Thursday, January 07, 2016

The Militia is not the People

The original text:

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.

My reading:

There are two sets of citizens discussed in the Second Amendment.
One group is the set of ALL citizens, named "the People."

The other set is those who bear arms in the service of the government.  This includes armed police officers, National Guardsmen, Sheriffs, FBI agents etc.  They are named "the militia."  It seems crystal clear to me that the militia and the people are two different groups. When the Constitution is written there are no public police forces -- policing is usually a soldiers job.  

2A states that that in order for a State to be secure in it's freedom, the militia cannot be out of control -- they must be regulated.  The only check (regulation) on the militia is to make sure that the People have the ability to confront the militia.  They can of course do this through laws -- but since the militia is charged with enforcing the laws, to whom can the People turn when the militia is breaking the laws?

The people must be able to defend themselves against the militia with force and confront the militia with force.  And since the militia is armed by definition, to ensure the People can perform this regulatory function, the right of the People  to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Close. Wiki's got it close-enough.

The Second Militia Act, passed May 8, 1792, provided for the organization of the state militias. It conscripted every "free able-bodied white male citizen" between the ages of 18 and 45 into a local militia company. (This was later expanded to all males, regardless of race, between the ages of 18 and 54 in 1862.)

Militia members, referred to as "every citizen, so enrolled and notified", "...shall within six months thereafter, provide himself with..." a musket, bayonet and belt, two spare flints, a cartridge box with 24 bullets, and a knapsack.
Men owning rifles were required to provide a powder horn, ¼ pound of gunpowder, 20 rifle balls, a shooting pouch, and a knapsack.

Some occupations were exempt, such as congressmen, stagecoach drivers, and ferryboatmen.
Occupations deemed critical to the orderly function of government and society.

The militia therefore was comprised "of the yeomanry of citizens". To deprive "the People" of firearms, would deprive the Militia of firearms.
It was understood that arms (personal) kept in an Armory, could be controlled by a despotic ruler, or an upstart usurper (or Junta) and would deprive The People of all means of personal defence. (purposeful use of Brit spelling)

Crew-served weapons (cannon, mortars, and such) were indeed kept at Armories, as it was understood that such were weapons of war, were expensive, and were held in-common with your fellow citizens.

The People, therefore comprise the Militia, but the Militia does not comprise The People.

Well Regulated in the vernacular of the times, was to be well-maintained, and orderly.

The militias were divided into "divisions, brigades, regiments, battalions, and companies" as the state legislatures would direct. The provisions of the first Act governing the calling up of the militia by the president in case of invasion or obstruction to law enforcement were continued in the second act.

Court martial proceedings were authorized by the statute against militia members who disobeyed orders.

As with England, your County Sheriff was the elected high official and primary law enforcement officer of Colonial America.
The Militia was used when said Sheriff was corrupt, or when his lawful authority was obstructed.
It was also used AS law enforcement in unincorporated areas, where no county government existed.