A reply to “ShoreThings”

In my previous post about State Senator E.J. Pipkin and gun rights, ShoreThings made a comment about the context of the Second Amendment and completed the actual wording, which includes the portion about a “well-regulated Militia.” Later interpretations have taken this clause to mean an organization such as the National Guard as the “well-regulated Militia” in question, subordinating individual rights.

The District of Columbia has attempted a similar argument at the Supreme Court, where the question to be decided is (according to Wikipedia):

The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted limited to the following question: Whether the following provisions, D.C. Code §§ 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02, violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?

My response takes a little different tack in talking about context – not of the times, but of the document itself.


Since you placed the whole Second Amendment out there to talk about the militia, please regard the context in which the amendment is placed.

The 1st Amendment protects religion, speech, the press, free association, and redress of grievances.

The 2nd Amendment guarantees citizens a right to self-defense against a tyrannical government.

After the right to self-defense, the 3rd Amendment goes further in prohibiting armed agents of the government free reign in the home.

That security extends to persons, houses, papers, and effects with the Fourth Amendment.

Amendments Five through Eight insure that the government has the burden of proof in cases where one is accused of a crime and that punishment needs to fit the crime if the person is convicted by a jury of his peers.

Amendments Nine and Ten reserve rights not specifically granted to the federal government to the people and the states, respectively.

In my view, any federal gun control laws circumvent not only the Second Amendment, but also the Ninth and Tenth. All of these were placed for a reason, to attempt to insure that no tyrannical government such as the 18th century British Crown would ever again taint American soil. But there’s a lot of people in DC attempting to.

That refers in some part to the SCOTUS case I cite above but to those in the nanny state who think they know better than we do. So hopefully that answers your comment in a proper manner.

I also ran across another comment on Red Maryland taking me to task for “shoddy reporting.” But the context and argument I was making had little to do with Pipkin’s Second Amendment record and stand, which indeed is admirable (except I’d rather see him work for not simply enforcing federal gun laws but for rolling them back), rather it’s for the reach that he made to equate a difference in opinion he has with Senator Harris on Sunday hunting into disdain for gun rights. In that respect, both candidates have found favor with pro-Second Amendment groups.

But I applaud both commentors in these posts for taking the time to respond and advance their counter-arguments. Keeps me on my toes.

Crossposted on Red Maryland, to the chagrin of some.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.

10 thoughts on “A reply to “ShoreThings””

  1. Michael,

    Excellent conservative commentary, as usual. But what made me comment was the snarky tag…

    “Crossposted on Red Maryland, to the chagrin of some.”

    Nearly fell out of my chair laughing! Loved it!


  2. All of that just because it irritates me when words are taken out of context to simplify an argument. The term to bear arms in the 18th century was usually in reference to a militia or military service, but there are also references which make the opposite argument plausible as well. Many people express their opinion about the right based on the words taken out of context. The complete text of the 2nd amendment requires more work to justify the argument, as your reply shows.

  3. 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. – The Second Amendment

    Can we all agree, in the first instance, that this language is not particularly clear, in and of itself, in conjunction with the rest of the Constitution, or in light of American history?

    Sounds like an essentially political question draped in the vague silk of constitutional language . . .

    Look, I personally don’t care much one way or the other on this one. Being the child of city-folk, I’ve never owned a gun nor lived in a home with one. And I understand and appreciate the extent to which folks in urban areas tend to err on the side of gun control. But I’ve grown up, for the most part, in the country, amongst good folks for whom guns are second nature, and who tend to err against any form of gun control.

    That being said, I have actually argued in court, on a number of occasions, that the 2nd Amendment gives rise to a fundamental individual right to bear arms, such that it renders unconstitutional Maryland’s criminal statute forbidding the mere possession of firearms, absent an intent to presently or imminently use said firearm in a criminal fashion.

    This argument has yet to prevail, in Maryland, at least.

    Back in 1939, the US Supreme Court ruled that the 2nd Amendment only gave rise to a right to bear arms to the extent that it bore “some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.” A “collective” right, so to speak, rather than an individual right.

    A federal judge in Texas recently overturned a federal firearms statute, on grounds that the 2nd Amendment gave rise to a fundamental individual right to bear arms. The 5th Circuit reversed, citing the 1939 precedent.

    Now the US Supreme Court has decided to hear this DC case. It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out. Will they resolve the matter on some preliminary issue, such as standing? Or will they reach the substantive issue?

    Time will tell . . .

  4. The authors of the U.S Constitution did not anticipate the development of machine guns or semi-automatic weapons, or that a psychotic kid would kill more than 30 people in a matter of minutes at Virginia Tech. The nuts at the NRA have gone overboard in defending the “right” to own weapons of mass destruction that were not even conceived in 1789. You want a semi-automatic weapon? Join the National Guard.

    Final Frontier

  5. As I recall when the Brits marched out to Lexington and Concord, they weren’t looking to confiscate weaponry that was any more efficient on the field of battle than their weapons. They were intent on capturing ALL weapons, plus a few patriots. When the framers drew up the Constitution they weren’t that keen on standing armies after their experiences with the Brits. Militias of course existed prior to our revolution. Militia members were expected to supply THEIR OWN weapons, powder and shot. The various colonial governments from time to time supplied some munitions, but when independence was won, most of the colonies were broke. It devolved to each citizen to fend for himself, anotherwards the 2nd Amendment evolved from an individual right, and not a collective one. Besides if you take away all the guns, how the Hell do you expect us to shoot the liberals?

  6. swamp,

    If you shoot all the liberals, who are you going to argue with? Where’s the fun in that? Seriously, though, I think there probably is an individual right to own a gun, but I don’t think anyone has a “right” to own a weapon of mass destruction. Technology has evolved to a point where there is no way an individual citizen really could “fend for himself” against an evil gov’t (which has helicopters, planes, and nuclear weapons), so I think that is a moot point. So guns–even automatic weapons–really cannot protect you from a government determined to destroy you. Once we acknowledge that, the “right” to own a machine gun is dramatically diminished. That is where I have a significant problem with people who think there is an absolute, unrestricted, right to own guns.

    Final Frontier

  7. Frontier, It is legal in 38 states (including the Peoples Republic of Maryland) to own a machine gun. They are costly to buy, to maintain, and to feed, and the paperwork just to own one is onerous. Nonetheless I could afford one, and have considered it. My marriage however could not. While true that the gov’t may have all the technology when it comes to weaponry, an armed populace that is prepared to defend it’s rights with the means to do so is a powerful part of the term “checks and balances.” Remember the Bill of Rights did not just recognize our rights, but also drew a line for government. I believe there is a right, and an unrestricted one at that, to own guns. That being said, I don’t intend to start targeting Libs. I was jesting of course. I do enjoy the to and fro, and would miss the exchanges with my liberal friends enough. If I didn’t have them I’d have to argue instead with my better half. I don’t fare as well there.

  8. Hey swamp,

    I know you were kidding on the shooting thing–you are one of the guys I really like tussling with, ’cause even though we disagree on a lot, you are really smart. Plus, I’m a liberal and therefore very shifty and hard to shoot 🙂 So here’s a question–where would you draw the line on weapons? I draw it at automatic weapons and above. Would you say that a private citizen has a right to a grenade launcher? I’m not trying to be a jerk, I just really want to know your opinion on whether there really are no limits to the second amendment.


  9. First of all Frontier, before I respond to your query, you have to persuade me that you are not a BATF agent. LOL! We do have what is known as the National Firearms Act. I believe one can already legally own a grenade launcher providing the projectile is not more than 37mm in diameter. Plus you can’t fire high explosive rounds with it. That’s no fun, so why bother at all. Realistically though, who would be such a glutton for punishment to want to haul one these around, not to mention the substantial weight of the ammo. It’s one thing to appear macho, and quite another appear stupid just for the sake of appearing macho.

  10. FF

    the second amendment is the reset button to an oppressive government… the words “shall not be infringed” mean just that… the government will oppress the people in paying for the tools of their oppression so it is only fair that the people be able to arm equally.

    your arguement will then be, what about nuclear weapons… my answer is the people already own them… and if it were to take using a nuke to stop a nuke… that decision will have to be made…

    would you allow the government to use nuclear weapons against its citizens? they have them. and i am sure there are contingencies on the president’s desk that call for them…

    but then again, defensive weapons don’t usually include those with radioactive fall out…


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