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2nd Amendment: “Necessary”

Reading the Constitution and Bill of Rights from beginning to end, there is just one thing in the entire document declared “necessary” for any particular purpose.

Last Updated on January 16, 2023 by Constitutional Militia

2nd Amendment: The Word “Necessary”

The word “necessary” itself appears in the Bill of Rights only in the Second Amendment: “[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”.[1] Here the adjective “necessary” is employed, not for the purpose of granting a power, but instead with the aim of identifying the degree to which “the security of a free State” depends upon “[a] well regulated Militia”, and thereby justifying “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms”. (That right * * * shall not be infringed because “[a] well regulated Militia” is “necessary”.[2] Inasmuch as this is the only instance in which the Constitution explicitly specifies anything in particular as “necessary” for any particular purpose, and inasmuch as the absolute clause “[a] well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” is couched in the present tense, the Constitution obviously considers “the security of a free State” to be a permanent goal, and “[a] well regulated Militia” to be the one and only means truly “necessary” to achieve that goal at all times and under all circumstances. That is, “the security of a free State” and “[a] well regulated Militia” are mutually inseparable and constitutionally indispensable.[3]

Thus, in general, the Second Amendment emphasizes that the original Militia powers of Congress (and the States, too) are unconditional duties, which must be exercised at all times and under all circumstances in such a manner as to ensure that each and every one of “the Militia of the several States”  is “well regulated” with respect to organizationarmament (and other equipment), discipline, training, and appointment of officers.[4] In addition, both Congress and the States must exercise all of their other powers consistently with the maintenance of such Militia. More specifically, the Second Amendment declares in unmistakable terms that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms”, which is the essence of “[a] well regulated Militia”, is absolute with respect to all such definitions of “keep”, “bear”, and “Arms” as may be compatible with any form of Militia service. And both Congress and the States must exercise all of their powers so as to promote the widest application of this “right”. Any power exercised in any other manner would to that extent be misconstrued or abused.[5]

The short answer as to why State militias are “necessary” is, of course, because the Constitution says so. The electoral process, the courts, and numerous other institutions existed in 1788, when “the Militia of the several States” were incorporated into the original Constitution, and in 1791, when the Second Amendment first declared that “[a] well regulated Militia” based on “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” is “necessary to the security of a free State”—and were expected to continue to exist thereafter. Yet no one who read the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights imagined that WE THE PEOPLE expected those institutions to render the Militia irrelevant. And even after “the Civil War Amendments”[6] were added in 1865, 1868, and 1869, Congress maintained the Militia in essentially the same form it had first provided in 1792.[7]

Government is force and government is the supreme political entity and therefore the political power of that entity depends upon the control of force. And you have a different kind of political system depending on who controls that force. If it’s an elite group of ideological misfits called the “The Communist Party”, you get one kind of system. If it’s an elite group of ideological misfits called the “The Nazi Party”, you get another kind of system—both of these systems are relatively similar. If it’s the people themselves in a Democratic Republic where the government has limited powers, you get an entirely different kind of system, which is what the Second Amendment adds to Mao Tse-tsung’s insight: “A well regulated Militia” (i.e., “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”)[1] is “necessary to the security of a free State.”[2] It’s the Militia that gives us the “free State”, because the Militia are organized from the people themselves. And one must presume that the people will not oppress themselves. Smaller groups will attempt to oppress others and usually try to get away with it, especially if they have more political power in terms of force, but the whole theory of our governmental system, and essentially every governmental system, is that the people who benefit from that system will not oppress themselves, they are not “politically suicidal”. The elite will not oppress themselves in the Communist or Nazi parties. And in our kind of system the great mass of people will not oppress themselves. Given that our system of government is based upon “inalienable rights” and “consent of the governed”, the logical repository of the power of the gun, so as to leave political power in the hands of that group, is the people themselves.


1.) Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-tung (Peking, China: Foreign Languages Press, First Edition, 1966), at 61.

2.) U.S. Const. amend. II.

1.) Emphasis supplied.

2.) See E. Vieira, Jr., The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” (Front Royal. Virginia: CD-ROM Edition, 2012),chapter 45. The people of Virginia made this connection pellucid in their recent amendment of their State’s constitution. Compare Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776) art. 13 (“[t]hat a well regulated militia, composed of the body of people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free sate, therefore the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”) (emphasis supplied). Amazingly, five Justices of the Supreme Court have opined that, to “[g]iv[e] ‘bear Arms’ [in the Second Amendment] its idiomatic meaning would cause the protected right to consist of the right to be a soldier * * * —an absurdity that no commentator has ever endorsed”.  District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 586 (2008) (Scalia, J., for the Court). They (along with all of the unnamed “commentator[s]” upon whom they relied) apparently were too dull to figure out from the mere twenty-seven words of the Amendment that, if “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” is guaranteed so that “[a] well regulated Militia” will be preserved in each “free State”, then “the people” of each State most assuredly have a constitutional right to demand the existence of, and themselves serve in, such a Militia.

3.) By Tyranny Out of Necessity: The Bastardy of Martial Law, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Bookmasters Inc., Ashland, Ohio (2014), page 183-184.

4.) See U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 16.

5.) See generally E. Vieira, Jr., The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States” (Front Royal. Virginia: CD-ROM Edition, 2012),chapter 45 and 46.

6.) U.S. Const. amends. XIII, XIV, and XV.

7.) Compare Revised Statutes of the United States (1873-1874), TITLEX VI, THE MILITIA,§§ 1625 and 1628,18 Stat. 285, 285 with An Act more effectually to provide for the National Defence by establishing an Uniform Militia throughout the United States, Act of 8 May 1792, CHAP. XXXIII, § 1, 1 Stat. 271, 271.

8.) U.S. Const. amend. II.

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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.
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