Political philosopher HBO know-it-all pundit Bill Maher had some really intelligent phraseology to describe The Constitution of the United States:
“I mean, a lot of it is bullsh*t. I mean, the Second Amendment is bullsh*t, the way they interpret the Second Amendment. The left completely forgot how to interpret that. I mean, it really is about militias at a time when, you know, there was a battle between the states and the government. It wasn’t really about private citizens owning a handgun.”
The left seems to think that a “modern interpretation” of the Constitution is whatever the latest egghead professor has to spout off about the subject. But actually taking the time to read the political debates that led to the drafting and ratification of the Constitution, as most leftists have not, shows that the Founders and Framers anticipated nearly every major modern issue. Why? Because they thought abstractly about political problems, and not in terms of particularities like the specific firearms that citizens should be “allowed” by the federal government to possess.
A brief survey of the literature finds that Maher is an abject ignoramus. Federalist No. 46, written by key Constitutional framer James Madison, for example, had the following to say:
It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes.
In addition, there are the underlying rights, namely, the right to self-defense and the right of resistance. An article “Never Ask Who Should Rule: Karl Popper and Political Theory” written by scholar Andrea Pickel in 1989 described the theory of John Locke:
The theory of sovereignty in Locke’s constitutionalist formulation demonstrates, however, that it can provide a basis for an adequate and logically consistent solution to the problem of the institutional control of the rulers – in addition to the problems of order and legitimacy. [...] The specific problematic for which Locke developed his theory of sovereignty can be characterized as containing all three fundamental problems of political theory in a prominent and acute form. [The problems of institutional control of the sovereign, political order, and legitimacy. Ed.] In one sense, the problem of institutional control was perhaps the most fundamental of the three since Locke sought a solution to the problem of the right of resistance in a mixed constitution.
Locke’s mature philosophy can be interpreted that each individual has the inalienable right to defend his person, property, community, and country from theft, assault, tyranny and foreign invasion. This is not to mention the corresponding argument of The Declaration of Independence, one of the nation’s two most important founding documents, which assumes the citizenry possesses an inalienable right to bear arms:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
None of the above is intended to be an argument for any action to be taken about perceived government abuses. But the notion that the Founders and Framers included the Second Amendment in the Constitution to protect musket-hunting and target-shooting is absurd at best and dangerously ignorant at worst.