Thursday, January 17, 2013

Well Regulated Militia

"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."

Lots of people know some of those words.  I have them memorized.

If you don't live here in the USA, that's the Second amendment to our Constitution.  This amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the "Bill of Rights." As such, it isn't an original part of the Constitution, as it was ratified in 1789.  But that's neither here nor there.

For many people, this is the only part of the Constitution they recognize or even know a part of.  Some people think this is the ONLY part of the Constitution that matters.

I've been asked many times for my opinion on the topic of "Gun Control" and the second amendment lately.  There's a firestorm of angry posts over on facebook.  President Obama issued 23 executive actions, and made some recommendations to Congress.

NONE, repeat NONE of these were to "take away everyone's guns" as the lunatic fringe would have you believe.

So.  Here's my opinion.  Subject to change if the FACTS do.

I have no problem with people owning guns.  Pistols, rifles, if you want them, that's fine. I understand the need for self-defense.

That said... there's a bunch of people (and a very large, very rich organization that owns a lot of people in congress) who want anyone to be able to buy heavy artillery.  Six guns at high noon and all that.  Shoot who, what, and when you want.

Right, let's go back to the actual text, and the part that the NRA and their legions forget.

A well regulated militia

Let's define the term, shall we?  Regulated.  According to Merriam Websters:
a: to govern or direct according to rule

b (1): to bring under the control of law or constituted authority
(2): to make regulations for or concerning
: to bring order, method, or uniformity to

So, "well regulated" means "governed."  As in "have laws concerning." 

I won't go into the fact that the MILITIA part means "own a gun, you're in the militia."  Which today means National Guard.

So.  "Well regulated" means gun laws.  Says so, right there in the second amendment.

No one is taking away your guns, people.  I understand that Big guns are fun to shoot.  Ok, I get it.  Everyone needs a hobby.  But does you getting a thrill trump people dying?

"More people die from cars"  Ummm... cars are built for transportation.  Guns are built to kill.  See the difference?  If you don't, you shouldn't own either one.  (I didn't come up with that, but I agree totally.)

So.  Common sense gun laws.  Like "can buy only one gun a day."  Why do you need to buy more in a DAY?  "Background check."  Issue with that?  Oh wait- that means the government will know you have a gun!  0.o  No selling ammunition on the Internet.  "But that means I have to get my fat ass out of my chair, jump into my deathmobile and go to a store!!!  And the transaction can be traced!"


"Pass a competency test before being licensed to own a gun."  SOCIALISM!  Ummm... you need to pass a test to drive, get into school, and so many other things that are far less lethal than owning a gun.

"I need my gun to fight against a tyrannical gubbermint!"  Wow.  Just... wow.  So, when Bush was wiping his butt with the Constitution, you didn't rise up to fight, but NOW the government is tyrannical?  Oh, right- they want to put in common sense laws!  Seriously, if you hate the government that much... MOBILIZE.  Protest.  Vote.  I attended MANY protests during the years of the Bush junta.  If you need to rely on your popgun against armored swat teams... well first off, you're in the wrong country if you hate America that much and secondly... good luck with that.  Remember me in your will?

And do you REALLY think that the undermanned and underfunded Police or the thinly stretched military are going to come to YOUR house to collect your firearms?  Really?  Because if not them, who would?  "Unarmed tree-hugging hippy liberals?"  "The Government agencies with their black helicopters because there's millions of them funded by the Chinese?"  See how stupid that argument is?

Want a gun?  Follow the laws.  I understand that most people DO follow the laws and WANT common sense laws about guns.  But some still are paranoid about "THEM" coming to shoot them with their illegal gun (cuz them thar criminals don't follow the laws") or the Government taking away their toys. 

Folks, I'm a LOT more worried about my first amendment rights.  Remember the First amendment?  Yeah, the one that comes before the second?  It reads this way:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

That means no state religion (Sorry, Fundamentalists).  It allows peaceably assembling (Occupy Wall Street), and my right to speak my mind.

And contrary to the bumper stickers, the FIRST amendment guarantees the others.  Think a bullet can stop an idea?

Here's some ideas that bullets didn't stop:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of the world's ills, misery, ignorance, and violence. Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation.”
Robert F. Kennedy

“It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.”
Abraham Lincoln

I could keep going on that, but you get the point.  Bullets don't stop ideas.  Ideas move faster than 3000 feet per second.  Ideas live forever and change lives.  Ideas change Nations.

So. There you have it. You know my mind in full.  I have exercised my First Amendment Right.  With every right is a responsibility.  I am responsible for my own views, and any fallout they may cause. 
Do I look Responsible?

Don't agree with me?  Fine.  Intelligent debate is encouraged.  As this is my blog, I set the following as the guidelines for this discussion:
1) Be civil.  Get personal and you're gone.
2) The moment you reference a statistic provided by the NRA or Fox News or a right wing mouthpiece, you lose.  Because you won't be using facts. 
3) Be prepared to cite your sources, because I will cite mine.

Be well!



  1. Sophie -

    I hope my comments on your Facebook page pass muster. You and I may disagree on this topic, but I've always respected intelligent opposition.


  2. Sophie,
    I am not sure that you and I reach entirely different conclusions as to a reasonalbe and meaningful way to look at the 1st and 2nd Amendments as they relate to gun ownership. It is just that we reach our similar conclusions in different fashions.

    The "comma placement" argument that you employ has been one used for many years by those seeking to limit the ownership of guns. Their position was that guns were only permitted as part of a militia and in the hands of those participating in a militia organization for the "security of a free state". The Supreme Court has held otherwise and debunked the "comma" postulate and found that it was a militia that the founders wanted regulated. They have held that the 2nd Amendment provides that the right of an individual that should not be infringed. I suppose we can look to dictionary and legal definitions of what would consititute an infringement. On the issue of reasonable infringements our views may not be that far apart.

    Where I think that your arguments tend to lose impact is in your own lack of civility and tolerance. I understand your dislike of President Bush - there were many things that occurred during his term with which I disagreed - but your use of the term 'junta' after talking about a president "...wiping his butt with the Constitution." cheapens your discourse and is insulting to the executive branch. As someone who seeks tolerance and understanding for a lifestyle and form of presentation that is seen by some as outside the norm I find it is a good thing to show tolerance and understanding to others. Removing the vitriol and venom and lack of civility from your writing or at least toning down some of the cheap shots may be something to consider.

    Your example of OWS as an exercise of free speech has some validity. During their occupacy of Zuccotti park I had a business meeting in a building across from the park. Even with the windows shut it was hard to focus on the work at hand with the constant drumming. The person whose office I was in said it went on all day and night. Perhaps that is a good argument for gun control because if I had been paying NYC rent for an office on Broadway and had to listen to that din all day, every day I may want to put a bullet in my own head. Does their right to scream and shout and bang loud drums take priority over my right to try to conduct a business meeting?

    In speaking of infringements of speech I believe it was Justice Holmes who said that "There is no right to yell fire in a crowded theater". I would like to be a purist regarding speech but our courts have long wrestled with reasonable infringements. In my area a local paper published an interactive map complete with names and addresses of purported law abiding gun owners. They published it with the prior knowledge that it was at least 25% inaccurate.

    A collegue told me that his neighbor was the only person in his neighborhood mentioned on the map. The home of this 70 year old was invaded under cover of dark. A ladder was used, windows broken, damage inside was done and the burglers went and tried, without success, to access his gun safe. Do you see an analogy between the act of the paper in publishing that information and the home invasion of a law abiding gun owner and the admonitions of Justice Holmes?

    In large part we do not disagree. If you want a gun you should abide by the law. I can take issue with what the NYS Legislature and our Governor did on many grounds. I think it was to grab political headlines. I wonder how much thought went into limiting the size of the clip to only 7 bullets? Police officers us weapons with larger clips. Are they in violation of the law?.


    1. Pat -

      7 rounds was chosen because most magazines have 10 rounds. This would obsolete the guns in the hands of the dealers (forcing them to be sold at distress prices to out of state dealers), as well as make it harder to get legal guns in NYS, as few manufacturers want to make a product for use in only one state....

      You'll notice that the law applies both to handguns and long arms. This is a big problem, and politically motivated - Cuomo has national political ambitions. But he'd lose to Christie who has taken a more nuanced view of this issue....


  3. I agree with you Sophie! That was very well written. Thanks for sharing that post with us.

  4. At the time it was written, the Second Amendment referred to militias that were organizations of private citizens who could be (and often were) called up on short notice for the common defense. They were expected to bring their own personal weapons (muskets, bayonets, etc.) and supplies for short term service. The organizations themselves often owned more sophisticated weapons like cannons that could be manned by the private citizens when they were called up. When the Brits marched on Lexington & Concord they were attempting to confiscate the artillery and supplies held by local militia units like the Minutemen.

    The Founders considered militia units to be necessary (and they were right at the time) both for defense against local enemies (Indians, and the French and Spanish powers on the borders) and against oppressive local government, then the Brits, but they had a deep suspicion of local government's tendency to become oppressive as well. Those guys were genuine revolutionaries after all. They had first hand experience in overthrowing an oppressive government by armed force and they believed that the ability to do that was a good thing.

    Note that the gun control types often claim that the Amendment was never intended to apply to military weapons and that the Founders could not have meant that the citizens were to be allowed to hold high tech weaponry like Stinger missiles or heavy artillery. In fact, high tech (for the time) weapons were precisely what they meant, although in those days, that meant black power cannons, mortars and small warships. Taken literally, the Amendment allows for citizen militias to organize and to hold everything from machine guns to nukes. If they could have looked a couple of hundred years into the future the Founders might have phrased the Amendment a bit differently.

  5. Thanks for the comments (and sorry it's taken so long to reply.)

    Pat: When it comes to "Junta" you and I have been through this before. A "Junta" is defined as a group that seized power illegally. That fits Bush to a "T." I will continue to refer to that era as a "Junta" as that is exactly what it was.

    As to that local paper, that was a stupid move. that said, I'm guessing that 70 year old should've used all those guns he owned!

    Business meetings can ALWAYS be moved.

    And police officers wouldn't be in violation. They aren't private citizens.

    Marian; you're correct that his moves are politically motivated. And he would lose to Christie in a rational world. Not due to his gun position, but due to Christie putting his people first and politics second, and working with the Dems. Of course, these aren't rational times, and the teabaggers are already sharpening their knives, because acting like an adult and cooperation are absolutely against their ethos. The GOP made 2 related deals with the devil. The first was Nixon's "southern strategy" of embracing racist white southerners to bring them into the party following the civil rights movement. The second was embracing the teabaggers, who are radical absolutionists. The combination may soon destroy the party of Lincoln, as the GOP has no way of divesting themselves of both the people involved and the stigma of the involvment.

    Cisop: Thanks! :)