by eric peters • November 11, 2013
By now you’ve probably read or heard about the cashiering of Guns & Ammo editor Dick Metcalf over his December 2013 “Let’s Talk” column in which he parsed “infringing” vs. “regulating” our right to keep and bear firearms. (Read the subsequent apologia here.)
I’ve not yet read – or heard – Metcalf called to task for the real mistake he made in his column – which was not tub-thumping for infringing our rights but for being dishonest (or perhaps merely ignorant) when he discussed regulating them.
Metcalf did the usual thing and quoted the language of the Second Amendment, which reads, “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.”
Where Metcalf erred – or perhaps deliberately hoped to mislead – was by not filtering the language of the late 18th century through a 21st century English translator. “Well-regulated” meant something rather different to the powdered wig set than it means to us, today. (Much in the same way that “gay” meant something rather different to the people of 1920s America than it means to the people of 2013 America.)
So, what did “well-regulated” mean circa 1787?
It meant, simply, kept in good order; well-trained and equipped.
The men who wrote and approved the Second Amendment desired that every yeoman farmer – every able-bodied man – know how to handle a gun for self-defense of himself, his family and his country. And more, they believed he had every right to do these things.
The idea that “well-regulated” meant restricted or controlled or supervised by the state – the meaning of “regulated” in today’s common English – is simply nonsense. An idea that only a historical illiterate could entertain. Else how to explain the fact that there were no regulations – none – restricting or controlling or supervising the possession of firearms by any adult male (or even boys) in the late 18th century – and for decades thereafter. Are we to believe that the founders really did mean to “regulate” (modern usage) the right to keep and bear arms, but just forgot to do so? What about all those statues of colonials bearing arms? What about all those actual colonials – virtually every man alive – who bore them? Who openly carried and kept them? Without a single “regulation” – in the modern sense?
You can agree or disagree with this – with the idea of people not having to beg permission from the state to keep/bear arms or only being allowed to keep and bear them under certain conditions. But to take the position that Metcalf did – that it was the intention of the Second Amendment to regulate (modern usage) the people’s right to keep and bear arms – is fundamentally dishonest or ignorant.
Which is worse? I’ll leave that up to you.
Continue reading at Today’s Thoughts . . . Nov. 11, 2013 » Eric Peters Autos.