In my last post, I chastised the Globe and Mail for their faulty take on the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. In that article, I mentioned that the Bill of Rights was the product of the Anti-Federalists, men who opposed the proposed Constitution because they felt it created a too-powerful federal government. When it became clear that the Constitution was going to pass, their opposition crystallized on a series of amendments to the constitution that they hoped would restrain the excesses of the new federal government.
I also mentioned that I happened to be reading the Anti-Federalist Papers. In my reading, I came across the “Address and Reasons of Dissent of the Minority of Pennsylvania to Their Constituents”. This was a document signed by the minority of delegates at the Pennsylvania constitution ratifying convention. The Pennsylvania Convention ratified the proposed US Constitution by a vote of 46 to 23. The 23 dissenters signed this document to express their reasons for not signing. It was widely published and became a manifesto and rallying cry for anti-federalist across all 13 states.
In this document, they state that they would be willing to support the new US Constitution but only if a series of 14 amendments that they proposed, are also adopted. These 14 amendments are, in effect, the first draft of the ten amendments eventually adopted as a Bill of Rights. Since they are more verbose and self-explanatory, and since they are the direct ancestors of the amendments that were finally adopted, it is instructive to read them to get a sense of the original meaning of those first Ten Amendments.
Their proposed Seventh Amendment deals with standing armies and the right to bear arms. It states:
“7. That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and their state, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game; and no law shall be passed for disarming the people or any of them, unless for crimes committed, or real danger of public injury from individuals; and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military shall be kept under strict subordination to and be governed by the civil powers.”
Hey Globe and Mail smart alecks! Tell me again how the Second Amendment is not about an individual right.