How to Solve the Second Amendment Debate

Created: 24 June, 2015
Updated: 15 October, 2022
2 min read

There has been yet another mass murder using a gun in the U.S., and now we have the inevitable reiteration of the arguments for and against ‘gun control.’ To my mind, all we need to wrap this up is to read the Second Amendment and do what it says.

Here it is:

"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." - Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution

There is no avoiding some interpretation. The amendment clearly includes a rationale for the right it expresses; where there is a rationale, differing ‘reasonable’ interpretations of it are possible. The reference to “the security of a free State” is read by some people to indicate that people should be able to take up arms against ‘the government’—any government—if ‘necessary.’

For many people, “the government” in question would be the federal government -- the idea being that militias are necessary for the individual states in the union to be able to defend themselves against it.

Another possible interpretation of that wording is that a ‘standing army’ was one of the primary ‘evils’ that the founding of this nation was intended to overcome; since there would be no standing army, having a militia would be “necessary to the security” of the Union.

To me, the third interpretation makes the most sense. Since we do have a standing army, however, a militia really is unnecessary. Since a militia is unnecessary, the rationale in the amendment goes away.

On the other hand, there is nothing particularly wrong with having a militia. So, let’s have a well regulated militia in each state. (I’m pretty sure most states already have a militia, on paper at least.) What “well regulated” means can be left up to each state as well. It would surely be different in Vermont than it would be in Texas.

It definitely could include which kinds of arms would be allowable, etc. If one wanted to “keep and bear arms,” however, a person would have to be a member in good standing of the militia of the state in which one resided.

Photo Credit: larry1235 / shutterstock.com

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