Further thoughts on the bearing of arms.

In my previous post I discussed what I feel to be the essential weaknesses in attempts to prevent gun violence through the use of stricter controls on what arms and what magazines may be purchased. As I have already pointed out, the limiting of high capacity magazines and or military style semiautomatic rifles would not do much to prevent a determined attacker from killing countless innocents in the places where they tend to be targeted.

The only difference between being able to fire 30 rounds continuously and having to reload after ten or seven, is a few seconds at most, especially for someone who is moderately trained with a firearm. While this may give some unarmed victim a chance to escape or fight back, the reality is that once that fresh seven round magazine is in the weapon, the murderer can easily continue his vindictive rampage unopposed.

 Thus as I argued, the only real “gun-control” measure that has a chance of preventing massacres is that which severely limits the availability of firearms in general as Australia did in the 1990s. Yet our constitution and political climate would make such a measure quite unlikely to pass and therefore we must look for alternative solutions.  

The solution I proposed is that we take the meaning of the second amendment at face value and in the context of history and apply it fully to imply the bearing of arms to be a right fundamentally tied to the duty to bear such arms in the defense of liberty as part of a well-regulated militia.  This would make sure anyone who owns a gun is well trained in its use and also create a substantial reserve force of citizen soldiers that could be expected to provide for the common security.  This would effectively remove the need for our bloated and ineffective Department of Defense that is far more dangerous to our liberties than any gun control measure yet proposed or enacted.

Exploring this idea further, and justifying it with textual evidence from the revolutionary era, we see that the concept of a militia was based on all able bodied male citizens mustering together under an organized command structure with their own personal weapons and equipment. At the age of 18, one was required to show up for duty with the militia and within a reasonable period of time, purchase and maintain a firearm to be used for training and while on duty in times of invasion or insurrection.

There was never this idea of loosely organized individuals getting together to shoot and calling themselves a militia, let alone of completely organized and untrained gun owners coming together in a time of crisis to fight off invading armies or would be dictators. The founders and framers of the constitution knew full well that in order to protect liberty the body politic must be armed, but they never saw this as just individuals who happened to possess firearms; rather they clearly intended for the people to be armed, trained and organized in a militia under the command of the state in which they resided. It was an effective and “well-regulated” state militia comprising all able bodied and non-criminal males that could present a real check against tyrannical centralized control in the federal government or fight off an imminent foreign invasion.

If we delve further into the concept of separation of powers as well as checks and balances, there is no real need for there to be an individually armed population because the state militias would check the federal government and the federal government along with supporting states that would check states if they tried to ignore fundamental rights protected under the constitution. Of course if all else failed those able bodied and armed individuals could come together and form new governments through force if necessary, but again they would have to organize to do so, thus requiring that they be “well-regulated”.

The point is that in no historical context that applies to our legal system and heritage as Americans; was the right to bear arms separate from a duty to serve in the militia and hence there is no real argument for it to be so today, except out of sheer ignorance. I myself must confess such ignorance in the past and it is only recently that I have taken the time to research the topic and come to understand the full depth and meaning of the second amendment. For the sake of brevity and perhaps style I have not provided these references in the body of my post, yet below you may explore them at your leisure. I welcome to explore the evidence yourself and come to your own conclusions.  
 

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