Reader Sam I Am writes:
If people who read and contribute commentary to TTAG are representative of gun owners who are “pro-2A”, then the battle cry “shall not be infringed” pretty much starts and ends any discussion of “gun rights”. That means 2A supporters are as fossilized in their thinking as opponents of private gun ownership.
Where exactly does that get us? National reciprocity, the castle doctrine, shall-issue, Heller, McDonald…none of this gets us anywhere near the Second Amendment absolutism we says we want. The only possible path toward absolute gun rights would be to create a new nation and a new government.
But we don’t see anything emerging like the Sons of Liberty or other organized group of radicals to lead us to a new nation and aren’t likely to any time soon.
One of the most frequent lines of attack taken by opponents of civilian firearm ownership is to pound the argument that the Second Amendment restricts the keeping and bearing of arms to only those who are members of “the militia.” Now, the Constitution fairly well describes who are conscripted members of “the militia”. I say “conscripted” because the constitution allows for no refusal to be a member of the militia. Isn’t that interesting?
To understand “the militia” one must understand the mindset of the Founders, and the social constructs of the late 1700s. But doing that takes more brain work than slinging insults on a blog. Understanding the Founders’ intent requires an understanding of the Constitution that many here ignore, dislike, or find irrelevant. That way lies madness.
So we live in a era where the Constitution is no longer a protection of the states (and “the people”) from the central government. Instead, it’s evolved into a bludgeon used to coerce states into lining up with and acquiesing to federal power. It wasn’t always thus. Think about that for a moment…I’ll wait.
When the Constitution was ratified, states considered themselves sovereign, superior to the federal government. After all, it was the soveriegn states that ceded limited powers to the federal government, not the other way around.
Under the compact of states (the US Constitution), the states jealously guarded their perogatives regarding laws and regulations within the state. The states did not conform all of their individual constitutions to the federal Constitution. Thus, states decided upon matters that today would make your head spin at the degree of individualism they exercised.
That included the maintenance of militias under state control, unless called up to support the federal government (including enforcing the laws of the nation…posse comitatus, anyone?). The states retained the right to control ownership and use of firearms within state borders.
Today, listening to the nattering nabobs of negativism regarding the individual right of the people to keep and bear firearms, the term “militia” is used as proof that an individual right doesn’t exist. They believe the Supreme Court ruling otherwise was erroneous on numerous grounds, waiting only to be overturned by a later case. “The militia!” “The militia!”
Are we beginning to see a possible path forward, here? What if, rather than try to overpower our opponents regarding whether the Second Amendment applies only to “the militia,”, we agree with them? What if we begin to agitate within the states for the creation of militias. Militias that include every person capable of firing a gun. Militias that are organized on paper such that they can be used where the National Guard presently intervenes.
The opponents of private gun ownership want us to believe that state militias no longer exist, and we don’t actually debate that point very well. One way to prove militias are still relevant is to reconstitute them as recognizable entities.
Maybe we need to seriously discuss using “the militia” argument from a pro-gun rights perspective. Let the anti-gun crowd spend their political capital arguing that state militias, which they say are authorized by the Second Amendment to possess firearms, are a danger because…guns.”