The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Letters to the Editor

February 7, 2013

Second Amendment often misunderstood

The Second Amendment wasn’t designed to allow citizens to use violence to overthrow our government.

Some of our founding fathers were white supremacists, who owned hundreds of slaves. They were arrogant male aristocrats, who didn’t think women, slaves, or men who didn’t own land deserved the right to vote.

They most feared a slave revolt, especially in 1791, when a revolt began in the French colony of Saint-Dominque, which eventually resulted in the elimination of slavery and the founding of the Haitian republic. On Dec. 15, 1791, Virginia became the 10th of 14 states to approve 10 of the 12 amendments, thus giving the Bill of Rights the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it legal.

The Bill of Rights included the Second Amendment. It states: “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.”

Congress passed two Militia Acts in 1792. The first established state militias under control of state governors. The second directed all able-bodied white men between the ages of 18 and 45 to belong to the state militia, own a gun and related equipment for that purpose, and report for duty twice a year. The law actually specified how many bullets each militia member had to bring with him — 25 if he owned a musket, 20 if he owned a rifle. After the Civil War those acts were modified to allow black militia members. In 1903, Congress established a federally funded reserve component of our nation’s armed forces called the National Guard; that’s our “well regulated militia.”

Our Civil War resulted in 618,000 Americans being killed. We best honor those dead by solving our disagreements with ballots and compromise, instead of with bullets.

Jim O’Leary

Delhi

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