The Second Amendment supports those of us who would CONTROL guns---and thus prevent the insane slaughter that compromises our security.

James Madison and the Founders of this nation would be enraged to see the Second Amendment being used to put guns in the hands of the Tucson shooter and so many others like him.

The debate over the violent hatespeak of Sarah "Lock & Load" Palin and her Foxist ilk is long overdue.

But so is a careful national reawakening to what the Second Amendment actually says:

"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."

Of the first Ten Amendments, this is the only one that contains a rationale for what it requires.

The Bill of Rights is the law of the land, clearly stated. Guarantees of religion, speech, assembly, the press, freedom from torture and so much more are natural rights, inherent to the human condition.

But the right to bear arms is granted only in the context of a well-regulated militia and thus the security of a free state.

A National Guard, yes. Heavily-armed lunatics roaming the streets unregulated….NEVER!

Lawyers and the courts have been fighting over guns for 220 years, since that great day in 1791 when this magnificent document was ratified. The essence of the Founders' intent was embodied in the Supreme Court's 1939 Miller decision, the prevailing judicial view until the recent coming of a hard right NRA-based court very much out of synch with the sane balance our nation has tried to maintain between gun rights and the public good.

As we've just seen in Tucson, these faux "conservatives" have allowed renegade ownership of rapid-firing instruments of wholesale slaughter.

This imbalance clearly threatens "the security of a free state." The Second Amendment says access to these weapons must be strictly regulated.

As a free and lawful people, we have the LEGAL DUTY to end this unconstitutional madness.

Make no mistake: this murder and mayhem has been made possible by the claim to a Constitutional right that is NOT there.

The assassins and mass murderers who continue to threaten our national security make ever so clear the reason for the Founders' demand that gun ownership be regulated.

These are dark times for those who demand sane regulation of gun ownership. But courts come and go. Public opinion and political power, like the common law, change and evolve. These murders in Tucson---just the latest in a long, horrifying, thoroughly avoidable procession of senseless, gun-inflicted tragedies---underscore once again that this is a struggle we can never abandon.

And in continuing to do this work, gun control advocates must not cede a legal inch. WE are the the ones with the REAL "Second Amendment remedy"....the clear Constitutional demand for a "regulated" gun ownership that serves rather than destroys the "security of a free state."

Harvey Wasserman's History of the United States is available at This article was originally published by