EP 376 The Much Misunderstood Purpose of the Second Amendment

In many ways, gun adherents and those who seek to control their use in America have something in common. They misinterpret the true initial intent of the Second Amendment. Most commonly we hear that it was adopted as way to insure that Americans could protect their homes or to allow them to hunt or join some organized militia to keep the federal government from gaining too much control. Historian Roxanne Dunar-Ortiz sets the record straight in her book, ‘Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment’. The Second Amendment does confer the right to own arms to individuals but the purpose at the time was to settle new territories and drive Native Americans from their lands. Further, with the development of slave patrols, firearms were necessary to maintain title to those in bondage as part of America’s ‘original sin’. Once we understand the true origins then we can go on to debate their necessity and proper regulation in this modern era. The issues of gun violence, such as mass shootings, may be a starting point for our present day conversations on the subject, but we owe it to ourselves to set the record straight about the role of firearms in issues of social inequality and ongoing treatment of minority populations in our culture. The gun is as American as apple pie, but we owe it to ourselves and our future to understand why.