“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.”
That is the entire verbiage of the second amendment of the US Constitution as written and ratified in the Bill of Rights. Very succinct, yet many on the right and especially those who pay homage to the National Rifle Association apparently can only focus on the part after the first four words “A well regulated Militia” which was according to the federalist papers and letters between Madison and Jefferson, was the whole purpose of this amendment. Now I only have one bachelors degree and one Masters and have only worked serving the people of Arizona in law enforcement for a straight 27 years and counting, so I may not be as qualified a “constitutionalist” as Sarah Palin, but give me some leeway here because I have read the constitution, the Federalist papers and the context of the times that the constitution was written.
So why those first four words?
At the time this was being written, there was a debate among the founders regarding whether the country should or shouldn’t have a standing army. Jefferson was adamantly opposed to a standing army because as he points out, at times of peace, standing armies are prone to take over government. What Jefferson and majority of founders envisioned is what Switzerland currently has, a well armed and regulated militia for times of war by invading forces. The Swiss have all the weaponry, but it’s ownership is extremely well regulated, as are their users. It’s not a simple matter that they are allowed to have high power weaponry. They are trained and assessed on a regular basis to ensure the safety of the Swiss people.
Many on the right who are so enamored with the second amendment say that this right is there to protect the individual from a tyrannical government. Well, that flies in the face of logic. It’s there to protect the government from invading forces of the times. For instance, President Madison called out the “Well Regulated Militia” during the War of 1812 when the British forces from Canada came down and burned down Washington DC. And let’s get serious, if the founders were concerned about protecting the people from “their” government, then why also write in the constitution what constitutes treason against that government? Guess what? An armed insurrection against the United States Government is defined as Treason. If you doubt that, read up on the Civil War.
What we have today isn’t exactly what the founders expected or wanted. First of all, we do have a standing army. In fact it is one of the largest and most powerful in the world and well suited to protect this country (and government) from foreign and domestic threats. This is an army that as Jefferson so feared, could easily take over in times of peace if it were so inclined to do. And second, the power of the weapons we have today is unimaginable to what the founders had during their time. They dealt with muskets that needed training and time to reload, not the high-capacity magazines that can easily wipe out an entire column of British Redcoats in a matter of minutes by a single soldier. Not to mention what they can do to unarmed civilians.
So if you are going to support the full second amendment as the founder truly envisioned, then you need to effectively disarm our standing army in times of peace and you need to subject yourself to being regulated by government for that honor of carrying that weaponry you so dearly love over everything else.
Even Justice Scalia has accepted the fact that ownership of weaponry carries with it government regulation as the founders envisioned. Regulating weaponry isn’t infringing ownership, it’s making sure that the right people are properly trained and regulated to make sure the weapons are not in the wrong hands to jeopardize the government that a “well regulated militia” was designed to protect. Yes, even a government ran by a black man since the majority of the voting public place that black man in charge.
Live with it guys. If you can’t, then acknowledge this has nothing to do with the second amendment as it does profits for the gun manufacturers and/or racist views of small and limited minds.