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2nd Amendment: Community Self-Defense

The original Constitution delegated broad legal authority to the Militia. The Second Amendment reinforced the the Militia as “necessary”, not merely “optional”.

Last Updated on January 15, 2023 by Constitutional Militia

2nd Amendment Reinforces the Community Self-Defense Structure as “Necessary”

The Founders of this country adopted the Second Amendment (and, for that matter, the Militia Clauses of the original Constitution in Article I, Section 8, Clauses 15 and 16, and Article II, Section 2, Clause 1). In doing so they understood—and relied upon—the principle that, [i]n expounding the Constitution of the United States, every word must have its due force, and appropriate meaning; for it is evident from the whole instrument, that no word was unnecessarily used, or needlessly added. * * * Every word appears to have been weighed with the utmost deliberation, and its force and effect to have been fully understood’”.[1] So, with respect to the clause “[a] well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”, “[i]t cannot be supposed that the framers of the Constitution did not use this expression with deliberation or failed to appreciate its plain significance”.[2] Obviously, the Framers both of the original Constitution and of the Second Amendment were fully aware of the relationship between individual and collective rights (and duties, for that matter) with respect to “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms”, because they conjoined those rights (and duties, too) in the Militia.

This selfsame mode of construction must apply to the 2nd Amendment. As with any other statute, the Constitution must be read as an entirety, consistently interrelating all of its provisions.[3] For all parts of the same law “must be read in relation to each other”,[4] and “reconciled so as to produce a symmetrical whole”.[5] All other things being equal, “identical words used in different parts of the same act are intended to have the same meaning”.[6] So “[w]hen the same term which has been used” in one clause of the Constitution is used in another, “it must be understood as retaining the sense originally given to it”.[7] Therefore, when the Constitution first empowers Congress “[t]o provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States”,[8] “the Militia” and “them” must refer to “the Militia” in the Constitution’s next relevant clause: namely, “the Militia of the several States”, of which Militia the President “shall be Commander in Chief * * * when [they are] called into the actual Service of the United States”.[9] And these “Militia of the several States” must be the very same “well regulated Militia * * * necessary to the security of a free State” of which the Second Amendment then speaks, if only because each and every State in the Union—that is, “the several States”, as the Constitution always describes them collectively[10]—must be taken to be “a free State” within the Amendment’s understanding of that term. So, “the Militia of the several States” that Congress is empowered “[t]o provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining” must also be understood as consisting of “the people” as a whole in each of those States.[11]

To ensure that officials would always adhere to the correct construction of the original Constitution with respect to the Militia, the Second Amendment (along with the rest of the Bill of Rights), consisting of “further declaratory and restrictive clauses”, was added to the Constitution “in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers”.[1] Thus, the Second Amendment renders pellucid that Congress is “[t]o provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States” according to—and only according to—the principles of “[a] well regulated Militia” which is based upon “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms”, and which, so structured, is “necessary to the security of a free State”, precisely as those matters were understood throughout America in 1791.[2]


1.) RESOLUTION OF THE FIRST CONGRESS SUBMITTING TWELVE AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION (4 March 1789), in Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States, ante note 1, at 1063.

2.) The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 65-66.

No one labors under a legal duty to defend themselves, it is an individual choice. While self-defense is important, it is insufficient to provide “the security of a free State” (Second Amendment). “[T]he Militia of the several States” which today consists of “every able-bodied adult” required by law to serve, are constitutional “homeland security”— governmental structures based upon the “right of the people to keep and bear Arms” (Second Amendment). To presume the definition of what a “well regulated Militia” meant at the time they were adopted as component parts of the Constitution, would have to be determined some 200 plus years in the future by some majority “opinion” of the Supreme Court, Congress, or President, who were yet unknown to WE THE PEOPLE, is to reduce the People’s “supreme Law” (Article Six, Clause 2) to the lowest common denominator of stupidity. It would also mean that the words “a well regulated Militia” had no meaning as the Constitution was being drafted, debated in convention, and ratified. And when WE THE PEOPLE “ordain[ed] and establish[ed] this Constitution” (preamble) we had no idea what we were “ordain[ing] and establish[ing]” because the meaning of the words in the Constitution had yet to be determined by persons unborn and therefore could not qualify as any law in the first place. Self-styled “champions” of the Second Amendment should pay heed to what that very amendment declares “necessary to the security of a free State”. And they may want to do so quickly as the security of a para-military police state under color of “homeland security” (mini “standing armies”) continues apace across the United States.

1.) Williams v. United States, 289 U.S. 553, 572-573 (1933), quoting from Holmes v. Jennison, 39 U.S. (14 Peters) 540, 570-571 (1840) (opinion of Taney, C.J.) emphasis supplied.

2.) Wright v. United States, 302 U.S. 583, 588 (1938) emphasis supplied.

3.) See Hostetter v. Idlewild Bon Voyage Liquor Corporation, 377 U.S. 324, 332 (1964); United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649, 653-654 (1898); Cherokee Intermarriage Cases, 203 U.S. 76, 89 (1906); Talbott v. Silver Bow County, 139 U.S. 438, 443-444 (1891); Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1, 44 (1957) (opinion of Frankfurter, J.).

4.) United States v. Universal C.I.T. Credit Corporation, 344 U.S. 218, 222 (1952) (emphasis supplied).

5.) Federal Power Commission v. Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line Company, 337 U.S. 498, 514 & n.21 (1949). Accord, e.g., Richards v. United States, 369 U.S. 1, 11 (1962) (emphasis supplied).

6.) Atlantic Cleaners & Dyers, Inc. v. United States, 286 U.S. 427, 433 (1932). Accord, e.g., Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Lundy, 516 U.S. 235, 249-250 (1996); Gustafson v. Alloyd Company, Inc., 513 U.S. 561, 569-570 (1995); Ratzlaf v. United States, 510 U.S. 135, 143 (1994); Department of Revenue of Oregon v. ACF Industries, Inc., 510 U.S. 332, 342 (1994); Brooke Group Ltd. v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, 509 U.S. 209, 230 (1993); Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Keystone Consolidated Industries, Inc., 508 U.S. 152, 159 (1993); Estate of Cowart v. Nicklos Drilling Company, 505 U.S. 469, 479 (1992); Sullivan v. Stroop, 496 U.S. 478, 484 (1990); Sorenson v. Secretary of the Treasury, 475 U.S. 851, 860 (1986); Morrison-Knudson Construction Company v. Director, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, 461 U.S. 624, 633 (1983). Of course, this rule is only presumptive, not absolute. Helvering v. Stockholms Enskilda Bank, 293 U.S. 84, 86-87 (1934); Atlantic Cleaners & Dyers, 286 U.S. at 433-434 (emphasis supplied).

7.) Hepburn and Dundas v. Ellzey, 6 U.S. (2 Cranch) 445, 453 (1805) (emphasis supplied).

8.) U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 16 (emphasis supplied).

9.) U.S. Const. art. II, § 2, cl. 1.

10.) See U.S. Const. art. I, § 2, cls. 1 and 3, and § 8, cl. 3; art. II, § 2, cl. 1; art. IV, § 2, cl. 1; art. V; art. VI, cl. 3.

11.) The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 79-80.

Constitutional Militia
Constitutional Militia
Constitutional Militia are State government institutions, thoroughly civilian in character. It is by the efforts of "the Militia of the several States", that the "security of a free State" can be preserved throughout the Union.
Militia Structure

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