(DailyVantage.com) – The Founding Fathers preserved the right to bear arms as a Constitutional provision, but they also required colonists to maintain privately owned weapons.
Often you can find enlightening information in Supreme Court opinions regarding the intention of the Founding Fathers. Such is the case in the landmark Second Amendment ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, decided on June 26, 2008.
Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia explained that the Founders believed the right of citizens to carry guns (“bear arms”) was necessary to resist oppressive forces if the “constitutional order broke down.”
For example, as Scalia wrote, 17th-century monarchs suppressed dissidents by “disarming their opponents,” and not by disbanding militias. King George III attempted that same thing with the colonists during the 1760s and 1770s to prevent the eventual revolt resulting in the Revolutionary War.
For that reason, the Founders preserved the right to gun ownership in the Bill of Rights.
4 Fun Facts About Guns During Colonial Times
- According to Justice Scalia, the colonists inherited the right to bear arms from their English ancestors. The Second Amendment did not bestow the power to citizens; instead, it recognized a pre-existing right.
- The Founding Fathers passed the Militia Act of 1792, which enlisted every “able-bodied white male” at least 18 and less than 45 years old. Additionally, they had to purchase and maintain a suitable firearm, bayonet, and ammunition — subject to inspection.
- The Tory Act of 1776 called for the disarmament of any person who refused swear loyalty to the colonies and defend them against British troops.
- During the Founding Era, constables, sheriffs, and justices of the peace could disarm anyone who disturbed the peace by carrying a firearm. Additionally, although the military use of guns required colonists to stand their ground and fight, civilian common law required retreat whenever possible except in the home.
Although times may have changed since the Founding Fathers’ days, they believed in the right to gun ownership enough to enshrine it in the Constitution.
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