Comments about ‘Letters: A well-regulated Militia’

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Published: Tuesday, April 9 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

I just have one question, what does the first part of the second amendment mean to the pro-gun absolutists? It seems that they thinks it is just a little literary flourish which means absolutely nothing. Someone please tell me.

Bountiful, UT

Well regulated means well behaved. A father (for example) who defends his family after a natural disaster from looters or is a militia of one. If he is well behaved, i.e. obeys the law in doing this and acts responsibly in all respects, then he is a well regulated militia of one, (self regulated, but regulated nonetheless.

Were he to cooperate with neighbors in doing this, he would be part of a neighborhood militia. Assuming they behave properly, they are a well well regulated militia.

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

In the context of the second amendment, “well regulated” means trained and competent, not restricted. Try substituting “trained and competent” for “well regulated”, then try substituting “restricted” for "well regulated", and see which one makes more sense when talking about the security of a free state.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Yes, there is the militia part. But there is also the people part - "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

One part talks of militia. The other part talks of people. This is why we are still battling this out. It has two parts which (in today's context of military preparedness) are now disjoint.

So (from how I understand the courts) we can "regulate" but not "infringe". Now there is a delicate dance.

Murray, UT

What a great reminder that communities would be well served by creating and training a community militia to deal with emergencies and to deter tragedies. The DN just had an article on overcoming complacency regarding potential disasters. With a well regulated militia communities would be better prepared for such things, and loony shooters would choose an alternate, easier target.

The real solution is an armed citizenry and a local militia everywhere, just like the 2nd amendment says.

Eric Samuelsen
Provo, UT

While we're busy parsing, let me add that 'to bear arms' meant, in the 18th century, to serve in the armed forces of your country. Since America had no standing army back then, militias were the closest thing to formal military service we had. But if you read the literature of the period, there is essentially never an instance where 'to bear arms' means 'to privately own a firearm.' It always means 'to join the army.'

Bountiful, UT

The Meaning of 'WELL REGULATED'

Well regulated .. means well behaved. So that the meaning is more clear, you can substitute the words 'well behaved' each time you see the words 'well regulated'.

Its important to keep in mind, in the 2nd Ammendment it isn't militia members that are given the right to keep and bear arms, it is the people. The founders wanted the people to have access to guns so they could act in defense of themselves, their families, their neighbors and their countrymen when the need arises. And it does arise, government militias (police and the military) can't be everywhere on time when they are needed (remember hurricane Katrina)?, This is why our constitution provides for people militias in addition to the government militias it provides for.

Far East USA, SC

"self regulated, but regulated nonetheless."

We don't need posted speed limits. But I know how fast I can safely drive. = self regulated

Pitch the DUI laws. I know how much I can drink and still drive safely. = self regulated

I know that girl was only 12, but she was very mature for her age. = self regulated.

That chemical is OK to dump in the river. No one drinks that water = self regulated.

Sorry, but "self regulated" does not necessarily mean "well-behaved"

Hayden, ID

The SCOTUS says the second amendment means YOU, as an American citizen, may possess firearms! What part of that do you not understand?

salt lake city, utah

Eric Samulesen is exactly right. I've been reading the biography of Alexander Hamilton and guess what the revolution was staffed with voulnteers who brought their own guns to the fight. The nation provided weaponry as best as possible but if the citizens had not only brought their own guns but in addition had not sacraficed their personal silver and lead to melt into bulletts we'd all be singing God save the queen.

What a scary twist of words and thoughts to say that the second amendment provides for neighborhood militias in addition to an army, navy etc. and the national guards. I think the pharse is "a" well regulated militia, not well regulated "militias".

Sorry cjb regulated primarily means to bring under the control of law or the constitued authority.

Burke, VA

Mountanman - Thank you for bringing up SCOTUS. They are the ones tasked by the Founders with interpreting the Constitution. I've posted this a dozen times on this page before but it's so important that I can't help myself.

Justice Scalia, certainly a conservative, wrote this in his majority opinion which turned over the District of Columbia's band on owning guns. But he felt it important to add these words:

"The Second Amendment right is not a right to keep and carry any weapon in any manner and for any purpose. The Court has upheld gun control legislation including prohibitions on concealed weapons and possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, and laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. The historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons supports the holding in United States v. Miller that the sorts of weapons protected are those in common use at the time."

This debate is not about banning guns, but regulating them. Justice Scalia has told us that regulations are acceptable.

Bountiful, UT


Please give an example where the difference between 'well regulated' and 'well behaved' are sufficiently different that 'well behaved' shouldn't be substituted in for well regulated.

Why do you resist this? The founders clearly wanted militias to be well behaved.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


Perhaps a bit too much parsing. The full phrase is "to keep and bear arms". Also, I think "bear" means more than just to join a military group but rather to take them up for use. So, it is to be able to keep (own) and bear (use).

Far East USA, SC

Absolutely correct. "The SCOTUS says the second amendment means YOU, as an American citizen, may possess firearms!"

However, do not forget that the SCOTUS has also said that various restrictions are also legal, including,

WHO - Court said it is ok to deny convicted felons the right to carry a gun.
WHERE - Courts have said that it is legal to restrict where guns can be carried.
HOW - Courts have ruled that restrictions on gun sales is allowed
among other restrictions.

Many people tout the SCOTUS rulings when they agree but want to ignore the rulings that they dislike. When the SCOTUS rules, it becomes law.

Those screaming "shall not be infringed" to mean any gun, anywhere are ignoring the LAW set forth by SCOTUS rulings.

one vote
Salt Lake City, UT

Excellent point. The extremism about guns is unreasonable and actually dangerous.

Eric Samuelsen
Provo, UT

Twin Lights,
Well, perhaps, but again, always within the context of formal military service. As for private firearm possession, it's worth noting that 18th century US had no domestic firearms manufacturers. If you wanted to own a musket, you had to buy it from a foreign source. Some people did that, others relied on community armories.

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

Eric and Pragmatist,
I thought you knew US history better than to claim "America had no standing army back then, militias were the closest thing to formal military service we had."

The Continental Army never existed? What did George Washginton command? It certainly was NOT a band militias. Militias may have provided the initial members, but we certainly DID have and army!

Washington won more than a battle when he crossed the Delaware into Trenton, he kept his ARMY together when many of the SOLDIERS (not militiamen) were reaching the end of their ENLISTMENTS.

c'mon guys, we rarely agree, but please stop using untruths to further your positions.

Plano, TX

The entire bill of rights was added to protect the citizens against their new government. Period. Read, in that context, things look a little different to a truly objective reader. I own no guns, but have no problem with anyone who does as long as they don't use them to harm others. Oh, and I have been shot by one so I kind of "get it" in that special way which only experience teaches you... "shall not be infringed" trumps the control side people in my view, but then again I'm not the SCOTUS. I'm also in favor of the death penalty for crimes committed with a firearm - all of them. If you abuse the right to bear arms with deadly force, you should soon experience it yourself. And removing firearms from the mentally unstable is just common sense, like not licensing the blind to drive vehicles.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


The British tried to keep the industrial revolution from migrating to the US. I would imagine that (given a less than fully cooperative set of colonials) that extended to firearms manufacturing as well. Why help arm your potentially revolutionary colonies? Note that there were small makers. Just no larger scale manufacturers.

Kearns, UT

Commas placed as punctuation in a sentance are generally meant to separate ideas. The well regulated militia one idea, the right to keep and bear arms is one idea, shall not be infringed is another idea. Read the Federalist Papers folks.

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