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.
This is the second amendment, word-for-word, straight from the Constitution of the United States. You’ll notice that it is only one sentence long, a total of 27 words. And yet, these 27 words have and continue to cause great contention within this country. Why is that? It’s because everyone is focused on only one half of the amendment.
For the last several decades, gun enthusiasts, especially the NRA, has focused everyone’s attention on the last half of the amendment. The part that begins after the second comma: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” They repeat this part ad nauseam, totally ignoring the first half of the amendment. And they do this because they want the right to own guns without any regulations at all. The shame of this is that those of us who want reasonable regulations on guns have been drawn into focusing on the second half of the amendment and losing our arguments for regulations.
How do we change this? We change it by changing the focus from the last half of the amendment to the first half, especially the first four words. Our argument should be this: The first four words of the second amendment not only gives government the right and the power, but demands of it the duty to produce regulations governing the militia and provide for the security of the state and the safety of all citizens therein.
Now, you will run into those who will claim that our fore-fathers wrote the second amendment in order to provide the people with the means to protect themselves from the possibility of the US government turning tyrannical. This is simply not true. It’s a distortion of history. When our fore-fathers wrote the constitution they did not want the establishment of a standing army. Proof of this is contained in other parts of the Constitution. However, they did see the possible necessity of having a well-armed militia that could be quickly called up in a time of need, as happened in 1812.So there is your rebuttal to their “protect us from tyranny” argument.
So let me repeat what our argument needs to be: The first four words of the second amendment not only gives government the right and the power, but demands of it the duty to produce regulations governing the militia and provide for the security of the state and the safety of all citizens therein.
Use this argument anytime you run into a gun advocate referring to the second Amendment to advance their agenda of unregulated gun ownership and I guarantee you will shut them down and send them running.