. . . to the reading of the Second Amendment . . .
The headline in the Bucks County (PA) Courier Times says that we should apply the spirit of the militia clause to the Second Amendment. I see nothing wrong with the headline, but take issue with the writer's assertions.
He claims, "In all the years I have been debating and discussing gun control, I have never heard the gun rights advocates refer to the first clause." That sort of statement is akin to my saying, "I have never heard it thunder in Montana." Well, I haven't, but that doesn't mean it hasn't.
Then he goes on to state the logical fallacies that
"we can't exclude children from bearing arms" and"parents ought to send their youngsters to school armed".
The writer states that he is not a constitutional scholar and later states "we must find legislators with the courage and brains to enact gun laws in the spirit of the militia clause".
If he were really interested in the spirit of the militia clause, it would serve him well to check the writings of the founders in regards to the Second Amendment. Reams have been written, but here is a small sampling from Tenche Coxe, (at 363)
The power of the sword, say the minority of Pennsylvania, is in the hands of Congress. My friends and countrymen, it is not so, for THE POWERS OF THE SWORD ARE IN THE HANDS OF THE YEOMANRY OF AMERICA FROM SIXTEEN TO SIXTY. The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible.
Who are the militia? are they not ourselves. Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American. What clause in the state or federal constitution hath given away that important right.... The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the foederal (sic) or state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people. (emphasis added)
Were he to do some honest research on the subject, he might find the case of United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939), in which the Supreme Court held that Only weapons that have a reasonable relationship to the effectiveness of a well-regulated militia under the Second Amendment are free from government regulation.
The writer says that "if someone wants to buy a weapon that fires dozens of rounds per minute along with 600 rounds of ammunition, he should be required to state a reason." Mr. Coxe already answered that two centuries ago; the reason is that it is the birthright of an American.
He finally invokes other countries where people enjoy freedom without being armed to the teeth. That did not work out too well for France eighty years ago - while at the same time Americans were sending their private small arms to England for homeland defense.
Yes, lets apply the true spirit of the militia clause! It supports, rather than negates, the individual right to keep and bear arms.
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