The Second Amendment, Part Two

My copy of Saul Cornell’s award-winning A Well-Regulated Milita: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America arrived yesterday, and I’m giddy with delight. It’s my type of book: 218 pages of text, 40 pages of detailed notes–highly academic and highly readable.

Although I’m only 24 pages in, Cornell lays out his thesis in his introduction:

The original understanding of the Second Amendement was neither an individual right of self-defense nor a collective right of the states, but rather a civic right that guaranteed that citizens would be able to keep and bear those arms needed to meet their legal oblication to participate in a well-regulated militia. (2)

Cornell goes on to say that neither gun rights people nor gun control people are going to like what his research turned up. He says the ideal was the minutemen and this “ideal was far less individualistic than most gun rights people assume, and far more martial in spirit than most gun control advocates realize” (2).

In short, it looks like my fantasy from my April 5 post may not have been that far off:

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.”


P.S. Chapter One opens with the seizure of John Hancock’s sloop Liberty and its cargo of smuggled wine. Cornell notes, “Hancock’s penchant for smuggling was well known (9).”


One Response to “The Second Amendment, Part Two”

  1. Stephanie Z Says:

    Actually, this doesn’t surprise me at all. The framers were pretty clear on the concept that rights came with responsibilities.

    Thank you for the recommendation on the book. I’d like to say I’m surprised I didn’t hear about this when it came out, but I’m not, for exactly the same reasons you think people won’t like the messages. 🙂

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