The Right to Keep and Bear Arms Essay

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The Right to Keep and Bear
Arms: A Right to Self-Defense
Against Criminals and Despots by Robert Dowlut[*]

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.

-- James Madison[1]

A written constitution is a reminder that governments can be unreasonable and unjust. By guaranteeing that "[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," the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution provides the citizens a means of protection against the unjust excesses of government.[2] The Framers placed this guarantee
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The outlandish pronouncement in Dred Scott "that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit,"[9] the shameful court-approved internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II,[10] and the separate but equal doctrine that officially existed until 1954[11] are all examples of the evils that result when cultural values are given more weight than constitutional rights. "Conceptually, the gun prohibition movement intends to: discredit the Second Amendment of the (p.26)Constitution in its applicability to individual citizens ...; weaken the concept and acceptability of self-defense ... [and] change our traditions as they relate to firearms."[12] Although a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control admitted that the gun control movement intended to "revolutionize" society's view of guns until they are considered "dirty, deadly--and banned,"[13] the Constitution continues to prohibit any such arms ban.

The Constitution does not define the term "arms." The Framers, however, intended the term to extend to those arms that were commonly kept and carried by the people for traditional purposes, such as self-defense, militia service, and killing game.[14] State courts have also protected weapons used for self-defense and in "civilized" warfare.[15] Accordingly, under the concepts of self-defense and civilized warfare, the Second Amendment

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