Political Pistachio

Blog Home of the Writer and AM and FM Radio Host, Douglas V. Gibbs.
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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Second Amendment, and the Well-Regulated Militia

"I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them." --George Mason, Speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 1788

By Douglas V. Gibbs

With all of the talk about gun control, it is easy to fall victim to the lies of the liberal left.  The language of the Second Amendment, however, is clear.  Let's review:

The Second Amendment reads: "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."

The amendment was written specifically with the federal government in mind, which explains why it ends with the words "shall not be infringed."  That means that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be restricted in any way by the federal government.  That would make all federal gun regulations unconstitutional.  If States want to place limitations on gun ownership, such as not allowing felons, children, or the mentally handicapped to possess firearms, that is up to each State - meaning it is up to you as citizens through your State Government.

In the middle of the amendment is says, "being necessary to the security of a free State."  This is very curious language, for we know the security of the States against foreign invasion is already in place through the United States Military.  Also, notice that the word "State" is capitalized.  A free State, in this instance, does not mean a "free government," but a "free State," such as a free New York, a free Massachusetts, a free Virginia, and so forth.  The security of the States against foreign invaders is not being addressed here, so the next question should be, if the people needs to be armed for the security of their States, against what invader are we talking about?  The answer is from within.  The Second Amendment is "necessary" to protect the citizens, and provide for the security of their free State, against a tyrannical federal government.  The people's right to be armed is specifically to keep at bay a tyrannical federal government, should such a need arise.

The amendment begins with the words, "A well regulated militia."  Liberals will argue that means the right to keep and bear arms is a collective right, reserved for law enforcement and military forces.  As one woman said on the Sean Hannity radio program, "We don't need a militia, we aren't fighting the British anymore."

Tyranny takes many forms, and the British was only one example.

To understand the first four words, we need to understand the language.  First, we must ask ourselves, "Who is the militia."  According to George Mason's quote at the top of this article, we all are members of the militia.    To make it official, even the U.S. Code recognizes the existence of the unorganized citizen's militia.

Title 10 of the United States Code provides for both "organized" and "unorganized" civilian militias. While the organized militia is made up of members of the National Guard and Naval Militia, the unorganized militia is composed entirely of private individuals.

United States Code: Title 10 – Armed Forces, Subtitle A – General Military Law

Chapter 13 – The Militia:

Sec. 311. Militia: composition and classes

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are -

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

Other than age, health, gender, or citizenship, there are no additional provisions for exemption from membership in the unorganized militia. While it is doubtful that it will ever be called to duty, the United States civilian militia does legally exist.

The term "well regulated" also throws people for a loop, so lets examine what it means.

In today's society "regulated" means "controlled," or "restricted."  If you go to the 1828 Webster's Dictionary, the definitions are a little different.

REG'ULATE, v.t.

1. To adjust by rule, method or established mode; as, to regulate weights and measures; to regulate the assize of bread; to regulate our moral conduct by the laws of God and of society; to regulate our manners by the customary forms.

2. To put in good order; as, to regulate the disordered state of a nation or its finances.

3. To subject to rules or restrictions; as, to regulate trade; to regulate diet.

Notice the definition we use today is the last definition offered.  The first one is in regards to weights and measures, and things like that.  It is the second definition that the founders were using in the Second Amendment.  The second definition is "To put in good order."

During the American Revolution the militias were very difficult for George Washington to lead, because of the disorder.  Some had no shoes, others wore ragged clothing, and the sizes of the muskets never seemed to match.  So, by calling for a well regulated militia, the Second Amendment is calling for a militia that is in good order - wearing adequate clothing, and using firearms that can be interchanged with others.

Understand, the Second Amendment does not give you the right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment does not protect you against the government from taking away your guns. Your rights are given to you by God, and protecting your rights are your responsibility.  Your right to keep and bear arms is a God-given individual right.

Though I am not an advocate of Judicial Review, sometimes these cases are important to help us understand what we are up against.  In the Washington DC v. Heller case in 2008 the Supreme Court of the United States determined that the right to bear arms is an individual right, as opposed to a collective right which would only allow the bearing of arms for the purpose of participating in government approved groups, such as law enforcement agencies.

Anti-Federalists feared the creation of a central government because they feared the federal government would become tyrannical, and take away people’s rights. Therefore, even though the Constitution in the first seven articles did not grant federal government any authority over gun rights, those skeptical over the creation of a central government wanted an amendment that clarified clearly that the federal government had no authority to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms in any way.

Remember, all powers belonged to the States prior to the writing of the Constitution. The first seven articles did not give to the federal government the authority to regulate firearms, therefore, any legislative power over gun rights is a state power. The Second Amendment simply confirms that. The argument then becomes about the tyranny of the States. In other words, if the Second Amendment does not apply to the States, what keeps the States from infringing on gun rights?

The State Constitutions, and the people, hold the responsibility of restraining the States from infringing on the right to keep and bear arms. The Founding Fathers were not concerned with a tyranny of the States because the State governments are closer to the people, and therefore the people have a much easier time acting to ensure the State governments do not infringe on individual rights.  In other words, if the States start infringing on your rights, it is nobody's fault but your own for letting them do it.

Don't let them!

The only thing that can put our rights in jeopardy concerning State governments would be if we became so complacent that we stopped taking action to protect our rights.

Once again, with freedom comes responsibility.

The question asked often is, “Why did the Founding Fathers put so much importance on gun rights?”

In early American society the need to be armed was necessary for a number of reasons, including protecting one’s property, facilitating a natural right of self-defense, participating in law enforcement, enabling people to participate in an organized militia system, deterring a tyrannical government, repelling invasion, suppressing insurrection, and hunting.

The right to keep and bear arms is not merely about protecting your home, or hunting, though those are important too. The whole point of the Second Amendment is to protect us against all enemies, foreign and domestic, which could include a potentially oppressive central government.

Noah Webster in his “An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution,” in 1787 said it clearly: “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States."

The recent case of McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010), which challenged the City of Chicago’s ban on hand guns, brought to the surface the debate over whether or not the Second Amendment only applies to the Federal Government.

The 5-4 Decision of the McDonald v. City of Chicago case by the U.S. Supreme Court holds that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms in all cities and States. The U.S. Supreme Court concluded that originally the Second Amendment applied only to the Federal Government, but it is in the opinion of the court that the 14th Amendment incorporates the Bill of Rights, therefore applying those amendments, and more specifically the Second Amendment, to the States.

The decision by the Supreme Court, in this case, makes all State laws on fire arms null and void. Applying the Second Amendment to the States means the Second Amendment is supreme over any and all State laws on firearms. However, studying the language of the Second Amendment carefully, it says that all persons are allowed to possess a firearm.  After all, the final words, “shall not be infringed” carries no exceptions.

The reason that the Second Amendment is absolute in its language is because it was intended to only apply to the federal government. The federal government shall not infringe on the right to keep and bear arms in any way, but the States retain the authority to regulate guns as necessary based on the needs and allowances of the local electorate.

The U.S. Constitution applies to the federal government except where specifically noted otherwise.

In reference to McDonald v. Chicago, I am uneasy anytime the federal government tells a city or state what they have to do.

If we give the federal government the right to tell cities they have to allow gun ownership, what stops them from doing the opposite later as they are trying to do now? This McDonald case created a precedent of allowing the federal government to dictate to the states and cities what they have to do, and in that I recognize a great danger to state sovereignty.  As expected, now there is a push for gun control.  The scariest part is not just that they are now going after our guns, but that Obama and the Democrats have said that they plan to do it "with or without Congress."

They say it is for our safety.  They say they want to restrict firearms just a little more for our security.

Benjamin Franklin said, "Those who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither."

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

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