EDITORIAL: A Well-Regulated Militia, Part Five

Gun Rights

Read Part One

I unapologetically support the Second Amendment. No amount of gun control will ever eliminate evil in our society, and unsurprisingly, the data has shown time and again that gun control does not decrease gun violence. Just look at Chicago or New York, where gun control has created criminal safe havens since evildoers know their victims will be unarmed…

— from Rep. Lauren Boebert’s website, May 12, 2023.

The question of a well-regulated militia can open a big can of worms, especially if you are currently serving in the U.S. Congress.

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Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert recently introduced H.R. 3212, the Shall Not Be Infringed Act, to repeal the gun control provisions and “every Second Amendment infringement passed by the 117th Congress and signed into law, including provisions contained in (1) the so-called Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, (2) the 2023 Appropriations Omnibus, (3) the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2023, and (4) the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.”

Maybe we will all be safer, if everyone wears a handgun?

Rep. Lauren Boebert, courtesy https://boebert.house.gov

Apparently, a fairly large number of people agree with Rep. Boebert’s ideas.  According to her campaign contributions, which total about $7.7 million in this campaign cycle, about $1.2 million came from “retirees” and almost half the donations — $3.5 million — came from donation smaller than $200.

In Part Two of this editorial series, I shared a brief quote from Heritage.org , taken from the “The Essential Second Amendment” section of their website. The quote — in their article, “The Well-Regulated Militia” — came from Josiah Quincy II, an American politician who died just prior to the American Revolutionary War.

“No free government was ever founded, or preserved its liberty, without uniting the characters of the citizen and the soldier in those destined for the defence of a free state…

Most of the other quotes on that web page date from before 1789, when the U.S. Congress officially created the federal Army and Navy, and wrote up the Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment.   Many others besides Josiah Quincy hoped the character of the citizen and the soldier would be united in the state militias, as protection against a potentially oppressive federal government.

Our liberty would be preserved, by these well regulated militias.

The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C. geared primarily toward public policy. The Foundation reportedly took a leading role in the conservative movement during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, whose policies were taken from Heritage’s policy study Mandate for Leadership.

America has undergone a few changes since 1789, but perhaps the Heritage Foundation didn’t notice.

In 1789, the primary weapons of war were muskets, swords, and cannons.  If those were still the primary weapons of war, then the Second Amendment, as written in 1789,  might make a lot of sense. The citizen militias, possessing muskets and swords, (but maybe not cannons), might still be capable of protecting individual liberty, as is implied by the Second Amendment — should the federal government, with its army and navy, turn tyrannical.

Apparently, the Heritage Foundation has not yet grasped the fact that the federal government and its well-trained military — Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and Space Force — have an $850 billion annual budget, and have been using it to fund supersonic fighter jets each equipped with up to 8,000 lbs of bombs plus laser-guided air-to-ground missiles; M1A2 Abrams tanks capable of firing 120mm uranium-coated projectiles; aircraft carriers carrying more than 60 aircraft each; nuclear submarines armed with tactical nuclear missiles; bomb-carrying Predator drones with a range of 1,200 miles…

And the rest of us have… like, handguns?  AR-15s?

Sgt. 1st Class Richard Dyal speaks about the Robotic Combat Vehicle following a live-fire exercise at Camp Grayling, Michigan, April 28, 2021. U.S. Army photo.

Okay, forgot to mention the the Army’s new Robotic Combat Vehicle that underwent major testing in 2022.  The prototype RCVs are apparently armed with M249 Squad Automatic Weapons, M2 .50 caliber machine guns and Mk19 grenade launchers.

But the Heritage Foundation and many other folks seem to believe that we desperately need to protect the right of an average citizen to own a handgun… whether or not he or she knows how, and when, to use it.

And speaking of handguns… they are actually fairly important to this whole discussion.  In 2019, about 3.6 million handguns were manufactured in the U.S., compared to about 2.5 million rifles and shotguns.  We seem to be favoring guns, here in America, that fit in purses.

According to the data shared on the Mass Killing Database — a joint partnership between The Associated Press, USA Today, and Northeastern University:

Semiautomatic handguns are far more common in mass killings than guns that are typically characterized as assault weapons, such as the AR-15.   According to [Dr. James Alan Fox] handguns are easily concealable and some can be equipped with large-capacity magazines.  In this database, the long guns category includes any gun larger than a handgun, including rifles and shotguns.

It appears that maybe twice as many mass killings are committed with handguns, compared to larger firearms.  But the data is incomplete.

Then we have the problem of adults, and young people, killing themselves.

Far more people kill themselves with a firearm each year than are killed with one, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed by Everytown for Gun Safety.  Nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths in the U.S. are suicides. More than half of suicides involve guns.  Since 2006, firearm suicide rates have been steadily increasing.

Most often, it would appear, a handgun is used to commit suicide.  We have some evidence that, while homicides in the U.S. have risen slightly, over the past decade, to around 7.8 per 100,000 population… annual suicides have increased even more… to about 14 per 100,000.

Some people believe we have a constitutional right to kill ourselves, and our neighbors, with handguns or other types of firearms. That belief is typically connected to beliefs about the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment consists of just one curiously constructed sentence:

“A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

The National Rifle Association will tell you that the Second Amendment guarantees your right to own, and use, a gun… with no mention of “a well regulated militia…”

We don’t know, at the moment, if the current US Supreme Court agrees with the NRA. But some gun-regulation cases appear headed for the Court, so we might soon find out who’s side our current judges are on.

Bill Hudson

Bill Hudson

Bill Hudson began sharing his opinions in the Pagosa Daily Post in 2004 and can’t seem to break the habit. He claims that, in Pagosa Springs, opinions are like pickup trucks: everybody has one.

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