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The Tremendous Simplicity of the Second Amendment

It is really amazing that so many people try to complicate the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. The amendment is really tremendously simple.

The second amendment reads:

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.

Let’s break this down. 

Well regulated

What is the meaning of “well regulated”? This has nothing to do with laws and regulations. At the time the amendment was written, ‘well regulated’ simply meant, “in proper working order”. If your car is properly maintained and runs correctly, it is well regulated.


There is probably no word in this amendment that is so misunderstood as Militia. The meaning of the word has changed over the years and now often refers to an organized militia or army. At the time the amendment was written, though, it had a much simpler and easier to understand meaning. The militia was the people or citizens. Several of the framers of the amendment made this plain in other writings and that includes Thomas Jefferson. 

This is easy to understand, too, from a different aspect. During the war of independence, most of the Americans who fought weren’t part of the military in any way. They were just citizens who picked up their guns to fight for freedom from oppression and over taxation.

In fact, during WWII, the primary reason Japan didn’t try to invade the US was that the citizenry was armed. As the Emperor of Japan put it, ‘There is a gun behind every blade of grass.’ We had a well regulated Militia…the people.

being necessary to the security of a free State

As already mentioned, we only gained our freedom because the people were armed. If it wasn’t for that well regulated Militia, we wouldn’t have secured our freedom. We were up against a more powerful, better equipped, better trained, and superior force. The armed people made all the difference and it was totally necessary to secure our free state.

 the right of the people to keep and bear Arms

This is getting to the “meat” of the amendment. What comes before this part is inconsequential and the amendment would mean the same if that preamble was removed. 

The right of the people to keep and bear arms clearly refers to something that existed before the Constitution was written. It also contains no qualifiers. All people, everywhere, have the same right because it existed before any government was ever created. 

“Arms” is a reference to firearms, but it goes much further. It could also include knives, baseball bats, rocks, pitchforks, or anything else that is used to protect yourself, your family, or your belongings. The right isn’t given by the government because it preexisted before the government was formed.

shall not be infringed

Shall not be infringed by whom? This is the entire point of the Constitution. The Constitution doesn’t give any of us rights. If it did, those rights would then be coming from the government. As previously mentioned, those rights were in place before the government was created, so they didn’t come from the government.

The point of the Constitution is to limit the power of the government and say what it cannot do, legally. The government is prohibited from infringing on the right of the people to keep and bear arms; a right we had before a bunch of brilliant men sat down and wrote all of this out.

This amendment is simple to understand. Many people have refused to consider the meaning of the simple words, though. In fact, many haven’t even read the US Constitution and don’t want to try to grasp the intentions of it.

  • Was the second amendment previously confusing to you?

    • Yes
    • No
    • I understood it before but understand it better now

What do you think?

9 points

Written by Rex Trulove

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  1. But if it means simply that people have the right to knock enemies over the head with baseball bats, that raises other questions.

    Why would it be necessary to have this Amendment in the first place? You don’t need a clause in your national Constitution just to say that no Government can stop you being able to use reasonable force to defend yourself.

    So how come this simple claim to self-defence can allow ordinary citizens to own AK 47s and and other weapons of deadly force?

    One might also point out that that are plenty of free states around the world that don’t agree with this necessity and get along perfectly well without it. In other words, that statement is simply wrong.

    • This amendment is absolutely necessary because it dictates that the government frankly can’t take away God-given rights. If they try to do so, they are in the wrong and the people will act to remove them from power. The police and the military, both of whom possess firearms, are sworn to uphold the constitution. Most of them wouldn’t support an unconstitutional act, such as the government attempting to infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms.

      It is true that there are many other countries where the people are given rights by their governments. A government that can give you a right can also take it away. That is a major difference with the US and it is a point that many other countries can’t understand. We don’t have a serfdom. In the US, the government only has as much power as the people give it. Our government has no ability at all to give us rights or to take them away. It has worked quite well for 240 years, including when other countries have asked the US for assistance against tyranny, such as in WWII.

      • So is the Bill of Rights (the first 10 Amendments) wrongly so called? Is it just a statement of existing rights?

        We have a Bill of Rights in the UK, of course, although we don’t have a formal written Constitution.

        • The Bill of Rights isn’t wrongly named, it simply doesn’t mean what some people think it means. It doesn’t list the things that citizens CAN do, it lists what the government CAN’T do.

          For example, the first amendment says: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

          Notice that it is simply saying what Congress is prohibited from doing. People already had the right to exercise their right of religion without the threat of persecution. They already had the right to free speech. They already had the freedom of the press, the right to peaceful assembly, and to bring grievances to the government. All of these existed before the government was formed, so none of them is something that the government had the power to bestow. Nor would it make any sense for the government to try to give someone a right they already possessed.

          However, it explicitly says that the Congress, or lawmaking part of the government, cannot make any law that goes contrary to any of those rights.

          The other 9 amendments in the Bill of Rights are the same way. We’ve already covered the second amendment, which expressly and explicitly forbids the government from infringing on the people’s right to own and bear arms.

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