7 years 17 weeks ago, 2:53 AM
In response to complaints that local people were reluctant to take up arms to enforce justice for strangers, The Statute of Winchester of 1285 (13 Edw. I) declared that each district or hundred would be held responsible for unsolved crimes. Each man was to keep arms to take part in the hue and cry when necessary.
The Statute of Winchester of 1285 codified the system of social obligation. It provided that: (1) it was everyone’s duty to maintain the king’s peace, and any citizen could arrest an offender; (2) unpaid, part-time constables operating at various levels of governance had a special duty to do so, and in towns they would be assisted by their inferior officers, the watchmen; (3) if the offender was not caught “red-handed,” a hue and cry would have to be raised; (4) everyone was obliged to keep arms and to follow the cry when required; and (5) constables had among their varying responsibilities a duty to present the offender at court tests.
The right of English subjects to possess arms was recognized under English common law. Regarding this right, St. George Tucker said:
This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty. . . . The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.
Civilian usage meaning
Don Kates, a civil liberties lawyer, cites historic English usage describing the "right to keep and bear their private arms."
Likewise, Sayoko Blodgett-Ford notes non-military usage of the phrase in the Pennsylvania ratifying convention:
[T]he people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and their own state, or the United States, or the purpose of killing game; and no law shall be passed for disarming the people or any of them, unless for crimes committed..."
In commentary written by Justice Cummings in United States v. Emerson, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit concluded in 2001 that:
there are numerous instances of the phrase 'bear arms' being used to describe a civilian's carrying of arms. Early constitutional provisions or declarations of rights in at least some ten different states speak of the right of the 'people' [or 'citizen' or 'citizens'] "to bear arms in defense of themselves [or 'himself'] and the state,' or equivalent words, thus indisputably reflecting that under common usage 'bear arms' was in no sense restricted to bearing arms in military service. See Bliss v. Commonwealth, 13 Am. Dec. 251, 12 Ky. 90 (Ky. 1822).
Similarly, in a released Senate report on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Senator Orrin Hatch, chairman, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution, states:
They argue that the Second Amendment's words "right of the people" mean "a right of the state" — apparently overlooking the impact of those same words when used in the First and Fourth Amendments. The "right of the people" to assemble or to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures is not contested as an individual guarantee. Still they ignore consistency and claim that the right to "bear arms" relates only to military uses. This not only violates a consistent constitutional reading of "right of the people" but also ignores that the second amendment protects a right to "keep" arms. "When our ancestors forged a land "conceived in liberty", they did so with musket and rifle. When they reacted to attempts to dissolve their free institutions, and established their identity as a free nation, they did so as a nation of armed freemen. When they sought to record forever a guarantee of their rights, they devoted one full amendment out of ten to nothing but the protection of their right to keep and bear arms against governmental interference. Under my chairmanship the Subcommittee on the Constitution will concern itself with a proper recognition of, and respect for, this right most valued by free men."
"WAR IS A RACKET, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the Bankers." Major-General Smedley Darlington Butler USMC Ret. 2 time Medal of Honor winner.