Two Keywords of the Second Amendment

As the gun control debate rages in the United States after the latest gruesome massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, you c...


As the gun control debate rages in the United States after the latest gruesome massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, you can be pretty sure those who stand up for gun rights, harden on soft targets, and support the Second Amendment won’t actually read the text of the Second Amendment on air or in print.

Why would Second Amendment absolutists ignore the actual wording of the Amendment? Because of the pesky second and third words in the text itself: “Well regulated”.

Here is the full text of the Second Amendment:

“A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms will not be infringed.”

A SnapStream search of cable news shows that since the killing of 21 people in Uvalde, Texas, the term “well-regulated” has popped up when discussing the Second Amendment on both MSNBC and CNN, but not only once on Fox News – not by an anchor, opinion host or guest.

MSNBC Lawrence O’Donnell did a segment Wednesday night on the history of gun restrictions in the United States dating back to the National Gun Act of 1934, which banned submachine guns that were popular with gangsters at the time.

O’Donnell played a 1991 clip in which a longtime Republican and former Supreme Court Chief Justice warren burger called the “special interest groups” interpretation of the Second Amendment one of the “greatest frauds” on the American public “that I have ever seen in my life.”

“If I wrote the Bill of Rights now, there would be no Second Amendment,” said Burger, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by the President. Richard Nixon told PBS news hour in December 1991.

“Who says?” asked the interviewer.

“That a well-regulated militia being necessary for the defense of the State, it gives the people the right to bear arms. This has been the subject of one of the biggest frauds – and I repeat the word fraud – on the American public, by special interest groups, that I have ever seen in my life,” Burger said.

“Let’s look at these words,” he continued, actually reading the amendment on air. “There are only three lines of the amendment. A well-regulated militia – if the militia that was to be the state army, if it was to be well-regulated, why shouldn’t 16, 17, or 18-year-olds and anyone of any age be equally regulated in the use of the arms? The way an automobile is regulated.

“Fraud,” repeated O’Donnell. “The Republican Party has fully embraced a fraudulent interpretation of the Second Amendment to mean that the founders of this country wanted every 18-year-old in Texas and everyone older to be able to buy a 21st century version of a machine gun – an AR- 15 — and nothing can be done to restrict that right in any way. None of the founders believed anything like that,” O’Donnell concluded.

Meanwhile, on Fox News, the top-rated host, Tucker-Carlson, said these words: “A person who intends to commit acts of violence is very difficult to arrest, whatever the circumstances. An act of Congress won’t do it, neither will gun control. There are more guns in this country than there are people, there always have been.

Carlson’s assertion ignored the fact that after the assault weapons ban expired in 2004, mass shootings skyrocketed in their frequency and the number of victims killed at any given time. The Financial Times created a graph to illustrate this fact.

“Whatever your opinion on this fact, you can recognize that we will never get rid of all these weapons and that the Constitution forbids it and you would start a civil war if you tried to do so,” Carlson concluded.

Carlson’s all-or-nothing approach to gun rights clearly ignores these two key Second Amendment words. In fact, of all the 27 amendments to the Constitution, the Second Amendment is the only one to include a call for regulation in its very wording. “Well-regulated” does not appear anywhere else in the Bill of Rights or in the other 17 additional amendments.

The Supreme Court has also ruled and created a precedent that makes it clear that the right to bear arms is not absolute.

NBC Cedric Alexander explained that “in the years 1939 United States against Miller, the Supreme Court decided that the “obvious purpose” of the Second Amendment was “to secure the continuance and enable the effectiveness of ‘state militias’ and ‘must be construed and applied’ restrictively in this context”.

Alexander notes that United States vs. Miller was almost canceled by 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller, which ruled that everyone has the right to a firearm outside of militia service.

However, the 2010s McDonald v. Chicago “kept the door open to common sense gun laws, including state and federal laws prohibiting felons and the mentally ill from owning guns and regulations prohibiting guns in public schools” , Alexander Explainto add:

Indeed, the current position of the Supreme Court is that while the Second Amendment confers a fundamental right, that right is not absolute.

So while leaders like Texas Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX) will offer sound bites on conservative media, saying, “That’s the first thing the left obviously raised. Violating people’s Second Amendment rights,” remember that the amendment itself authorizes and even calls for certain violations – also called regulations.

Whether “well regulated” means an age limit, assault weapons ban, background checks, licensing, magazine capacity limitations, waiting period, or any other regulation among the multitude of possible regulations , each is in fact part of the original intent of the founders – that our elected officials would regulate privately owned weapons of war.

This is an opinion piece. The opinions expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Two Keywords of the Second Amendment
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