Lore about the Second Amendment is not just historically inaccurate. It’s getting our children killed.

Lore about the Second Amendment is not just historically inaccurate. It’s getting our children killed.

Hamilton’s writing shows that the real right to bear arms was a blueprint for a citizen army. That model just didn’t work very well.

WINDHAM — If the Founding Fathers were around today, they would be flabbergasted by our inability to take even the most basic, commonsense steps to protect our children from being murdered at school.

Passively accepting, year after year, horrific school shootings, like the recent slaughter in Uvalde, Texas, would strike them as collective madness, which it is.

In any sizable segment of the population, there always will be some people who are so emotionally unbalanced, mentally ill, isolated and distraught, or politically radicalized that they will lash out given the opportunity and a set of circumstances that triggers their violent impulses.

Allowing nearly everyone in the U.S. unrestricted access to assault weapons that can snuff out dozens of innocent lives in a few seconds virtually guarantees that some of those guns eventually will wind up in the hands of the wrong people at the wrong time - with predictable, ghastly results.

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Contrary to popular opinion, the Founders did not add the Second Amendment to the Constitution to arm Americans so they could resist the government if they felt it was oppressing them.

In fact, exactly the opposite is true. Citizens were guaranteed the right to bear arms so they could defend, not resist, the government. This is plainly stated in the first clause of the Second Amendment, which refers to a “well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.”

The Founders added the Second Amendment to the Constitution because they wanted to avoid creating a “standing army” (i.e. a permanent, professional military establishment), preferring to rely upon the militia to defend the state against its enemies, domestic and foreign.

History had shown over and over that armies often became the tools of tyrants. Indeed, the Founders fought for nearly eight bloody years against British and Hessian professional soldiers to win their independence.

That's why the Second Amendment says “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Alexander Hamilton made this very clear in Federalist #29 when he wrote “it will be possible to have an excellent body of well-trained militia ready to take the field whenever the defense of the State shall require it.”

Hamilton described it as “the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it.”

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Relying upon a militia was a nice ideal - it just didn't work especially well. Even during the Revolution, George Washington often complained that members of the militia were undisciplined, poorly trained, and had an annoying habit of leaving when their enlistments were up or their crops had to be harvested.

Clearly, the militia had moments of glory (Lexington and Concord among them) and contributed to the Cause, but without the Continental Army (the seedbed of a standing army) we would not have won our independence.

As the United States expanded and became more involved in international affairs, it became obvious that a permanent army and navy would be necessary. Times changed, we adapted.

Today, a permanent military establishment controlled by a civilian government is accepted as a matter of course by almost everyone. Indeed, polls indicate that Americans respect and admire the military more than just about any government institution (certainly far more than Congress).

Because everyday civilians are not expected to drop what they are doing to respond to a domestic insurrection or invading army, they do not need to be armed with weapons that - like the AR-15 - are more appropriate for use in battle than for hunting or self-defense.

Nevertheless, the National Rifle Association, gun rights advocates, and even some Supreme Court justices conveniently decouple the two halves of the Second Amendment, ignoring the first clause altogether or dismissing it as if it were some meaningless rhetorical flourish.

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It is commonplace to read blogs and tweets that claim that the amendment's original intent was to arm citizens to resist governmental repression and that the right to possess any weapon for that purpose is virtually unlimited and sacred.

This interpretation is not just historically inaccurate, it is dangerous - and it's getting our children killed.

There are far more guns circulating in the United States than anywhere else in the world (well over 300 million, of which about 20 million are AR-15s, the weapon of choice for school shooters). We have far more mass shootings than any other nation.

That's not a coincidence.

What is a coincidence is that in the wake of the slaughter in Uvalde, the NRA held its annual national convention in Houston this Memorial Day weekend. In his opening keynote address Friday, Donald Trump read the names of the victims who were murdered, while rejecting all efforts to proscribe the weapons that killed them.

Incidentally, no firearms were allowed in the convention hall while he spoke. Apparently, it's OK to ban guns in order to protect Trump.

He and the NRA just don't want to ban them to protect children.

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