Forget the 2nd Amendment and concentrate on our Constitution


Michael Swickard

Our Constitution’s Second Amendment does not mention guns. It speaks to “arms,” but the word “militia” makes it impossible to understand today. So, let’s forgot it entirely. Instead, we should focus on something constitutionally far more important.

Our country has spent too much time on the concept of a right to bear arms and too little on our right to defend ourselves from attack. Our right of individual defense seems the core argument in our Constitution.

To understand, we must mingle two concepts. The first concept is one of property. Are we our own property? Said another way, do I own myself? Do I own my brain and my muscles, the product of my thinking and my labor? Do I own myself entirely? Or, can someone else own me?

The Constitution says that I cannot sell myself into slavery. Therefore, the law is clear as to myself as my own property.

Next, do I have the right to defend myself? Do not read this as the right to attack someone else; in simple terms do I have the right to defend myself from attack? Or must I just suffer an attack upon me?

Central to this is the notion that if I have an overarching right to my own defense then Congress cannot take that right from me. Therefore, after we establish my right of defense then comes a dialog of methods. And that is where our laws get contradictory. With some laws I cannot use the only appropriate defense when someone is bigger, stronger and armed – that is, to be armed myself. The law does not require me to defend myself, but can the law take my only effective means of defense away? I think not.


If Congress cannot pass a law that requires me to submit to an illegal attack upon my person, then Congress forfeits the right to discuss how I may defend myself. If they insist I can only say, “Stop attacking me or I will say stop again,” that is no defense. If Congress says that I can defend myself, then I can. Period.

Any attempt to moderate my defense of myself negates the act of defense. This is not to say I can be found faultless in my defense if I injure someone who was not attacking me.

So, lacking an ability to limit my defense because it is not constitutional to make me submit to attack, we do not have to discuss methods such as the use of which weapons, only the consequences of using a weapon incorrectly. I must accept my defender role as culpable for any innocent injury I cause. If I shoot an attacker and the bullet injures an innocent person, I must pay that consequence. As I consider my defensive options, I must consider my responsibilities for my own actions.

Mexico proves the point

There are countries that have taken away the ability of their citizens to defend themselves. Mexico comes to mind, since just a few miles from where I am writing this tens of thousands of innocent lives have been lost by shooting what I call “fish in a barrel” in that they are not allowed to shoot back. By law they must not shoot back, and can only bleed and die as a response to the attack.

In Mexico, citizens are not allowed to have guns. It is very against the law, which has not changed the fact that criminals kill thousands of innocent citizens every year. Being disarmed assures that the innocent victims will die with no right of defending themselves. Has the gun ban in Mexico made the citizens safer? No. Do they have a right to an adequate defense of their lives being taken from them by criminals? No.

In our country there are many political movements to take the means of resistance away from citizens “to make our society safer,” which has not worked in Mexico. In some localities it is illegal to have the means of defense when being attacked by someone with a gun. The attacker will be charged and you will be buried.

Are these laws prohibiting a robust defense really what our founding leaders had in mind? I think not.

Swickard is a weekly columnist for this site. You can reach him at

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3 thoughts on “Forget the 2nd Amendment and concentrate on our Constitution

  1. Very good piece. Shared it on my Facebook, but I do have one disagreement with you and one disagreement with henrybowman.

    When stating that the Constitution does not say “guns”, you are technically right but realistically incorrect. The term arms was the standard term used to talk about guns in the 1700s. So, “arms” is the exact same as saying “guns.” Obviously, I read the rest of your post, so it makes sense to me and I completely agree with the rest of your post here.

    Henrybowman, I’m a Soldier and can tell you that the stop loss program is nowhere close to slavery. When a Soldier enlists into the military, he makes an 8 year commitment. Some enlist to only serve 3-4 years of that commitment on active service, but the document they sign when they VOLUNTEER to enlist clearly states the parameters for their service. “In a time of war” is clearly one of those that will call for being extended or stop-lossed. The only people that have any right to claim slavery as a result of stop-loss are those that have already served their 8 year commitment and still get stop lossed (which is very rare).

    Other than that, I love your comments and this article.

  2. I read an article in the Sun News that it is the Mexican government sending death squad through the state of Michoacan that are killing Mexican citizens. The constitutional right to bear arms was not so much about the defense against criminals as the the defense against an authoritarian government.

  3. Arguing over what the constitution says or what the framers wanted is a waste of everybody’s time.

    Constitutions, like Bibles, can be “interpreted” to mean precisely the opposite of what they say, depending on who holds the reins of government.

    So slavery is illegal, according to the constitution?

    Slavery is defined as “A condition of compulsory service or labor performed by one person, against his will, for the benefit of another person due to force, threats, intimidation or other similar means of coercion and compulsion directed against him… whether a person is paid a salary or a wage is not determinative of the question as to whether that person has been held in involuntary servitude. In other words, if a person is forced to labor against his will, his service is involuntary even though he is paid for his work.” (Follow link for full, detailed definition and discussion.)

    How does this not describe the draft?

    The definition further goes on to say, “it makes no difference that the person may have initially agreed, voluntarily, to render the service or perform the work. If a person willingly begins work but later desires to withdraw and is then forced to remain and perform work against his will, his service becomes involuntary.”

    How does this not describe the military “stop loss” program?

    Yet “our masters” — the ruling class that actually owns and runs our government — has ruled that both programs are perfectly constitutional, cognitive dissonance be damned.

    We won’t admit it, but constitutional government is a proven historical failure. A citizen who believes the constitution gives him any protections at all is like the kid who thinks the dummy pushbutton the dentist gave him is actually going to stop the drill.

    And speaking of Mexico, let me also use Mexico to prove my point. Here is text from Article 10 of the Mexican Constitution:

    “The inhabitants of the United Mexican States are entitled to have arms of any kind in their possession for their protection and legitimate defense, except such as are expressly forbidden by law, or which the nation may reserve for the exclusive use of the army, navy, or national guard; but they may not carry arms within inhabited places without complying with police regulations.”

    Yet, you write (correctly) that “In Mexico, citizens are not allowed to have guns.” How did “entitled to have arms of any kind” become “no guns?” Through the magic of constitutional government.

    So look no more to the constitution to figure out what rights you do have or what rights a human being who owns himself ought to have. Derive them again from first principles, and then defend them with your life, because history has proven that the only rights you have are those you can hold by force — even in constitutional republics.