Supreme Court Justice:

Regarding the Second Amendment, Justice Joseph Story wrote in his “Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States,” 1833 (3:§§ 1890-91): “The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted. … The militia is the natural defense of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep … standing armies in time of peace … from … the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will … enable the people to resist and triumph over them. …”

Story warned further: “And yet … it cannot be disguised, that among the American people there is a growing indifference to any system of militia discipline … that indifference may lead to disgust, and disgust to contempt; and thus gradually undermine all the protection intended by this clause of our national bill of rights.”


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