Proclaiming Liberty – Theme 1

In his book Proclaiming Liberty, Philip Mulivor has given us a series of “themes” that pretty much all anti-gun arguments must fall into. I’m a big believer in breaking things down into easy to understand elements. Philip has managed to give us an easy reference framework to anti-gun argument. All we need to do is determine which “theme” the gun grabbers are working in and we know how to proceed.
This week I’ll be taking a different theme each day and talking about it. Today, Theme #1
1.           Gun prohibitionists reject Constitutional Originalism
The only really honest way to look at law is generally referred to as “originalism.” The basic theory is that a law means what it meant when it was originally passed. In order to determine what that means, one has to look at the original public meaning. What did everyone think it meant at the time. That’s important because if you try to use the modern meaning of words when interpreting law that’s over 200 years old, you’re bound to have a few conflicts.
Well regulated
a.       in proper working order (then)
b.      strictly controlled by laws (now)
a.       The whole body of the people trained to arms (then)
b.      The National Guard (now, at least in the minds of the gun grabbers)
You can see the conflict.
It makes absolutely no sense to try to use the modern meanings of these words when trying to interpret what the Founders said when they wrote the Second Amendment, but that’s exactly what the gun grabbers do. They try to act like the Constitution’s meaning is different today than its meaning 200 years ago. They have to do that, otherwise they’ve lost the argument from the get-go.
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5 responses to “Proclaiming Liberty – Theme 1

  1. As you’ve noted, the definition and understanding of words change dramatically over time. A prime example is the once innocent word, “gay”.

    In contemporary understanding, the term well-regulated means to issue an ever increasing series of rules with the force of law until the regulated activity ceases. On the other hand, one can find many of the old dictionaries on the Internet which include the definitions closer to usage at the time the Constitution and Bill of Rights was written.

    In particular, the term “well-regulated” was, at one time, understood to mean smooth or well practiced. A dancer’s movements could be described as well regulated. The amazing demonstration of the teams competing at the Royal Navy Field Gun Competition available on YouTube would be described as well regulated. In similar usage, we’ve all seen antique pendulum clocks with the word, “Regulator”, on the front glass. The “Regulator”, in this case, is the pendulum which regulates the movement of the clock.

    So what does this have to do firearms? Again, go to YouTube and watch a video of someone loading and firing a flintlock rifle. There are a series of actions that have to be performed in proper sequence to successfully load, aim and fire such a weapon. It requires knowledge and practice.

    The term, militia, was understood to be anyone capable of bearing arms in defense of the community. Although they do not bear arms, modern neighborhood watch programs could be considered a militia as could the scores of volunteers who show up to assist at natural disasters. We still have the militia. We just don’t call them by that name.

    So, in contemporary expression, a well-regulated militia is essentially a skilled community of shooters able to defend the community when the need arises.

  2. It is also important to note that the Founders did not intend the first part of that statement to be a qualifier for the second part, but an explanation as to why it was needed.
    My copy of Websters has, as it’s second definition for militia, “The whole body of physically fit male civilians eligible by law for military service.”
    And now off to Amazon I go…

  3. The Militia still exists according to Title 10 of the US code. Until that is repealed. The Bradyites will never admit that Title 10 even exists and if it does, it’s irrelevant. It amuses me that they think they have a answer for everything. When all they have ever had is fear and emotion.

  4. It is pretty sad listening to the gun grabbers try to twist the words into origami shapes trying to evade the plain meaning.

  5. It is also worth noting that the definition of words depend on their context.

    Take a double rifle to a gunsmith and tell him you want it regulated, and he will ask “At what distance?” That’s because in gunsmithing, a well-regulated rifle means that both barrels shoot to the same spot.

    It’s obvious to me that the writers of the Second Amendment knew their guns.