The All Ages Guide to the Second Amendment for Gun Control Advocates
“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.”
For the brave men, women, and youth entering the gun control debate — it can be intimidating to discuss the Second Amendment. It doesn’t have to be, though. While there is a lot of misinformation driving the political debate surrounding gun control, the law itself and how it I applied is relatively easy to follow. Below is a description of the Second Amendment and how it supports the nation’s call for gun reform. There is also a description of the global challenges to enforcing that Constitutional Right.
Take this information. Weaponize it. And confidently fight for your right to regulate arms as patriots and defenders of the Constitution and the Second Amendment.
The Right for the State to Keep and Regulate a Militia
Despite what the gun lobby may tell you, you have a Constitutional Right to defend yourself from an unregulated militia. The Second Amendment was written with consideration for the need to both arm citizens in service of a militia and regulate them.
We know this through pure grammar because the structure of the Bill of Rights is such that it addresses the level of organization at the beginning of the Amendment. In this case, the Amendment addresses the “militia” and then the state before addressing the “people.”
We also know that the Second Amendment was written to protect the States’ right to regulate its militia because the Founding Fathers themselves passed and enforced restrictions immediately after the passage of the Second Amendment. These regulations included age restrictions, registration requirements, and safe storage laws.
For over 200 years, the Supreme Court reaffirmed and enforced the States’ right to enforce firearm regulations and legally, there was no right to individual gun ownership in the United States. This all changed in 2008 when Republican strategists devised a plan to de-regulate the gun industry by asserting that the Second Amendment protected individual gun ownership, regardless of whether the militia was well-regulated or not.
The specifics behind this strategy amounted to little more than using legal language to erase the entire legal history of firearm regulations by focusing on the phrase “shall not be infringed” and ignoring the terms “well regulated militia” and “security of a free state” — but it was successful nonetheless.
This is because there is a difference between the legality of law and the politics of law. Much like a woman’s right to choose can be overturned if one more SCOTUS seat is filled with an anti-choice justice, the state’s right to regulate its militia was overturned because a legal case brought to SCOTUS at the right political moment. That case is called District of Columbia v Heller.
It might be difficult to imagine one court case effectively wiping out the power of a Constitutional Amendment and over 200 years of legal precedent, but just as a single court case can be used to overturn Roe v Wade and end abortion rights in the United States, DC v Heller is the case that was used to overturn the States’ 2nd Amendment right to regulate arms.
We are now reaping the consequences of that ruling.
And while the NRA and the GOP would like the public to believe the founding fathers wrote the Second Amendment with the sole intent of arming individual gun owners and preventing infringement upon that right, the truth is: Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Second Amendment was written to balance the need to maintain and arm an orderly militia while protecting the state’s right to regulate it. It is DC vs Heller that unconstitutionally prevents the state from exercising its right to regulate its militia. Additionally, the Heller ruling is only 10 years old, and it can be overturned.
In the meantime, there is enough legal standing — even with Heller in place — to enact stricter regulations on firearms. There is no legal weight to the idea that guns don’t kill people or that all arms — including nuclear weapons, machine guns, and destructive devices — should be unregulated because the Constitution says so.
The idea that all people of all ages should be able to carry all weapons in all places at all times is as ridiculous as it sounds. But as ridiculous as the legal arguments presented by the NRA, the Republican Party, and their gun toting followers are — they are loud, they are organized, and they are powerful.
Thankfully, so is the opposition. And the opposition has truth and momentum on its side.
May they take this information and be louder. May they use it as a tool for strategic organization. And may they never forget their power.
Gun control advocates are patriots. They are heroes. And they are protecting the Second Amendment.
No matter what the NRA and the GOP tell you.
To learn more about Dr. GS Potter and the Strategic Institute for Intersectional Policy (SIIP), visit: http://strategycampsite.org/v2/