Tuesday, June 04, 2013

"I know the object of this is to give every man the right to bear arms in defense of himself, his family and country"

   "Let us turn to Section 6. "The right of the people to keep and bear arms for their own defense." I submit as a question of right of justice, and of rhetoric, whether it is not better to say, as we say here in the seventh paragraph of the first section, "The right to bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, and of the State;" or to make it fuller still, "In aid of the civil power, when thereto legally summoned, subject to the power of the General Assembly to pass laws to prevent persons from carrying concealed arms." The Bill of Rights of the Committee gives it as an inalienable right to every individual to carry arms openly to defend not only himself, but his family and the State. I say it is right, and let it stand. The wording is better; it covers more ground than the substitute."--Mr. C.T. Allen, Oct. 9, 1890. [Pg. 496-497]

   "The gentleman says: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms for their own defense shall never be infringed, except that the Legislature shall have power to enact such reasonable laws as shall be necessary to prevent the carrying of concealed deadly weapons."

   "The Committee have stated in their report that citizens have the right to keep and bear arms for their own defense, their families, and for the vindication of the State. I am not using the exact language, but that is the idea. Some gentlemen object to the use of the words, "their families and the State," and they ask, why use the word "families?" Has a man not a right to defend his family? I beg leave to call your attention to the fact that there have been Judges in the history of the world who laid stress upon particular words, and did not hesitate to construe words or to misconstrue them as they deemed proper. Scroggs, when he sat on the bench in the days of Charles Second, decided at one time, in the law of libel, that any publication reflecting upon the government was itself a breach of the peace. And now the gentleman has left out "their families and in defense of the State." I can imagine very well that a man might have a family, and yet they be not of his own kindred. A man's family sometimes embraces those who are in nowise related to him, but who are living in his household and under his protection. This language enables a man to defend even them. According to the old Bill of Rights, which perhaps they did not contemplate at the time, they left an open clause, which might be by some such a man as Scroggs violated with impunity. I quoted the instance of Scroggs to show that language may be stretched; to show that sometimes a man may be technically right when he is intrinsically wrong. I know the object of this is to give every man the right to bear arms in defense of himself, his family and country. That may be true, subject to the right of the Legislature to forbid the carrying of concealed weapons. Then he has the right to carry arms at any time except as prevented by the Legislature under the power given. "Armed for the defense of himself" is one thing; "for his family" is another; because it may embrace some person not of his own kin. A man has a right to defend his child; he has a right to defend his father or his son. That is a common law principle, and this principle we have carried out in this Bill of Rights, simply enlarges and extends it. I apprehend there is nothing wrong about that; and I think that the narrow meaning to be gathered from the use of the few words the gentleman has given here will not meet the approbation or concurrence of this Convention."--Mr. Rodes, Oct. 22, 1890. OFFICIAL REPORT OF THE PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES IN THE CONVENTION ASSEMBLED AT FRANKFORT, ON THE EIGHTH DAY OF SEPTEMBER, 1890, TO ADOPT, AMEND OR CHANGE THE CONSTITUTION. OF THE STATE OF KENTUCKY. FRANKFORT, KY.: E. Polk Johnson, Printer to the Convention. 1890. Pg. 776-777]

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