In response to Art Tyree’s letter “Yosemite Sam Deniers and Tyranny Criers” (June 19):
1. English lesson. The amendment says, “The right of the people to bear arms ... ” not the right of the militia, meaning individuals. Supreme Court case Planned Parenthood v. Casey states: “It is tempting, as a means of curbing the discretion of the federal judges, to suppose that liberty encompasses no more than those rights already guaranteed to the individual against federal interference by the express provisions of the first eight amendments of the Constitution.” Also, the framers familiar with the atmosphere of common law expressed themselves through its vocabulary, so, in colonial times the term “well regulated” meant well functioning/ disciplined. A properly functioning militia fundamentally presupposes that an individual be allowed to practice and train himself.
2. The National Guard cannot be interpreted as the whole constitutional militia because the guardsmen are prohibited by law from keeping their own military arms, which are inventoried by the federal government under lock and key.
3. Political science lesson. Even Alexander Hamilton, a leading federalist, who wanted a “select” militia, in Federalist 29, assumed the average citizen would be armed: “If at all inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow citizen. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best security against it, if it should exist.”
4. Moral lesson. “ ... the balance of power is the scale of peace ... ” said Thomas Paine.
“A strong body makes a strong mind. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun,” said Thomas Jefferson.
“ ... the great objective is, that every man be armed ... ” said Patrick Henry.
“Arms in the hands of citizens [may] be used at individual discretion … ” said John Adams. “To disarm the people [is] the best and most effectual way to enslave them ... ” said George Mason.
“The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjected people to carry arms … ” said Adolf Hitler.
Of course we know George Mason was wrong, the best way to enslave people is economically, but it’s still a good quote.