SECOND AMENDMENT EXPLAINED
(So simple that Broward County Sheriff Israel can understand it)
"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."
Which brings us to the matter at hand - The controversial Second Amendment. In 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, which contained a provision for raising a confederal militia that consent would be required from nine of the 13 States. Article VI of the Articles of Confederation states, "...every State shall always keep up a well-regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and accoutered, and shall provide and constantly have ready for use, in public stores, a due number of filed pieces and tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition and camp equipage." These Articles were in effect during the Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783) and thereafter 1777-1787.
But accoutered or not, State Militias, an independent lot, consiisted of members - ever loyal and fit for a fight with the hated redcoats (lobster backs many called them), who enlisted for one year. Thereafter, many just packed up and went home. Also, most were untrained in military matters and generally were no match against the British troops in a "conventional" war. The burden of waging war passed to the standing army, the Continental Army. Militias performed the important role guarding local civilians against Indian attacks and (in the South) against slave rebellions fomented by the British.
After several defeats, General George Washington requested and received the Continental Army, under the control of the Continental Congress.
Until such time as the Constitutional Convention met for the established purpose of upgrading the Articles of Confederation. (1775 - 1787)
"At the time of the drafting of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, a political sentiment existed in the newly formed United States involving suspicion of peacetime armies not under civilian control. This political belief has been identified as stemming from the memory of the abuses of the standing army of Oliver Cromwell and King James II, in Great Britain in the prior century, which led to the Glorious Revolution and resulted in placing the standing army under the control of Parliament. During the Congressional debates, James Madison discussed how a militia could help defend liberty against tyranny and oppression":(source: Wikipedia)
But a counter-veiling reality was that The British were on our Northern Border; the Spanish (Louisiana, the Mississippi River, Florida) and Indians to the West; the French in the Carribean and The British controlled the Seas. Without a standing Federal Army, we were literally defenseless - local militias simply could not be rounded up in time to meet a serious threat.
"Gorgons, hydras, and chimera's dire"
In Federalist 8, Hamilton Wrote: "There is a wide difference, also, between military establishments in a country seldom exposed by its situation to internal invasions, and in one which is often subject to them, and always apprehensive of them. The rulers of the former can have a good pretext, if they are even so inclined, to keep on foot armies so numerous as must of necessity be maintained in the latter. These armies being, in the first case, rarely, if at all, called into activity for interior defense, the people are in no danger of being broken to military subordination. The laws are not accustomed to relaxations, in favor of military exigencies; the civil state remains in full vigor, neither corrupted, nor confounded with the principles or propensities of the other state. The smallness of the army renders the natural strength of the community an over-match for it; and the citizens, not habituated to look up to the military power for protection, or to submit to its oppressions, neither love nor fear the soldiery; they view them . . . (as a) necessary evil, and stand ready to resist a power which they suppose may be exerted to the prejudice of their rights. The army under such circumstances may usefully aid the magistrate to suppress a small faction, or an occasional mob, or insurrection; but it will be unable to enforce encroachments against the united efforts of the great body of the people.
Note: So Hamilton thought (under unspecified circumstances) that the Army could be controlled by a much larger citizenry.
The perpetual menacings of danger oblige the government to be always prepared to repel it; its armies must be numerous enough for instant defense. The continual necessity for their services enhances the importance of the soldier, and proportionably degrades the condition of the citizen. The military state becomes elevated above the civil. The inhabitants of territories, often the theatre of war, are unavoidably subjected to frequent infringements on their rights, which serve to weaken their sense of those rights; and by degrees the people are brought to consider the soldiery not only as their protectors, but as their superiors. The transition from this disposition to that of considering them masters, is neither remote nor difficult; but it is very difficult to prevail upon a people under such impressions, to make a bold or effectual resistance to usurpations supported by the military power."
Note: Again, Hamilton (who was a distinguished officer in the Continental Army during the War), expressing a concern of tyranny by an armed standing Army.
In Federalist 29, Hamilton, believing that a large standing Army in peacetime was too expensive writes: "Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped; and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year."
"But though the scheme of disciplining the whole nation must be abandoned as . . . impracticable; yet . . . a plan should, as soon as possible, be adopted for the proper establishment of the militia . . . of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist."
Note: Hamilton favors an armed citizenry vs. a regular standing army for protection against tyranny.
In Federalist 46, James Madison weighs in on the discussion thus: "Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves."
Note: Standing Army - armed citizenry; two separate entities; both armed.
Madison further observes" "Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. *
"It may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it."
Note: One year after Madison published this, the French People fought and earned their own Revolution (Of course, with Napoleon, that worked out really well, didn't it?).
The Militia and Army were divergent entities (after 1777). Madison and Hamilton, the principle authors of the Constitution, saw the necessity of a Federal Army, but feared its power and its potential for tyranny (much in the manner of the many military dictatorships around the world today). Thus - arming the people = no tyranny. So you better be packin'
* In Switzerland, bearing arms is a requirement, by law."