One American Citizen

The View Of An American Citizen
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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

2nd Amendment, Individual Right or Well Regulated Militia.

     Firearm ownership has been the biggest and one of the most debated topics for the last decade. One side believes that law abiding citizens should have unlimited access to firearms, the other latches on to the "well regulated" part of the text as the basis of there argument for gun control. First lets read the actual text from the constitution:

"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"

     So what does it actual mean when it pertains to the individual right to ownership. Most will go back to the federalist papers and the historical meaning and use of militias. I tend to focus more on the text in the constitution itself. We must remember when discussing this that the use of the term "well regulated" meant something different than it means today. In today's terms, we would take that to mean laws and rules by the government, but it actually means something else as well. At the time of the writing of the constitution, and in this context, it meant for something to be working in proper order. If you apply this to to the second amendment it would be read to mean that the militia must be ready to be called into action. Many will disagree, but given the state of the nation at that time, I believe this to mean that everyone eligible to be in the militia should be armed and practiced in order to defend the nation, essentially, every legal adult should own a firearm and take it upon themselves to make sure they are proficient in shooting.
     One of the major arguments by the anti-gun lobby is that, per the second amendment, you must be in the militia to own a firearm. They go even further to claim that the National Guard is considered the militia and civilians do not have the right to own firearms. This is actually not correct and the role of militias has changed throughout history. Under the Militia Act of 1792, it authorized the states to have organized militias that the President could call into action in cases of invasion and insurrection. At the time of the Act, the United States did not have a large standing army and relied on the militias as the defense force should they be needed. In fact, even today, it is unconstitutional for the government to appropriate funds for a standing army for more than two years, meaning, every two years, the budget for the military must be passed by the legislature. So fast forward to the National Guard. Because the United States had some unfortunate defeats on the battle field, the National Guard was created to standardize training for the militias and make it easier for the federal government to call them into federal service.  For the most part the militias were replaced by the National Guard, but, the federal government still recognizes state defense forces in 32 U.S. code § 109 C. The text reads:

"In addition to its National Guard, if any, a State, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, or the Virgin Islands may, as provided by its laws, organize and maintain defense forces. A defense force established under this section may be used within the jurisdiction concerned, as its chief executive (or commanding general in the case of the District of Columbia) considers necessary, but it may not be called, ordered, or drafted into the armed forces."

    Most people do not realize that nearly every state still has laws authorizing State Defense Forces, and twenty-two states, plus Puerto Rico, still have an active SDF, otherwise known as state militias. The rules are a little different now as these forces can never be federalized by the federal government. They only serve at the direction of the states governor. I have looked into my home state of Washington's state militia and have found that there primary function is to take the place of the National Guard whenever they are not available. They are an unpaid, volunteer force that trains and serves with the National Guard when called upon by the Governor. 
    What I have described to you is the "Organized Militia". The constitution, specifically talks about the powers of the federal government regarding the use of militias. In Article 1 Section 8, it reads:

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

    This is one of the biggest tools used in arguments by people with anti-gun agendas because it talks about the militia as if it only exist if the government organizes a militia, but there is one word in that section that says otherwise.

"To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia..."

      I have gotten into many debates over the importance of this word, but I stand firm that the word "the" gives us the individual right to firearm ownership. This word implies that the militia exist prior to the government organizing it, hence the "Unorganized Militia".  It is an implied force of the People as a whole regardless of whether you were in a state militia or not. Had the founding fathers not intended the People to be part of an unorganized militia, the phrase would have been written as follows: "To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, a militia...". Its literally that simple and often an oversight in arguments. When interpreting the Constitution, we must rely on the fine details in the text to come to the correct conclusions. Fortunately, we now we have a law on the books laying out who is part of the unorganized militia in 10 U.S. Code § 246 which reads as: 
  1. The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard. 
  2. The classes of the militia are—
    1. the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
    2. the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia. 
     Now, the age requirement section is up for debate and could be updated to reflect every able bodied person over the age of 17, and remove the requirement for women to be in the National Guard, but the point remains the same that there is no requirement to be in an organized militia in order to be considered part of the militia. 
     So here is the bottom line. We are all part of the Unorganized Militia of the United State. It is up to us to be "Well Regulated" on our own by having the right equipment and being proficient with it. The government does not have the right to enact laws to force us to meet requirements to be part of the unorganized militia, such as mandatory training, restrictions on firearm purchases, licenses, etc. because all of that is reserved for the organized militia. 

    Just remember, it is your right, as a member of the People of the United States, to keep and bear arms. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise and stand up to those that do

-American Citizen

PS. If you don't agree or have things to add, please contact me as I thoroughly enjoy debating this topic!
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