The Second Amendment is sacrosanct to gun owners. However, there are caveats. The amendment begins with a focus on “militias.” This sets the context. Why militias? 1) The Southern slave states wanted militias to be able to control the slave population; 2) Since we were a young frontier nation, the government felt the need to control and conquer the Native American tribes. Militias were a means to mobilize the white population to advance these actions. Racism had deep roots in the adoption of the Second Amendment.

Another caveat is the US did not have a credible standing army. Remember the “summer soldier?” The Revolution exhausted human and financial resources. Allowing states to establish militias was a resourceful response.

There was concern that America needed to be able to protect itself from a tyrannical government. We had rid ourselves from the King of England through a long revolution. Militias were a guarantee that this type of tyranny should not stand again.

Beyond militias, the USA was a young frontier nation with people advancing into its Western regions. People needed to protect their families and communities. Guns offered protection and a means for food gathering.

“Militia” contains both areas of gun rights. First, the right and need to mobilize as a fighting group for reasons evil and good. Second, the right for individuals to own their own weapons to be used for personal sport and survival.

This duality sadly set the stage for a history of American Gun Carnage unparalleled in world history. The USA is #1 in rate of gun violence among western developed nations. By far! 40,000 gun deaths a year will obliterate scores of towns and small cities each year. Yet, we tolerate this hemorrhage in the name of the Second Amendment.

We must stop abusing the Second Amendment. We cheapen its purpose by limiting its meaning to individual, unquestionable, unregulatable rights. It is honest to respect the full context of the amendment. The evil roots of the Second Amendment and the protective communal militia needs, ought to give us pause about what is legitimate and justified gun usage. There are limits. Using the Second Amendment to justify willy-nilly floodgate gun purchase, gun sales and gun usage smears its message.


Rev. Ron Letnes