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Constitutional Amendements

            The First Amendment – indeed the entire Bill of Rights – was not included in the Constitution when it was written in 1787. However, the issue of a listing of rights that could not be infringed upon by the new, stronger national government became a key in the ratification debates. Those supporting the Constitution argued that many state constitutions already protected individual rights and that the failure to list the rights did not mean that they did not exist as natural rights, beyond government authority. Opponents, called the Anti- Federalists, disagreed. Remembering their experience as British colonists, the Anti-Federalists feared that the stronger national government would abuse individual rights. .
             For centuries, during the middle ages and up through the 17th century, every English man was not only allowed to have a gun, but was expected to have a gun, or even required to have a gun. At this time, the kings of England did not have large standing armies ready to go to battle at a moments notice like we do today. Instead, every man in the kingdom was considered to be the king's army and it was the duty of everyone to protect the kingdom. If an enemy came from without, all of the men would gather their arms and go and defeat the enemy. In addition, they would use their arms to deal with local criminals.
             Americans' experience with the quartering of troops in their homes began shortly after the French and Indian War ended in 1763. The British Parliament decided it was necessary to keep a permanent supply of troops in the colonies in order to protect them from further uprisings of the French and Indians. This rankled the colonists in two ways. First of all, Parliament wanted them to pay the expenses of housing the troops in America. This violated the precedents of English law that required that all taxation must be with the consent of the people. The colonists reasoned that they had not given their consent to pay for these troops and that; therefore, the requirement that they pay for them was against the law.

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