Mr. Nugent and the 2nd Amendment

Take a look at this portion of an interview Ted Nugent gave to Evan Smith, editor of Texas Monthly. This weasel interviewer makes it clear early on that he won’t agree with anything Nugent might say later in the interview. He does this by reminding everyone that Nugent sits on the board of the NRA. Watch as he sits back with a smug look on his face after saying, “Make your case.”

The ironic thing about this is that many, if not most, Americans feel the way Nugent does – unapologetic about their freedoms.

There has been a lot of controversy about the 2nd Amendment and what it really means. What was the intent of the Framers when they included this in the Bill of Rights? Did they really want to limit the right to keep and bear arms to those in the militia, as some on the left claim?

On this point, Richard Henry Lee said, “To preserve Liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.” Note that he did not limit this right to just those in the militia, but rather to “the whole body of the people”.

Even if we do accept the limitation of the 2nd Amendment as applying only to the militia, the United States Code (10 USC 311) defines the militia as “[a]ll able-bodied males at least 17 years of age…and under 45 years of age who are or have made a declaration to become a citizen of the United States.” This implies that the intent here is not to limit this right to military usage.

As to Nugent’s assertion that all free men have the right to defend themselves and their property, the Second Amendment Foundation reports (scroll to item 25 down the page):

Forty-three state constitutions have specific references protecting citizen’s rights to self-defense. In the other seven states, the right is protected statutorily. The constitutions typically state that a citizen can bear arms in defense of himself, and the state.

While there remains quite a bit of controversy on the topic, it seems clear what the intentions of the Founders and their state-level counterparts were…let the people “keep and bear arms” in their own defense and in defense of the state. No other interpretation seems plausible.