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If beef is with 2d Amendment, leave Founders out of it

Ronald Newbower’s May 6 letter compares firearms to cellphones, and suggests that the Founders surely would have banned private ownership of modern firearms if they had anticipated the invention of assault weapons (“If court can see cellphones in new light, what about 2d Amendment?”).

I am a historian, not a gun owner. It seems to me that Newbower assumes too much. It is at least equally likely that the Founders would have specifically endorsed private ownership of modern personal weapons.

Consider: The Founders had just fought a bloody war against a government perceived to be tyrannical. They risked their lives and fortunes to overthrow this government. They were clearly concerned that responsible citizens should have weaponry that would allow them to fight against a tyrannical government should the need again arise. No less a statesman than Thomas Jefferson explicitly stated as much in his writings.


I have no personal stake in this issue, but it irks me to see the Founders hijacked to promote a position so clearly at odds with their actual intent. The Second Amendment is a right given to the citizenry, not the government. If the citizenry believes that right to be outdated, then the citizens should take advantage of a mechanism provided by the Founders for just such a contingency: the system to amend the Constitution.

David Chandler