Thursday, December 15, 2011

The American Revolutionary Era Origin of the Second Amendment's Clauses

 Updated February 21, 2013
   Happy Bill of Rights Day!
   My article, The American Revolutionary Era Origin of the Second Amendment's Clauses, was published in Volume 23 (2011) of the JOURNAL ON FIREARMS & PUBLIC POLICY.
   It traces and documents both clauses of the amendment back through their earliest American historical roots. The patriot actors who brought about the language and its earlier predecessors, their terminology, and its meaning to them are all examined and documented in a relatively short article.
   What The Revolutionary Era Origin of the Second Amendment's Clauses represents is a complete counter to the numerous errors and missing history foisted on the Supreme Court by Prof. Jack Rakove and fourteen other professional historians in their Heller case amicus brief. This article places the Second Amendment back into its actual bill of rights developmental context and fills in the massive related void found in the Rakove brief. The state bill of rights predecessors are re-connected to the Second Amendment in plain fashion because James Madison and Congress both relied directly on quotes of such provisions by state ratifying conventions in their desires for the two-clause Second Amendment predecessor.
   The early Revolutionary Era usage of "well regulated militia" language by George Mason in reference to local self-embodying associations of self-armed men for mutual defence against unconstitutional actions by government officials and forces is examined. It was Mason who later authored the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights, America's first, and Virginia's 1788 model for the U.S. Bill of Rights. The original American state bill of rights "well regulated militia" language was intended to constitutionally protect an armed population that could keep government raised forces under their control. That same language was used verbatim in Virginia's demand for the U.S. Bill of Rights and was understood as contained within the congressonal proposal that became the Second Amendment.
   A final interesting point. George Mason, Virginia's 1776 and 1788 bill of rights author, and James Madison, who took a version of Virginia's 1788 model to Congress in 1789, were both members of the 1776 committee that drew up and approved Virginia's 1776 state bill of rights prior to the Declaration of Independence. This article makes clear that Madison, present at the birth of the American state bill of rights, was under no misapprehension of Second Amendment language and purpose when he placed its "well regulated militia" clause in the middle of a large group of private rights protections as a proposed U.S. Bill of Rights for presentation to Congress in 1789.