On Guns, Defense and Militia

I can remember arguing the position just 10 – 12 years ago with conservative friends of mine that the 2nd amendment protected the rights of citizens to keep arms within a regulated militia.  That the amendment did not create an unlimited right to own any weapon in any quantity for any reason.

Interestingly it was a liberal friend that convinced me that states and cities that had much more lenient gun laws had lower crime rates.  That data, combined with a better understanding of individual liberty, has shifted my position to the right; how far is still unclear.

With that said, I have a question for the gun control advocates:

Would you trade the right of individual citizens to keep weapons in exchange for the creation of local militia outside the jurisdiction of the federal government?

That is, if the city of Raleigh decided that it needed stores of weapons, ammunition and other instrument of war, it could assemble such armament and recruit or conscript soldiers, train them and command them?  Further, this militia would e subject to no law other than state law and would not be subordinate to the President?

I strongly resonate with the argument that citizens do not need weapons of war.  And I don’t think that it’s healthy to stockpile weapons either.  However, I’m neither convinced that a rifle, with a magazine of arbitrary size, requiring a trigger pull for each shot, is necessarily a weapon of war or less lethal than a handgun, or 4.  However, I DO acknowledge that the founders clearly were concerned of a tyrannical government and the people’s right to defend themselves against that government.

I would love to be able to sit and have a beer with Jefferson, who argued that a standing army was among the greatest threats to the liberty of citizens.  Would he still feel that way in light of today’s Geo-poltical conditions?

Anyway.  When gun control advocates use the militia defense in their argument for more and more control, what does that mean?

2 responses to “On Guns, Defense and Militia

  1. When you read some of the contemporary writings, you find that the discussion wasn’t exactly as you imagine. The Federalists were pushing for a militia that would be under control and direction of the federal government. This made people nervous, so the compromise was made that the militia would be trained by the various states and led by officers appointed by the states, still under Federal command, so that they couldn’t be used for evil. Check out Federalist No. 29:
    “What reasonable cause of apprehension can be inferred from a power in the Union to prescribe regulations for the militia, and to command its services when necessary, while the particular States are to have the SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE APPOINTMENT OF THE OFFICERS? If it were possible seriously to indulge a jealousy of the militia upon any conceivable establishment under the federal government, the circumstance of the officers being in the appointment of the States ought at once to extinguish it.”

    Now, the Bill of Rights was largely the work of the Anti-Federalists, so reading the second amendment in light of these writings is difficult work, but from what I’ve seen from that time the militia was basically supposed to function exactly like our army reserves today, with slightly more state influence.

    • Now, the Bill of Rights was largely the work of the Anti-Federalists, so reading the second amendment in light of these writings is difficult work, but from what I’ve seen from that time the militia was basically supposed to function exactly like our army reserves today, with slightly more state influence.

      Yeah, it is tough sledding.

      The idea, I think, was that the defense of the nation was to rely on militia rather than professional soldiers. Hence, in order that the militia be armed when called, they needed to be allowed to own weapons; not to mention the whole hunting thing and rugged wilderness thing as well.

      With that practical application set aside, there were those that felt that a tyrannical government needed to be guarded against. In today’s environment, that is a rather silly practical concept. Even a well armed city or even state would be no match for the ability of our standing military.

      All that being said, I would rather the amendment be amended rather than simply re-interpreted.

      And with all of THAT being said, I am not convinced that by removing rifles of arbitrary bullets we will positively end gun violence. Even ignoring the constitutional dilemma.

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