Friday, May 12, 2023

Wait, what did you say about ‘well-regulated’?

     Traditionally, columnists ran letters from readers as a way to take the day off. You never see those anymore — anyone lucky enough to still have a newspaper column is also smart enough to write it themselves.
     However. This reader makes an excellent point and, rather than just take his suggestion and repackage it as a genius divination of my own, I thought it made more sense for me to just let him say it. The only edits are where he starts citing case law, which I thought was going into the weeds for the average reader.
     Our current irresponsible, almost insane gun situation is not part of the fabric of this country, but a recent interpretation of those who hate the idea of government and authority. They shout louder, but that doesn’t mean softer, more sensible voices can’t also have their say:

Mr. Steinberg:
     I am a digital subscriber to the Sun-Times and read your column regularly. Since I read your thoughts, I decided to share a thought I had about the right to bear arms with you.
     As I am sure you are aware the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution 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.
     People who cite the Second Amendment ignore the first part that refers to a well-regulated Militia. The Amendment should be interpreted in context. This means that the right to bear arms is linked to a well-regulated Militia. Just as the state can regulate the practice of medicine it can regulate the militia, or as it is now constituted, the National Guard.
     A person seeking to obtain a weapon, especially a weapon such as an AR-15, should be registered for possible call-up and service in the National Guard. This would allow tracking of these individuals and subject them to being regulated by the authorities. Also, as a potential member of the National Guard they could be subject to a medical examination, which would include a mental health examination. If they fail the physical or mental health portion of the medical examination, they would not be eligible to be a member of the National Guard. This would take them outside the context of the Second Amendment.
     While the Second Amendment states that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed it does not define what an infringement would be. The wording of this amendment also contrasts with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution that states that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
     Even though “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech,” a person is not allowed to yell “fire” in a theatre.

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  1. I agree that the well regulated militia part is ignored by many engaged in this debate . I'm not sure that the national guard is meant to constitute the sole militia allowed to exist in our country.

    There are many laws in our country prohibiting the improper use of firearms. More laws might help, less guns might help, restricting who can own a firearm legally might run contrary to the second amendment. I am not a constitutional scholar

  2. Good idea, but I think the 2nd Amendment must be repealed before any progress can be made. Gun control has to be enacted at the federal level. If we leave it to individual states, the pipeline of guns flowing from red states to cities will stay active. We're up against a violent, nihilistic cult. It won't be easy.

    1. Good luck on that. A campaign to repeal one of the Bill of Rights, no matter how badly it has been interpreted, is not a politically attractive position.

  3. Please read Article X of the 1970 Illinois Constitution.
    It states that everyone [meaning adults], is a member of the State Militia.
    Now I've read that the Legislature in its infinite wisdom [if you know how the Illinois Legislature works or more accurately, doesn't work, you know that's sarcasm BTW] has passed a law limiting it to those under the age of 59, which lets this old guy off.
    But seriously, if I was a member when the Constitution was passed in 1970, when I turn 21, why didn't the state issue me a rifle & send me for training?
    Otherwise, that section of the state constitution makes absolutely no sense whatsoever & maybe some lawyer reading this can explain why that bizarreness was even put in the Constitution?

    1. Well, I don't know that being in the militia entitles you to a free gun, but there would certainly be an argument saying that your possession of a gun can be "well-regulated". Very interesting idea.

  4. Wild and Wooly ideas indeed! However, the rightists by clever manipulation of judicial appointments have managed to rid the issue of all ratiocination -- bearing arms is a constitutional right; end of discussion. Abortion almost had that status; gone forever I'm sure.


  5. The utter disregard for the "well regulated militia" portion of the 2nd Amendment is the great tragedy of America. The leading cause of death of children in America is gun violence. The solution to this outrage is right there in the Amendment. The political Right has become a death cut and they are forcing us all into their mad cult.

    1. The claim that gun violence is the leading cause of death among children is kind of a stretch since it includes 18 and 19 year olds, whom would not be regarded by most people as “children”. In any case, I’ve long considered the laxity with which we treat the flouting of traffic laws to be more death cultish than our attitudes about guns; 35,000 or so deaths (and rising each year, thanks mostly to our ever burgeoning addiction to phone use, another outrage that we’ll all simply bury our heads in the sand about) per year attributable to acceptance of this particular entitlement, but as long as you’re not driving drunk, you’re pretty much free to put as many people as you like at risk without expecting anything more than a ticket. I never worry much about getting shot to death (of course, it COULD happen), but I do live in constant fear of being obliterated on the highway by one of the myriad reckless, careless, distracted and self centered motorists that I have to share the roads with.

    2. I get what you’re trying to say, but cars have a purpose that is necessary to our functioning society. People use them to go to work, pick up their children, go visit relatives. Guns serve none of those functions - they are machines with one purpose, to harm and or destroy its subject, whether that is a target at a shooting range or an intruder at their homes. The protection issue is overplayed and rare, while people use cars to go to work every day.

    3. I was going to make a similar comment to the May 14 reply Saturday, but didn't bother to. Yours is certainly more succinct and better worded, so it's just as well. Hear! Hear!

  6. Admirable sentiment, which, given the most corrupt Supreme Court in the history of this country, will likely remain so well into the future.

    Alan - longtime reader, occasional commenter


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