Last Thursday, the United States Supreme Court ruled to overturn the Mayor of Washington D.C. in his efforts to enforce a thirty-two year ban on prohibiting the possession of handguns to those who live in his city - the nation’s capital. It was the Court’s first ruling on the subject in 215 years - that’s two hundred and fifteen years! Okay, they did rule against the possession of owning "sawed off" shotguns in 1939, but this was the first time in over two centuries that the mightiest court in the land said, "Let’s take a closer look at this - banning of firearms."
Why so long? The Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights has always been a controversial issue. Certainly, King George III wasn’t all too thrilled about it.
It’s the "Right to Bear Arms."
Actually, if you look up references to the Bill of Rights these days, they do in fact list the ten of them, but they hardly ever list them in the order in which they were originally set down. Why is that?
Everyone proposes to know (most of us vaguely) that the Bill of Rights was a declaration to protect universal freedoms - freedom of speech, assembly, religion, press, etc. But hardly anyone remembers all ten of the listed Bill of Rights nor does anyone remember the order in which the Founding Fathers listed them. Do you remember? I certainly didn’t?
Yet, without this list, we are groundless as a country.
So, was it significant as to how the Founding Fathers listed these Rights? Was the order in which they chose to lay them down important?
Well, think about it. How come there weren’t six Amendments or even sixteen? Originally, there were twelve proposed, but interestingly, only ten were ratified in 1791.
The Framers had no shortage of ink, paper or time back then. In a realistic sense, they were setting to record a doctrine that could ultimately seal their fate if it all backfired with the original home office - England. So, why reduce it down to a bare-bone "ten?" And why the ten they chose? Ten, not coincidentally the same number of expostulates that Moses held up to Heaven on Mount Sinai. (Separation of Church and State? But that’s another article.)
Personally, I would venture to guess that not only were those ten Rights laid out in a well thought out manner - they were "prioritized" and listed in importance as well after being ratified.
Here are the ten Freedoms guaranteed under the Bill of Rights, listed in the exact order that the Framers drew them up and "framed" them:
Note: The following text is a transcription of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution in their original form. These amendments were ratified December 15, 1791, and form what is known as the "Bill of Rights."
Amendment ICongress 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.
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.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. Note: The following text is a transcription of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution in their original form. These amendments were ratified December 15, 1791, and form what is known as the "Bill of Rights."
Those of you who have read my columns in the past know that I am a "traditionalist" and a lover of American History. In the same breath, I champion two Supreme Court Justices who have self-proclaimed themselves as the only two true "Constitutionalists" on the Court today - Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas of Pin Point, Georgia.
Well, these two justices lead this particular fight in protecting and bolstering the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights - the Right to Bear Arms.
I listed the individual Rights above in the order in which they were set down for a reason. The Second Amendment was NOT the "Second" Amendment as an after thought or a drawing out of a hat. The Right to Bear Arms was not the "Fifth" Amendment, nor was it either the "Eighth" or even the very important "Tenth."
The Right to Bear Arms was the "Second" Amendment - after freedom of speech.
What the Founding Fathers clearly said in one breath to the rest of the world was this:
"WE CAN SAY WHATEVER WE WANT - AND WE’VE GOT GUNS."
Without those first two Amendments, Amendments Three through Ten don’t really matter.
But never forget this. We also have "laws" to ensure that those very same arms are not turned against the rest of us who have the right to possess arms of our own.