Writing at good.is, Tosten Burks penned Trigger Warnings: Know These 4 Important Gun Laws By Heart. To educate his audience about the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, Mr. Burks relies on a quote from a fictional character:

The Constitution’s most controversial amendment reads: “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.” The NRA has spent much of the past 40 years broadening the interpretation to expand the gun market.

The original intent, however, is best explained by Aaron Sorkin’s West Wing character Toby Ziegler, who put it in more liberal terms: “The words ‘regulated’ and ‘militia’ are in the first sentence. I don’t think the framers were thinking of three guys in a Dodge Durango.”

Using a fictional source to “explain” the Founding Fathers’ intent– especially when there are volumes of scholarly research on the subject — is lazy “journalism.” A little research would have revealed that the “collective right” theory of the Second Amendment was invented by the “progressive” Kansas Supreme Court in 1905, without any precedent cited.

Maybe Mr. Burks is just cranky; he seems to be on a fact-free diet. For example, he states that Florida’s “stand your ground” law was crucial in the George Zimmerman murder trial.

Also known as the “shoot first” law, Stand Your Ground enables the right to use deadly force in self-defense. This was George Zimmerman’s successful argument for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman’s defense team never used the “stand your ground” defense, nor was it relevant in the case. Mr. Burks goes on to claim that the Kel-Tec PMR-30 is a favorite among concealed carriers. He calls the SIG SAUER MCX an “assault rifle,” but differentiates it form the Smith & Wesson M&P-15, a “semi-automatic rifle.”

On the positive side, Mr. Burks’ characterizations of concealed carry, open carry, castle doctrine, and stand your ground laws are mostly accurate.  He does a decent job of directing people to Pink Pistols, The Well Armed Woman and The National African American Gun Association. I suspect he would’ve included Jews for the Protection of Firearms Ownership if he’d have found it on his Internet searches.

Taken as a whole, Mr. Burks’ article is more amusing than discouraging. My impression: he’s a well-intentioned writer severely hampered by life lived in his “progressive” information bubble. The least informed parts of his article are ubiquitous false narratives in his environment. And yet it appears that Burks can be educated. Too bad comments aren’t allowed at the site. I wonder why that is?

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch

54 Responses to Kimber Gun Rights Bulletin: LA Writer Quotes Fictional Character as An Authority on Second Amendment

  1. The funny thing is, the Dems on “The West Wing” seem super moderate by modern standards. Reality is stranger than fiction. Oh yeah, and “well regulated” means “well equipped” in modern speak.

      • The key word there is “Militia” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militia. A non-formally organized (non permanent-standing army [like the British one that the founding fathers were pissed enough about to go to war over]) fighting force being necessary to the Republic, the right of the people (from whom a Militia would be drawn from) to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

        • Joe R., while I agree with your definition (militia) for the most part, always be careful about quoting from Wikipedia – it’s written by anyone who wants to enter information. Yes, it’s pretty reliable and better than Snopes (written by a guy and his wife who research via the internet).

        • Well, I have always argued that healthcare is an individual right, too. Everyone has a right to obtain the best healthcare that they can afford.

          But I ask liberals, after Validating that they believe that a right to health care means that you should get healthcare for free, I ask them, “I have a right, spelled out in the constitution, and validate by recent and repeated SCOTUS decisions, to have firearms.”

          “So, Shouldn’t I get them for free, since it’s a RIGHT!”

          This shuts them up.

        • Why isn’t free housing a right?
          Run that one by the spoiled brats throwing tantrums for free college tuition. Then put them on a guilt trip pointing out there are homeless people while they demand a free ride in college.
          First things first Zoe. We have to eliminate homelessness and poverty. Then we’ll talk about your free degree in art appreciation.

      • Best definitions, taken from the Oxford dictionary in 1776 align more to a meaning of “properly functioning,” “in good repair,” properly equipped is close.

        That said, what most liberals don’t get is that the federal government, at that time, didn’t do regulations! Unheard of, really. The US Constitution was about individual rights, state rights, and LIMITED federal power.

    • George Washington, in a letter, commented on some militias as being not well-regulated, and referred not merely to equipment, but also to care of that equipment, training with it, and obedience to officers.

  2. Whenever “they” attempt to excuse the Second by claiming that the Founding Fathers’ didn’t have current firearms/circumstances in mind, my knee-jerk response is that when they envisioned the First Amendment, they didn’t have the Internet in mind, either.

    • I like to point out that exactly the same weapons technology existed at the time the 2nd Amendment was written as when the clauses were adopted giving Congress the authority to raise an army, and to maintain a navy.

      • I’d like to point out that the Constitution (and its Amendments) were how we were supposed to get along all the while we were entrusting in each other that we’d pull our weight with respect to the assertions of our Declaration of Independence especially with regard to Paragraph 2, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

        “throwing off of the old guard” (which’ll be your fing POS neighbors who needed a job [a/k/a your government]) WILL TAKE ARMS. LOTS OF THEM. IT’LL TAKE YOU HUNTING DOWN YOUR NEIGHBORS, KILLING THEIR KIDS, DESTROYING EVERYTHING THAT MEANT ANYTHING TO THEM.

        Wrap your mind around that, or else you’ll be ill prepared to get it done should you ever feel it necessary.

        • 90% of my neighbors are Federal employees. I can’t burn down the block, unfortunately. But I can burn down the Federal buildings…

        • Yeah I won’t be killing no kids.
          The ruling class tends to be in the minority, luckily, which means you shouldn’t have to kill very many neighbors. They probably won’t live outside of a few well protected city centers, strategic points and military centers anyway.

        • “IT’LL TAKE YOU HUNTING DOWN YOUR NEIGHBORS, KILLING THEIR KIDS, DESTROYING EVERYTHING THAT MEANT ANYTHING TO THEM.”

          Joe R. Are you serious? This kind of statement is exactly why the anti’s come after us. Why in the hell would you write such a thing? I’m in the Army Reserve and a retired state trooper – I FIGHT for our country and my state. I also fight for our gun rights and helped write legislation for CCW reciprocity. I’m a lifetime NRA member. As I’m a government worker, does this mean you’re coming after me and my family?

  3. Since most antis only “knowledge” of items like firearms and the Constitution are based on Hollywood movies and TV, who or what else would they cite?

  4. They’re still dumb after all these years..

    I realize that these anti-gun folks are largely uninformed on the subject at hand but honestly with years of preparation and reflection, these people should be able to come up with something better than a fictional television character’s “insight”.

    The fact that they can’t should be a clue even to the less gifted.

  5. Have to love a supposed author who fails to recognize the difference between a clause and a sentence.
    “The words ‘regulated’ and ‘militia’ are in the first sentence.” (sic) Well, Messrs Sorkin and Burke, since the 2nd amendment consists entirely of one sentence, that means that “shall not be infringed” is also in the “first sentence”.

    • Further, the part of the sentence that comes before the second comma is the dependent clause, and the part that comes after that comma, the important part, includes the words “shall not be infringed.” The heart of the sentence is the independent clause that starts with “the right of the people.” Speaking grammatically, the meaning of “militia” is dependent on “the people.”

      If the framers had thought this sentence would be misconstrued by ordinary Americans, they would have added a few sentences. The second amendment would have looked more like the the 5th or 6th and less like the 3rd or 8th.

  6. I don’t mind dick-less quoting from a fictional character AS LONG AS the quote makes sense and/or has a logical basis.

    This quote meets neither criteria.

    Go back to the couch and have a cup of cocoa, Mr. Burks.

  7. “The words ‘regulated’ and ‘militia’ are in the first sentence. I don’t think the framers were thinking of three guys in a Dodge Durango.”

    So are the words ‘shall not be infringed.’ The whole thing is one sentence, dumbass.

    But thanks for playing!

  8. It’s really simple:

    http://www.constitution.org/cons/wellregu.htm
    The above link provides what “well regulated” meant in the late 1700s.

    “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.”
    — George Mason, in Debates in Virginia Convention on Ratification of the Constitution, Elliot, Vol. 3, June 16, 1788

    Link here at “George Mason University”
    http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/wew/quotes/arms.html

    It was obvious that the founders wanted the “whole people” to be armed and a part of the “militia.” It is also obvious that the words “well regulated” meant something in “proper working order.” In other words – something functional that worked. Obvious if the people had no ammunition, didn’t know how to operate their firearm, or their firearm was non-functional, that, I would imagine, would constitute something that was not in proper working order, or “well regulated.”

    • This. This. THIS.

      FACTS people, they’re only a google-search away. If you can’t be bothered to do even that, we have nothing to talk about.

    • They’re not interested. Gun grabbers are only interested in their own (fictional) interpretation of what the founders intended. Mentioning actual primary sources only gets you blank stares.

    • Hamilton, in an argument against depending on the militia, noted that in order to truly have a well-regulated the economy would be put at risk because it would require all the people to put aside their occupations on a regular basis to engage in serious training. So even a source not so friendly to the idea of no standing armies we get the definite indication that the militia is the entire people.

  9. “The words are in it!”

    And what idea do they convey given the grammar and syntax? Hint: there is no requirement to be in the militia first.

  10. Actually the Founders were thinking of “three guys in a Dodge Durango”, that is why they said shall not be infringed and meant it.

    • Pretty much exactly what I was going to say.

      Three guys in a farm wagon

      Three guys on three mustangs

      Three guys in a Model T

      Three guys in a Mustang

      Three guys in an old farm Durango

  11. The author also claims the the SIG MCX is designed to “quietly take out targets from 300 yards away.” “Quietly”? Apparently, he thinks the thingy on the end of the gun in the picture is a silencer.

  12. These fools should actually do some research. The authors, James Madison and George Mason, made it very clear in their writings just what was intended. The 2nd was reviewed and edited several times before the final version was accepted. Further, both men were called upon to appear before committees and the several legislatures to explain the intent and purpose of the 2nd, and to respond to questions. In the end, the 2nd was ratified as it is along with the rest of the Constitution. Evidence of this progression is found in surviving committee minutes, legislative records of the several states, personal journals, letters, etc., as well as within the Federalist Papers.

    This is not to say that there was 100% approval, as evidenced by the Anti-Federalist Papers collection. The majority of disapproval had to do with the difference between federal and state powers, not the enumerated rights of the people.

    Still, there was overall support and the Constitution, including the 2nd, ratified as the law of the land.

    Anti-gun proponents, as well as gun control proponents have it all right in front of them. There should be nothing to question. Further, the SCOTUS duty is to determine if a law is constitutional or not, not to interpret what the Founders intended.

    As long as we have conservative control of the Executive and Legislative branches, the first order of business is a return to the Constitution, the appointment of a solid replacement for Justice Scalia, as well as any replacements for Ginsberg, etc.

    • It really annoys antis when I point out that a version which would have required everyone to be armed was proposed, and failed not because of any objections to people being armed but for the simple reason that no one could picture Americans not wanting to all be armed.

  13. I’ll never understand the “debate” regarding the “meaning” of the second amendment. It seems perfectly clear and well written to me.

    You mob…all of you…when your country needs you, answer the call, and be armed to the teeth when you do so, for YOU are the militia. To that end, your country shall not infringe on your right to be so armed.

    The founding fathers didn’t have AR-15’s in mind? Like hell… That’s EXACTLY what they had in mind.

  14. A while back someone on here changed some words around to make the 2A about breakfast. It was done as a tool for showing how basic English and sentence structure work in terms of nouns and those things that modify them. It was quite effective.

    As I recall it came down to the right to bacon and eggs and whether or not people had the right to such a thing or whether it was breakfast that had such a right.

    Sorry, there is 0 way to back up the concept that “the militia” is a state entity and only it has the right to get guns. The list of reasons this idea is completely fucking retarded is fairly long too. There’s English, logic, statements by the folks who wrote it etc. The original story (that this one is about) is just a retard retarding.

    • Maybe this one?
      “A well balanced breakfast being necessary to the start of a healthy day, the right of the people to keep and eat food shall not be infringed.”

      I kinda prefer this one though:
      “A well educated electorate, being necessary to self-governance in a Free State, the right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed.”

      (I claim no credit for either, and may have incorrectly recalled them or punctuated- on mobile, so forgive me)

  15. From Article I, Section VIII:

    11. To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

    What are Letters of Marque and Reprisal? They’re authorization for privately owned warships to attack and capture ships on behalf of the United States. In other words, legalized piracy. If the Founders were okay with people owning ships armed with cannons, then why would private ownership of handguns and rifles concern them?

  16. The PMR-30 was the top selling handgun of 2015 according to GunBroker? I can’t believe even GunBroker would pass that off as fact.

  17. Seriously a PMR 30 as a common defense gun. I happen to own one of the 12 that were actually produced. When it came to my gun range some ridiculous time from when I ordered it I had totally forgot about it. Please let me know where they are getting U.S A. made WMR cause I can’t find any and they don’t recommend the non USA stuff. I actually really like it, though I can’t shoot it as much as I would like.

  18. What a jack wagon! What is a militia? By Thomas Jefferson’s own account a militia is made up of the people, so yes the three guys in a Durango is a militia. The context of “well regulated” of the time meant in good working order so when talking about a well regulated militia simply meant organized, supplied with working fire arms and ammo. The framers also puts into very clear terms, that if Congress had the authority to regulate they would say “and Congress shall have the authority to regulate. The fact the Bill of Rights is there to reign in and regulate the powers of government and an affirmation of the rights of the people yet the “progressives” love to see it the other way around is why I call them regressives not progressives.

  19. Yes, the words “regulated” and “militia” are included in the first sentence. However the second sentence specifically states (try that one five times fast) that the right of the *people* to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. It doesn’t say that only the militia is protected, it clearly says the people.

  20. At least the writer of the fictional piece did quote the Second Amendment correctly with only one comma.
    One thing that is known. When the Senate was drafting the amendment that became the fourth amendment to be submitted to the states only limited records of speakers in the Senate were kept.
    There was a motion made to insert the words FOR THE COMMON DEFENSE between the words arms and shall.
    That motion was recorded and rejected by the Senate in September 1789.
    When the slate of amendment was ratified by the States, the first two amendments were not ratified. So the third enumerated amendment became the First and the fourth became our Second Amendment.
    The first clause could be deleted without changing the remaining clause since it stands as a complete sentence.
    “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” is a complete sentence.
    “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state” is not a sentence and cannot stand alone.
    “To bear arms” is easy to understand. It means carry and use arms. “To keep” is not so easy to understand.
    Keeping arms means that the citizen could keep, own and maintain control of arms. Arms includes ammunition, as well as gunpowder, swords, knives and other supplies needed for a militia.
    The First Congress did pass a law describing in detail what constituted “well regulated” when they described the caliber of weapons and the quantity of ammunition each person was required to keep.

  21. There is no controversy.

    At the moment, we’re getting a chattery pseuro-“controversy” because of the current administration’s muilti-year governance-by-media(*) run after losing on the issue repeatedly with legislation and fiat. When a legislative majority is taken away, to empower opposition to a particular agenda, some folks would take the hint. Apparently not for our current Maximum Leader, his legislative collaborators, or agenda advocates and operatives or the press (but, I repeat myself.) (*)The media part of “governance-by-media” is sometimes called “propaganda”, particularly when combined with a “visionary” leader claiming to know the will of the people and destiny of the nation — verdict of history, even — better than the people themselves.

    There is no controversy.

    — Ban guns all you want from places you own and control.

    There’s only an issue at all because the anti’s want to impose their preference on the rest of us. Some of us are used to other folks doing what seems to us to be stupid stuff. I choose to believe that’s because we’re smarter. The solutions to that remain the same:

    — If there’s disagreement about the meaning, fix the language. If you can’t get the language “fixed” that’s maybe because there’s not enough agreement with your position (or chosen language.) Sorry / not sorry. Other people exist.

    — If the restriction itself is obsolete, repeal it. See above.

    This isn’t a controversy. There is no issue here. Suck it up, buttercups. It’s like some people are keeping the issue alive for benefit, like having the issue is advantageous for them. One word for this is “agitprop”, or as our current President said “Gettin people all wee-wee’ed up.” As it ever was.

  22. A lot is made of the two parts of the Second Amendment, with arguments that they are to be considered separately and that the second part applies (or originally applied) ONLY to the militia. The difference is actually meaningless. The Second Amendment became a part of the US Constitution on December 15, 1791, with ratification of the “Bill of Rights.”

    To put the “militia argument” in context, “The Militia Act of 1792, Passed May 8, 1792, providing federal standards for the organization of the Militia.” (Actual full title of the original Act) says, “that each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia”

    Essentially the original intent of the reference to “Militia” is unnecessary in defining that just about everyone is entitled to keep and bare arms without infringement. In the contemporary understanding of the writers of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the legislators serving in Congress, every citizen that anyone could imagine would want or need to have a firearm was – by law – a member of the militia. The “Militia Act” has been changed, amended, over the years. But the law still includes most everyone in the “Militia.”

    The current law can be found in US Code 10 s311 – – “(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
    (b) The classes of the militia are—
    (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
    (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.”

    Further, the courts have determined that ANYONE, regardless of age (minors under 16 are not accepted and older minors are required to have parental permission) or gender may volunteer to serve in the unorganized militia (unless serving on active duty in the armed forces or specifically barred by a court having appropriate jurisdiction) and that no member or potential member of the unorganized militia is required to register or declare their intent to volunteer prior to the militia being called to serve.

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