I was going to reserve my first few posts to discuss the problems that exist today and why those problems exist, today. However, I got into a discussion with both a far left and far right person on the issue of gun control in America. With our current Supreme Court, owning weapons is generally seen as being a civil right that is guaranteed by the Second Amendment's right to bear arms clause:
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.
Court cases in recent years has seemed to reaffirm the idea that citizens can own weapons including assault rifles, shotguns, hunting rifles and handguns. Nevertheless, gun control has become an extremely politicized issue. On the one hand, Democrats often argue that guns are inherently dangerous, can lead to deaths that would have otherwise not happened, and are all around not good for society. They often argue that the Second Amendment is reserved only for "a well regulated Militia." On the other, Republicans stress what they see as a guaranteed civil right that allows for self defense and more. Much like the issue of gay rights, abortion, and other rights issues, gun control has thus come to be extremely politicized.
With these basic facts established, what would the best approach to take regarding gun control? To start, I'd like to examine the Amendment itself and offer my views on it. The first part is not disputed in that a well-regulated militia is a state right, as seen with national guards within all 50 states. The issue is then "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." When separating this statement out, I don't think anyone can argue the fact that it seems to say that keeping and bearing arms is the right of the people. That this right shall not be infringed by the government.
Yet people then stress the need to take the entire statement as a whole, and from there interpretations can be made that this right is for the people within the militias; that, however, puts forth another problem. At the founding of the country, each state was able to form its own militia; indeed, this fact had a large influence on the outcome of the American Revolution. After the Articles of Confederation failed and the Constitution was enacted, these militias still stayed in effect. Indeed, the national army was still relatively small and states retained lots of power in comparison to the federal government. In fact, if you were ask people of this time where they were from, they'd often say from Virginia or New York, and not the United States. People identified with their states first and foremost and their country second. This allegiance to the state made it so a well regulated militia would be loyal to that state, and there were circumstances when this militia came to be willing to defend state policies... Toledo Strip anyone?
So basically, it wasn't until after the Civil War (which was more about states' rights than anything in my opinion) that people began identifying themselves as American and that the American government began imposing its will onto the states. Without a doubt, the ability of the states to minimize the oversight of the federal government was fast diminishing at this time. Move ahead 150 years later and lets examine the "militias" of each state. These National Guards receive vast federal funding, equipment provided by the federal government, and due to the influence by the federal government, these national guards can be used in foreign wars. Servicemen that enlist within these well-regulated militias take an oath of enlistment with those joining the federal government. They attend the same training as the others, and with our current operations, they deploy just the same as servicemen for the federal government.
In my opinion, these well-regulated militias are still being maintained by the state and providing security for that state, but not in the same matter that they once were. As the term National Guard implies, their job isn't supposed to be getting involved in federal affairs, but rather guarding the nation. Again, though, the influence of the federal government has allowed for this to happen. Yet, I'd venture to say that the founders of the nation would not have intended for the present circumstances to occur. If using both clauses of the Second Amendment with this history, then, I think it is clear that only maintaining National Guards are not enough. Even if it is the people in militias who are supposed to have the right to bear arms in order to provide for security of the state, the oversight of the federal government is so vast that they seem to be able to dictate what those people though. Due to this, I tend to side with the idea that the right to bear arms is supposed to be reserved for the people in not just the militias, but in regular homes.
Too Long; Didn't Read:
With this, I've made a case that while the second amendment's language is disputed, the right to bear arms must be preserved for ordinary citizens. By using history and examining present circumstances, it seems clear that the idea of what constitutes a well-regulated militias has changed, and because of that, the right to bear arms must extend to the people. In my next post, I will be examining just what this means in my mind and as to why I think it is needed.