Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Second Amendment

Bill and I have not blogged about the glorious Second Amendment yet. I became inspired to change this after reading this post on Ravenwood today.

Ravenwood takes apart an interpretation of the Amendment that could lead to no guns at all. In which case, what would the Second Amendment protect? Ravenwood's post is about an editorial by a history professor named Saul Cornell of the Second Amendment Research Center. Despite the name, they are not our friends.

Here is the text of 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.
As you might guess, I am an ardent supporter of the fact that these words recognize an individual right to keep and bear arms. Notice, I said recognize and not grant--these words simply acknowledge that Americans have a right to own arms and to defend ourselves. This does not come from the government, but comes from the very fact that we are endowed by our creator with certain basic rights. The Bill of Rights enumerates these rights, but does not limit them to only those written therein.

The gun-banners would have us believe that the Second Amendment grants a collective right by focusing on the militia clause of the Amendment. They would have us believe that it refers now to soldiers in the National Guard. Yet the Second Amendment refers to the right of the people, not of soldiers.

At one time, the people were the militia. All able-bodied men between certain ages were required to keep arms and bear them in defense of the rest of the citizens. Since then, we have created large standing armies and the National Guard.

We have changed as a nation, but United States law still has the militia concept today. The United States Code states that:
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.
It goes on to describe classes of the militia. The organized militia is the National Guard and the Naval Militia. The unorganized militia is all those not in the National Guard and the Naval Militia.

So, using the gun-banners own argument against them, no male citizen or immigrant of certain descriptions between the ages of 17 and 45 can be disarmed. Of course, this would result in age and sex discrimination if the law was applied to try to disarm older men and all women. We could use anti-discrimination laws on the books to sue anyone who would try to disarm males older than 45 or females.

A case can be made that the Federal government has been lax in "regulating" the unorganized militia. Most men don't realize they are or were members of a militia. The government has not provided adequate ammunition or firing ranges for practice. The government should also help the unorganized militia acquire military small arms. I wouldn't mind adding an M-16 to my collection. All the government does now is register young men in Selective Service.

I would not want the laws that would come with an attempt to "regulate" the unorganized militia and I am not seriously trying to further this idea. Still, if the gun banners want to limit guns to the militia, be careful what they wish for. They might just get it and then they or their sons would be required to keep a fully automatic rifle at home--like the Swiss.

Bill has done some research on the Second Amendment Research Center. It seems like Professor Cornell edited a book on what the Second Amendment "really" means. We plan on going through the website and maybe reading the book. You may expect more posts on this so-called research center that is at least partially funded by the Joyce Foundation, which opposes the gun rights we enjoy today. We may just start with Cornell's editorial soon.

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