The Constitution (1st)

Thoughts On The Second Amendment

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.

Most Americans think The Constitution is a precisely chiseled series of black-and-white-isms.

It’s certainly nothing of the kind.

It has been described as a set of “glorious generalities.”

The second amendment seems to me to be a masterpiece of inconclusiveness.

A Militia is a trained, equipped, organized group of some citizens, like our national guard, which state governments can activate to deal with emergencies.

The people might refer either to all citizens or possibly, the language of the second amendment lacking precision, to smaller groups thereof.

A militia without arms wouldn’t be very effective in suppressing riot or insurrection.

Therefore a militia must be armed.

But the people as a whole—do they all have a right to keep and bear arms ?

Everybody ?

Every fool, felon, unprincipled liar and lunatic in the entire body public ?

The second amendment, I really believe, says nothing conclusive about Joe Citizen’s individual right to own firearms for his own purposes, only that a well-regulated ¹ militia has a right to keep and bear arms for the security of the state,—state to my mind referring to any individual state in the union, and this right may not be infringed. ²

But what about the people—those two words—how do they fit in ?

The best I can do just now is to note that a militia is drawn from the ranks of the people.  So perhaps militia and the people are used as synonyms ?

That militias are so described in The Constitution makes it impossible for, say, the federal government legally to disarm states for nefarious purposes of its own.

States seem to have ³ a constitutionally protected right to raise and arm militias.

More later.


Disclosure statement:  I have no formal training in law.

¹ Well-regulated, to my mind, means well-trained, well-equipped, well-disciplined, well-commanded, and under authority of state government, as distinguished from a self-appointed posse of shotgun toting vigilantes bent on righting perceived wrongs in feloniously violent ways.

² Infringed =  restricted, limited, curbed or checked.  

³ It’s not expressly stated.  But I think it’s strongly implied.

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