The Heller Decision

I hate to swim against the tide, but several years ago I took an interest in the subject of militias in the Constitution. And after a lot of reading and listening to arguments, I came to believe that the militia clause in the 2nd Amendment, however badly worded, should not be construed to mean that only active members of the state militias (now the National Guard) had a right to own firearms. Rather, I think it’s more likely the Second Amendment protected the right of individuals to own firearms so that the state militias could not be disarmed by the federal government. I know that doesn’t make much sense now, but I can see how 18th century men might have seen it that way.

The original state militias were compulsory, meaning all eligible men were required to register. They were also often self-armed, and federal regulations passed by the original Congress stipulated what sort of musket the registered militia members were supposed to maintain. In reality these regulations were not followed all that well. Some states took their militias seriously and some let them go to rot. There are all kinds of stories of men drilling with broomsticks and cornstalks instead of muskets because they didn’t own muskets. Militias tended not to be very good at actual warfare. However, in the early 19th century drilling competitions between militia units were a popular spectator sport.

Anyway, long story short, the way the original state militias were conceived, the ability of citizens to purchase and possess firearms was essential if the state militia was going to be armed.

I haven’t read the Heller decision myself, so I don’t know how the majority of the court argued it.

7 thoughts on “The Heller Decision

  1. I was going to quote some of your opinion. Then I saw we agree. Nothing wrong with owning guns, as long as you can own the bullets. And be responsible for how they end up: (the bullets)

    This decision came on the docket for a reason, this is the summer for reason. It is the guns in God, Guns, and Gays.

    And it sure stirs up some media!

    I say guns for everyone, and two guns for the ones that can’t shoot .

  2. Some states took their militias seriously and some let them go to rot.

    Not much happens after they go to rot. except stink.

  3. Can you be both a liberal and a libertarian? I’ve always had this vague notion that if you let “them” take away an enumerated right, what’s to stop “them” from taking away another enumerated right? Or even a traditional right or an implied right, like, oh, say Habeas Corpus or the right to privacy… Oh, wait.

    So, only through that logic, I think we should not ban guns. I hate to say that, with all the gun violence, but there it is.

    But, if I can draw an analogy, I always thought that those who want to eliminate abortion might put their money and time where their mouths are by setting up child support and living assistance ($’s) and food assistance ($’s) to help reduce the demand for abortion. I will respect them if they try to do something POSITIVE to bring about that change.

    I’d like to level the same challenge to the NRA and others who are howling about gun ownership – do some positive, active outreach to the citizens of DC to show them how to buy a proper weapon, register it, clean it, keep it safe, operate it safely, etc., etc. If you are going to insist that they can own guns, do something positive to help reduce gun violence in other ways. Maybe then we’ll respect your motives.

  4. Uncledad, if you’re implying the decision came up now to help McCain, isn’t it possible that the strategist behind it has seriously miscalculated? Doesn’t this decision mitigate potential controversy between the candidates’ views on gun ownership?

  5. Dave — I’m pretty much in the same place you are on the 2nd Amendment.

    Many years ago, as I remember it, the NRA put more energy into gun safety training than into political activism. I think some time back some whackjobs took over the organization and changed it.

  6. maha, “from my cold dead hands Heston” liked the theater of it all, combined with some paid staffers who suddenly found themselves in control of this large membership database and went a little crazy with power.

    Well, now Heston has his cold dead hands.

    I agree with gun ownership. Liberty exacts a price of responsibility, and some people try to avoid paying the fare. It’s like free speech. There’s a lot of speech I don’t like, but I do like my speech, so I have to protect yours too. Same with guns. I don’t own one, don’t want to, but it’s in the Constitution I believe.

Comments are closed.