© Can Stock Photo / zimmytws
© Can Stock Photo / zimmytws

Jim LeTourneux: Looking to the intent for guidance

The Second Amendment, consisting of 27 words written and ratified by our Founding Fathers in 1791, continues to be an obstacle for those who want to see certain guns banned.

With the latest school shooting, a horrific massacre, a call has again risen for banning “assault weapons” on the grounds they constitute “weapons of mass destruction.” The common theme is that citizens have no use or need for weapons like the semi automatic AR-15 rifle, about 6 million of which are now in public use.

This may be true for hunting and home defense. However, I suggest the reasoning behind the Second Amendment had little to do with hunting or home defense.
There are hundreds of original quotes from our Founding Fathers as to why they added this amendment to our Constitution — why they deemed it so important they placed in right after the amendment protecting freedom of religion, speech, press, peaceable assembly and petition for redress of grievances.

Keep in mind that our whole framework as a society is based on rights granted us under constitutional protection. Without it, we will fail as a nation.

Here are a couple of original quotes from the people who actually wrote the Second Amendment:

“The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed, which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation ... where the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” — James Madison, The Federalist Papers, No. 46, 1788.

“I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.” — George Mason, debate in the Virginia Convention on Ratification of the Constitution, June 16, 1788.

“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword, because the whole body of people are armed and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.” — Noah Webster, “An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution,” 1787.

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. A well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country.” — James Madison, Annals of Congress #434, 1789.

“The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.” — Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, 1788.

“Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress?” — Patrick Henry, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, #45, The Confederation, 1787-89.

“What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit to resistance? Let them take arms.” — Thomas Jefferson, 1787.

I fully understand that there are limitations as to what citizens can possess regarding arms. However, there are existing laws explicitly addressing that point.
We are a young nation, not even 250 years old, and ever-changing — dynamic, if you will. Our whole foundation, however, lies in our Constitution, amendments to that Constitution and the rule of law.

Sheridan resident Jim LeTourneux is a fourth-generation Oregonian whose family has been engaged in timber and utility pole production since 1964.


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