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What We’re Up Against: Illinois Resolution Promotes “Militia-Only” Theory of Second Amendment

A resolution introduced in the Illinois state House shows what we are up against in our fight to protect the right to keep and bear arms.

House Resolution 0855 “urges the courts, especially the United States Supreme Court, to adhere to the clear wording of the Second Amendment being a right afforded to state-sponsored militias and not individuals.”

In the resolution are quotes from Justice Stevens’ dissenting opinion in Heller decision.

The Second Amendment was adopted to protect the right of the people of each of the several States to maintain a well-regulated militia. It was a response to concerns raised during ratification of the Constitution that the power of Congress to disarm the state militias and create a national standing army posed an intolerable threat to the sovereignty of the several States. Neither the text of the Amendment nor the arguments advanced by its proponents evidenced the slightest interest in limiting any legislature’s authority to regulate private civilian uses of firearms. Specifically, there is no indication that the Framers of the Amendment intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the Constitution.”

“Rather the Second Amendment’s original purpose was to act as a check on federal gun-making policy, not to prevent individual states from creating gun policy as they saw fit,” the resolution reads further.

First, this entire argument is moot in terms of what this resolution hopes to achieve. Even if the Second Amendment wasn’t intended to restrict the states from passing gun laws, just the feds, the Illinois State Constitution says exactly the same thing as the Second Amendment in Section 22: Subject only to the police power, the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The word “militia” is not found anywhere in this short sentence. Yet this hasn’t stopped Illinois from implementing gun control policies infringing on the right of the citizens there.

Secondly, the resolution outright ignores not just the superfluous nature of the amendment were it to apply only to militia (as the Constitution has a separate clause authorizing the arming of the National Guard) but also all pertinent historical documents that make it adamantly clear that the Second Amendment was intended to protect the right to keep and bear arms for individuals.

The entire argument that the word “militia” in the text meant only state militias could bear arms is intellectually dishonest. When the Founders wrote of a “well regulated” militia, they meant militias needed to be well regulated through training and drilling in order to be effective in battle. This could only happen if citizens had unrestricted access to firearms.

“Well regulated” had nothing to do with government regulations of what weapons they could use. Zacharia Johnson, a delegate to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, declared that “The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them.”

And then there’s George Mason, considered the father of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, who defined the militia as “the whole people, except for a few public officials.”

Lastly, even if the Second Amendment meant militia only, nowhere is the federal government specifically authorized to pass gun restriction legislation. To argue that the Constitution must outright prohibit them from doing so is to say that the Constitution and the amendments contained limited restrictions on federal authority, something the Tenth Amendment and the Ninth Amendment clearly refute. Just because a right is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution does not mean it doesn’t exist.

Although this resolution was introduced in a state legislature, and not in Congress, and is not legally binding were it even to be passed, it reveals the intent of gun control advocates regardless of what level of government they operate through. They are not interested in gun safety or preventing gun violence and mass shootings. And they certainly aren’t interested in adhering to the actual intent of the Constitution, be it state or federal.

Their objective is full disarmament of the American people, and before that happens any perceived right to privately buy, possess and bear firearms has to be removed, either by the courts, through Congress, or a presidential executive order.

Thankfully, we can preemptively neutralize this threat by having cities, counties and states pass their own Second Amendment Preservation Act.

Please take action today!

Join us, review our model legislation, and spread the word!