More on that Well-Regulated Thing

Dave Hardy looks at the history books and finds the term well-regulated being used in contexts where it unambiguously means well-functioning, orderly, and organized. One of the big turds that Dick Metcalfe stepped on, was to parrot the other side’s distortion that “well-regulated” meant “tightly controlled and subject to much regulation.” Research on this matter has clearly shown that it was not understood that way at the time the Bill of Rights was ratified. It goes back to the analogy, almost a tired one at this point:

“A well-educated electorate, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to print and read publications shall not be infringed.”

But our opponents don’t want to accept the plain English, even now, long past the point where well-regulated could possibly be interpreted as a tactic endorsement for controls by anyone who actually has honestly done the research.

Growing up, I never had any ideas that the Second Amendment meant anything other than what it plainly says, because I can read. I didn’t find out the words were a controversy until I was an adult, and the audacity of those on the other side, to subvert the plain language, is part of the reason I got into activism. I went through most of the Clinton years not understanding how the Assault Weapons Ban was even remotely constitutional, and wondering why nothing was done about it. When I found out, I became angry.

22 Responses to “More on that Well-Regulated Thing”

  1. mike says:

    Perhaps it’s time to take back the word. Instead of signing up for gun training classes, why not sign up for gun regulation classes? Maybe some people could even become well regulated in the art of karate, or computers, or driving even.

    • Sebastian says:

      The issue is broader than just guns. The meaning of regulation in a government context has changed. People still understand that if I say “regulators” in the context of, say, SCUBA diving, it’s something that offers a diver regular pressure suitable for breathing. Say “regulators” in the context of government, people don’t assume it’s something who makes things regular. In government, regulation has come to mean dos and don’ts, rules, and enforcement. That the language has changed is not really a problem, the problem is that the people who had subversive intentions, in regards to the Second Amendment, tried to argue that the word hadn’t changed, and meant the same thing in 1789.

  2. KevinC says:

    “You keep using those words. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.”

  3. Joe Huffman says:

    I went through most of the Clinton years not understanding how the Assault Weapons Ban was even remotely constitutional, and wondering why nothing was done about it. When I found out, I became angry.

    It was just a few minutes ago when I was having lunch with my girlfriend I told her about Speaker of the House Tom Foley losing his seat over the AWB. At about that same time she was a Washington State lobbyist and generally pretty plugged into Washington State politics. But she didn’t understand how he lost his seat.

    I explained it was because of the AWB and there were two things that really, really pissed us off above and beyond the ban itself.

    One was they called the ban “Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act”. It’s a firearms use protection act that bans guns? They lie. It’s what they do. They can’t help themselves.

    And the other was that Foley kept the voting open for several minutes after the stated voting period had expired. The bill failed but by keeping the voting open they got people to change their votes until they had enough for passage. He then closed the voting. The video of him doing that was incredible propaganda for the pro-gun side during his election that fall.

    If the gun owners his district in Eastern Washington could have gotten away with it I’m sure you could have sold thousands of tickets to use a horse whip on him.

  4. Joe says:

    I would really like for the bloggers here to pay a bit more attention to the PA democrat field for governor. It seems as though just when you thought things couldn’t get much worse, they did. If you thought Allyson Schwartz was bad, take a look at John Hanger; this is Bill De Blasio part 2, and judging by how many of them Dems at that Philly forum rallied around him, our situation might be WCS (Worst Case Scenario).

    • Sebastian says:

      We’ve been following it. We haven’t been reporting on it because the race hasn’t really shaped up yet. The primary isn’t until May. There’s really nothing to work with so far. It’s only bad and really bad, at this point.

    • HappyWarrior6 says:

      Funny, Hanger to me seems to be the best on guns of them all. His website actually lists gun issues under “rights” and it also seems as though he is not supporting the gun grabby stuff that Alyson Schwartz supports.

      I also urge everyone here to pay attention to their local house and senate races. The governor in PA is thankfully not the president and can really do nothing without the legislature.

      • Joe says:

        Something doesn’t feel right. He sounded a little bit too much like De Blasio on economic issues. He is a weird character as well.

        • HappyWarrior6 says:

          Hmm. He is also the only candidate to support de-criminalization of marijuana!

          Well, strategically for Democrat gun owners it’s a tough one. It seems like a far left field that could potentially make it easier for Corbett who is really pretty moderate overall.

  5. You can always say what I say whenever someone makes that stupid statement.

    “Well Regulated” doesn’t mean “Subject to lots of laws” any more than “Infantry” means “Filled with babies.”

  6. Tad says:

    Even still, the subject of well-regulated is the militia- not the right to keep and bear arms. Even if it meant what they want it to mean, it would mean the government could have a say in how militias form, what kind of training they do, when they train, how they muster, keeping track of their numbers, etc.

    • Sebastian says:

      Going back to the analogy, what the anti-gun folks argue is that the implication is that you can’t print or read publications outside a school or other educational environment. It could even read like this:

      A well-provisioned system of libraries, being necessary to the health of a free state, the right of the people to print and read publications shall not be infringed.

      No one would seriously argue that meant you can only publish and read inside libraries.

      • Jack says:

        Indeed, the whole dependent clause / independent clause makes the causal relationship pretty clear.

        Also funny how they insit the “shall not be infringed” part is a dead letter because of the well-regulated. Which shows an example of them reaching too far and the mask slipping.

        Though that the antis want to repeal the 2nd also gives the game.

  7. Burnt Toast says:

    Well-regulated could mean to set the standard, the regulars or the regulator, not an upper bound, but a minimal that to be met/exceeded. That which meets or exceeds the regulator becomes the new regulator – the standard by which all others are judged.

    As stated, this is the whole militia that is to be well-regulated.

    Now, given to this day, in military speak, ‘regulars’ are what again?

    And, not only are the unorganized militia, the irregulars, to strive to meet that standard, to exceed that standard, but the right to do so shall not be infringed.

    And this was in the day that the British regulars were the standard world-wide.

  8. McHairball says:

    It doesn’t matter to the other side what it means. Their argument is that it means whatever the hell they say it means, period. After they win their argument will plainly be “Right, wrong. I’m the guy with the gun. Suck it.”

    • HappyWarrior6 says:

      But they don’t have the guns…

      • Jack says:

        They’re not anti-gun. They’re anti commoners having guns.

        They’re quite happy with the state and the elite having all the guns they want.

        When have you seen an anti go on against Bloomberg style hired guns or police having machine guns?

  9. Carl from Chicago says:

    Excellent post, Sebastian. And truthful points by Mr. Hardy.

  10. Ronnie says:

    OT: A MAIG member – Gordon Jenkins – has recently made the news due to his drunken tirade following his DUI arrest, which was recorded on the video camera at the police station in Monticello, New York, which is the same town where he serves as the mayor. Google ‘Gordon Jenkins DUI arrest’ and you will see what the deal is.

  11. Oscar Fiddlepoop says:

    If the sole purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to guarantee, unequivocally, the right of the individual to bear arms, why didn’t it just say so? E.g.: It is the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms, and this right shall not be infringed. Period, dot, end of story. If that was the sole purpose of the 2nd Amendment, what was the purpose of the preamble? The 2nd Amendment is the only amendment to have one. If the sole purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to protect that individual right, why cloud the issue with the preamble? I have to believe it was there for a purpose and that purpose was the purpose of the 2nd Amendment; as a check on the Federal Government. A disorganized armed citizenry is no match for a standing federal army of a government run amuck. But a well-regulated militia made up of armed citizenry might have half a chance of bringing an errant federal government back in line with the desires of the general population. Perhaps the SCOTUS recognized that, and in order to strengthen the hand of the Federal Government, and weaken the citizenry’s ability to keep the Federal Government in check, chose to ignore the “well regulated militia” clause.

    • Sebastian says:

      The reason there’s a preamble, is because Madison wanted to address the anti-federalist concern that the federal constitution gave too much power over the militia to the federal government, and gave it the power to raise an army. He did that by guaranteeing a right to keep and bear arms.

      • Geodkyt says:

        That’s correct, Sebastian, and you can read the back and forth arguments in the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers.