Letter to the editor: Gun ownership meant to be ‘well regulated’

Gun Rights

I read with interest Kevin Mitchell’s letter supporting making Becker County a Second Amendment Sanctuary. If Mr. Mitchell would look at the reality, it already is. No one is going to take away a person’s guns. There are now more guns than people in the United States, and it would be impossible to do so even if, as he fears, a “tyrannical government” wanted to. I certainly would join him and the tens of millions of other gun owners in stopping that.

Where Mr. Mitchell expresses another misunderstanding is the fact that he speaks of the government as an entity of which he is not a part. He is a citizen of the United States. All our tradition makes it clear that Mr. Mitchell IS part of “we the people,” the government. While it is true we might not like the government “we the people” elect, to hold oneself outside “we the people” is a total misunderstanding of what it is to be an American.

Both Mr. Mitchell and I are standing up for the democracy our “forefathers” built by expressing our positions in letters to the editor. As regards the Second Amendment, Mr. Mitchell, read the Federalist Papers, the records and minutes of the Constitutional Convention, the following debates of ratification and the personal memoirs of the “Forefathers” of our republic. In James Madison’s detailed “minutes” of the Constitutional Convention, there is not one single word about the individual’s right to own a gun. Nor was it mentioned in the records of the debates about ratification of the Constitution.

The Second Amendment was NEVER intended to mean an unlimited right of individuals to own guns. It was intended to allow a “well regulated militia” to have guns in case of an invasion by another nation, or to quell domestic disturbances against the federal government or the states. Every man from 16 to 60 was required to own a musket or military weapon in order to be able to be “called up” to serve by states to serve in the well regulated militia.

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The drafters of the Constitution were mostly veterans of the Continental Army, and had seen the chaos and mob violence using guns, that occurred before and during the Revolution due to the absence of a strong central government. Nowhere in the writings of the “Forefathers” is there anything about citizens having guns to protect themselves against government, either state or federal. The amendment was intended to protect the government. The “well regulated” part of the amendment was out of fear that the arms could be used in violent rebellion against the central or state governments by groups, such as the Whiskey Rebellion, or the Confederacy, the domestic terrorists’ threat to kidnap and kill several U.S. governors, or the Jan. 6, 2021 Insurrectionist.

The idea that the Second Amendment was from the beginning of the nation intended to mean an unfettered right to individual gun ownership, was called by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger, a Minnesota native, “a fraud on the American public.” Burger said that in the 1980s.

It was not until 2008, in the case District of Columbia v Heller, that Justice Antonin Scalia, writing the majority opinion (he admitted that he was swayed by many who lobbied at the behest of the National Rifle Association) and on a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled, for the first time in over 200 years, that the Second Amendment guaranteed individuals “the right to possess firearms independent of service in a state militia, for lawful purposes including the protection of one’s home.” Subsequent court decisions have ruled that cities or states can regulate firearms due to the “well regulated” language in the amendment, and many felons are also not allowed to possess guns.

Mr. Mitchell, it was not the “forefathers,” but a very recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that gave citizens of the U.S. the individual right to own firearms without regulation. It is my guess, reading the words of the “forefathers,” that they would be alarmed at the idea of unfettered individual (and not well regulated) gun ownership that Justice Scalia articulated in District of Columbia v Heller. My hope is that a subsequent court will actually be “originalists” (a judge who takes the meaning of the words of the Constitution as it’s writers intended ) and return the Second Amendment to its original meaning-gun ownership that is well regulated.

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