Following the recent school shooting in Connecticut, American citizens have once again displayed their total ignorance concerning the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Second Amendment. Facebook postings, comments to so-called news articles and letters to the editor are calling for repeal of the Second Amendment. These individuals believe the right to own a firearm is based on the Second Amendment and the right will vanish if the Amendment can be repealed. Unless the Second Amendment created the right, then repeal of the Amendment cannot constitutionally abolish the right.
Following the Federal [Constitutional] Convention of 1787 and the subsequent ratification of the Constitution in 1788, the several States began submitting amendments to Congress for consideration. By September of 1789, Congress had reduced approximately 210 separate amendments to 12. The amendments were inserted into a congressional resolution and submitted to the several States for consideration. Of these, numbers 2-12 were ratified by the States in 1791 and became the so-called Bill of Rights.
A little known fact about this resolution is that it contained a preamble declaring the purpose of the proposed amendments. Most modern editions of the Bill of Rights either do not contain the preamble or only include the last paragraph. The most important paragraph is the first one because it discloses the intent of the proposed amendments.
A review of this paragraph shows that the sole purpose of the proposed amendments was to prevent the federal government from “misconstruing or abusing its powers.” To accomplish this, “further declaratory and restrictive clauses” were being proposed. The amendments, if adopted, would place additional restraints or limitations on the powers of the federal government to prevent that government from usurping its constitutional powers. Every clause of the Bill of Rights, without exception, is either a declaratory statement or a restrictive provision.