First off, he points out that"Not a word in the Constitution is intended to be inoperative, and one so significant as the present was not lightly inserted. The United States are therefore bound to carry it into effect whenever the occasion arises, and finding as we do, in the same clause, the engagement to protect each state against domestic violence, which can only be by the arms of the Union, we are assisted in a due construction of the means of enforcing the guaranty. If the majority of the people of a state deliberately and peaceably resolve to relinquish the republican form of government, they cease to be members of the Union. If a faction, an inferior number, make such an effort, and endeavour to enforce it by violence, the case provided for will have arisen, and the Union is bound to employ its power to prevent it."
That reiterates the point I keep mentioning from Marbury v. Madison (It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect;–Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 ). So, no matter how much people may want to wish away the Militia from the Second Amendment, it would only make that "mere surplusage -- is entirely without meaning -- if such is to be the construction".
But I have also pointed out that Rawle said this about the Second Amendment:
In the second article, it is declared, that a well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state; a proposition from which few will dissent. Although in actual war, the services of regular troops are confessedly more valuable;yet, while peace prevails, and in the commencement of a war before a regular force can be raised, the militia form the palladium of the country. They are ready to repel invasion,to suppress insurrection, and preserve the good order and peace of government. That they should be well regulated, is judiciously added. A disorderly militia is disgraceful to itself, and dangerous not to the enemy, but to its own country. The duty of the state government is, to adopt such regulations as will tend to make good soldiers with the least interruptions of the ordinary and useful occupations of civil life. In this all the Union has a strong and visible interest.Rawle then goes on to point out: "The corollary, from the first position, is, that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." The word "corollary" means "a proposition that follows from (and is often appended to) one already proved."
Again, that means that both clauses must be interpreted in relation to each other.
And if you want to take the next paragraph to mean personal arms:
"The prohibition is general. No clause in the Constitution could by any rule of construction be conceived to give to congress a power to disarm the people. Such a flagitious attempt could only be made under some general pretence by a state legislature. But if in any blind pursuit of inordinate power, either should attempt it, this amendment may be appealed to as a restraint on both."I would point you to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 16, which gives congress the power to arm the militia. It was that power that led to the Second Amendment being written: press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/tocs/a1_8_16.html
But, it isn't so much the Second Amendment pseudo-scholarship that I want to address here as much as the belief that there is some "right" to revolt against the US Government. We also add to the overwhelming evidence that that is silly, something called the Domestic Violence clause:
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.This is what Rawle is talking about when he says:
If the majority of the people of a state deliberately and peaceably resolve to relinquish the republican form of government, they cease to be members of the Union. If a faction, an inferior number, make such an effort, and endeavour to enforce it by violence, the case provided for will have arisen, and the Union is bound to employ its power to prevent it.So, if you are going to try and use obsolete and obscure clauses in the Constitution to try and justify your silly "gun rights" position keep in mind you have a few things working against you: history (Shays' Rebellion) and the document itself.
Of course, you could try and say that the we should use the modern meaning of the term "Domestic Violence".
BTW, Rawle wasn't the only one to point out this section of the Constitution addressed insurrection. Here's Joseph Story:
§ 1808. The want of a provison of this nature was felt, as a capital defect in the plan of the confederation, as it might in its consequences endanger, if not overthrow, the Union. Without a guaranty, the assistance to be derived from the national government in repelling domestic dangers,which might threaten the existence of the state constitutions,could not be demanded, as a right, from thenational government. Usurpation might raise its standard,and trample upon the liberties of the people, while the national government could legally do nothing more, than behold the encroachments with indignation and regret. A successful faction might erect a tyranny on the ruins of order and law; while no succour could be constitutionally afforded by the Union to the friends and supporters ofthe government. But this is not all. The destruction of the national government itself, or of neighbouring states,might result from a successful rebellion in a single state.Who can determine, what would have been the issue, if the insurrection in Massachusetts, in 1787, had been successful,and the malecontents had been headed by a Caesar ora Cromwell? If a despotic or monarchical governmentwere established in one state, it would bring on the ruin ofthe whole republic. Montesquieu has acutely remarked,that confederated governments should be formed only between states, whose form of government is not only similar,but also republican.As I like to say, Some people who say they are defending the Constitution need to bone up on what they are claiming to defend.
Instead, they seek to make themselves the "domestic dangers" the Constitution was written to prevent.