Gun control. Sounds like an innocuous statement, but in reality these 2 little words are enough to put an entire nation into an uproar.
The second amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees “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.” With the Militia Act being thrown out in 1903 in favor of the National Guard becoming the ‘militia’ how are we, as American citizens, affected? Well let’s break it down. The second part is easy as it clearly states that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed or taken away. It’s the first part of the statement that is harder to figure out. What exactly does ‘well regulated’ mean anyway?
The Random House College Dictionary (1980) gives four definitions for the word “regulate,” which were all in use during the Colonial period and one more definition dating from 1690 (Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition, 1989). They are:
1) To control or direct by a rule, principle, method, etc.
2) To adjust to some standard or requirement as for amount, degree, etc.
3) To adjust so as to ensure accuracy of operation.
4) To put in good order.
b. Of troops: Properly disciplined. Obs. rare-1.
If you continue reading the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Militia Act, the Federalists Papers, and various other documents from the era and specifically from the founding fathers we can infer that what they meant by well regulated was well trained. We can almost certainly be sure that they did not mean controlled by government because that is the very thing they had all been attempting to escape in the first place. The last thing they wanted was another authoritarian government like the one they’d left behind in England.
So, if we can clearly define, and almost as clearly infer, intent, why then do we have such an uproar? Because the people have allowed the government to gain much more control than the founding fathers intended the government to have. Starting with Lincoln being shot up through 9/11 and the war on terror citizens have slowly been having their rights removed and overwritten, generally in the name of security and safety.
The left want guns banned, the right wants few controls at all and some of us want something that is somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately, by living in a culture with 2 main political parties we find that a large portion of the populace tend toward the same extremes as the politicians they vote for. We’ve become an all or nothing country, unwilling to compromise until the bitter end when for whatever reason we end up forced into the corner of compromise or lose. Politics has become more like a spectacle or a sporting event than a way to govern a country. In order to ‘win’ the other side must ‘lose’. It seems more and more like fewer people are willing to walk that line and compromise on important issues.
What is the answer to making our children safe without infringing the citizen’s right to bear arms? I wish I knew. All I do know right now is that Republicans control all 3 branches of government so we will not be seeing any major form of gun control any time soon. The best that we can hope for is that they finally decide on some sort of compromise. A compromise wont cure us of this problem, but it might just bandage it for awhile which has got to be better than nothing.
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