Is a 'well-regulated militia' necessary in The USA?The 2nd Ammendment says, "Inasmuch as and so long as a well regulated Militia shall be necessary to the security of a free state and so long as...

Is a 'well-regulated militia' necessary in The USA?

The 2nd Ammendment says, "Inasmuch as and so long as a well regulated Militia shall be necessary to the security of a free state and so long as privately held arms shall be essential to the maintenance thereof, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

What would a well-regulated militia look like?

Why would we need it?

and finally, I don't understand this... if the right to bear arms was an ammendment to the constitution (ie a later addition or change) why can't we make further ammendments to it??? Either you can or cannot amend The Constitution!?!

I find it truly confusing. 

Expert Answers
enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Amendment II says verbatim:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

In reading the Constitution you'll see that it makes provisions for amendment, and that it has been amended 27 times.  The first 10 Amendments were actually further restrictions on government, specifying what it could and could not do. By restricting government, Natural Rights are preserved (read the Federalist Papers for more info. on what the Founders were thinking with these first 10 Amendments.)

With respect to the Second Amendment, back when the US was founded, the people were the army, or militia, and therefore arms were a matter of course.  This is still the current situation in Switzerland, where everyone has been drilled, like a militia, and maintains arms at home.  Curiously, the Swiss were inspired by our Constitution and its Second Amendment, and have fully realised its intent.  Here in the US, we have not -- one could make the argument that since we now have a professional standing army under government control (which seems to be deviating from the will of the people more and more as time goes on) which is answerable only to the Commander in Chief, and Police establishments that are armed to "protect" the citizenry (which they are not legally obliged to do) We the People need no arms.  Or the other way to interpret the Second Amendment is that since we no longer live in a free State, we no longer need to be armed.

But I wonder how the events of September 11th would have unfolded if there were no governmental restrictions on an armed citizenry, and the citizen-militia aboard Flight 93 could have responded effectively.  Maybe then there would have been 4 dead terrorists in the aisle of the aircraft, instead of 40 dead Americans in a crater in the ground.

lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have always found the Second Amendment interesting in its phrasing. The fact that the authors put the militia part first, not the gun ownership aspect, says to me what the real intent was. It also says, " long as a well-regulated militia shall be necessary to the security of a free state....". These privately held arms are supposed to be held in order to maintain the security of a free state.

I do not oppose hunting rifles. If you eat what you kill, go for it. I have yet to see a logical argument for individuals having handguns. Here in St. Louis, we are marking the one year anniversary of a guy taking a gun into Kirkwood City Hall and murdering four people. A son of one of the murdered men is a first grader at the school where I teach. But yeah, we need that militia....

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A militia specifically, no, it is not necessary.  Now before the 2nd Amendment folks jump all over me, I'm not anti-gun rights.  It's just that we have had such a long history of gun rights, and of the Bill of Rights, that if the government of the US tried to become a dictatorship or to violate the Constitution in terms of power or rights, then our military would refuse to enforce the actions.  I believe they would be more loyal to the Constitution before the President, and so no militia is necessary to safeguard against dictatorship.  We have a professional army for that.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I think there is no need for a militia in that sense any more. Instead, today we have the National Guard. It means trained soldiers and weapons. I don't think people need to have guns in order to rise up and defend their country at a moment's notice.