2nd Amendment was about the 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. ❞
There are a few fallacies, invented by progressives in the 30’s and 60’s to try to enact gun control and pervert what the Constitution and 2nd Amendment means. When the left can't win the argument based on the logic and facts, they try to reframe it and change the meanings of words. So the constitution was part of a “living document” delusion, that you can change meanings by make-believe, without following the actual letter/intent of law. They prey on the ignorance of their base, and the lack of understanding in English, History, and the Constitution, to pretend that the 2nd doesn’t mean exactly what it meant for the first 200 years, and suddenly 150-200 years later, they found secrets that no other historians have ever found a scrap of evidence of :
- Well Regulated: they re-define the original meaning (in working order) to mean government controlled — it doesn’t.
- Militia: they try to re-interpret to mean National Guard/Reserves, which was created over 100 years later.
- Dependent clause reversal: they misinterpret English to assume that your right/liberty is dependent on being in the militia, instead of the truth that you have the right, so that you can be part of a militia (and that it is an obligation to own a gun, and do your duty).
- “the People”, which means “individuals” everywhere else in the Bill of Rights, is reinvented to mean “collective / state”.
But all those were not only not recognized for the first 150+ years, but they’re been completely refuted by Linguists, Historians, Legal Scholars, and common sense. Gun control laws can be argued and debated, but there is no real doubt as to what the Second Amendment meant. And those who repeat a false claim they heard once, are just being foolish (not researching because it fits their confirmation bias). Anyone that’s looked knows how discredited those theories are. Those who repeat them after knowing that (or deny it), are just liars.
I've heard many people try to distort the 2nd Amendment so that, "guns should only apply to those who are in the militia” or that it’s a people (plural) right and not an individual right, or other linguistic gymnastics, to proclaim that the 2nd doesn’t mean what English Scholars, Legal and Constitutional scholars, and the authors (in their own writings) intended.
At the time of the writing, the definition of militia was, "The whole body of civilians, that are NOT part of the regular army”. Since the Guard/Reserves are part of the regular army (or reserves), they are the unorganized militia (which was everyone else). Basically, anyone old enough to defend their home, town or country (that was not in the army already) was the militia.
But even today, the meaning hasn’t changed as much as some think. Some people mistakenly think it means reserves or National Guard (established 1903, and subject to federal control) — but since those didn’t exist at the time of authoring, there is no way it could have been the type of body envisioned by the framers. Today’s legal definition is, the "militia" consists of "all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age”, with a few exclusions for medical, mental or job deferments (by their choice) (10 U.S.C. 311 and 32 U.S.C. 313).
You don’t have to take my word for it, there are multiple Constitutional rulings and the words of the authors listed below more...
Another common wrong-headed argument is that "you’d have to be in the militia to qualify for the 2nd’s protections".
But they’re failing at English and what many English scholars have said about that argument. The "well regulated militia" phrase is an "nominative absolute” phrase which can be ignored. It is merely explanatory (descriptive) and dependent on the rest of the sentence (not the rest of the sentence is a dependent clause on it). Since you ignore nominative/descriptive clauses, the 2nd can be read, "The right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed.”
I like to offer the following example to demonstrate it to those being resistant:
❝ A well-schooled electorate, being necessary to the security of a free State,
the right of the people to keep and read Books, shall not be infringed. ❞
No one would read THAT as you have to be a well-schooled electorate in order to keep and read books. The right to keep and read books must not be infringed, so we can all participate in a well schooled electorate.
"Shall not be infringed" is not the type of wording one puts in, when something is conditionally dependent on something else. more...
A recent distraction is, "before the NRA got to it, the 2nd Amendment wasn’t an individual right". That somehow this a right of the people (plural: meaning the collective), and thus not of individuals, thus the people can regulate it away. (The milia is "us", so "we" can say that "you’re" not the militia as an individual, and thus you don’t need your gun). However, six relevant Supreme Court decisions have recognized that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual's right to keep and bear arms, not a collective one. There aren't really collective rights enumerated in the Constitution.
The problem is pesky history: the reason the bill of rights was created is because in the ratification of the Constitution there was fighting over the wording of the enumerated rights of individuals. So they agreed to ratify the constitution AND get the bill of rights to enumerate what the individual rights were. So the whole reason why the Bill of Rights (including the 2nd) was written was to protect the individuals rights from the government. The Framers understood the concept of a "right" to apply ONLY to individuals. more...
Well regulated, at the time (and for 100 years afterward) just meant "something being in proper working order”, well calibrated or functioning as expected. But even if we pretend that it did mean “government regulated” (which it doesn't), it would still be irrelevant, because it was part of a nominative/descriptive clauses, and thus whether the people should be able to keep and bear arms so they can choose to be part of a militia or not, doesn’t change that their right to do so, "shall not be infringed".
There’s an even more expansive view, that “well regulated” points to the 2nd being more than just a 19th century usage of the term, "an individual right", but instead is the 18th century usage which means "civic right (civic responsibility)".
This is even worse for gun controllers, because that view means that you not only had a right to bear arms to belong to a militia, but you also have a civic duty as a citizen to do so (almost mandatory service). Which implies that anyone is failing in their responsibilities as Americans to NOT buy guns and become part of a well functioning militia. So the gun-controllers are better off with it being an individual right, than it being a civic one.
However, the invention that "well regulated" might be a back door to inventing new restrictions on the 2nd, wasn’t first heard until the 1960’s. (This was after the first wave of gun control in the 20’s and 30’s had only increased our crimes and shootings). So what this argument is arrogantly proclaiming is that in the 1960's they discovered a word ambiguity that the Founding Fathers, and their progeny, never knew of. Thus for the first ≈200 years of the country, every Historian, Linguist, Legal and Constitutional scholar or mind that had read these things, was too stupid to realize what the 2nd really meant, and thus we should ignore all that common sense and stare decisis (legal precedence, and history), because a few hippie progressives knew more than anyone and everyone else before them. Does anyone really buy that? more...
Gun controllers may want to revise the Constitution, and fortunately for them, there are ways to do that (like Constitution Referendum, or an Amendment). They’re welcome to try. I’ll resist, and if they succeeded there would be civil war, but at least be honest about it.
If we value the Constitution and rule of law, then we have to respect and defend their intent, not distort them because some wished they meant something else. You can’t be for perverting the law, and then claim they support the rule of law when it suits you. So men of integrity must fight these vapid arguments, because if we allow the perversion of our laws for convenience, then our Constitution and Laws mean nothing (and the liars and bullies win).
❝ "On every question of construction [of the Constitution] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” ❞
❝ "How strangely will the tools of a tyrant pervert the plain meaning of words!" ❞
Gun control laws can be argued and debated, but there is little doubt as to what the Second Amendment meant at the time. The folks that used a poisonous snake as their flag, saying “don’t tread on me”, in the context of fighting a war which was partly about their gun rights, put in a guarantee to that liberty. And no rational person believes their original intent (in that context) was to write something so vague, that a future bureaucrat could lawyer their rights away, or that you could only own guns if you were in the governments militia. This isn’t just my opinion. This has been ruled on by Linguists, Historians, Constitutional Scholars, the Supreme Court (6 times), and by the authors themselves. Thus there’s no intelligent ambiguity on these topics: any fuzziness was only invented in the 1960’s (≈200 years later), by the disingenuous hippies, and only repeated by uninformed gullible rubes. Repeating it once, makes them a fool. Repeating it after being schooled on it, makes them a fraud.
- Expansive list of Gun Quotes
- Penn and Teller on meaning of militia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GNu7ldL1LM
- Interactive Constitution: http://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendments/amendment-ii
Examples of Stupidity
Written 1987, Updated 1997, 2002, 2015, 2017