In 1789, 'to bear arms' meant not to own a gun, but to serve in the military

Interesting article on what the term "to bear arms" meant back in 1789 (it meant, not to own firearms, but to serve in the military)- and how the interpretation of the Second Amendment advanced by the NRA and conservatives generally runs directly counter to how the Founders themselves understood it.

That's why the phrase as it appears in the Second Amendment is preceded by an explanation of the purpose of guaranteeing the right to "bear arms:" the necessity of a "well-regulated militia" to a free society. The historical context was the fear of Anti-Federalists that the central government might establish a standing army that would replace precisely such militias in the states.


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