Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Well-regulated militia = no regulation whatsoever

From the Kansas City Star:  "A Missouri lawmaker is proposing to send colleagues to prison for introducing gun control legislation — a plan even its sponsor acknowledges has no chance of passage. Mike Leara, a St. Louis County Republican, said Tuesday that his bill is a statement of principle. It would make lawmakers guilty of a felony punishable by up to four years in prison if they introduce legislation restricting gun rights."

Here's the link: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/02/19/4075002/missouri-bill-would-make-introducing.html

Oh surely gun advocates can do better than that, right?

Forget the First Amendment for a minute and the whole freedom of speech thing.  Just consider the text of our 2nd Amendment:   

"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."

Now what does that even mean?  What a poorly written prohibition.  We know this much: It's explicitly about a well regulated milita, which is necessary to the security of a free State....and how it shall not be infringed.  It also has language about "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms."   Now this fragment can be seen as merely amplifying or rewording "a well regulated militia."  Or it could be qualifying what a well regulated Militia is.  OR it can be read as an additional thing: the right of "the people" to keep and bear arms as part of being a militia.  OR it could possibly mean that "the people"--i.e. individual private citizens-- have the right to keep and bear arms whether or not they are part of a militia--but that's the least natural reading.  That would require reading the clause in this way:

Being necessary to the security of a free state, a well regulated Militia....ummmm......well, oh... ummm....also, the right of individual private citizens to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.  

But the problem is it don't say that.  Which is not to say that the Framers didn't intend it.  They certainly may have.  (I'm not an expert in this area, so I'm not confident enough to say one way or another what the Framers intended.)

So good ol' Mike Leara acts as though the meaning of this amendment is so self-evidently true (and beyond the need of interpretation) that anyone who wants to regulate what this amendment clearly allows to be "well freakin' regulated" is violating the Constitution.

To quote George Will:


The worst part is this: this legislator's proposed legislation likely has nothing to do with principle. He knows this.  He surely knows what he's saying is utter b.s., but he also knows he's riling up a portion of people for narrow partisan gain who probably also know it's b.s. but are willing to collectively pretend it's not b.s. in the name of supposedly loving the Founder's America.

Which is how politics works all too often in our system.

I'm sure our Framers would be proud.


Anonymous said...

Agreed. Well said.


Mike Bailey said...

Thanks. "Well said" insofar pointing out the obvious is saying something well. The horse is dead, but I think it needs additional beating: what is most maddening in all of this is that it's clear to me that the people who celebrate the 2nd Amendment most act as though it's a prime example of moral certitude and a piece of crystal clear law. It's neither. And I can't help but think they do know this. What they are saying is bullshit in the sense meant by the Princeton philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt in his essay "On Bullshit." It means (basically) speaking for effect, or speaking not falsely per se but speaking to create a certain effect but without any regard for truth one way or another (apart from the appearance of seeming to care).

Anonymous said...

That's what all I meant by 'well said.' I obviously should have been a little more articulate...

Here let me try it this way. "Whatever you want to keep sticking up its a** about all this, please keep doing it because I'm enjoying it and in full agreement."


Mike Bailey said...

Thanks. If by "whatever you want...." oh, never mind.

Thanks for the feedback, yo!

Elisheba said...


Mike Bailey said...

Thanks, Elisheba!