- - Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Many in the United States today, including former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, either greatly misunderstand or deliberately misinterpret the meaning of the words “a well-regulated militia” in the Second Amendment (“Retired justice proposes changes to Constitution,” Web, April 22). For many in our time it is inconceivable to think of anything being well-regulated without a law mandating the regulation and a bureaucracy to conduct it.

In the 18th century, the word “regulated” did not at all require government involvement. The actions of the colonists made it plain that a well-regulated militia was well-rehearsed and well-drilled — without the control of government.

It is interesting to note that in that time, as today, the city people were disarmed first. Gen. Thomas Gage had earlier registered firearms in Boston, and shortly thereafter confiscated what he had just registered. He did it in the name of gun control. Throughout history, the names of tyrants change, but their methods remain the same.

The words of the Founding Fathers reflected the actions they took during the War of Independence. Their view of government was one of deep suspicion. Thomas Jefferson said, “When the people fear the government there is tyranny” and “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms, is as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

The Second Amendment does not pertain to national security, which is for the military.

The Militia Act of 1792 has two important lessons for understanding the meaning of the militia. First, the law required everyone covered by the act to have a military rifle and ammunition. Second, military firearms were to be in people’s homes, not in armories. Guns are to be in the hands of as many Americans as want them precisely because they make would-be tyrants (some politicians and other anti-gun types) nervous.

JOHN PETERSON

Burke

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