“A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” —-James Madison, the Second Amendment

The blood-soaked lie about the Second Amendment is simple.

Gun-lovers who hide behind it to justify “the right to keep and bear arms” criminally ignore the demand with which the Amendment’s author, James Madison, began: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state.”

The bar is clear: if you are a member of an armed unit that is being “well-regulated” by the community, and if your gun ownership can be proven to serve “the security of a free state,” then under the rubric of the Second Amendment, you have a right to own a gun.

But if you cannot meet those two qualifications, you do NOT.

Madison and his contemporary white Founders—-who some on the Supreme Court have elevated to Divine status—-would be horrified to see how this Amendment has been perverted to support a never-ending slaughter of civilians—-especially children—-while doing everything to undermine our nation’s security.

The Amendment was written, in part, to justify the arming of militias often used to capture runaway slaves and slaughter the Indigenous. Those two horrifying realities most (not all) Americans would today reject.

In Madison’s day they were equated with maintaining “the security of a free state.”

Local militias were also key to beating the British and winning our independence.

Rebellious Americans wary of their new government, wanted the right to get their guns and rise up—-as in the anti-tax Shays and Whiskey Rebellions—-to assert their rights (in both cases they were crushed by state and federal armies).

But there was NEVER the “right” of psychotic teenagers and other mass murderers to walk into any gun shop, buy an automatic weapon, then slaughter school children, teachers, doctors, hospital staff, co-workers, ex-spouses and lovers or anyone else that might randomly come to mind.

Confronted with such realities, the Founders of this nation would cry out in anguish over the betrayal of their expectations for “the security of a free state.”

The cynical use of the Second Amendment to justify the never-ending slaughter we now endure is a Constitutional abomination, full of lethal irony.

Many “Second Amendment people” (Trump’s phrase) who justify gun ownership also rabidly support huge arms budgets that have rendered the US military invulnerable to any hope of a citizen uprising.

The routs of the Shays and Whiskey rebels were early indicators of what federal armies and state guards could do to any civilian rebellion in this country. (In fact, a non-violent uprising and general strike would have a far greater chance of bringing down a fascist regime here than would an armed rebellion).

And as witnessed by the utterly corrupt National Rifle Association, the most powerful modern support for “the right to keep and bear arms” comes not from private citizens, but from the weapons industry.

Every mass slaughter in schools or elsewhere is an industry profit center. The instruments of death, the bullets that blow our children to pieces, the knee-jerk purchase of MORE guns for self-defense—-they’re all boons to the weapons business.

But the actual “security of a free state” depends on regulating weapons.

States with stronger gun controls almost all have lower murder rates than those without. The federal ban on automatic weapons vastly lowered the gun death rate—-and would again. Countries that don’t tolerate unregulated guns (nearly the entire rest of the world) suffer a tiny fraction of our murder rates.

The mangled bodies of our precious children prove again and again that there’s no greater threat to our national security than the non-existent “right” of twisted psychopaths to “keep and bear arms.”

Under our clearly stated Second Amendment, NOBODY has the right to a gun without belonging to a “well-regulated militia” or proof that their gun ownership somehow serves “the security of a free state.”

That non-existent “right” is drenched in our childrens’ blood, and has shredded the security of our nation’s existence.


Harvey Wasserman co-convenes the weekly Election Protection 2024 ZOOM. His People’s Spiral of US History is at

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