Mr. (Clifford) Lanxner’s history lesson makes one believe that the Virginian feelings about firearm ownership changed between 25 June 1788 and December of 1791 (“Guns were not the purpose,” Reader Input, March 17).
I question his historical facts since the U.S. Constitutional ratification statement for the State of Virginia, like the states of Rhode Island, New Hampshire and South Carolina, requested various amendments be added to the Constitution to protect the states and the people from a too powerful central government.
“Seventeenth, That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated Militia composed of the body of the people trained to arms is the proper, natural and safe defense of a free State.” South Carolina and Rhode Island made the identically worded request for an amendment.
“Congress shall never disarm any Citizen unless such as are or have been in Actual Rebellion.”
This shows that four states specifically requested what ultimately became the Second Amendment using words that obviously placed the right of the individual to possess firearms ahead of the need for a militia.
Obviously, without armed citizens there could be no militia. New Hampshire made it very clear that the citizen had a clear right to own firearms without specified intent or purpose being stated or implied. It is true that they all stated a fear of standing armies created by the Federal government; they feared tyranny.
With the above facts, I believe one can dismiss the conspiracy theory of the origins of the Second Amendment and the allusion that an 18th century precursor of the NRA or an arms/munitions conglomerate was behind granting a right to the citizens of the United States to own firearms.
The founders realized that firearms were a necessity at that time as well as very likely being required to defend the country. They were granting nothing, they only stated the obvious ; the people have natural rights and the government must be prevented from violating those rights.
Walter F. Drysdale, M.D., Auburn