By Michael B.
“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.”– US Bill of Rights, Second Amendment
We know these words. Gun enthusiasts like to focus on the last four words. Gun grabbers focus on the first four. There are many interpretations and case law decisions that try to explain the Second Amendment, which neither side has been completely happy with. I propose a simple interpretation of the Second Amendment, one that does not involve states’ rights or federal rights. The Second Amendment is a citizen’s right. And it has nothing to do with serving in a militia. It has to do with what happens before the militia . . .
I’m a common man, with only a college degree in Business Administration. I have not spent countless hours researching the Federalist Papers, nor delved deep into the teachings of Thomas Jefferson. A single poli-sci class is the extent of my formal political education. And as I move into the culture of gun owners, I have read parts of US Supreme Court decisions that affect gun owners. It is with this viewpoint that I filter the Second Amendment; one does not- nay, should not- need a J.D. to interpret the Constitution or the laws of this country. With that said, here is what I believe to be true.
The Second Amendment provides the citizens of America the right to keep and bear arms. Just on context alone, the right to arms is ordained by our Constitution. The Constitutional authors outline a Militia that is “necessary to the security of a free State.” The ability of citizens to form a militia is key in preserving freedom. Anti-gun rhetoric misinterprets the militia statement, and uses America’s standing armed forces to supersede militias and make null the Second Amendment.
But that’s where they’re wrong. If the Founding Fathers thought an army would be sufficient to preserve a free state, then they would have used “Armies” instead of “Militia.” A national army is not the same as a citizen militia. The Founding Fathers knew that, and put upon its citizens the responsibility to preserve freedom if, or when, the government can’t.
Therefore, the definition of militia requires citizen action. Militias are not trained and organized like an army. Militias are separate from armies, and supply their own equipment. To do so, citizens must have the ability to keep and bear arms. If they were not able to do so, there would not be a militia. Simply put, the Second Amendment outlines the requirement of citizens to be armed, if ever there was a need for a militia. A militia does not need to exist for citizens to have arms. They must be armed before a militia is needed.
That is my interpretation. Citizenry must be capable of being armed prior to the necessitation of a militia. The right to keep and bear arms stands regardless of the existence of a militia. The twisting and misuse of terms, intent, and definitions of a passage more than 200 years old has rendered the purpose of the Second Amendment completely obscured. It is not so the militia can arm the citizens when called; it’s so armed citizens can be called in defense of freedom.