"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."

Adopted as part of the Bill of Rights in 1791, the Second Amendment includes the phrase “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” which the NRA and right wingers conveniently overlook when declaring that gun control laws are unconstitutional.  But they aren’t the only ones.  The Supreme Court in declaring state gun control laws unconstitutional – including twice striking down D.C.’s gun control laws – also seems to ignore this introductory phrase allowing the NRA’s “every citizen has the right to own as many guns, of any size, with no restrictions of any nature, at any time” to prevail around the country even though poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans are in favor of gun controls.

But think for a moment: did our Founding Fathers insert this phrase by mistake?  Was it some sort of typographical error?  A self-correcting spell check error perhaps?   Something that one day in a fit of irrationality they included but has no purpose or meaning?  

Why, then, is this phrase ignored as if it doesn't exist?  I’m thinking that our Founding Fathers weren’t all that stupid nor were they simply brain-dead the day they forged this well regulated Militia thing.  After all, they were the landed gentry and intelligentsia of their age.  So let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the “A well regulated Militia” thing isn’t an error and was result of thoughtful crafting like much of the rest of the Constitution. 

Back in 1791, every homeowner outside of New York, Boston and Philadelphia, owned guns.  If you lived outside America’s urban areas, it was how you wrangled fresh meat: rabbits, deer, pheasants, opossums, and whatever.  Then too, since we had no Defense Department, no Army, no Navy, no Air Force no Coast Guard, it was up to your average citizen to take up arms and defend the nation against foreign invaders.  Now one could argue that this clause also points to the need for armed citizens to fight against an intrusive Federal Government as Rush Limbaugh and the right wingers and conspiracists do.  But this argument, too, falls flat on its face since when it was adopted it was assumed that the individual states held ultimate power, not the Federal Government, thus there would have been no need for Militia’s to take up arms against the Feds an event that did not happen until 1861 when South Carolina seceded from the United States ushering in the Civil War.  Today the U.S. Government has the largest military establishment in the world.  Arming every citizen to take on this force today is simply ludicrous. 

So what are we left with?  In 1791 Militias were the primary force of arms the U.S. possessed and Militia’s still exist today in the form of state-based National Guard units, the folks who have born the brunt of our disastrous war in Iraq and the same folks who were called upon the rescue folks during Katrina and to keep order in the streets during Ferguson and Baltimore.  These, today, are their primary functions.  And while they may be comprised of volunteers, they are not comprised of local citizens standing by with guns at their hips ready to take up arms against an invading army. 

But the safety of the United States as a whole, “the people” as noted in the Second Amendment, is handled by local town and city police forces, county police forces, state troopers, as well as a $600 billion dollar a year Defense Department.  And don’t start delving into the dozens of agencies – state and Federal – who are responsible for domestic safety like your local Transit Police, like the TSA, like National Park Service Police, the Secret Service, local Sheriffs, etc. etc.  None of these existed in 1791.  These, in 2015, are the folks who actually secure our daily security and safety, not state Militias.

But does this modern day policing of the United States obviate the “A well regulated Militia, being necessary for the security of a free State” part of the Second Amendment?    Yes, it does.  Our Founding Fathers could not have envisioned both the number and the breadth of police forces we have today to ensure the security of the American citizenry.  On the other hand, in this case context is everything and the context of 1791 is so vastly different from the context today that to interpret the Second Amendment as guaranteeing the unfettered right of every citizen to own as many arms as they so desire, borders on the irrational. 

This conveniently ignored phraseology by the NRA and gun rights nuts, cannot be divorced from the context of the remainder of the Second Amendment.  After all, how could the founding fathers have imagined that the security of a free State would be implemented by dozens of police forces and the collective security of “the people” would be implemented by nuclear tipped missiles capable of taking out China over 7,000 miles away, of Stealth Bombers and F-35 fighter jets capable of supersonic speeds, of Eisenhower Class Aircraft Carriers patrolling the world’s seas, of spy satellites that can depict the make and model of a car from 90 miles above the earth? 

Given this context the idea that State Militias are vital to the freedom of the state, of the people, of the United States of America is pretty damned ludicrous.

The NRA says that any restrictions on our right to own guns and to pack them in churches, in schools, in bars, in Walmart, is an attack on our Constitutional Freedom.  If this is the case, then we need to do away with all the other police force militias since they too are infringing on our freedom to shoot anyone, anything and everything anytime we want.  

My thoughts for the day. 

NOTE: No more texts and tweets of sympathy and horror. 



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