Definition of Second Amendment in Textbook Causing Uproar at Texas High School

ReasonReasonParents of children at a high school near Dallas are upset about the summarized definition of the Second Amendment included in the textbook The United States History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination.

According to the textbook the Second Amendment protects the right to "keep and bear arms in a state militia." The text of the book was written before the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to bear arms in the District of Columbia v. Heller case in 2008. 

From Fox News:

Parents at a high school near Dallas say the authors of a book on U.S. history misfired when they defined the Second Amendment -- and now one of the book's co-authors says the book is being revised.

The work book used at Guyer High School in the city of Denton, "The United States History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination," includes the "summary" definition of the Second Amendment to include the right to "keep and bear arms in a state militia."

The edited definition is seen by gun-rights advocates as an affront to the Second Amendment, which states in full: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

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  • sarcasmic||

    According to the textbook the Second Amendment protects the right to "keep and bear arms in a state militia."

    Yeah. Because governments, the people with the last word in violence, need to be granted the right to keep and bear arms. That doesn't even pass the straight face test.

  • ||

    Oh come on. As transparently stupid as that textbook edit is, your comment is completely overlooking the fact that that the majority of the Constitution is a State vs. Federal compact, including the Bill of Rights.

  • robc||

    Most of the BoR is about individuals though.

    It was part of the reason the Federalists thought the BoR was unnecessary.

  • ||

    Of course. My point is that sarcasmic was way off base, in that a large portion of the Constitution is all about the protection of State's (i.e. Government) rights.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    It just occurred to me that pro-gun states should define their state militias as "everybody".

  • UnCivilServant||

    That is the legal definition of a militia (more or less) it hasn't helped.

  • BakedPenguin||

    What's really sad about this is they viewed the Bill of Rights as not historically important enough to retain the full wordings, and then have commentary. They thought it perfectly acceptable to edit and revise for length.

  • ||

    Public schools aren't propaganda mills or anything. Nosiree.

  • tarran||

    Oh come on Episiarch?

    How can democracy work if the state isn't telling people how to think? How can people be free without a thorough preparation by the government?

  • Biden's Scroteplugs||

    Not only am I not learning, I'm forgetting stuff I used to know.

  • FYTW||

    Truly, truly disturbing handle.

  • ||

    The text of the book was written before the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to bear arms in the District of Columbia v. Heller case in 2008.

    Not sure what Heller had to do with it. The wording is crystal clear.

    the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Yeah I'm thinking that was just the excuse they came up with after the fact. It was clearly an agenda-driven textbook wording.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Even if you take them at face value, it's pretty bad. Who are they to re-word the Bill of Rights? Either they're politically driven assholes, or they're shitty historical writers who couldn't spare one page to print verbatim the most important document in US history.

  • RBS||

    the most important document in US history.

    I didn't know the book was written by Birthers...

  • ||

    Now tell us how the First is the government granting people the right to assemble, write stuff down, and gives speeches that aren't a threat to public safety or security.

  • Loki||

    And how "freedom of the press" only refers to a special of class of officially recognized government approved journalists.

  • ||

    I think it is the Free Flow of Information Act

  • Paul.||

    Definition of second amendment's meaning, for proggies:

    A standing army with guns which can be pointed at the people being a necessary evil, the right of the people to point guns back, shall not be infringed.

  • Spoonman.||

    That interpretation makes a lot of sense, but are there any primary sources for it?

  • Jose Chung||

    In fact, there is...

    http://teachingamericanhistory.....f-america/

    Relevant portion:

    "The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive."

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Doesn't say much about the people today does it...i can think of hundreds of unjust laws.

  • Jose Chung||

    It took generations of government backed schooling to dilute the understanding of our founding principles. It will likely take generations to restore them.

  • Jose Chung||

    Side note: The above quotation is by Noah Webster, of dictionary fame, so chances are he knew what he was talking about in the context of the time.

    It is also worth noting that this was written prior to and in favor of the ratification of the Constitution and BoR, thus demonstrating the popular understanding of the idea of an armed populace at the time.

  • Dweebston||

    I've heard this before, could not source it, and gave it up for a lark. It's probable that my googlefu was weak. Is there anyone seriously promoting this interpretation? I only ever hear the notion that militias are citizen-led brigades and therefore citizens are free to retain their arms.

  • SugarFree||

    Many liberals and leftists argue that the militias are now the National Guard. Therefore, the 2nd only applies to the state National Guard.

    Google "2nd amendment national guard"

  • Dweebston||

    Do you double-dog dare me?

  • SugarFree||

    I'm jumping right to the "triple dog dare."

  • Paul.||

    . Is there anyone seriously promoting this interpretation?

    Yes, because I didn't pull it out of my ass (like much of everything else). Or another way I could say it: As much as I'd like to take credit, I didn't come to that definition on my own. I don't remember where I first heard that interpretation and so I don't have a ready link, but based upon the language of the amendment that is 2nd, once you read it that way it makes perfect sense. The so-called confusing language of the 2nd amendment is no longer confusing. Those years of asking, "Why did they write it that way?" suddenly melt away, and everything comes into clarity. I wanted to hear what the group of 22 libertarians had to say.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I don't even see where a standing army is necessary.

  • sarcasmic||

    Come on! Every imperial power requires a standing army!

  • ||

    Wasn't back then. Today, it would be EXTREMELY difficult, to keep certain portions of the Army properly trained, given the technology of the weapons they employ. It would require quite a bit of restructuring to comply with the Constitution as written.

    Regardless. The Constitution SHOULD be amended if we wish to continue as we have been (i.e. keeping a standing Army).

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    It would also be impossible to maintain military professionalism without standing armies.

    On the whole, the move to volunteer armies has been greatly beneficial.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    I disagree, we almost exclusively call up the reserves to fight now and the regulars come in next. So if the reserves can train you "one weekend a month and two weeks a year" then we should be fine.

  • ||

    Certain fields can get away with that. Not all.

    I was a bomber pilot. If I didn't fly 4-6 times a month, I wasn't proficient. Experienced fighter pilots need to fly a couple times a week. That's not even addressing the inexperienced guys.

    Helicopter pilots, tank drivers, missile operators... are going to need similar training times. Infantry, sure, but not people working advanced systems.

  • Paul.||

    I don't even see where a standing army is necessary.

    The founders believed that a well-regulated militia (which, by the way, could be interpreted as the cops) was necessary to the security of a free state. I don't disagree with that.

    They weren't pacifists, and realized that there were bad people afoot who would try to kill you, or might invade your country.

  • GroundTruth||

    Or a standing government...

  • Restoras||

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    I used to think that the Militia part was about having a ready citizen-soldier force to protect the free state. Now I am starting to think this is more about protecting the free rather than the state.

  • sarcasmic||

    I've been thinking the same thing. As in, to keep the State free, the right of the people to arm themselves, and organize, shall not be infringed.

  • ||

    It's clearly lifted from the Virginia State Constitution

    Virginia: 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, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power. Art. I, § 13 (enacted 1776 without explicit right to keep and bear arms; "therefore, the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" added in 1971).

    It's a hat tip to the fact that standing armies are bad and that there needs to be civilian control over the military.

    VA's Constitution was in place before the BoRs was written. It's a copy/paste/modify deal.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Similar phrasing in the Massachusetts constitution of 1780, as well:

    The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defence. And as, in time of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature; and the military power shall always be held in an exact subordination to the civil authority and be governed by it.

    There you have it; the constitutions written by our second and third Presidents (and endorsed by the Framer of the Constitution and fourth President) subscribe to the view stated above.

  • robc||

    That makes it clear too that they werent talking about hunting rifles.

    I dont know how full auto isnt covered by that wording.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    My theory has always been that anything useful to the duties of a militia is kosher as an implement whose private ownership "shall not be infringed". From the days of the fyrd, these duties have been broadly construed as 1) keeping internal order (e.g., law enforcement), and 2) defense from invasion.

    So nukes no, but pretty much any small arms and tactically relevant equipment, yes.

  • Paul.||

    VA's Constitution was in place before the BoRs was written. It's a copy/paste/modify deal.

    The font kerning proves it.

  • wheelock||

    Precisely. The second amendment IS the regulation on the militia. The words make 0 sense unless read the way they were intended.

  • #||

    Its two related parts.

    It's

    1. an armed populous is analogous to a free state because it allowed the people to point the guns at the government if necessary.

    But it's also
    2. By having a well armed militia, you don't need a regular army as big, which itself reduces the threat of opression.

    This latter part is why the constitution also prohibits money allocations to the army for any period over two years. They wanted armies ot be easily disbandable by simply having a single congressional election that wanted it to be.

    Much of the 2nd amendment is wrapped is a fear and dislike of a standing army.

  • Killazontherun||

    I've always assumed that to be the case because there has never been in human history a need to give a state ran militia the right to bear arms. That is their function, there is no need to codify it. Yet, the banners think that is exactly what the 2A means. Stupid people!

  • sarcasmic||

    Yet, the banners think that is exactly what the 2A means. Stupid people!

    They're not stupid. They're dishonest. They know exactly what the 2A means, and they don't like it. So they instead say it means what they wish it meant, knowing full well that they are being dishonest about it.

  • ||

    This has been a common political tactic (and a dangerous one) for both Teams in the recent past. If you don't like rules, change the definitions.

    It makes the rule of law meaningless. Sorry Bill, for as much as you wish differently, is means is.

  • sarcasmic||

    If you don't like rules, change the definitions.

    It makes the rule of law meaningless.

    That's the point.

  • brokencycle||

    Why do AP History students need a summarized definition of each amendment? They're all just a few sentences long. If a student can't read and synthesize the amendments, the AP exam isn't going to go well for said student.

  • Spoonman.||

    All you need to do is to be in the top 20% to get a 5, the highest score. Considering how many people from complete abominations of high schools take the AP exams, not getting a 4 or 5 should be pretty hard.

    I got a 5 on microeconomics in 2006 despite not understanding a single one of the essay questions. (The class wasn't offered at my high school.)

  • robc||

    Not quite right, looks like about 11-12% get a 5 and another 20-22% get a 4.

  • robc||

    ^^^That was for US History.

    For econ, its closer to what you said.

  • robc||

    For BC calculus, ~50% score a 5.

  • brokencycle||

    I agree; the exams are pretty easy. I got a 4 on the Government & Politics one, and I spent 20 minutes writing the essays and 80 minutes napping. The multiple choice took me about 10 minutes as well (out of 45 minutes available).

    The point is though, the AP classes are supposed to be entry-level college equivalent classes, and freshmen in college should be expected to read the Constitutional amendments and paraphrase them without a book editor doing so for them.

    It is more a commentary on the sad state of the education system, and how lowering standards in lower grades is creeping up to advanced placement classes and post-secondary institutions.

  • Biden's Scroteplugs||

    I wonder if the exam question is based on a correct reading of the 2nd.

  • mr simple||

    Maybe the book worded it this way because they know that's what the test's scorers believe?

  • Dweebston||

    AP is the new honors program, therefore non-negotiable for pushy parents who want their stellar students in the most prestigious curricula offered. Thus you get a lot of well-meaning, diligent dullards like me populating classrooms that don't want or need them.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    This is why education needs to be privatized -- democratic government has too much incentive to use education to form the opinions of those who will be voting for its continued operation, meaning that the tastes and preferences of the people in government will invariably become part of the curriculum.

  • Killazontherun||

    ^this.

  • Calidissident||

    Even if the Second made gun ownership rights depending on being a part of the militia, the word "militia" at the time simply meant any adult male not in the military, and even today, that meaning is still the legal one under federal law.

  • Dweebston||

    Next step: a push by progressives to bring militia groups into the fold with licensing requirements and background checks, for the childrens. They'll sweeten the pot by relaxing gun restrictions on members. Sometime later, they push incrementally greater controls on non-members while tightening the noose on membership.

  • GroundTruth||

    Amazing how knowing the common meaning and usage of words at the time when they were written can so easily clarify this sort of thing.

    But it requires a commitment to knowledge and clarity of thought, whereas a "living constitution" is so much easier to mold into whatever you want.

  • Lord Humungus||

    I got college credit in English for a HS AP test... Since I didn't read any of the suggested books, I wrote my essay on William Burrough's Naked Lunch.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I'm wishing that some clever student asks why does "the people" in the Second Amendment mean something entirely different from "the people" in the First, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth.

  • Dweebston||

    Only if they've missed the FYTW clause. I think it's in the preamble.

  • sarcasmic||

    The word "militia" cancels out the word "people."

  • Rimfax||

    Isn't Denton "The Home of Happiness"?

  • Tony||

    It is not valid to completely ignore the "well regulated militia" qualifier. The Second Amendment is not a mission statement for the NRA.

  • Plopper||

    No one ignored it if you actually read the comments above.

    You're just dishonest.

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