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.

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38 Responses to FNS-9 Contest Entry: What Part of ‘Citizen Militia’ Don’t You Understand?

  1. Great write up, except for this:

    ” the right to arms is ordained by our Constitution.”

    The Constitution ordains nothing, the Constitution protects rights already ordained by our creator.

    • Yep!

      It was simply codified, in exacting terms, in the Bill of Rights.

      I was asked, or more-over told refently by a gun-grabber that God did not give us that Right.

      It is a matter of choice and free will, all things given, through unconditional love, by our Creator.

      Who then is our subservient civil servants to infringe on that lovingly given ability, that of the exercising of free will, to defense of the Nation, or our persons, as a Gift there-to?

      • More universally put:

        The right to keep and bear arms is ordained by our HUMANITY.

        Our natural-born right to defend ourselves individually and collectively is part of our humanity.

        I’ll leave it to the theists and atheists to debate the origin of our species.

        What is not up for debate are the rights that come with being human.

        -ted

        • The rights actually come for all life. Dogs can bite, cats can scratch, big cats can rip you apart, scorpions sting, puffer fish… you get the idea. It is the nature of nature to want to survive by any means possible/necessary.

    • I advise everyone go out and purchase a copy of “Thirteen Words”, a small, extremely insightful and more importantly well researched book by Edwin Viera Jr., on the purpose, history and the present need for the proper understanding of what THE MILITIA is, and its real purpose, including its revitalization. It is the most concise, brilliant, full explanation of what our genius founders had in mind when they created the Second Amendment, which includes both “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” as well as “A well regulated militia, being NECESSARY for a FREE state. Buy/borrow the book, learn its contents and spread the word.

      The Second Amendment, when properly understood, makes it abundantly clear to the sensible that any politician or bureaucrat or citizen for that matter, who does anything to limit firearms, ammunition and any accoutrements that would be needful for the militia of the several states to perform their three constitutionally mandated functions, are guilty of nothing less than TREASON.

  2. Well thought out. I like the approach that being armed is a necessary prerequisite.

    Just a small quibble, though. The 2nd amendment does not grant any rights. It merely acknowledges that the right exists and documents that the government is specifically enjoined from restricting this particular right.

    • To join the qibblethon:

      The amendments didn’t create rights or guarantee rights, they specifically withheld certain powers from the federal government.

      Certain powers and rights are inherent in human beings. We delegated some of those powers to an incorporate entity–the states. Those states further delegated some of that power to the federal government.

      All states wanted to ensure that this new entity would only do certain things. Some states thought the Constitution itself would be cool because it pretty clearly said the federal government could only have the powers described therein.

      Other states thought that was uncool, and insisted that we specifically list the things the federal government can’t do–powers it specifically does not have.

      In effect, those amendments act to guarantee our rights but I think the distinction is important.

      • Governor Florio of New Jersey once made a statement that “The State gives people rights . . .”.
        He had the good sense to correct himself and admit that rights are inherent, and the State can only guarantee and protect them, not grant them.

  3. Yeah… it’s pretty obvious. Just try explaining it to someone incabable of logical thought.

    Another point is that the founders were highly suspicious toward the idea of a “standing army”… hence why they provided that the “militia” be armed.

  4. Good article, I’d like to see more articles on the subject…

    “Militia” has become a four-letter word, with even People of the Gun shying away from it. We’ve all been fed a vision of neo-nazis in suspenders and t-shirts organizing to kill “those people” as the stereotype for both the average member of a militia and militias on the whole.

    It’s a scary lie that far too many buy into, and a frightening number of 2A defenders believe or afraid of being guilty by association with.

  5. This question has always rendered silent those who like to claim that “militia” equals “army”:

    “When the militia was formed to fight the British, where did the those who made up the militia (civilians) get their firearms?”.

    Works every time.

  6. If you are looking for a way to take on those who focus on the first part of the 2nd Amendment, you might want to point out what ‘well regulated’ meant at the time. It did not mean ‘regulated’ in the sense that we create regulations relating to it. This is self evident since the founders never created any regulations relating to the second amendment. Since they say it is necessary to the security of a free state, then you would think they would sit down and write regulations around guns the very next day – but they didn’t. No, ‘well regulated’ in this case means – adept at the application of the skill. In other words, you must be a good shot in order to be that citizen that is ‘necessary to the security of a free state’. Most online dictionaries contain this definition and note that it tends to be an older usage. If that is not enough, there are writings from the time that clearly use the term in this way. It has just taken time and ignorance for Americans to forget the truth.

    • This might be of interest to you re the use of “well regulated”.

      From: Brian T. Halonen
      The following are taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, and bracket in time the writing of the 2nd amendment:
      1709: “If a liberal Education has formed in us well-regulated Appetites and worthy Inclinations.”
      1714: “The practice of all well-regulated courts of justice in the world.”
      1812: “The equation of time … is the adjustment of the difference of time as shown by a well-regulated clock and a true sun dial.”
      1848: “A remissness for which I am sure every well-regulated person will blame the Mayor.”
      1862: “It appeared to her well-regulated mind, like a clandestine proceeding.”
      1894: “The newspaper, a never wanting adjunct to every well-regulated American embryo city.”
      The phrase “well-regulated” was in common use long before 1789, and remained so for a century thereafter. It referred to the property of something being in proper working order. Something that was well-regulated was calibrated correctly, functioning as expected. Establishing government oversight of the people’s arms was not only not the intent in using the phrase in the 2nd amendment, it was precisely to render the government powerless to do so that the founders wrote it.

  7. If “arms” ie firearms, swords, big knives, etc were intended to be hypothetically barred from all except a federal army and/or militia then why weren’t other private citizens (non militia and non army members) back in the late 1700s and arms makers closed down? The Founders were alive and in positions of political leadership back then and there would not be an issue such as in modern times with the loonie-toons trying to re-write history.

  8. Citizen, citizen, citizen. Where does it state that the Bill of Rights is only for citizens, please?

    I believe the phrase is, “the people.”

    I don’t have a problem with your argument, Michael B, but I don’t agree that the Bill of Rights applies only to “citizens.” It clearly states, “the people.”

    Which is why our Founding Fathers were considered revolutionary.

    • Can you cite any contemporary source to show that the Founding Fathers sought to protect the rights of non-citizens? Or that their contemporaries knew of this intent, and that this is what caused the Founding Fathers to be considered revolutionary?

      • They could have phrased the second amendment as “[T]he rights of the citizens to keep and bear arms…” but they used “the people” quite consistently.

        Do you think non-citizens are non-people? I’m inclined to let the Bill of Rights inform our foreign policy, so that all of the people might enjoy the liberties we may take for granted.

      • SCOTUS has made at least one observation on “people” and who is included in the term.

        United States v. Ver­dugo-Urquidez, 494 U. S. 259, 265 (1990):

        “‘[T]he people’ seems to have been a term of art employed in select parts of the Constitution. . . . [Its
        uses] sugges[t] that ‘the people’ protected by the Fourth Amendment, and by the First and Second Amendments, and to whom rights and powers are reserved in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, refers to a class of persons who are part of a national community or who have otherwise developed sufficient connection with this country to be considered part of that community.”

  9. “The Founding Fathers knew that, and put upon its citizens the responsibility to preserve freedom if, or when, the government can’t.”

    To confirm that, take a look at the Declaration of Independence – you know, the revolutionary document that was written by the same folks who wrote the Constitution?

    There are many rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, but only one DUTY: “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.”

    When you read the 2nd Amendment, read it in the context of that singular duty.

  10. “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.” — Michael B.

    And that is why the gun grabbers want “gun control”: they want to eliminate any chance of a militia and guarantee that the State is supreme.

    As with everything else that the gun grabbers argue, they contradict themselves. Gun grabbers claim that armed citizens are no match for our police and modern military (is there any difference?); since armed citizens have no hope of prevailing against our police and modern military those citizens cannot claim any right to arms for the “futile” purpose of preserving liberty. And yet those same gun grabbers want to disarm civilians because they know armed citizens could overthrow the police or military.

    I laugh at the civilian disarmament advocates. If our modern military can promptly squash a citizen uprising with A-10 Warthogs and Apache helicopters, then said citizen uprising represents no threat whatsoever. So why all the monumental effort to disarm citizens that are so impotent?

    • I suspect there is another thing that really worries the statist civilian disarmament types like Bloomberg, Feinstein, Pelosi, Obama et al:

      The “modern military” they expect to squash any civilian uprising in defense of liberty does not come from the ranks of the elitist “gummint knows best” Ivy Leaguers. The guys on the sharp end of the military – the small field-level units – come from heartland America, and that is where their families and friends live. Wonder what % of the military voted for the Anointed One?

      • I agree but that’s why they are going after the military too. I’ve been in multiple statuses since 1994 and the deliberate attack on conservative military culture is evident.

        That is he real upshot of gays in the military and women in combat. No, neither of those things is a direct assault on conservative values but the social programming used to cram the policies and accompanying sentiment down the throats of dissenters is what has the desired effect.

        More palpably is the crap that they teach us at senior leadership schools. They send you to staff college and you think you are going to learn military strategy and planning. Instead it’s 18 months of diversibable.

        The socialists know that the military is the last bastion of conservatism in the government and they are gutting it.

    • Before you laugh at spontaneous uprisings, trace the success of guerilla wars in the 20th century. I think the lack of modern weaponry has not deterred the masses from victory.

  11. If the 2nd Amendment is “interpreted”, perhaps more accurately “perverted”, as protecting the right of the “Militia” to bear arms, I find that interpretation totally lacking in justification.
    That view ignores the unquestionable language of the 2nd Amendment that it is “the right of the PEOPLE to keep and bear arms”, and not that of the “Militia” to do so. Those same “people” have several other individual rights listed and guaranteed in the other Amendments in the Bill of Rights, with the reiteration of the phrase “the right of the people”.
    The militia is a sub-set of the people — originally free, White, able-bodied males within an age range, excluding certain government officers. If the exclusion of certain officers of the government from the militia simultaneously excluded them from the right to keep and bear arms, the Founders would be excluding themselves from the guarantee of the 2nd A. — not very likely to be their intent.
    Aside from contradicting that clear statement of “the right of the people” in the 2nd Amendment, that “right of the militia” interpretation is as foolish as declaring “the army has the right to bear arms”.
    That arms-bearing of any army, including the specific type of army known as a militia, is implicit in the nature of such armed forces. Armies, including militias, bear arms. It is what they do. They are ARMED forces. They carry guns.
    The bearing of arms by any kind of army does not require an explicit statement, much less the enumeration and guarantee of a right to do so, by a Constitutional amendment in the Bill of Rights.
    A militia, like any other army, is armed. If you wish to disarm any kind of army, defeat them in battle.

    The only army I know that does NOT bear arms is The Salvation Army (lousy infantry, but a great brass section).
    In short, that ‘argument’ is not specious, not even frivolous, but at best vacuous.

    • To which I add:

      Robert Levy, chairman of the Cato Institute and former Georgetown University law professor, asked:
      “Suppose the Second Amendment said ‘A well-educated electorate being necessary for self-governance in a free state, the right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed.’ Is there anyone who would suggest that means only registered voters have a right to read?”

  12. If you really want to make gun-grabbers heads explode, point out that gun regulations are contrary to the idea of a well regulated militia. That, if anything, government should ensure citizens have access to the necessary firearms in order to be in compliance with the “well regulated militia” clause of the Second Amendment. (a full auto in every home!!)

  13. the best case of an armed militia, and the biggest justification for an ar-15 is probably Korea town during the LA riots. i use this example a lot in 2A arguments.

  14. I believe I can clear up the author’s doubts about “well-regulated”:

    “WELL-REGULATED”:

    The following are taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, and bracket in time the writing of the 2nd amendment:

    1709: “If a liberal Education has formed in us well-regulated Appetites and worthy Inclinations.”

    1714: “The practice of all well-regulated courts of justice in the world.”

    1812: “The equation of time … is the adjustment of the difference of time as shown by a well-regulated clock and a true sun dial.”

    1848: “A remissness for which I am sure every well-regulated person will blame the Mayor.”

    1862: “It appeared to her well-regulated mind, like a clandestine proceeding.”

    1894: “The newspaper, a never wanting adjunct to every well-regulated American embryo city.”
    The phrase “well-regulated” was in common use long before 1789, and remained so for a century thereafter. It referred to the property of something being in proper working order. Something that was well-regulated was calibrated correctly, functioning as expected.

    The framers were obviously clear about the meaning of “well-regulated”. The phrase has fallen out of general usage, but its foundation is all too clear here.

    • It doesn’t matter what the “well-regulated” part of the Amendment means. I’m not talking about that, nor am I taking issue with it.

      The ability bear and keep arms has to happen FIRST, before there’s a militia. Having or requiring a militia is inconsequential. The populace must be armed. That’s the seminal point, which half of the people missed.

  15. A proper functioning group of armed, non-professional, citizen soldiers,
    being a minimum requirement to guarantee the security of a free people
    from government tyranny, the right of the people to be locked ‘n’ loaded
    and ready to open up a #10 can of Whoop-ass, shalt not be fucked with!
    Un-infringing-believable!

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