Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What is a 'Well Regulated Militia'

One of the most debated issues as they relate to the Second Amendment is what the founders intended by a "Well Regulated Militia." Before I attempt to answer that question I want to clarify one thing that is backed by history. The inalienable right to keep and bear arms as a check on a tyrannical governement has been in existence since long before our Constitution or Bill of Rights was ever written. Sir William Blackstone made this very clear in his 1768 "Commentaries on the Laws of England." Therefore when the founders were drafting our Constitution and the Bill of rights, they were working with a long historical tradition of English common law.

With that cleared up, the term "well regulated" had a much different meaning two centuries ago. Today's definitions of "controlled," "limited," and "restricted" did not apply. Instead it was defined as "having proper kit and provisions" or as it related to objects or machinery "properly maintained and kept in good repair." The Constitutional definition in need of the most explanation is that of "militia." This issue was debated considerably at the Constitutional convention in 1787-89 in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, it has been ignored by both sides today.

Founder George Mason wanted it to be explicitly spelled out that the militia was "of the whole people," therefore, a "general militia" affirmed in the Second Amendment and the 1792 Militia Act. Mason as well as his supporters feared the development of "special militias" such as the German Nazi SA and its successor, the SS. These "special militias" being nothing more than state-sanctioned paramilitary groups.

The only difference between these "special militias" and standing armies is that they were created solely to circumvent any laws forbidding the use of the military against the people, or in cases where their were no such laws, to avoid any unwillingness by the military to do so.

In the United States today we have many "special militias" - the Secret Service, FBI, DEA, IRS, the National Guard to name a few. All of which are unconstitutional if the plain meaning of the Second Amendment and the 1792 Militia Act is correct. George Mason's fears were not unwarranted either. These "special militias" have been responsible for numerous cruel and meaningless tragedies as well as spending countless sums of taxpayer dollars. They have spyed on, harrassed, and ruined the lives of anyone labeled an "enemy of the state," brutally broken up strikes, violently disrupted demonstrations, and killed innocent people from Kent State to Ruby Ridge and Waco.

The courts have finally started to revive the long overlooked but extremely important, "general vs special" militia difference. The 1990 Supreme Court case Perpich v. Department of Defense is a perfect example. The then Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich argued that the DoD had violated the Constitution when it ordered the Minnesota National Guard, which he claimed was the state militia, to duty outside the state without his consent or that of the state legislature.

The court ruled against Gov. Perpich, stating in its decision that the National Guard was an integral part of the US Army Reserve. It went on to support its ruling by specifying the difference between the "special militia," in this case the Minnesota National Guard, and the "general militia," or citizens with privately procured and owned arms, as expressed in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Additionally in 1990 the court, during another case affirmed the definition of "the people" as expressed in the Bill of Rights as not meaning a group but rather individual persons.

Keeping all of this in mind, a reasonable person can conclude that the definition of a "well regulated militia" set forth in the Second Amendment as was intended by our founders, is far from the definition gun control advocates like to use in their debates. The left does not want to acknowledge this fact because they have no interest in the right of individuals to protect their lives and liberty against a tyranical government. Rather they are more interested in giving the federal government a free pass to induldge in state-sponsored terror under the guise of "crime prevention," "anti-terrorism," and "national security."

The choice is yours. Militia as it was intended in our Constitution, or the statist militia that has started wars, destroyed countries, and taken countless lives. If you choose the statist militia, ask yourself, how many other inalienable rights are you willing to hand over to the federal government?

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