Who is "the militia" and who regulates them?

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Thread: Who is "the militia" and who regulates them?

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    New Member Array Lothar5's Avatar
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    Who is "the militia" and who regulates them?

    As the 2nd Amendment reads...the right of the people to keep and bear arms without infringement appears to be predicated upon the idea that those people are members of "a well-regulated militia".

    Does that imply that all citizens of a state are members of said militia? Or perhaps the only people with the right to keep and bear arms are the ones that ARE in the militia.

    Then again, there is the question of who gets to regulate the militia and how?

    I am 1000% in favor of Joe/Jane America keeping and bearing without infringement! However I think its important that we have some answer tothese questions because our opponents will press the point that the Amendment may appear to refer to armed citizens only in the context of an organized, state-regulated, military organization (i.e. National Guard?).

    Any Constitutional Lawyers out there?

    I have always been curious about this aspect of the law and welcome any comments.
    Last edited by Lothar5; April 25th, 2013 at 07:51 PM. Reason: typos...(stupid phone keyboard).

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    VIP Member Array zacii's Avatar
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    The phrase "well regulated" as found in the second amendment means well trained.

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    Distinguished Member Array DontTreadOnI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacii View Post
    The phrase "well regulated" as found in the second amendment means well trained.

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    I always interpreted it as "well equipped".
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    "Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom? Congress shall have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American ... The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the People."
    — Tench Coxe, 1788.
    "Regulated" is often construed as meaning well-equipped and disciplined.
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    Senior Member Array Alex_C's Avatar
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    I'm browsing on my phone so it's kinda hard to look up right now, but IIRC the Militia Act basically says just about every adult man (and woman on a volunteer basis) is in "the militia".
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    Senior Member Array Sky Pilot's Avatar
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    I believe Ohio defines the Militia as all persons between sixteen and sixty who can bear arms in defense of the State.
    My understanding of "well regulated" is such persons are proficient in the use of said items.
    I could be wrong, you understand. I am just a poor dumb hillbilly, after all ...
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    In the 1700's 'well regulated' meant 'accurate' ... as in the 'Regulator' clock.
    I'd bet a donut it meant that the group of voluntary citizens (the militia) had trained well and could shoot accurately.
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    Very much an interesting question.
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    OP - Get a copy of the book "The Second Amendment Primer." All the history you need to know is there.

    "Well regulated" means "trained" or "skilled." "Militia" and "the people" are essentially one and the same.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lothar5 View Post
    As the 2nd Amendment reads...the right of the people to keep and bear arms without infringement appears to be predicated upon the idea that those people are members of "a well-regulated militia".

    Does that imply that all citizens of a state are members of said militia? Or perhaps the only people with the right to keep and bear arms are the ones that ARE in the militia.

    I have read a fair number of books and documents on the subject of the Second Amendment, including the following:




    A basic description of the terms "militia" and "well regulated milita" that seems to best summarize the meaning at the time of the founding of the United States also happens to be one of the most succinct (given the variations in militia laws that existed at the time). It comes from the Young work, The Founders' View of the Right to Bear Arms: A Definitive History of the Second Amendment, Golden Oaks Books, 2007, pp 25-26:

    The Colonial American Understanding of Militia

    Taking an overview of the Colonial Period prior to the American Revolution, the common understanding in the British Colonies of North America was that the militia consisted of all the able-bodied free men.

    Colonial militia laws generally required all able-bodied men, designated by age range from 18 to 50 or 16 to 60, to possess their own arms. The men would be able to not only defend themselves and their own family but also to assist in organized defense of the larger community. Colonial militia laws provided for organization, officers, and training of the men for emergency defense in the locality where they lived and worked. The phrase "well regulated militia" was applied to militia who were able to effectively engage in the organized defense of themselves, their families, and their community.

    The militia should never be confused with paid soldiers and troops that were hired by the colonists when necessary. Troops were under military law and were engaged for service for the period of time they had specifically agreed to enlist for. The militia concept was in contrast to troops. All of the free men were required to have their own arms so they would be able to defend themselves and could be relied upon to assist in defense of their community. Defense of the community was in the hands of the able-bodied inhabitants of the community.

    The purpose of the militia was relatively localized, organized defense of communities in sudden emergencies. Military campaigns were generally not the purpose of the militia.


    Of course, today, we (the militia, the able-bodied citizenry capable of bearing arms) are largely left to our own devices, in terms of both arming ourselves, as well as training and coordinating ourselves sufficiently to be a capable and effective fighting force.

    But it's still us, the citizenry who is able-bodied and capable of bearing arms in our own defense and defense of our communities. As distinctly separate from the paid military and publicly-funded (government) forces for common defense and war.
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    Member Array Cheesewiz's Avatar
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    Plain and simple ....The People . All of us that could bear arms .

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    I read something or somewhere that the nat guard is organized while we are unorganized
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    Sept. 28 1776 original Pennsylvania Constitution also helps to reenforce it. They both share some of the same signers.

    XIII. That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lothar5 View Post
    As the 2nd Amendment reads...the right of the people to keep and bear arms without infringement appears to be predicated upon the idea that those people are members of "a well-regulated militia".

    Does that imply that all citizens of a state are members of said militia? Or perhaps the only people with the right to keep and bear arms are the ones that ARE in the militia.

    Then again, there is the question of who gets to regulate the militia and how?

    I am 1000% in favor of Joe/Jane America keeping and bearing without infringement! However I think its important that we have some answer tothese questions because our opponents will press the point that the Amendment may appear to refer to armed citizens only in the context of an organized, state-regulated, military organization (i.e. National Guard?).

    Any Constitutional Lawyers out there?

    I have always been curious about this aspect of the law and welcome any comments.
    No lawyer but the supreme court has previously ruled that the peoples right to bear arms is intrinsic, it has nothing to do with the first part of that sentence, they are two separate statements.

    The Supreme Court held:[43]
    (1) The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Pp. 2–53.
    (a) The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms. Pp. 2–22.
    (b) The prefatory clause comports with the Court’s interpretation of the operative clause. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved. Pp. 22–28.
    (c) The Court’s interpretation is confirmed by analogous arms-bearing rights in state constitutions that preceded and immediately followed the Second Amendment. Pp. 28–30.
    (d) The Second Amendment’s drafting history, while of dubious interpretive worth, reveals three state Second Amendment proposals that unequivocally referred to an individual right to bear arms. Pp. 30–32.
    (e) Interpretation of the Second Amendment by scholars, courts and legislators, from immediately after its ratification through the late 19th century also supports the Court’s conclusion. Pp. 32–47.
    (f) None of the Court’s precedents forecloses the Court’s interpretation. Neither United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542 , nor Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252 , refutes the individual-rights interpretation. United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174 , does not limit the right to keep and bear arms to militia purposes, but rather limits the type of weapon to which the right applies to those used by the militia, i.e., those in common use for lawful purposes. Pp. 47–54.

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