What the Second Amendment Really Means
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 second amendment is a much debated topic these days. It has even come up in a recent speech from the White House. anti-firearms people believe America should outlaw guns, but freedom loving Americans believe they are essential.
Understanding what this amendment means is important to making a real informed decision about where you stand.
The first statement “a well regulated militia” is misunderstood and has been demonized by political opponents of citizen militias for decades. This statement refers to our responsibility to our community and to our country as citizens. That is why it is followed by the statement “being necessary to the security of a free state.”
A militia is meant to defend their community and country. This amendment is saying that every able bodied person in America is responsible for maintaining security and protecting freedom. Since we are all responsible, technically everybody who is able, belongs to their local militia.
Well regulated implies that as citizens we need to own a firearm, keep it in good repair and practice using it; in order to perform our duty we need to do our part and be ready. It also means that we need to follow our local leadership's direction if their is an emergency and we are called upon.
Leadership is the second part of well regulated. We don’t want armed angry mobs running around doing stupid things. Historically some local authorities like the town Sheriff or the mayor would call on citizens for help in times of emergency.
If you ever watched an old western where the sheriff formed a posse to help him go after the bank robbers that was an example of constitutional militia being used, but militia have been used for all kinds of emergencies in the past. They are simply ordinary citizens that are willing to step up and do their part when their community needs them.
There are a few instances when the country has needed to call upon citizen militia to handle some large scale emergencies. One instance was the Whiskey Rebellion in 1791. A group of violent protestors in Pennsylvania where causing trouble because they did not want to pay their taxes. George Washington asked for citizen militia to help him and they went and took care of the problem. They arrested around twenty people and resolved the issue peacefully.
Another example is the war of 1812. The British attacked the United States and tried to stop our trade. Unorganized civilian militia often did not do well against well trained British regulars and we suffered a number of defeats. America managed to turn things around and won the war but because disorganized civilian militias performed so poorly overall the government decided that we needed an organized military for national defense.
Militia fought in the Spanish American war in 1998 and won despite their lack of training and adequate equipment. It is federal law that everyone between 17 and 45 are considered part of the unorganized militia that can be called on in emergency.
10 USC §246. Militia: composition and classes
(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.
Lack of training and equipment has long been a debated shortcoming of disorganized militia, but many states still have laws on the books that give the governor and the sheriff the ability to call on citizens in case of emergency. Some states even have a state defense force which they use to aid and assist the National Guard in case of emergency. One of the most recent examples of this being used was when the Mississippi state guard assisted with hurricane relief.
Now for the second part, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” That statement is self explanatory. Our founding fathers thought citizen responsibility and the ability to defend themselves and their communities was very important. The second is the right to defend one’s life, liberty , family, community, state and country from anything or anyone that threatens. It is also our obligation. I believe everyone should own a gun and know how to use it. It isn't just about hunting, nor is it just about self defense. it is also about doing your civic duty.
(This article has been reedited due to some previous inaccurate statements. If you feel something said is in error please contact me and I will review your concerns.)