Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

News Bearing Arms

  1. Feb 13, 2006 #1
    In the United States you have the right to keep and bear arms.

    To what sort of arms does the Second Amendment refer?

    Also, does 'right to bear arms' mean one can carry a weapon in public (not concealed, of course)?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 13, 2006 #2
    The fill text reads
    What this generally means is that "the people" (who at the time were generally land owning white males but are now anyone considered a citizen) can own arms, but the government is allowed to regulate the issue. Where everything gets hazy is where exactly to draw the line between regulated and over-regulated. Not being a constitutional scholar, I would imagine the Supreme Court has taken the stand that as long as a law is not unduly burdensome to gun ownership (in the same way it has allowed some abortion laws to stand on the grounds they were not unduly burdensome), then the law is constitutional. I would think any outright ban on possession of arms would be deemed unconstitutional. As for whether a ban carrying a weapon in public is constitutional or not, I would hazard a guess that it is not unconstitutional, since most municipalities have such bans.
  4. Feb 13, 2006 #3
    Personally, I think the constitution says what it means. At the time, people were allowed to carry around a gun for their time that was equivalent to that of any military gun of its day. In fact, it was a military gun. It says I have the right to bear arms, not the right to bear the arms the government thinks I should bear. If I want to buy a machine gun, then by god I should be able to. If someone wants to argue what do I need a machine gun for, I will tell you quite simply, because its my RIGHT to have one if I WANT to.

    Back on topic: it is perfectly legal to have a concealed weapon if you have the proper permit. You are not allowed to openly walk around with arms, unless you are transporting them. Though im not 100% sure.


    I guess you can't.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2006
  5. Feb 13, 2006 #4
    Actually, that's not quite true. It says "...well regulated militia..." which implies the governemnt can impose controls. What those controls are is up to debate, however. If the public safety requires that certain things be regulated or outlawed, then they are legitimately regulated or outlawed (the same way free speech of certain kinds can be regulated or outlawed). You cannot, for example, carry a gun on a plane. But as for types of guns, that's the reason for the debate for the waiting period over assault type weapons.

    The fact that you have concealed weapon "permits" shows that there can be some amount of regulation. And there are some areas where even concealed weapon permits are not granted without pressing reason (i.e., not just anyone can get one).
  6. Feb 13, 2006 #5
    I simply believe that people should have to right to bear arms in order to keep the peace. For example, Arizona's crime rate went significantly downards after it became even easier to obtain a CCW.

    EDIT: What sort of arms? The ones which you can defend yourself and others with.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2006
  7. Feb 13, 2006 #6
    http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode10/usc_sec_10_00000311----000-.html [Broken]

    A militia are ordinary citizens who may or may not be part of a regular standing army. I thought the whole point of being able to bear arms was so that the people could overthrow the government if it became tyranical. If all you are allowed to own are hand guns, I don't see how that reflects the intention of the amendment.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  8. Feb 13, 2006 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    'Arms' is not specified. If it was, then it would limit arms to single shot muskets and pistols of the 18th century. At the time that the Constitution was written, many citizens lived in rural areas and it was relatively common to own a single shot musket. Also, one could own single shot pistols.

    Besides the regular army, many people volunteered to serve in the Revolutionary war. I believe the founders of the US realized that the citizens could and would be called upon to defend the country, as was the case against the British.

    There were probably those who also felt that citizens would wish to bare arms against a 'tyranical' government, but I doubt that was in many minds at the time.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2006
  9. Feb 13, 2006 #8
    He means me :wink:

    If astronuc says im wrong, then I'm wrong. :redface:
  10. Feb 13, 2006 #9


    Its an interesting paper.

    Not sooo fast! :cool:
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2006
  11. Feb 13, 2006 #10


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Can't what? AFAIK, these limitations also typically apply to CCW permits (as well as limitations against carrying firearms into establishments that sell alcohol, or post a "no firearms" sign). There are lots of places where it isn't illegal to carry holstered handgun, or a rifle/shotgun in a pickup-truck gunrack for example.

    A friend of mine told me story a few months of about some Israeli citizens who fired some mortars at their neighbors "in self defense". *grandma peers through binoculars waiting for the first round to land* ... "Paw! You're 200-meters long and 100-meters too far to the left..." *grandpa adjusts his aim*
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2006
  12. Feb 13, 2006 #11


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I dont know what it means to others, but to me personally it means that when my government decides to establish a police state with martial laws, I have the right granted to me by the founding fathers (who of course have seen this coming) to grab an AK-47 and restructure the government back to its free state, with the support of my fellow citizens :biggrin:
  13. Feb 13, 2006 #12
    No no no, you mean M16. Well, it would be an AR-15 for you.
  14. Feb 13, 2006 #13


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    No can do. AK47 is more reliable, besides I know how to use one :devil:

    and then there is the usual concept of an M16 being used to fight opressive governments.. it would be kind of ironic if it was used in this case, since the US isnt supposed to be opressive - but only a small group of individuals within the government. Its not the people who are the enemy in those situations, its a handful of people. As Jefferson once said.. "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants"
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2006
  15. Feb 13, 2006 #14


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I didn't say you were wrong Cyrus. I simply stated that I doubt there were many back in 1776 who were concerned about having to take up arms against the government of the United States. They were probably more concerned about other countries, particularly England, France and perhaps Canada.

    If you want to find out what constituted 'arms' back then, find a dictionary published during or before 1776. :biggrin:
  16. Feb 13, 2006 #15


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    well im pretty sure jefferson being a philosophical kind of guy had only one definition for 'arms' - an assault type rifle capable of taking human lifes. i dont know perhaps the capabilities changed over the decades but the basic idea stayed the same.
  17. Feb 13, 2006 #16

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  18. Feb 14, 2006 #17


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    It's a real debate over what that means. It isn't written very well. Courts have had trouble figuring out whether it means each state has the right to maintain its own militia or whether the amendment refers to the rights of the individual.

  19. Feb 14, 2006 #18


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Two interpret the second Amendment, one has to go back to those times.

    The fact that it is written "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State," implies a condition upon the rest of the statement. Basically, individuals could and would be called upon to serve as citizen soldiers. The states and federal government had no desire to maintain a professional army, as did the European powers. However, today we see otherwise.

    Basically the government did not want the populace to be disarmed, especially after surviving the Revolutionary War, ca. 1775-1783 (8 years!) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolutionary_War

    Besides one could always regulate arms, or the ammunition, rather than infringe upon the right to bear arms.
  20. Feb 14, 2006 #19
    I think the second amendment should just be done away with. What does it have to do with today's world? Nothing. Make it legal to only have hunting rifles and only if you get a licence, a hard to get one at that. Hand guns and machine guns should be banned for civilians.
  21. Feb 14, 2006 #20


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Well many people think that a well regulated militia means National Guard, which over the years got very twisted. In 1792 it was all able men 18-45 armed and equipped at their own expensive and regulated by the state. But in 1867 the Congressed "suspended the southern states' right to organize their militias until a state was firmly under the control of an acceptable government" - acceptable government? This is from national guard's website. It continues, "The U.S. Army was used to enforce martial law in the South during Reconstruction". The Army was used for suppressing labor unrest in the North and guarding polls in the South during the 1876 election. The Congress enacted the Posse Comitatus Act in 1878, to limit the President's powers pertaining to military use during peacetime, because of this.

    By a weird force of history, in 1903, the Dick Act was passed and replaced the original 1792 bill, making the National Guard part of the Army. Ironic twist, isnt it. 1916, National Defense Act, the President can now "mobilize the Guard during war or national emergency". National Guard Mobilization Act - 1933. Well just in time for the Great Depression, and just in time for Roosevelt selling out the country through the New Deal in 1933. During WW2 18 National Guard divisions saw active combat.

    Fast forward a world war later, its 1973. The name of the war is Vietnam, the act is called the Total Force Policy, treating both active AND reserve forces as one single force, allowing rapid mobilization and supply of troops to the Vietnam.

    Fast forward another 20 years, now the troops are part of UN and the American Delta Force soldiers put on a UN uniform, and become part of UNOSOM I (4/1992-3/1993)- as peace keepers in Somalia deployed by Clinton.

    Another President, another peacekeeping operation under UN banner - Bush and UNOSOM II (3/1993-3/1995) aka Operation Restore Hope, where 25000 US troops were deployed. The objective of UNOSOM II was 'nation building'

    Another Bush, another decade later, we have the National Guard deployed in Iraq.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2006
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Bearing Arms
  1. Owning arms (Replies: 48)

  2. The Bear (Replies: 16)

  3. The Bear and the Food (Replies: 21)

  4. Robot Arm (Replies: 2)

  5. Bear Attack (Replies: 28)