The Second Amendment

Here’s the Second Amendment of the U.S. 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.

I took this from a government site for those who quibble about comma placement. A couple of court cases appear here too in case you’re interested.

With the murder of the trailer park kids adding to the list of mass murders of late, I’m pondering this amendment again. It’s bothered me for some time, but until now not enough for me to do any research on the topic. Now questions are popping:

What exactly is a “well regulated militia”*?
Where is ours?
Who serves?

It took me about ten seconds to find that there’s a well-received book on the subject: A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America .

I’m going to go find a copy right now. Author Saul Cornell won the Langum Prize in American Legal History/Legal Biography for this in 2007.

While I search for a copy, I’m going to be fantasizing about the formation of a “well regulated militia” in the US. I’m going to be envisioning all–and I do mean ALL–of our adult citizens who are capable of carrying and aiming guns showing up for militia duty on regular intervals, being trained and tested for gun use and being tested for their suitability as members of a “well regulated militia.”

Consider yesterday’s Pittsburgh shooter Richard Popalawski. A friend claimed this fellow was dishonorably discharged from the Marines because he threw a food tray at a drill sergeant.

I don’t have anything against gun ownership. But this guy is representative of a group of people who obviously weren’t “well regulated militia” material. I’m against THOSE sorts having guns.

If I can get hold of a copy Cornell’s book**–and several others that look promising–I’ll let you know what I find.

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for my local library to score a copy of Naomi Oreskes’ book on the theory of continental drift.


*I’m putting “well regulated militia” in quotation marks since the amendment is not in Modern Language Association format. The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th edition, point 3.2.6 says: “Use a hyphen in a compound adjective beginning with an adverb such as better, best, ill, lower, little, or well when the adjective precedes a noun.”

Notice that the title of Cornell’s book carries a hyphen.

Yes, I’m a pedant, a professional pedant. And I love being a pedant. So there.

**Have it on order! I love the Internet!


3 Responses to “The Second Amendment”

  1. Cassandra Says:

    “Another Endangered Condor Found Shot”

    Lead shotgun pellets. IMO, the shooter(s) are not “well regulated militia” material.


  2. Greg Laden Says:

    Have you seen this discussion on the relevance of the Second Amendment in today’s USA?

  3. uncommonscolds Says:

    Greg Laden–

    Thanks so much for the link!


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