The Right To Bare Arms…?

I was reading a fascinating series of posts in the marvellous ” ” on the subject of the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, and what the founding fathers had meant when they drafted it, notably of course what is meant by “the right to bear arms”.

Of course, some of the lighter posts were just lovely:

“It was a simple spelling mistake. The founding fathers anticipated the eighties fashion trend of rolled-up sleeves, whose exponents included bands such as Mr. Mister, and it was the right to bare arms they hoped to enshrine. “Militia” was late 18th century slang for “synth-pop combo” and by well-regulated they meant it had to have a particularly tight rhythm section.*

*answer may not be factual. ” ( )

followed by…

“I’m not on board with this until we get an exact definition of “bare arms” - does it or does it not include the shoulders?”


“No no no, it clearly says that Americans have the right to hunt down bears and collect their arms. The right to bear arms shall not be infringed.

I don’t believe that shoulders are required but I do believe they are allowed.”

Which caused the original author to reply:

“Some interpret as the right to wear muscle shirts, others say it’s clear that the founding fathers never anticipated the invention of the muscle shirt and members of the general population should not have access to such powerful clothing.”


However, as an impartial observer (albeit that I am a countryman of the country that the founding fathers threw out), may I make an independent (if you will pardon the expression) comment:

Surely the point is not what the authors meant in December 1791, when the amendment was drafted, but what should be done today… ?

I read that the US Federal Government spending on defence will be $868,100,000,000 in 2013. (…l_fy12bs12013n).  Which equates to 23% of the total US Federal budget.

Now I do not profess to be an expert on 18th century history, but I would warrant that the founding fathers didn’t spend anything like that on defence (note the English spelling)… such that giving the populace the right to bear arms may not be quite as necessary as it was in 1791.  Perhaps it should be changed?  For good.

As South Africans can most recently tell, having lost the beautiful Reeva Steenkamp to 4 bullets from her boyfriend, giving ordinary private citizens the right to “bear arms” can often have the most horrid of conseqeunces:…cle3690834.ece

Time for change?

Perhaps the incumbent (Mr Obama) can do something drastic here, for the public good, and bring about a change which is fit for the 21st Century and which others can follow?  After all, it is not like he needs to worry about being voted back in…..!

Ian Penman

[NB. This is a personal opinion of Ian Penman, and may not be shared by all of the members of New Media Law LLP]

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