Second Amendment deters illegitimate power

Published 2:03 pm Tuesday, January 19, 2016

By John Watson

James Peca’s version of the purpose of the Second Amendment is wrong (“Save lives, ban assault weapons,” Jan. 15). 

Based on my research and many of the quotes from our founding fathers themselves, the purpose of the Second Amendment is not for defense against savages or invasion, nor an uprising of slaves. It is clear that the founding fathers believed the greatest threat to the United States was the potential for the federal government to become corrupt and tyrannize those who elected those officials.

Email newsletter signup

The Second Amendment of the Constitution says, “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.”

Notice the three words, regulated, militia and free. Webster’s defines regulate as “to control, direct or govern according to a rule, principle or system.” Militia is defined as “in the U.S., all able-bodied male citizens between 18 and 45 years old who are not already members of the regular armed forces, National Guard or armed forces reserve.” Free is defined as “not under the control of some other person or arbitrary power; able to act or think without compulsion or arbitrary restriction; having liberty; independent.”

When I reread the Second Amendment, thinking about those three words, it becomes clear: If the citizens of this nation wish to deter the federal government’s ability to illegitimately grab power, the citizenry must have the means to oppose the government and not cower before some despotic leader or political party.

The founding fathers established the principle that in order to ensure the perpetuity of this nation, individuals must possess sufficient firepower to oppose any army which would be a tool of a tyrannical government.

I find Peca’s line, “In fact, the Second Amendment was added along with the related Militia Acts of 1792 …” to be quite misleading and dismissive of the Bill of Rights as a whole.

To correct the dates, the Bill of Rights was proposed in 1789 and ratified in 1791, a full year before the Militia Acts of 1792 were approved.

I find Peca’s dismissive attitude toward the Bill of Rights disturbing, and I am sure that George Mason would as well. Mason felt so strongly that when a list of limitations to governmental power was not part of the original Constitution, he refused to sign it.

John Watson is a Vietnam veteran from Meherrin. He is retired and a self-proclaimted anti-federalist. His email address is