Text of the Second Amendment to 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.”
What are arms? When the Second Amendment was written it was to establish the right of the people to bear them. What were arms during this time? Single shot muskets. And maybe a few pistols. The Second Amendment was to guard against a power — foreign or domestic — overtaking the country. The country could be protected through a well regulated militia, which meant citizens who could be mustered to fight. Images of patriots rushing from their homes, muskets in hand to engage the enemy, are conjured. The well regulated militia part of the amendment is not one that gun-rights advocates underscore.
Also note the “being necessary to the security of a free State” part. From this we can conclude that the Founding Fathers thought that a well regulated militia, and giving people the right to bear arms, were in service to the security of the free state. We must ask, 226 years later, if our current gun laws, or lack of them, promote this security.
A lone wolf stockpiles dozens of high capacity rifles, crates of ammunition, and a bump stock that allows him to fire off multiple rounds machine-gun style, and fires into a crowd in Las Vegas, killing 58 and wounding over 500. Under current law, he had a right to stockpile as many weapons as desired, and buy a device that allowed him to turn a semi-automatic rifle into a machine gun. Under Nevada law he had a right to open carry them if he desired. If we define arms as any possible firearm, and anyone’s ability to possess unlimited quantities of them — including bump stocks, hundred-round clips, and other enhancements — then what are the limits? Or are there none? Does allowing people free access to any and all firearms with no limits live up to the spirit of promoting the security of a free state as expressed in the Second Amendment?
Some contend that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun. Somehow I don’t think this would have worked if you were in the crowd in Las Vegas. However, if the right to bear arms includes the right to carry a bazooka — and who says it doesn’t? — then if someone brought his bazooka to the concert perhaps he could have taken out the shooter by firing into his hotel room. I know. Innocents would have been killed, but every conflict has collateral damage.
I am a gun owner, a .22 my father bought for me when I was 11. We hunted rabbits. I am also a veteran, and a former National Guardsman. If during my service I was called to duty, I expected that the unit would furnish me with arms, and that I would not be expected to bring my .22. I was trained on an M-16. Now, if I wanted, I could go out and buy as many assault rifles as I could afford. But rather than stockpile all that firepower, maybe I’d be better off in my home arsenal with a bazooka. Time is of the essence before they pass some stupid law that would inhibit me from buying one. Ah, you say, there are already laws on the books that prohibit private citizens from owning a bazooka. Really? That must mean that there are some limits, and that a well regulated people can set them.
Randall Bachman is a retired health care administrator, a veteran, and a patriot who lives in Afton.
WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?
If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, see our Submission Guidelines.)