Letter: Origins of 2nd Amendment


To the editor:

I chuckle when I hear agun advocate invoke the Second Amendment to promote the unrestricted manufacture and saleof machine guns and hand guns of enormous fire power. The near daily occurrence of a mass shooting of four or more makes no dent on their real concern this imaginedsacred constitutional guarantee will be abridged in the slightest. My question to them is, "What slave patrol are you planning to participate in?"

The purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure the new nation had asufficient nationally controlled militia to repel foreign invasion or internal insurrection. But slave states feared federal control over state militias could doom their primary purpose of being state slave patrols to maintain totalitarian power of slaves. The new nation had already called upon free blacks to helpwin the Revolutionary War, a dangerous precedent to fearful slaveholders. To get Southern support for the Constitution, James Madison altered his original draft of the noxious amendment to declare that the purpose of the well-regulated militia was to guarantee the security of a "free state" instead of the original "free country." The political ploy worked, ensuring the Constitution's ratification. Alas, 235 years on the ocean of blood from over 100,000 killed and wounded annually is a ghoulish reminder of the cost incurred to birth our constitutional system.

Walt Zlotow

Glen Ellyn