By Eddie Zakreski | Contributor
The Second Amendment reads, “A well regulated Militia (sic), being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
This is one of the most controversial sentences in the Constitution. The language establishes that the right of the people to keep and bear arms is dependent on the necessity of a well-regulated militia to the security of a state. It says nothing about possessing weapons for leisure, for defense against the state or any other reason.
While it’s sensible to have a hunting rifle for sport or a pistol for defense, and in fact the latter was recently upheld by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Second Amendment states in clear terms that the main purpose of having firearms is maintaining a militia to keep a state free and secure.
In early America, the national military was relatively small and state militias made up a majority of the fighting population and military power. Maintaining a statewide defense force was not only necessary to the survival of the states individually, it was vital to the survival of the nation. It would have been slow, difficult, costly and impractical to have a national force to cover so much land. Today, fewer than half of the states have active state defense forces — the modern term for the militias — and a national militia (the National Guard) performs the functions of most militias. Today, the National Guard can travel from coast to coast in a matter of hours, not months, to carry out their main functions: enforcing federal laws, suppressing insurrections and defending against invasions. State militias, therefore, are no longer necessary to the security of a free state.
People well-read on the history of the Second Amendment might point out that the term “militia” currently has two legal definitions under the Militia Act of 1903: an Organized Militia – State Defense Forces (SDF) – and Unorganized (or Reserve) Militia, which the act defines as every able-bodied citizen from 18 to 45 not currently in an SDF or Armed Force.
As I’m sure my fellow members of these unorganized reserve militias will agree, they are far from well-regulated. In fact, they are almost entirely unregulated. Organized, well-regulated state militias already serve very little purpose in the modern U.S. outside of providing aid during natural disasters (another duty performed by the U.S. National Guard) and have not been used in combat since the Spanish-American War. Unorganized, unregulated militias are now completely obsolete. And if there’s no purpose for a reserve militia, the right of the members to keep and bear military-style arms is not necessary either.
Those same people might also suggest that the Second Amendment exists to protect states’ rights against possible encroachment by the National Armed Forces. While this reason is not included in the Constitution, it is mentioned by the Supreme Court and constitutional scholars and is not to be taken likely. However, to justify this as a reason to own military-style weapons, one must disregard the military’s integrity and grossly underestimate the modern surveillance capabilities and military strength of a corrupt government. To assume that a corrupt Commander-in-Chief would be able to corrupt the branches and ranks of the US military and convince our soldiers to turn against the states does not only ignore the incredibly in-depth system of checks and balances, but also assumes that soldiers would be willing to turn against the very people they vowed to protect. The idea of owning firearms for the purpose of defeating a possibly malicious state is disrespectful to the military and ignorant of its power.
Modern American state militias, organized and reserve, have little purpose in securing their state and our nation. As they are no longer necessary to the safety of a state, the Second Amendment no longer applies to America today. We repealed the Eighteenth Amendment because it was outdated; it’s time to reevaluate the need for the Second as well.