Letter: Second Amendment's sad legacy

Published:

 

The Second Amendment of our Constitution is a sad reminder that slavery must be maintained by the police state. The "well-regulated" militias in Virginia and the Carolinas operated as slave patrols with the backing of the courts and the legislatures. Slave patrols were recruited from free, white armed citizens of age who captured runaway slaves, searched plantations for illegal guns, and suppressed slaves revolts, often executing the offenders.

During the debate over the ratification of the Constitution in Virginia in June 1788, Patrick Henry and Edmund Randolph wanted assurance that the new federal government would not co-op the state militias. Abolition fever was spreading in the north and southern whites were afraid of being murdered by free blacks.

James Madison responded with his famous Second Amendment, which kept the patrols running and prevented blacks from having any constitutional rights.

Ironically, when the North invaded the South during the Civil War, panicked plantation owners demanded that Union troops keep free blacks off the streets at night. So much for the idea that the Second Amendment was designed to protect free people from a dictatorial federal government.

Tim Nickles

Vancouver