It comes as a surprise to many people that the 2nd Amendment was penned in an effort to regulate the ownership of guns as much as it was to protect the freedom to possess one. In fact, the Amendment may have had more to do with regulation than we care to think.

In today’s modern age, people tend to point to the Amendment as the basis for open and concealed carry laws. We talk about our “right to bear arms” as if it is guaranteed. We believe that the government is infringing upon our rights when gun control is broached. But are we interpreting the 2nd Amendment for its true function or only at face value?

When our founding fathers drafted the Amendment, they were concerned that the right to bear arms brought with it responsibilities and burdens.

In 1776, the original states, save but a few, did not include a right-to-bear arms provision in their constitutions. Those that did also included wording that protected the right to not bear arms. Sounds strange, but it is a fact: the state could force you to bear arms.

When the 2nd Amendment was drafted, states could indeed force any man to keep a firearm. Religious pacifists, including Quakers, were opposed to being forced to own and carry weapons. These people wished to be exempted from the state’s forcing them to do so. The Amendment overrode any state constitution, making it impossible for a state government to force its citizens to bear arms.

When it comes to militia, these groups were highly organized and regulated. People are often shocked to discover that these regulations were often pages long. Militias were not ragtag groups of mountain men. They were a sort of quasi-military with strict codes and procedures. States kept careful records, noting who owned a gun and reserving the right to inspect them.

As far as arms go, if you are thinking pistols, think again. Muskets were the weapons of the day and those that were required by law. The purchase of a musket was a form of taxation imposed by the state.

While we are afforded the right to possess handguns and other weapons as a form of self-defense, pointing to the literal interpretation of the 2nd Amendment may be a bit far reaching. If we do take the Amendment by its word, and the word as it was written in 1776, we may just find that it calls for more gun control, not less.

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