In this connection, however, I need to say something about a recent popular misconception concerning Patrick Henry’s legacy and the genesis of the Second Amendment, which states, “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.” Despite efforts of a number of misguided scholars to construe this language as justifying individual, unregulated gun ownership, I am firmly convinced that the Second Amendment is concerned with the state’s power to control its own militia as a civilian alternative to a professional standing army. In raising the issue in the Virginia Convention Patrick Henry several times pointed to Art. I, Section 8, Clause 16, as an example of the potentially threatening effect of dual state and congressional jurisdiction over the militia and the possibly dangerous union of the purse and sword vested in Congress. Yet wielding the scholar’s power of the ellipse several partisans of gun ownership have edited Henry’s remarks about how best to regulate the militia into an inflammatory half-truth “The great object is that every man be armed….Every one who is able may have a gun.” The NRA has blown this up into a poster-sized blurb embossed with Patrick Henry’s image.from A PATRICK HENRY ESSAY(No. 5-98) THE POLITICAL LEGACY OF PATRICK HENRY
This is not, I repeat NOT, part of Patrick Henry’s legacy. Clearly speaking of the problem of militia organization, what he actually said is, “The great object is that every man [of the militia] be armed.–But can the people to afford to pay for double sets of arms &c.? Every one who is able may have a gun. But have we not learned by experience, that necessary as it is to have arms, and though our assembly has, by a succession of laws for many years, endeavored to have the militia completely armed, it is still far from being the case. When this power is given up to Congress without limitation or bounds, how will your militia be armed? You trust to chance….”
Not to belabor the argument, but cinch it, I would also remind you that the liberty or death speech itself was in support of a resolution to put the colony in a mode of defense, and the plan proposed by Henry’s committee as a result of its passage included a militia law that described in great detail not only the number of men, but the amount of ammunition to be raised by a collective levy, and a very clear procedure for maintaining county and provincial control over the militia system. If Henry’s remarks were intended to cast doubt upon the adequacy of a hypothetical Congressional militia law, they only affirmed his commitment to the traditional method of state control over a militia that, far from being a privatized collection of gun-toting individuals, was a community temporarily called to arms and always subservient to public authority and law.
Let's toss in Patrick Henry Blessing or Curse comment:
This brought on the war which finally separated the two countries, and gave independence to ours. Whether this will prove a blessing or a curse, will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God had bestowed upon us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable. Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation. Reader, whoever thou art, remember this; and in thy sphere, practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others."I seriously doubt that the person who uses Henry's name to comment shows the virtues which would make independence a blessing. And I believe the real Henry would concur.