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A well-regulated militia and our unregulated populace

The possession of a firearm for the protection of one’s property, for supplying food for one’s family, for putting down suffering animals and for recreation are all in keeping with the nation’s history and rights. Most Americans think this is an important right to preserve.

That being said, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been misunderstood. It specifically states: “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.”

This version, known as the “one comma” version, was the one ratified by the states and held today in the Library of Congress. Since its original drafting, the amendment has been reinterpreted constantly, to mean what each person wants it to mean.

The U.S. Supreme Court just reinterpreted the Second Amendment a few years back (in Heller v. District of Columbia [2008] and in McDonald v. Chicago [2010]), as certainly will future courts. This same Supreme Court, in the “Citizens United” decision, pronounced that corporations are, for all intents and purposes, people.

All things being equal here, if a collective entity can be one person, can one “person” be a “militia?” If your answer is yes, then you must also agree that this tiny “militia of one” must be “well-regulated.”

Many people who enjoy their right to possess firearms see any limitations on their right to own said guns as unconstitutional. A number of sheriffs and legislative leaders in the country have already stated that if President Obama passes an anti-assault rifle law, they will not defend it.

Congressional Tea Partiers Trey Radel (R-Fla.) and Steve Stockman (R-Texas) are pushing for Obama’s impeachment just for bringing up a ban on specific military-type arms.

More questions spring to mind:

n How destructive does a firearm have to be before it is regarded as a “weapon of mass destruction,” the reason we went to war against Iraq?

n How many innocent humans make up a mass?

n How many guns can one individual use, and carry, at one time?

Back in the day, there did exist a “well-regulated militia” and citizens expected the community’s store of weapons to be stored not in the home, but in an armory — a “well-regulated” one.

Many groups of late have chosen to ignore the “well-regulated militia” part of the Second Amendment, including Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, favoring instead the unregulated “people.” All this recent gun violence begs the question: what constitutes a “militia” in our modern era?

And what, if not Sandy Hook, will it take for us to understand that regulation is not antithetical to the Second Amendment?

Skip Buhler lives in Forest Grove.



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