When was the Second Amendment last used to fight against the US government to protect people's freedom?

  • I was not born in the USA, and I am trying to understand the Second Amendment. My big question is:

    When was the last time US citizens made use of the Second Amendment and fought against the US government to protect their freedom?

    I expect a date, or an event, or "never" as an answer to my question (see my second edit).

    If the Civil War is the answer, then I want to clarify: in the Civil War didn't people fight people rather than the government? Father vs son, brother vs brother, etc?


    Edit: clarification

    Some people complained that my question is too vague, and I agree with that. What is meant by government? Do local governments count? Do bullets have to be shot or is a peaceful protest with guns enough to be considered an exercise of the 2nd amendment? I will argue and say that the ambiguity of my question is caused by the ambiguity of the 2nd amendment itself. I think the 2nd amendment is too primitive to adequately cover all user cases of a much more complex world we live in today compared to the way this world was when the amendment was first written. Please use your best judgment and logic when answering questions and posting comments. As an OP, I don't know how I should make this question more specific.

    Edit 2: additional clarifications

    Here is where I am coming from with this question. A lot of people, when arguing about the 2nd amendment, state that they need the 2nd amendment to protect themselves from corrupt government (I recently participated in such a discussion with friends). The next natural question to those people I had is "when was the last time that happened?" So, I came to this website to find an answer. When I asked the question I expected either a specific date or event, or "never" as a reply. It turned out my question generated a lot of discussion. I received multiple dates/events as answeres as candidates for my answer, as well as requests to clarify my question and suggestions in comments that the 2nd amendment hypothetically prevented the US from a hypothetical corrupt government, which is not really an answer. I also found "counter arguments" (if they can be qualified as such) to the most currently highly upvoted answer. In the mean time, I accept an unpopular answer as "It haven't happened yet" as accepted, until a better answer emerges.

    Disclaimer: I don't mean to appear anti-gun-ownership. I believe people have the right to own guns, but my opinion has no place on this website. I am on this site expecting to get unbiased, logical answers which weigh both sides of the argument.

    Edit 3: I took away my accepted answer check mark so not too skew other people's opinions on this issue.

    I would rhetorically ask, for example, when was the last time a parliamentary system prevented the rise of tyranny in Europe? It is difficult to argue when a passive defense has actually defended against something. If we could run a separate simulation of the US without the 2nd amendment, we would be able to answer to this question. But we can't, and I can't think of any way of answering this question.

    This is rather like asking when was the last time nuclear weapons were used to prevent the Soviet Union from overrunning western Europe. The point is that if you have a sufficient deterrent, you don't need to actually use the weapons.

    The many answers below reflect the ambiguity of the questions scope. Does the government confronted have to be representative of Federal authority? Does the it have to be directly related to defending a freedom? Do shoots need to be fired? The Question should provide all of these facts to properly scope it, unless you want it to be broader.

    @DrunkCynic when I asked this question I was not aware of complexity it carried within. Initially I viewed it as country-wide rebellion against lawmakers and people in charge of our country. But it's hard to argue (if not impossible) that small rebellions here and there against local of government(s) wouldn't count as well.

    @AlexL one thing you have to realize is the complexity of state and local vs federal government. I think that may be the piece you are missing. In a lot of ways the US is a lot like 50 separate countries with a union over them (maybe like the European Union but I am not sure how apt that comparison is). So the question is: do you mean Federal, State, Local, all, or any?

    @Jake well, I am asking about the same exact government that 2nd amendment is taking about. So, which one is it: Federal, State, Local, all or any? (I apologies if I sound sarcastic here, I don't mean to. I am only trying to get to the bottom of it. Thanks. )

    @AlexL That is also a problem then because the second amendment does not specify that it is even for fighting the government. There is a question on here that deals with the historical context of the amendment, but the text of the amendment is "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." So the definition largely hinges on the definition of "free state"

    @AlexL found it on history.SE

    Don't forget it was written by the guys can be hanged for treason against the king and used militas to repel tories

    Probably doesn't meet all your requirements, but you may still find https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruby_Ridge interesting.

    I'm still having a hard time figuring out exactly what is being asked. The second amendment merely restrains the government from infringing on what it recognizes as being the inherent right of the people to keep and bear arms. There is no such thing legally as someone "exercising the 2nd amendment," except maybe in a court case challenging a government attempt to restrict weapon ownership. It does not say what people can do, only what the government can't do, namely, prevent the citizens from possessing and bearing arms.

    @RussellHankins: That, together with the point made in a (now-deleted? I can't find it. Maybe on another question) comment that the second amendment doesn't grant the right to keep and bear arms, it acknowledges that is a natural right and prevents the government from abridging it, are the correct answer to this question -- why don't you write one. All the existing answers are about exercise of the natural right the 2nd protects, not about exercise of the 2nd.

    @jean Actually, no -- they used *real* soldiers for the actual fighting. From most accounts, the militias during the revolutionary war were, put bluntly, *garbage* -- undisciplined, incompetent, cowardly. They deserted in droves, ran at the first sight of trouble, tried to surrender when they couldn't. Mel Gibson lied to you, sorry.

    I really think you should reexamine the Bundy standoff in @bubbajake00's answer. It raises exactly the issues you were hoping to understand. The govt's action in that case would've completely destroyed his entire way of life. Whether he was right or wrong isn't really the issue. He believed his livelihood was at stake and that the legal system had failed him. The armed standoff made the gov't back down and rethink land rights issues. He got his cows back and nobody died that day -- a prime example of armed citizens pushing back against the gov't over what they saw as a threat to their rights.

    @blip I ask when "when the 2nd amendment was used". Whether "guns were used" applies or not - depends on the meaning of 2nd amendment.

    "depends on the meaning of 2nd amendment." = I think that's the catch. There is no 'one meaning' of the 2nd amendment.

    @blip Yes, hence my first edit. Quote from my first edit: "I think the 2nd amendment is too primitive to adequately cover all user cases of a much more complex world we live in today compared to the way this world was when the amendment was first written. Please use your best judgment and logic when answering questions and posting comments. As an OP, I don't know how I should make this question more specific."

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rebellions_in_the_United_States suggests Wounded Knee in '73.

    In 1973 about 200 people mostly from a Lakota tribe took over a town on the site of a famous massacre. They held the town for 71 days sporadicly exchanging gunfire with law enforcement including the FBI.

    It was sparked by a failure of regular mechanisms to remove a elected official (he had goons). It quickly escalated to be about the US not honoring treaties with natives and many non-Lokota joined.

    It was fairly successful; popular opinion was in favor, the leaders were not sentenced and the phrase "poor treatment of Native Americans in the film industry" was first broadcast from Hollywood. The official served another 3 years after winning an election that was invalidated because of the actions of the goons, but later upheld.

    Recommend referencing what freedoms were being protected through the armed standoff.

    While it was a internal issue the issue was connected to relations with the federal government, Wilson was thought to be a puppet of the government maintaining power illegally with federal approval or help and of favoring federal interests over his electorate's.

    Interesting. I found this article which states that "America’s Constitutional right to keep and bear arms was in part to protect one from Native Americans and even give one the right to kill Native Americans". So, did Bill of Rights cover Native Americans originally? Or is article I posted is not trustworthy and there is no truth in it?

    Here is another "counter argument" from Washington Post article. Quote: "the 18th-century regulations that required citizens to participate in the militia also prohibited blacks and Indians from participating as arms-bearing members".

    @AlexL you might ask on history.se, but it is my understanding that we have been selling guns to indians for a long time, and banning them from serving in militias is slightly different. Being assured of self protection does not necessarily mean denying the same to some other group, however, there are treaties made around that time, so it should be answerable if "not bearing arms" was a term or not.

    Great answer and more recent. Another event in the 1900s was the `Bonus Army`, where US soldiers (who were also armed) basically threated the government to honor its promise to them - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonus_Army. People often forget this event helped led to the rise of FDR.

    When the US Constitution was written Indians and Blacks did not have the same legal status as Whites. Indians were not considered US citizens until 1924.

    @arp - are Indians US citizens? Their lands are federally protected, and yet federal government has no authority there? Are they issued with US passports without any issue/requirement? Not being ironical, just don't know.

    @acepl Native Americans are US citizens if they meet the relevant criteria, but the treaties the US government signed with the various tribes do treat them as sovereign nations. Thus for example, at least as of a few years ago it was possible to cross the US-Canada border with only a tribal ID card if you were a member of a tribe that spanned the border.

    @arp - Thank you. But your comment means that N.A. tribesmen aren't conferred US citizenship automatically? Also: are tribes part of federation, protectorates or full-blown sovereign states?

    @acepl for one thing, Canada has First Nations as well (and has recently made a push to go through all the old treaties signed and craft deals that clear up all that pesky stolen land.) I was specifically thinking of Mohawks whose nation spans the border.

    This is not a "good" example in the sense that Native Americans have rights, or claims to rights, that are not based in the constitution but rather on their native status. They are partly - in a moral if not in a legal sense - people of another nation, which are not supposed to be under US sovereignty.

  • This has happened as recently as 2014 in Bunkerville, Clark County, Nevada.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundy_standoff

    The 2014 Bundy standoff was an armed confrontation between supporters of cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and law enforcement following a 21-year legal dispute in which the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) obtained court orders directing Bundy to pay over $1 million in withheld grazing fees for Bundy's use of federally-owned land adjacent to Bundy's ranch in southeastern Nevada.

    As you can see, this was a confrontation between armed citizens and the government, specifically the Bureau of Land Management. Because the citizens were armed, the government was not able to enforce their will on the people.

    As for shots fired:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3418491/Ammon-Bundy-arrested-three-fellow-militiamen-shots-fired-Oregon-stand-off.html

    Oregon militia spokesman LaVoy Finicum has been shot dead after a traffic stop escalated into a shoot-out that saw Ryan Bundy wounded and eight leaders of the occupation movement arrested.

    http://www.oregonlive.com/oregon-standoff/2016/01/militant_shot_and_killed_while.html

    With the car running, she said, Finicum "got out of the car and he had his hands in the air and he was like, 'Just shoot me then, just shoot me.'"

    "And they did," she said. "They shot him dead."

    Sharp said she thought she heard as many as 100 bullets fired and that those remaining in the car were getting "gassed." She said they were trying to find something white they could wave out the window.

    Why the down vote?

    I didn't downvote, but this doesn't qualify because no shots were fired, per OP's comments.

    @IllusiveBrian Oh that comment was hidden when I first looked, I'll delete this now since it doesn't fit.

    @IllusiveBrian actually upon further research, one person was killed and another was wounded in a traffic stop regarding this. "Oregon militia spokesman LaVoy Finicum has been shot dead after a traffic stop escalated into a shoot-out that saw Ryan Bundy wounded and eight leaders of the occupation movement arrested."

    I updated my question with clarification.

    Surely you can find a better source than the _Daily Mail_.

    @DavidRicherby that was just the first article I found, saw others by CNN and HuffPost as well. Added an additional quote from the source MichaelHampton provided.

    I'm not saying this is wrong or right, but can you explicitly state the rights they were protecting?

    This does not answer the question concerning rights. Using Bundy as an example is odd since Bundy doesn't believe the US Government even exists. The Constitution, legal precedent, and common sense (Washington D.C.!) show the US Government can Constitutionally own land and thus his fees were lawful leaving him in breach of contract and subject to punitive measures. Yes, armed citizens made the government not enforce their laws. But his rights were not being infringed.

    @CramerTV No. The Federal Government has a very narrow authority to own and govern land, with Washington D.C. itself being limited to 10 square miles, per Article 1 Section 8. Refer to the 10th amendment regarding the restrictive nature of the Constitution and the authorities of the Federal Government. Why should the Federal Government control 85% of land in Nevada?

    @DrunkCynic: You're ignoring the second half of that clause, which allows the feds to "exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be". In other words, if at any time Nevada ever consented to the feds owning that land, then they can own and govern it as they see fit.

    @Kevin 85% of the land of Nevada isn't filled with "Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, or other needful Buildings"

    @DrunkCynic: Yeah, and Copyright stopped being about "promoting the progress of science and the useful arts" in 1998 if not substantially earlier, but you don't see people successfully making that argument either.

    @CramerTV It was well within the British Government's (legal at the time) rights to tax colonialists, yet here we are. "No taxation without representation" was the rallying cry but it certainly wasn't the law nor the _right_ of the colonies to demand it depending on your point of view. I don't think Bundy is akin to the revolutionaries of the time to anyone but him and his followers, but his perspective of the federal government is at least somewhat similar to that of the founding fathers to the Government of England, which he exploits with limited success.

    I upvoted this answer, and think it's the best one, because regardless of whether you think there were legitimate rights/freedoms being defended (I don't), the attitude behind the Bundy standoff was that the government's position was not legitimate, and this attitude is pretty close to what most people who view 2A as a check on government power have in mind. They're not arguing that they can use 2A to rise up and overthrow a totalitarian government. They're arguing that they can win a standoff with the threat of significant injury/death on both sides & avoid doing what government tells them to

    @Azor-Ahai Land use rights, a big issue out West. In some states, the federal government has declared a majority of the land to be protected (such as by declaring an area a national park or national monument), which means it can't legally be used by private citizens for economic activity. Specifically, the argument is that it's a violation of the "takings clause" of the 5th amendment (taking private property without compensation), and there have been scores of lawsuits by state governments against the federal government for the practice, as well as actions by individuals like the Bundys.

    I think that, as opposed to your claim, the government eventually *did* impose their will on the people; this supports the critique @OHGODSPIEDRS makes of this rationale for the 2nd amendment: That it is effectiveyl useless against the armed agents of the government (who consequentially decide the outcome of any rebellion when they take sides).

    How does this differ from J. Random Criminal being shot by the police? Believing you don't have to comply with the law does not give you the right to not comply with the law.

    @pjc50 Scale (When one person doesn't like the government enough to cause violence, they have a problem. When a hundred million people don't like the government enough to cause violence, the government has a problem) and ideology (J Random Criminal usually doesn't have any anti-government sentinent other than "they're gonna lock me up so I better shoot them first")

    This is a ridiculous premise. It's arguing, essentially, that "because a person has a gun, they can break the law and the government can't do anything about it". This is obviously NOT what the 2nd amendment is for.

    @HopelessN00b the Bundys were complaining about having to pay to use Government land, not that they had been deprived of the use of their own property.

    The Bundy incident ended with the rebels dead or in prison. Not a good example of the Second Amendment in action.

    @PaulJohnson The complaint, especially out West, is that the federal government stole (seized without compensation) huge swaths of land that used to belong to the state government, and is completely unresponsive to local preferences and needs. It's a very big deal in big parts of the US. ... an understandable viewpoint, if you put yourself in their shoes - a government 2,000 miles away takes half the land in your state and then imposes their preferred use of it on you and your community at gunpoint. Seems like the type of thing most people would not take kindly to.

  • It hasn't happened.

    The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision. It exists to protect the American people from government tyranny and oppression.

    The U.S. government has not exercised its power against the American people in what would be considered mass tyranny and oppression (e.g., Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union, Castro's Cuba, Ceaușescu's Romania, Chavez & Maduro's Venezuela).

    But the threat is ever-present, and the Founders new this.

    As U.S. Appeals Court Judge Alex Kozinski observed:

    [The Second Amendment] is designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed — where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.


    Judge Alex Kozinski
    U.S. Court of Appeals
    9th Circuit
    SILVEIRA v LOCKYER (2003)

    All too many of the other great tragedies of history — Stalin's atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few — were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece, as the Militia Act required here. If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars.

    My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history. The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed — where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.

    Fortunately, the Framers were wise enough to entrench the right of the people to keep and bear arms within our constitutional structure. The purpose and importance of that right was still fresh in their minds, and they spelled it out clearly so it would not be forgotten. Despite the panel's mighty struggle to erase these words, they remain, and the people themselves can read what they say plainly enough:

    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.

    I've downvoted this answer because the primary claim that the US Government hasn't exercised its power in a totalitarian or authoritarian way is refuted by the Japanese Internment.

    The individuals interred were US citizens, though of Japanese descent. However, if the scope of the question is narrowed to armed citizen response to the Federal Government to protect freedoms, with shots being fired, this is the right answer because there hasn't been an event that fits in that scope. At least not one I can identify.

    The Wounded Knee event was a response to conflict internal to the reservation, which was expanded with a Federal response and evolved into a general protest against government Mistreatment of Native Americans; no freedoms threatened. The Athens response was mostly against the corruption of the local government. No shots were fired in Nevada.

    @DrunkCynic Harper's Ferry may qualify for that

    `But America is a young country (230 years old).` A) I don't see the relation to `The threat of government tyranny is ever-present` (are you trying to say that China is under no threat of tyranny due to its age?) and B) according to which count? "Old countries" periodically pass through revolutions/reorganizations/restablishments; e.g. the French current Fifth Republic was stablished in 1958, Germany practically was "restarted" in 1945, etc.. OTOH, the USA was not created *ex novo*, as it incorporated the legal and social traditions of England.

    The relation is to the question's possible premise (the OP was vague in this area). If the question is being asked in order to establish a justification for the 2A, then my point is that, with or without examples, a justification exists...

    ...and, thinking there is an equivalency between the US government, at any time in its history, and the regimes that I cited, is ridiculous. There is no equivalency (and hopefully there never will be).

    While Judge Kozinski dissenting opinion is important (worthwhile to note that he was dissenting from the overall decision), he was likely ignorant of examples like Athens or Wounded Knee, where there were election issues and efforts to silence dissent. A claim of "it hasn't happened," pulling the negative, doesn't stand in the presence of positive indication.

    Would the 2nd amendment actually help if the USA did become an evil totalitarian state? Failed attempts to overthrow the government wouldn't really get much support from the 2nd amendment, and if they did manage to overthrow the evil, would the winners then prosecute themselves if the 2nd amendment didn't exist?

    While this certainly answers the question I don't really feel the answers quality is helped by outright stating that the 2nd amendment is "needed" and an "insurance policy" and therefor should exist. In my opinion that's a pipe dream that sounds like out of a bad action movie. If the US government where to turn totalitatian and "the people" where to resist that then the winner would obviously be the side that the US military would take. Thinking that some handguns would enable anyone to "fight" with the 600 billion us army (in case it sides with the totalitatian government) is ridiculous.

    @curiousdannii The point (of 2a) isn't about the prosecution of victors after an overthrow, it's about making sure the government doesn't confiscate all the guns while it's non-totalitarian and only later on change. (I'm not arguing for or against here just pointing out the reasoning).

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    This is really interesting! Being a US american citizen in the US army carries much more social wow than it is the case for any european country. And as far as I understand, the "I need my guns"-peope are usually also a part of the "I support the troops"-group. But the paragraphs in this answer justify the second amendment with the possible need to shoot the troops. ...So isn't it rather guns *or* army?

    @OHGODSPIDERS Mostly a good point, but you say "the army" as if it's a single entity. There are a large number of individuals in the army and such a circumstance would most likely split the army - some soldiers siding with the government, others siding with "the people". What would make a difference is the rank of the soldiers, if all the top generals (who know the security codes) picked one side then that side would be the one at an advantage.

    @NightLightFighter: Nope. They need their guns *in case* the government goes evil, but (1) the military's job includes protecting us from other, way worse governments, and (2) there's a long-standing tradition (perhaps even a law) against using our US military forces against Americans on US soil. So the military is seen as defending against *outside* threats, rather than carrying out our government's will against us. As long as it remains that way, one can support gun rights *and* support the troops.

    @cHao But if the government "goes evil", how does it project it's power onto the people? Usually this is done via the military (and similar militaristic security police). And a simple law against US troops doing stuff on US soil doesn't help you - as the government is evil and the courts corrupted/afraid. And wasn't there some military-thing involved on US soil with black kids going to school? I need to look that up. Simply put: The Bad Government says "Emergency! Good people are overthrowing us! Army help!" That's when the 2nd Amendment comes into play. So should you be shooting your troops?

    @NightLightFighter: Like i said, gun nuts will only support the troops as long as the military is on the right side. If it's attacking us, it will by definition have become the enemy, and troops will be shot at. The schools thing involved the National Guard, a sort of federal militia. They're part-time soldiers, and live in the community, so it's harder to mentally make them the enemy. But if they were going around shooting at people, make no mistake, it'd happen.

    As for laws not helping, the government has to be seen as abiding by the laws it's set. A government that doesn't respect the rule of law won't be tolerated for long.

    @cHao But isn't this the whole point? "All rights fail, government doesn't stand for (re)election, armed troops against population". This does not sound like your very lawful and lawfully tolerated government. And then you need your gun. The cited statement above justifies the Second Amendment's existence - in simplified terms - with the need of shooting your troops. And that leaves me puzzled. (To some extent.)

    -1 because this is simply incorrect. The 2014 Bundy Ranch stand-off is a recent example. There are many others.

    @NightLightFighter: I don't see the reason for the puzzlement; the two ideas are not contradictory. Support for the troops is not blind or unconditional. You can support the troops (now, for being good people doing good), hope you'll never have to fight them, but be ready in case you do (ie: if they go evil for whatever reason). Being ready doesn't just give you a better chance of winning, but of avoiding the fight completely and keeping them good (because they know they'd be risking their lives to fight you).

    `But America is a young country (230 years old). ` it's like the second oldest constitution dude. It's old relative to all but the UK.

    There weren't many constitutions before ours, but constitutions are a relatively new idea too. You don't need a constitution to have a country.

    @user189035 The UK being a country lacking a written constitution heh.

  • The most recent event I can identify is the Battle of Athens. It was a direct confrontation with the corruption of the local government and efforts to rig the election to ensure the continuity of power. Recently returned veterans used their personal firearms to secure the ballot boxes and the court house, ensuring a free election.

    This wasn't a "fight against the US government", as specified in the question. This was an uprising against a local government.

    @Michael_B The armed actions followed attempts to get the Federal Government, via the US Department of Justice, to intervene. Given the failure of those efforts, armed insurrection was the remaining resort.

    @Michael_B probably this is not what the OP meant, but the local government is certainly part of the government, as its powers are a part of the "national" powers. It is certainly not part of **the Federal Government**, which is only a part of the government.

    Guys, I updated my question with clarification.

    I was going to reference this one too.

    Thanks for the reference -- I'd never heard of any of this.

  • To address your broader question, I think you, like many, many others, mistake the scope and intent of the Second Amendment. The amendment is not limited to enabling resistance of internal government tyranny and I think too many mistakenly focus solely on that aspect.

    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.

    The amendment is about securing the free state against all threats, foreign as well as domestic, via a militarily capable citizenry.

    Per the Supreme Court's ruling in US v. Miller:

    The Constitution, as originally adopted, granted to the Congress power --

    To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress

    With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces, the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view.

    To secure our free state, we need a well regulated militia. The militia is in a general sense the segment of the populace capable of bearing arms. "A well regulated militia" means one that is armed and well versed in the use of those arms (not one that is heavily encumbered with rules-- "regulated" did not mean that in the 18th century like it does today).

    US v. Miller again: "[T]he common view was that adequate defense of country and laws could be secured through the Militia -- civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion."

    To have a well regulated militia, one needs a populace that has access to arms and training with those arms. To secure the free state, the populace must be able to spring into action against invasion at a moment's notice-- hence the apocryphal quote attributed to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, that if Japan invaded the US, they would find "a rifle behind every blade of grass". If they are disarmed, they cannot do this.

    US v. Miller again: "And further, that ordinarily, when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time" (emphasis added). It goes on to quote a number of founding-era laws requiring all men to be armed. (N.B. the Miller decision ruled that a "sawed-off" shotgun was not necessarily protected by the 2nd Amendment because "it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment, or that its use could contribute to the common defense.")

    The populace may also be less fit for service in the regular army if disarmed. Soldiers who have extensive prior experience with riflery are more valuable than those that don't, so civilian disarmament harms military readiness.

    To secure our free state, we must have a well regulated militia. To have a well regulated militia, the people must be free to keep and bear arms.

    I believe your comment that those with "prior experience ... are more valuable..." to be highly subjective and likely incorrect. Being one with very little riflery experience allowed me to learn proper markmanship and be the company high shooter in USMC boot camp. Many of those with prior experience had poor habits that made them less able with a rifle than those who accepted proper instruction. So your conclusion that disarmament harms military readiness is actually backwards - without prior experience they learn properly and make military readiness better.

    I've downvoted this answer because it doesn't address the question. There are likely other questions in this forum where the Importance and Details of the Second Amendment have been extrapolated.

    Downvoted this answer as it (1) doesn't answer the OP question and (2) appears to be your personal interpretation (because you provided no citations)

    I upvoted this comment because it addresses the purpose of the 2nd admendment, for which understanding was lacking in the original question. Amendments give citizens freedoms and a legal standing to challenge the government's, at all levels, restriction of those freedoms. The freedoms (amendments) are used daily. Fortunately, government challenges to those freedoms are far less frequent.

    @BobE references added.

    Drunk Cynic and BobE are correct. I expect a concrete date or event or "never" as an answer.

    "The populace may also be less fit for service in the regular army if disarmed. Soldiers who have extensive prior experience with riflery are more valuable than those that don't, so civilian disarmament harms military readiness." citation please

    "To have a well regulated militia, the people must be free to keep and bear arms." --- Citation Please???

    @BobE did you not read the link?

    @Rob K, yes I read the link and it does not support either of the statements, no where in Miller does it state the populace is less fit if disarmed, nowhere does Miller conclude that a prerequisite for a army an armed population.

    The Miller decision did not rule that a short shotgun was not protected by the 2nd Amendment; it ruled that the district court acted prematurely in dismissing the case *without taking evidence* on the gun's suitability for militia use. “Not within judicial notice” merely means that it's not so well known that the court may assume it true without hearing evidence.

    @BobE The claim isn't that an armed population is a prereq for an *army* -- the claim is that an armed population is a prereq for generating a *militia*. A militia is usually generated impromptu by civilians, so they must be armed.

    @Greg "the claim is that an armed population is a prereq for generating a militia" - Where in Miller does it say that? And BTW, an impromptu civilian militia isn't that almost the antithesis of "well regulated"

    @BobE It says that in 2a. You're confusing a standing army with a militia. If the militia stood when it wasn't needed then it wouldn't be a militia anymore. Also, read the part about "well-regulated" in the answer.

  • Every day. The second amendment isn't exercised when someone pulls the trigger in an act of rebellion against the government; it's exercised whenever a civilian purchases a firearm. Actually using them is to be avoided as far as possible, but having them acts as a deterrent by creating the credible threat that strongarm tactics on the part of the government would be met with resistance. It's not necessary to be able to outgun the Army; it's only necessary to put the government in a position where, to put down dissent, it would have to shed an unpalatable amount of its own citizens' blood, thus eroding its legitimacy.

    What prevents governments of other similarly developed democratic nations with more restrictive gun laws than the US (basically all of them) to enforce “strongarm tactics” on their citizens then?

    @lejonet: Not much. And you see the result when, say, a guy is arrested for teaching his girlfriend's dog the Nazi salute as a joke. :P Do you think the cops would be willing to risk a gunfight over his being an ass?

    @cHao Why have there been US government actions then, that have been labeled as „government overreach“?

    Because labeling is by definition no more than name-calling, and we're more civilized than to shoot our way out of every disagreement.

  • Whiskey Rebellion of 1791 - it's almost a classic example of the employing of the 2nd Amendment against federal government, mostly by veterans of the Revolutionary War few years earlier.

    Somehow the Second Amendment was not called to question by Founding Fathers after that...

  • To answer the question as asked, as far as I know, the answer is "never".

    The question itself, though, is based on a common misunderstanding of the intent of the 2nd amendment. Here's the text of the amendment, in full:

    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.

    The people who claim the 2nd amendment is there to protect the people from the government tend to ignore the first half of that sentence. Or, they'll claim that "well regulated" simply means "well supplied" or "well provisioned", which is belied by this bit from Article I, Section 8 (describing the powers of Congress):

    To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

    Clearly, "well regulated" means quite a bit more than just well provisioned.

    In short, the 2nd amendment granted citizens the right to keep and bear arms in service of the state, not as protection from the state. At the time the Bill of Rights was drafted, the United States did not have a standing army of professional soldiers, and absolutely relied on state militias for defense and security. And while the US established a standing army rather quickly, the basic rationale for allowing citizens to own guns remained the same - to provide security for the state.

    Of course that all went out the window with the Heller decision, which established gun ownership as an individual right unconnected to membership in a militia.

    Frankly, the 2nd amendment could use some clarification, you just need to convince two-thirds of Congress to propose the amendment and get at least 38 state legislatures to approve it.

    "Frankly, the 2nd amendment could use some clarification" = that, alone, would be a fine answer to nearly all 2nd amendment questions that get posted. :)

    The interpretations of the second amendment herein are historically inaccurate and rhetorically flawed.

    While one could agree that it "could use some clarification", simple parsing the text for logic proves your reply wrong. There are no qualifiers to either *people* or *right to keep and bear arms* and they're there for a reason. Also, you need a XVIIIth century dictionary to translate constitutional english into modern, because, to use Inigo Montoya's words: *I do not think it means what you think it means.*" Also, perusing the on-the-topic of writings of the people **who actually wrote it** proves you wrong... For further reading: http://www.madisonbrigade.com/library_bor.htm

    As further proof: Madison authorized ships to be armed with cannons (true, as a privateer, normal for time, but then again ship is clearly not militia) - http://www.1812privateers.org/United%20States/PRINCE/usmarq.html, and Marcellus Cassius Clay (a noted abolitionist and son of a slave-owner) also owned cannons for self defense: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=uJglhLhGTwMC&pg=PA267&lpg=PA267&dq=marcellus+cassius+clay+cannons+proof&source=bl&ots=aWTnzcHmgD&sig=jKmfj_4yLpM5Z70qMBr-tnyJYSo&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjbope509DaAhVsCsAKHQxdDgMQ6AEIajAL

    And last - we now know about no less than 10 draft versions of 2nd Am. The reading of them is very, very informative. I would love to see your defense of your refusal to Clay to protect himself by any means he felt were adequate (and even at level he chose to employ he felt they weren't). Clay is classic example of how to employ 2nd Am to protect one's own 1st Am. Again: love to see your argument to the contrary...

  • Today. Just as the Legislative doesn't have to pass a law in order to b doing its job, and the Judicial doesn't have to rule on a case to be doing its, the rights of the people do their job simply by existing. You wouldn't say we could do without the first ammendment just because no one criticized the government today, because the right of the people to criticized the government is in part what limits the powers of the goverment. It's existence, regardless of any particular exercise, impacts and limits the government.

    This makes no sense

    @BobE I think it's intended to mean the same as this answer

  • Effectively, the Civil War was a fight by the confederate states to protect what they considered their constitutional rights against the federal government, although they did not claim the 2nd amendment.

    This doesn't address the question, and also ignores the plain fact that the only "states right" that the confederacy actually cared about was the right to keep slaves.

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