but I would argue that these "natural rights" are immutable in our system of government. Lucky that isn't a point for debate.

So unless or until someone proposes changing the Constitution, it is what it is. And what it is is a right to protect individual liberty by preventing the government from infringing on the right to bear arms.

One more point. Was the conduct listed (to form a militia) meant to protect against foreign invaders, or U.S. government invaders? I haven't researched that question, maybe someone has. But if it is to protect from an over-reaching Federal government, then having some parity with the Federal weaponry would make sense. Thus, unless the armed forces of the United States are using muskets today, there is no reason for citizens to be stuck with them.


Allen Nitschelm has lived in Acton since 1998 and writes about fiscal issues at the
local and state level. He is a former member of the town's Finance Committee
and publisher of the Acton Forum.

The Crazed Mob

Incidents like Parkland, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, or Columbine may be outrages – or to some folks – 'tragedies'. They are mass murder – and the guilty need to be executed, their organs donated to save worthy people.

How cunning of liberals to use such crimes to 'JUSTIFY' taking our rights – our firearms away. The GROUP doesn't get to decide what my RIGHTS are, - we've already decided that starting on the Lexington Green, and ending at Yorktown.

The 2nd Amendment specifically directs the government (which operates at the expressed consent of the governed) – NOT to infringe on my rights. Mass murders by madmen do NOT constitute justification for government to abridge or infringe on my free speech, - or my right to keep and bear arms. Rather it is the DUTY of government to SAFEGUARD those rights – even in the face of a crazed mob.

When liberals are REALLY SERIOUS about 'saving lives', they will re-institute the Death Penalty for murder, shut down Planned Murderhood, make drug dealing a mandatory 20-year sentence, and place a mandatory 10-year / no parole penalty on all gun crimes.

MEANWHILE, study what happened when the crazed mob decided to ban demon alcohol; - how'd that XVIII Amendment work out – 99 years ago?

Right to bear arms

You are discussing the wrong issue. The “Right to Bear Arms” is not the issue. Properly managing what arms should be available and who should be able to acquire arms is the issue that is important to address. We presently permit a 19-year-old (not old enough to purchase alcohol), that is mentally unstable and publicly displays violent behavior, to legally purchase arms that are meant for military/law enforcement use.

The result of our non-existent gun regulations is one of the highest violent death rates in the developed world. You should look at countries like Canada, The UK, Switzerland,,,, for how they control violent death rates.

Walt Tetschner

So you agree with the Second Amendment

Hi Walt,

So you agree that we must support the Second Amendment and you are just looking for perhaps a small adjustment in how we administer the sale of automatic weapons? Ok, we can probably agree that some common ground is possible, much like we agree that people can’t yell “fire” in a theater.

But some of your allies on the left insist that the Second Amendment does not ensure that citizens retain the fundamental right to own guns. These are the people I am trying to educate.

By the way, I think 18-year-olds should be able to purchase alcohol. Your argument that because 19-year-olds can’t purchase alcohol is a justification to deny them the right to buy guns as “adults” appears to be a great example of the dangerous slippery slope argument!

Allen Nitschelm has lived in Acton since 1998 and writes about fiscal issues at the
local and state level. He is a former member of the town's Finance Committee
and publisher of the Acton Forum.

NRA killers

Nothing in my note suggested that I support the Second Amendment. Tolerating something is different than supporting it.

Your argument for the Second Amendment educates no-one and is precisely what the NRA and all of their prostitute politicians want. It drives more gun sales. You and your killer friends need to acknowledge responsibility for the schoolkids that have been killed due to your orientation.

I also highly value individual rights. A bunch of folks with guns are not an effective or appropriate way to protect them. You should seriously look at how a country like Canada manages guns and the results. Assault weapons are totally banned and they have a violent gun death rate that is a tiny fraction of ours.


Walt Tetschner

Illogical, mean-spirited reply


Your response to my reply to your post is illogical and nasty. I had hoped to have a respectful discussion but your response precludes it. And people wonder why we can’t find common ground in our political debate. Reread Walt’s response and there’s your answer.

As to the substance, I argued that the Second Amendment is a right to bear arms, while many on the Left do not believe this is so. You said the debate was not about this right but was instead about assault rifles. Therefore, in the context of this post, you have accepted the right to have guns. If you wish to take that back, that is fine. But your statement that I misread your post is flat-out wrong. I am a good reader and you are obviously a poor communicator if you don’t mean what you write.

The rest of your blabber has nothing to do with my post. I tried to preface my comments by saying that these opinions were my own and not part of the “vast Right Wing conspiracy,” but those on the Left cannot argue logically without pulling up some straw man or organization to bash, whether it’s the NRA or Trump.

I guess if it were up to you, I’d be in jail to “take responsibility” for expressing my beliefs, along with my “killer friends.” Wow.

I’m sure the gun death rate in China is even lower than in Canada. Why don’t you quote those statistics to support your position?

Allen Nitschelm has lived in Acton since 1998 and writes about fiscal issues at the
local and state level. He is a former member of the town's Finance Committee
and publisher of the Acton Forum.

The kids know what to do

These kids are showing more sense than you are! Teens stage White House 'lie-in' to protest lack of gun control

Walt Tetschner

Irony is lost on mainstream media

Isn't it ironic that the teens are exercising their First Amendment right to protest to urge that we take away the Second Amendment rights for others?

Also, I should point out that the guns apparently were purchased legally, and the FBI had numerous tips to check this guy out in advance.

But we shouldn't necessarily fault the FBI because someone slips through. Perhaps they have stopped 50 attacks for every one that isn't.

But if one school shooting is too many, then why isn't the same logic used to seal our border when an illegal immigrant commits a terrorist act, commits a heinous crime, or kills someone while drunk driving? Seems like a double standard to me.

Allen Nitschelm has lived in Acton since 1998 and writes about fiscal issues at the
local and state level. He is a former member of the town's Finance Committee
and publisher of the Acton Forum.