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.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

2 thoughts on “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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