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December 06, 2008

Our right to bear arms

John R. Ratzlaff, like so many others arguing against the rights of individuals to bear arms, argues in favor of “militias” (12/3, Opinion, “As I See It: Right to bear arms focused on militias, not individuals”). His statement that, “the meaning of the Second Amendment at the time seems explicit: The right to bear arms belongs to the militia for the purpose of defending the State” is just simply wrong.

Ratzlaff conveniently ignores the fact that, during the time frame when the Second Amendment was framed and ratified, militia persons were usually expected to provide their own weapons, equipment and supplies. In fact, the origins of the right to bear arms go back to England in the 12th century, when King Henry II obligated all “freemen” to bear arms for public defense.

The “originalist” interpretation, “according to the ‘common sense’ meaning and definition of the document’s words at the time they were written” can lead to no other conclusion than an individual right to bear arms.

Charles Black

I appreciate Professor John Ratzlaff’s comments and interpretation that only militias should have guns, per the Second Amendment. However learned he may be, he completely failed to mention the second half of the 2nd Amendment, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Perhaps he has a liberal cataract in his eye that caused this oversight.

Bruce Luedeman

“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed — unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” — James Madison, The Federalist Papers

The primary author of the Constitution wrote these words in descriptive support of the document itself. The militias of the time were made up of the common citizen. Shopkeepers, craftsmen and farmers picked up their personal rifles and stood, shoulder to shoulder, to fight the tyranny of an overbearing government.

Last summer my wife and I spent a week in Colonial Williamsburg, Va., as everyone should. There, we stood in the Powder Magazine, a building that housed the black powder and lead musket balls to supply the citizens in time of threat. There were no barracks at this site, because the militia was the citizens. Upon the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the British raided the magazine and stole the powder, disarming the citizens.

It scares me to the bone that people who want to distort history for their own cause are in a position to influence our youth.

Randy Moser
Paola, Kan.



what you say is pretty true about rifles, but muskets were made in quantity. You would have trouble telling one "Brown Bess" from another.


*sigh* Bazookas have never been a part of my arsenal, so I became extremely proficient with smaller weapons.


Sorry jack, Bazookas are not in the arsenal any longer, good luck finding rounds for them. Whether it be British or Uncle Sam, government none the less. Maybe you trust government to provide everything for you and enjoy absolute power, the majority of us do not. Obama can out his Gestapo out all he wants, they will get what any rogue commie, socialist terrorist deserves.


The British invasion?

We need guns to protect us from the possible return of Gerry and the Pacemakers?

Well, fairy me across the Mersy!


Large and well formed bazookas are never out of style and will never go obsolete.


jack you bring some very historic and great points to topic. In the end though, people realized after the British invasion, we best keep ourselves available to counter rogue government. Probably even more so today. I would agree that some citizens are ridiculous stock piling dozens of guns, although they retain that right. Bazookas are largely obsolete, BTW. A good Ole Molotov Cocktail is always aviable option though.


All people born will die. Let's outlaw birth!


Weapons made at the time of the revolution were mostly hand made works of art. No two alike. Manufactured by a highly skilled gunsmith, not by an automated factory. Therefor they would have been expensive. My personal bet is that I have more weapons in my home than most folks during revolutionary times. Most probably had (if any) one musket, which was saved up for and purchased as a lifetime investment then passed own through the generations. Weapons for fun were almost undoubtably only within the economic reach of the rich.

What that has to do with the meaning of the 2nd Amendment eludes me, but there it is.

There have been restrictions placed on weapons ownership for a long time. Sawed off shotguns, "Tommy" guns, machine guns, flame throwers, bazookas, etc are still only available in Rogue's fantasies.

Sorry folks, I just can't work up a big fear that the government is coming for the almost 70 or 80 year old 4/10 shotgun that has been the learning tool of every male in my family since my grandfather purchased it.

Personally I think this is arguement falls in the same category as the ones that blame TV or video games or hip-hop "singers" for the violence in our society. Sorry folks, the problem isn't any of these things. The problem is us.

Pogo was right!


Pub more people die from abortions than gun related murders. More people die in car accidents than by guns. More people die from natural causes than guns. So maybe we should outlaw abortions, automobiles and natural causes.


Gee Pub, I don't know. Should we allow cities, states, etc. to make laws that are in direct contradiction to the freedoms that our Constitution gives us, and expressly prohibits the infringement of?


Pub 17
People on Letters and on this blog are forever shedding crocodile tears over imagined loses of constitutional rights. And here you and some of the same whiners are shedding tears over the affirmation of a Constitutional right. And your seventy years does not correlate with my memory. For as long as I can remember having an opinion on the subject, some 78 years starting in 1930 or before, I always believed "to keep and bear arms" was an individual Constitutional right. As to "Miller" that decision was based on the interpretation that the Constitution affirmed the right to "keep and Bear" militarily effective arms and that sawed-off shotguns did not fall under that category. If the case had been contested before the Court the error in that idea could have been pointed out as they were used in the trenches of WWI. I can't remember the concept that the Constitution affirmed an individual right even being questioned until BC came along. You seem to be basing some of your remarks on a completely fraudulent and discredited book. Even the Libs running the University where the man worked finally rejected his statements and him. England and Scotland, since they have passed even more stringent gun laws, have higher rates of violent crime than does the US. They also have higher rate of "hot" burglaries, those were the occupant is present.

Pub 17

Gee, Michael, for seventy years rational - not "rationale" - people could read it to mean that in order to form a militia the populace could keep and bear arms. That's why you can't buy a sawed-off shotgun: it has no use in a military context. Then the trogs appointed by radical-right presidents decided to strip away the rights of cities, counties, and states to regulate firearms within their boundaries and bow to the will of the Federal government. Feel freer now?


Wow, Pub. I'm glad there weren't more people like you around during colonial times or we'd still be under British rule.

Fact of the matter is, whether you like it or not, the right for individuals to bear arms IS Constitutional. There is absolutely no way a rationale person can read it and come to any other conclusion. Only ideologues can come up with anything different.

Pub 17

What sort of idiot would sanction thirty thousand deaths every year so that a bunch of pathetic losers could swagger around trying to convince each other that they can take on the government with their cute little popguns? Michael Kerner, you ever think you can overthrow the government with rifles, I suggest you get some professional help.


What sort of idiot would favor giving up citizen owned guns and leaving the government as the only entity with guns.

When you do so, you are trusting that the government, now and for all time in the future, will never turn abusive and need to be overthrown. Gun control is idiocy.

It is the nature of government to take more and more power for themselves as we have seen in spades in the last 8 years. You want to set up your kids to be totally unable to resist?


""More Guns, Less Crime" by Prof. John Lott."

Lott also penned the best seller, "More Food, Less Obesity: How to Lose Weight By Eating All You Can Stuff Down Your Piehole".

As noted, I'm also at a loss as to why Baghdad or Somalia aren't the safest places on Earth.

Pub 17

Wow, Rouge is a life member, just like Michael Moore.

Lott's book is based on data from 15-20 years ago, and has been slammed as hard as Belleisle's book; even Gary Kleck says Lott is full of crap. By the Lott thesis, Bagdad should be the most peaceful place on earth.


"Weapons were scarce and expensive during the Revolutionary period...."

Oh really 17 Pubes? What is your source fot that rather broad statement? I would love to hear it!

To the contrary, guns, rifles nad pistols were extremely common to those folks in the colonies and were considered essentail for defense, and in many cases, food.

MIght this life member of the NRA recommend a book to you? "More Guns, Less Crime" by Prof. John Lott. Try and educate yourself somewhat before spouting off. I know that will be a challenge for you, but do your best.

Pub 17

Quad Kings-
GREAT! Think how easy that would make law enforcement's job. Pick up some dipstick with a gun, WHAMMO, instant conviction. What's your problem with that? Oh, and that other thing about standing off an abusive government--what kind of firepower you bringing to the fight, Red Ryder?

Quad Kings

Dave Barry said it best: "We have every right to own and arm bears."

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