For those who claim to be defenders of the Second Amendment, let’s insist they embrace the entire provision, the part that mentions a well-regulated militia.

There’s nothing well-regulated in what we’re seeing in the cancer of mass murders resulting from assault rifles. A particular model, at that.

Note, please, that regulated means regulations, first, and their efficient enforcement, second. The Congress that adopted this amendment knew what it was doing, unlike more recent politicians beholden to the gun lobby. As the amendment insists, it’s the militia that shall not be infringed. The well-regulated militia.

By the way, having lived in rural areas, I’ve come to appreciate the place of hunting and knowledgeable hunters in the wild. Some are deeply devoted naturalists, aware and alert in the nuances of their surroundings. Natives have much to teach about the rhythms of their game. I’ve seen how a local hunting and fishing club regulated much of a rural county, keeping irresponsible “sportsmen” away. In Washington state, the return and proliferation of elk can be credited to concerned hunters in conservationist organizations. There’s a role for that culture – one, we should note, that accepts legal limits on its activity.


These days, I’m thinking more and more about the militia part of the Second Amendment. What if we required all gun owners to be a member of one? Perhaps it would be like the Army Reserve, where each member would have to take so much training each year and put in community service time. Training? First-aid and CPR are always good for the public. We’re far more likely to need those than a gun, anyway. I see this as a kind of auxiliary for public service. Why not?

No exceptions for people who claim to be too busy, either. Someone like Donald Trump would have to put in hands-on time. Public service, indeed.



  1. This is an excellent suggestion. Switzerland is often cited as a country with lots of gun ownership and little gun crime. The actual figures and statistics are not as interesting as the fact that nearly all adult males undergo weapons training as part of their mandatory militia service, and most weapon purchases require a permit. Those that don’t require a permit require the sale to be recorded via contract and filed with the weapon registration bureau, where the weapon holder is registered.

    So here we have an example of a well-regulated militia: mandatory training and some form of registration for every gun sale. Perhaps even more importantly, the sale of ammunition is overseen and subsidized by the Swiss government. After all, a gun without ammo is just a fancy club.

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