Why is there so much controversy at present about concealed carry permits and gun laws in general? This is a topic of rowing debate. Lets take a look at the history of this topic and how it has come to be the political issue that it is today.
The debate centers around one thing — the Second Amendment.
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.
To understand the Second Amendment, and its implications, we must understand the events that prompted our forefathers to include it in the Bill of Rights.
One must understand what kind of men drafted and passed the constitution. They were Englishmen. Most of them were lawyers who were well educated about the laws of England. In fact, the most read book in the colonies after the Bible was the book of English common law. They knew they’re rights and they were trying to see to it that there rights were not taken away.
This leads us to ask, “Why were the colonists so concerned about the law?” Well, in England in the 1600s, there was a revolution. In the flurry of events, king James II was king. King James was a catholic and fighting a loosing battle against the growing number of protestants in his realm. During this conflict, he tried to take away arms from the Protestants. This angered them tremendously as he didn’t even follow proper procedure established by the Magna Carta. He was trying to pass these laws without Parliaments’ consent.
Eventually, he was overthrown, but the English people saw to it that legislation was passed protecting their right to bear arms. They saw a lack of arms as a lack of self defense. This document was the English Bill of Rights.
Early colonists valued arms of the following reasons
enabling the people to organize a star militia
participate in law enforcement
deterring tyrannical government
suppressing insurrection (allegedly from slaves)
facilitating a natural right of self defense
As the situation with England grew more hostile, the colonists began organizing militias and stockpiling arms and ammunition. In response, the king of England issued an embargo on firearms, ammunition, and weapon parts. The colonists responded by citing their rights to the king— that is the right to self defense, the right to overthrow the government and the right to bear arms.
After the American War for Independence, the colonist began building their own country. Temporarily the colonies were governed ny the Articles of the Confederation. As they agonized to write the Constitution and establish a safe, free form of government, two opinions arose. The first, that the government should be strong and have express control over many areas and the second opinion that most of the power should rest with the states. But, to avoid breaking the process, those who favored states rights ratified the Constitution. There was one exception though. That a Bill of Rights be drafted and signed to protect the rights of individuals.
James Madison’s initial proposal for a bill of rights was brought to the floor of the House of Representatives on June 8, 1789, during the first session of Congress. The initial proposed passage relating to arms was:
The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.
On July 21, Madison again raised the issue of his bill and proposed a select committee be created to report on it. The House voted in favor of Madison’s motion, and the Bill of Rights entered committee for review. The committee returned to the House a reworded version of the Second Amendment on July 28. On August 17, that version was read into the Journal:
A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms.
In late August 1789, the House debated and modified the Second Amendment. These debates revolved primarily around risk of “mal-administration of the government” using the “religiously scrupulous” clause to destroy the militia as Great Britain had attempted to destroy the militia at the commencement of the American Revolution. These concerns were addressed by modifying the final clause, and on August 24, the House sent the following version to the Senate:
A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.
The next day, August 25, the Senate received the amendment from the House and entered it into the Senate Journal. However, the Senate scribe added a comma before “shall not be infringed” and changed the semicolon separating that phrase from the religious exemption portion to a comma:
A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed, but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.
By this time, the proposed right to keep and bear arms was in a separate amendment, instead of being in a single amendment together with other proposed rights such as the due process right. As a Representative explained, this change allowed each amendment to “be passed upon distinctly by the States.” On September 4, the Senate voted to change the language of the Second Amendment by removing the definition of militia, and striking the conscientious objector clause:
A well regulated militia, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
The Senate returned to this amendment for a final time on September 9. A proposal to insert the words “for the common defence” next to the words “bear arms” was defeated. An extraneous comma added on August 25 was also removed. The Senate then slightly modified the language and voted to return the Bill of Rights to the House. The final version passed by the Senate was:
A well regulated militia being the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
The House voted on September 21, 1789 to accept the changes made by the Senate, but the amendment as finally entered into the House journal contained the additional words “necessary to”:
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.
On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution) was adopted, having been ratified by three-fourths of the states.
Hence, the beginning of a controversy that has lasted the life of your nation.