On this day in 1791, Virginia ratified the first ten amendments to the Constitution, otherwise known as the Bill of Rights. As history.com notes,
In September 1789, the first Congress of the United States approved 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution and sent them to the states for ratification. The amendments were designed to protect the basic rights of U.S. citizens, guaranteeing the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and exercise of religion; the right to fair legal procedure and to bear arms; and that powers not delegated to the federal government would be reserved for the states and the people.
Yes, well, we all know how the federal leviathan has grown in the intervening generations and impinged on those original ten as well as other subsequent amendments. Still . . .
On December 15, 1791, Virginia became the 10th of 14 states to approve 10 of the 12 amendments, thus giving the Bill of Rights the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it legal.
In case you’re wondering, the two amendments that didn’t make the cut back in 1791 were one that would have established a formula for apportioning congressional seats among the states and another that mandated that no law affecting the salaries of members of Congress could take effect until after an election. That second one eventually became the 27th Amendment.
But back to those original 10. One of them, as we all know, has been under attack for most of the last 227 years. Despite affirmations from the Supreme Court in the Heller and McDonald decisions, cities, states, and federal courts continue to treat the Second Amendment as a second rate right. And organizations that are ostensibly dedicated to the defense and preservation of the Bill of Rights, have given up all pretense as to their support of the right to keep and bear arms.
None of which means that those of us who believe that the Second Amendment means what it says will stop fighting to preserve it. And given recent and more potential changes in the makeup of the Court, we’re optimistic that we could see still more precedent-setting support for the RKBA that would make future infringements, at any level, much more difficult and legally tenuous.
So while we know the struggle to preserve our freedoms never end, we’re wishing the Bill of Rights — all ten amendments — a very happy birthday today. And if some of us hold one of the ten a little more dear than the others, well, we’ll just have to live with that.