Rednecks, dope dealers, and Second Amendment-spouting gun nuts everywhere rejoiced this week when President Bush allowed the federal assault weapons ban to expire, without pushing Congress for follow-up legislation to keep these weapons illegal for sale or distribution. California's rednecks, dope dealers, and Second Amendment-spouting gun nuts were disappointed to learn that in this state, at least, the law still prohibits the sale of military-style armament to the average Joe Beerswiller. So here in Cali, our rednecks, dope dealers, and Second Amendment-spouting gun nuts will have to travel next door to Nevada to pick up their shiny new AK-47s.
What baffles me everytime the subject of firearms comes up is that the gun nuts always point to the Second Amendment. Not that gun nuts have actually read
the Second Amendment, mind you as though gun nuts could
read because if they had, and if they had the intelligence God gave a giant isopod
, they'd know that it doesn't say one doggoned thing about assault weapons.
In fact, here's what it does say:
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.
That's it the entire text of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Did you see anything in that single sentence about automatic rifles? Of course not, you say they weren't invented yet when the Second Amendment was written. True enough. But here's a more challenging question: Did you see anything in that single sentence about individual citizens
owning projectile weapons of any type at all? If you actually read those 27 little words, your honest and forthright answer must be, "No, I did not."
What you read in the Second Amendment is about "a well regulated Militia."
What is a militia, you ask? According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, 11th Edition
(an exceptional standard reference, incidentally, and highly recommended here at SSTOL), a militia is:
A part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency; or, a body of citizens organized for military service.
Did you catch that word "organized" which the lexicographers so skillfully employed twice in that definition? One of its synonyms is "regulated," a word that, interestingly enough, appears in the Second Amendment, modifying the word "militia." "Regulate" means:
To govern or direct according to rule; or, to bring under the control of law or constituted authority: to make regulations for or concerning.
So what have we learned thus far, boys and girls? That the Second Amendment begins by talking about an organized military force governed by rules and laws. Hmm.
Why is a well regulated militia important, according to the framers of the Bill of Rights? Because it is "necessary to the security of a free State."
Therefore, whatever the aforementioned well regulated militia is empowered to do by this codicil to the Constitution, it is for the purpose of guaranteeing the security of the State; that is, of the nation itself. Hmmm.
And what is this well regulated militia, which is necessary for the nation's security, empowered to do? Notice that it is here that the Second Amendment introduces "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms."
Notice also that "the people" is a plural noun, used in the Constitution to refer to the entire population of the country. If you recall your Schoolhouse Rock
, you know the Preamble that opens the Constitution, and you know that it begins with the words, "We the People of the United States..."
Therefore, "the people" are the citizenry. Not any one individual citizen. Hmmmm.
I'll ask the question again, in case any rednecks, dope dealers, or Second Amendment-spouting gun nuts have tuned in since last I asked it: Did you see anything even one word in that Second Amendment, which we have now thoroughly and completely dissected, parsed, and otherwise examined in its constituent parts, about individual citizens owning firearms? Say it with me: "No, I did not."
What you saw, as clear as the crystal Jack Nicholson mentioned to Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men
, is that the Second Amendment grants for the keeping and bearing of arms by the citizenry of the United States not individual citizens in the sole and only mentioned context of an organized military force charged with preserving the security of this free State. Period. End of story.
The Second Amendment authorizes the organization of a militia
let's call it the National Guard. The Second Amendment authorizes the citizenry to arm that well-regulated entity for the purpose of national defense
, which means simply that we as a people can build and supply an armory for the National Guard
. The Second Amendment says not one word
about the arming of individual citizens
with any armament for any purpose whatsoever. No matter what Jim Bob and Bubba tell you it just ain't in there, to speak in language that rednecks, dope dealers, and gun nuts comprehend. You can look it up. In fact, you just did.
And if you honestly believe that every individual citizen
is legally empowered to take any action the citizenry as a whole
is legally empowered to take, I'm coming to your house tomorrow to collect taxes and exercise eminent domain over your property, making it my own. You can just put the key under the mat when you leave.