The Right to Bear Arms

Article excerpt


The editorial explaining why the Supreme Court should affirm the U.S. Court of Appeals' decision to strike down the District's gun-control laws ("Making sense of the Second Amendment," Nov. 19) misses a critical point regarding the history and organizational nature of the "militia."

Modern-day gun-control advocates and supporters of the District's repressive gun laws always point to the Second Amendment's opening phrase ("A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State ... ") as the critical limiting factor that permits the state to deprive private citizens of the right to bear arms Because today's state "militia" (i.e., the National Guard) is armed at the expense of the state, there is no constitutionally protected right for any private citizen, even National Guard members, to keep and bear arms. In other words, the Second Amendment has been overtaken by events and became irrelevant when the state began arming the National Guard at public expense.

From the earliest days of the Colonies, the need for an armed force for the protection of the community and its citizenry was both evident and provided. Two immutable facts always attached to this military force: Service in the militia was mandatory, and all prospective militia members were required to provide their own provisions for duty, including food, weapons and ammunition.

That is why the Second Amendment was written and why it reads the way it does: "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. …