Uhm, Would You Explain How that Whole Militia Thing Works Again?

Early weapons models, such as the "Fat Ma...

Early weapons models, such as the “Fat Man” bomb, were extremely large and difficult to use. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m only meaning to be a little provacotive when I say this: We all believe in  gun control.

Somewhere, there is probably somebody who seriously holds the position that private citizens have a right to own any weapon imaginably.  They might believe a person is entitled to any kind of munition or ammunition, any type of rifle, cannon, grenade, chemical, or nuclear weapon.

If you are “that guy” then I suppose I will have to have some other debate with you.  A person who affirmed others’ rights to bear any and all arms is wrong, I think.  But I’m not going to go there in this post and discuss that person.

I’m going to focus on what I hope is the vast majority of Americans.  I would like to believe that there is a line that nearly every one draws, a point where we say, “No, that kind-of weaponry should not be in the hands of regular people.” 

Presumably, most people who believe that people have the right to automatic weaponry, for example, do not believe that we should be able to own mustard gas.  Or a hydrogen bomb.

The question I have for this person is “Why do you get to draw a line?  What is your criteria?”

And I think we can and should have rich debates about where that line belongs.  But I think it is important to recognize that nearly everybody will draw that line somewhere.  Our differences are quantitative, not qualitative.  It’s not about people who believe in no limits vs. people who believe in lots of limits. 

I don’t think the 2nd ammendment is going to be very helpful here.  What it says is:
“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.”

Based on the historical circumstances, it seems like the most obvious meaning of this statement is that the founders did not envision the U.S. keeping much of a standing army.  They envisioned our defense from external foes would need to managed by groups like The Minute Men.  This, I think, doesn’t get anti-gun control forces very far.  The fact of the matter is that we’ve got one of the world’s largest standing armies.  The need for civilian militias is moot.

But suppose I grant the meaning that seems to be floating around.  I don’t see where you get this meaning from the words in the 2nd ammendment, but let me just sign off on this growing revision: the idea that the founders wanted the people to be armed so that they could have the ability to defend themselves from their own government.  Suppose, for the sake of argument, that this less obvious meaning is what was meant:

It does not help.  The constitution says “bear arms” it doesn’t specify “guns.”  It seems like if you’re wanting to give pause to the government, wanting to prevent all your others rights from being trampled, then even automatic weaponry won’t be much good when they call in the air strikes.

If you’re going to use the constitution to justify your firearms, I don’t see how you can avoid affirming somebody’s rights to have missile, or an atomic bomb.

I am not saying that I think people have a right to a missile or an atomic bomb.  I am saying that if somebody located their right to have whatever gun they want in the 2nd ammendment, I fail to see why they could tell somebody else they have no right to a missile.

I think that there are legitimate justifications for firearms.  I get it that people have a right to sport, to defense, to hunt.  I just don’t see how it makes sense to root this justification in the second ammendment.

2 responses to “Uhm, Would You Explain How that Whole Militia Thing Works Again?

  1. It gets even crazier when we project a bit into the future. Will magnetic kinetic energy weapons be ‘guns’ in any sense? What about other weapons we haven’t event thought of? What about the time when no one even uses projectile weapons and some type of energy weapon is all there is? Will the 2nd amendment cover those weapons?

    In terms of technology, our weapons are that much more advanced than muskets. The lethal power of our weapons were absolutely unimaginable to those living in the 18th century.

  2. First, let it be known that I probably couldn’t shoot a weapon at another human being… I just don’t think I, personally, could do it…

    Second, to some degree, the second amendment was to empower the people to protect themselves from all threats – foreign and domestic. And since we have the largest standing militaries in the world I think there is really no way that a typical town could ever hope to defend themselves from their own government if it ever came to that.

    So is the 2nd amendment moot? Or are there other issues (like whether we should actually HAVE a military the size and scope of what we have)?

    Also on a humorous note; I heard an interview a few weeks ago on TV where a pundit asked – “Do we really need to be afraid of our government?” to which the interviewee said – “Certainly not, they know we have guns…” I thought that was tragically funny.

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