“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.”
~ Second Amendment, “The Constitution of the United States of America”
As is more than often true, many answers to seemingly modern problems can be found in transcendental principles – and in this case, the solution to the problem of mass shootings can be found in our Constitution. Strangely enough in this case, it arises from how progressive, anti-2A people misinterpret and misapply a section of the Second Amendment, the section addressing a “well-regulated Militia”.
First, let’s get a few things out of the way – “well regulated militia” does not mean “slathered with laws and restrictions”, nor is it an avenue for “common sense gun control”. When one takes the time to research dictionaries and documents from the period when the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were being written, one can find the meaning appropriate to the time, the documents and the principle.
“Well regulated” referred to the property of something being in proper working order. Something that was well-regulated was calibrated correctly, functioning as expected. So a “well regulated militia” means an army composed of ordinary citizens rather than professional soldiers that is well trained and well versed in their duties, roles and responsibilities. The Militia Act of 1792 further specifies that the “militia” is to consist of “𝒆𝒂𝒄𝒉 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒚 𝒇𝒓𝒆𝒆 𝒂𝒃𝒍𝒆-𝒃𝒐𝒅𝒊𝒆𝒅 𝒘𝒉𝒊𝒕𝒆 𝒎𝒂𝒍𝒆 𝒄𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒛𝒆𝒏 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒑𝒆𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝑺𝒕𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒔, 𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒊𝒅𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒊𝒏, 𝒘𝒉𝒐 𝒊𝒔 𝒐𝒓 𝒔𝒉𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒃𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒂𝒈𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒆𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝒚𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒔, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒖𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒂𝒈𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒕𝒚-𝒇𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒚𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒔.”
As to equipment, the Act also specifies that:
“…every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏 𝒔𝒊𝒙 𝒎𝒐𝒏𝒕𝒉𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒇𝒕𝒆𝒓, 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒗𝒊𝒅𝒆 𝒉𝒊𝒎𝒔𝒆𝒍𝒇 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒂 𝒈𝒐𝒐𝒅 𝒎𝒖𝒔𝒌𝒆𝒕 𝒐𝒓 𝒇𝒊𝒓𝒆𝒍𝒐𝒄𝒌, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack.”
What type of weapons? Why within five years, every able bodied man must have a musket that is “military grade” (and acquiring such supplies shall be free from taxation):
“That the commissioned Officers shall severally be armed with a sword or hanger, and espontoon; 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒎 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒂𝒇𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒇𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒚𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒔 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒎 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒑𝒂𝒔𝒔𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝑨𝒄𝒕, 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒎𝒖𝒔𝒌𝒆𝒕𝒔 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒎 𝒂𝒓𝒎𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒎𝒊𝒍𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒂 𝒂𝒔 𝒊𝒔 𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒊𝒏 𝒓𝒆𝒒𝒖𝒊𝒓𝒆𝒅, 𝒔𝒉𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒃𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒃𝒐𝒓𝒆𝒔 𝒔𝒖𝒇𝒇𝒊𝒄𝒊𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒃𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒆𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕𝒆𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒉 𝒑𝒂𝒓𝒕 𝒐𝒇 𝒂 𝒑𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒅; and every citizen so enrolled, and providing himself with the arms, ammunition and accoutrements, required as aforesaid, shall hold the same exempted from all suits, distresses, executions or sales, for debt or for the payment of taxes.”
So, how does this fit into a time of modern problems?
Well, in retrospect, these problems aren’t really modern, now are they?
Colonists and early Americans were dealing with random, asymmetric attacks from a number of sources on the frontier – attacks that were a lot like the random shooters with which we seem we seem infected today.
What the 2A and the Militia Act of 1792 illustrate is a time when the defense and protection of the populace from harm was relegated to the individual (because there were no cops or SWAT teams to call – and no way to call them).
Would it not make some sense for a Militia Act of 2019 to include the formation of local militias that could be turned out at a moment’s notice (aka modern Minutemen) to saturate areas where suspected mass shooters are about and to encircle schools with a wall of protective lead? The Second Amendment clearly not only protects the individual ownership of firearms and ammunition without restriction, it actually promotes it and also implies that it is a duty of the populace to answer a call to arms when necessary – and the “well-regulated” part assures that people who own firearms know how to properly use and care for them.
I’ve said it before and continue to believe it is true that the only possible way to counter asymmetrical threats – like terrorism or random, mass shootings – is through asymmetrical force.
This is that.
Is that crazy to think that way?
I don’t think it is. It certainly wasn’t in 1792.