An imaginary vision of Ben and Jim
written by Ron:
Your comments about this column are welcome ~ e-mail Ron at
The floors of the old Pennsylvania State House creaked as the representatives of the original colonies walked towards the large meeting room. It was May 25, 1791 Outside, the weather had turned from the slight chill of April to the warm days of May.
The group of men walked down the narrow hallway almost in step. Leading the group was a thirty one year old Ben Franklin. As he walked he talked with James Madison of Virginia. They were discussing the difficulties the Continental Congress was having in reaching agreement on the wording of the first ten amendments, called the Bill of Rights, to the Constitution of the newly formed United States of America.
Franklin turned to Madison and said, “James, I fear that we have not yet reached the proper wording on that troublesome Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights. It worries me.”
Madison, who would be called the “Father of the Constitution,” was nodding his head in agreement when they reached the larger meeting room which would hold the delegates from twelve of the thirteen original colonies, soon to become states. Only a delegate from Rhode Island was missing.
Franklin from Pennsylvania was the first to enter the room, followed by Madison. Behind them came the others, including Alexander Hamilton of New York, Richard Dobbs Spaight of North Carolina, Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania, George Washington of Virginia. Other representatives poured into the room and found chairs lined against the wooden walls.
An attendant opened the windows lining the three sides of the spacious room, permitting the soft, May breezes to enter the chamber.
Madison waited for the delegates and their aides to be seated, then stood and said, “Gentlemen, I propose that the first order of business on this day be the wording of the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights. I fear that if we were to adopt what has been brought forward we would be creating a grievous error that would create a vast misunderstanding of our actual intent when we created the Second Amendment. Permit me to read what the authors of the Amendment have written so far. ‘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.”
Ben Franklin rose before the group and stated, “I agree with the honorable Mister Madison. There is a chance, a great opportunity, that in years to come the citizens of this nation would believe that the manner in which this Second Amendment is worded it would mean that we, who are gathered here, meant that any citizen of this republic would be entitled to own or carry at blunderbuss rifle, a flintlock pistol or even a cannon at their own pleasure. We, who are gathered here, fully realize that what is meant by the Amendment as it is written today, is that we believe an official state militia should be armed so as to protect property and individuals from a future attack by the British or any other sovereign entity.”
The well-respected representative from Virginia, George Washington, stood and stretched to his full impressive height of six feet, three inches, and said, “Gentlemen, I fear that the manner in which this Second Amendment is currently worded would lead to innumerable difficulties in future years. Already inventions are being modeled that are creating rifles that would be able to fire more than one shot with a single load. A young man has invented a pistol to take the place of a flintlock, that would be enable the owner to fire six shells before having to reload. I can only imagine what firearms will be invented in forthcoming years. I am staggered to think of a majority of our citizenry owning these dangerous weapons, made legal by the confusing wording of this Amendment. It must be changed.”
A hum of agreement was created by the current Amendment’s supporters, joined by a chorus of dissent.
Ben Franklin stood again. “The inventive minds of Americans will someday imagine and actually create firearms that will make those of today pale in their ability to wound and murder his fellow citizens. I cannot and do not want to think of this nation filled with men of all deranged sorts legally owning weapons that would easily kill or maim his fellow man – and these murders would be enabled by the current incarnation of this Amendment.”
“My fellow delegates, stated James Madison, I would fear to envision this nation saddled with the wording in our most precious document that enables our future citizens to confuse the word Militia, which we, in this room, know pertains only to an officially constructed and regulated state army and not any individual loose on the streets of this new Republic. It is imperative that we alter the wording of this Amendment so that the millions of future Americans will not be saddled with the dangerous likelihood of any citizen carrying and using firearms at their will – all this with the actual sanction of their government.”
Ben Franklin, even at his young age, was respected for his clarity of thought, added, “Gentlemen, I propose that we reconsider the wording of this important Second Amendment and look long into this nation’s future at the possibility of it, in its current state, would legally enable men who should not be owners and carriers of dangerous weapons to prey upon innocent citizens.”
James Madison, sat quietly, his head nodding in agreement with the wise Ben Franklin. He pondered, “We must not permit the current wording of this Amendment to become the law of this great nation. Methinks it would create untold dangers to future Americans.”
For months the delegates argued over the wording of the Second Amendment, but could not arrive at a satisfactory alternative. After spirited debate the original Bill of Rights were adopted on December 15, 1791.
As he signed the document on that date, James Madison thought, “I augers strongly that the future citizens of this great nation will carry on this deliberation. I also fear for those citizens who will become victims of this governmental sanction to own weapons which will no doubt be used in cases to wound and kill its own citizenry.”
founded 2004 by ron cruger
A place for intelligent writers
A place for intelligent readers