‘Well-regulated militia' is nowhere in sight

By Bob Elliott


The city at the north end of our cultural-technology corridor put on a sensational fireworks display earlier this month to celebrate the 220th anniversary of the Constitution’s 2nd Amendment being ratified.

It was four months late, but what a meaningful way to recognize how the National Rifle Association (NRA) and others have used that controversial amendment. Actually, it’s not the amendment that’s controversial, it’s the broad differences on how it should be interpreted.

In case you missed it in the news, during a five-day period the week of April 16, Cedar Rapids’ police and emergency vehicles responded to three separate gunshot incidents. There were five victims — one fatality, one recovering, and three left in critical condition.

Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, only the victims have been identified (Editor’s note: police arrested three suspects in the Kirkwood Apartment shootings last week). The search is on for those proud gun-wielding Americans, who apparently believe they represent something of a militia. Don’t forget, it was maintaining a militia — a well-regulated one — that justified the right for citizens to keep and bear arms. Following is the brief language of that amendment that was ratified in December of 1791:

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

By the way, you’ll notice by the spelling that our Founding Fathers’ belief in the right to bear arms has nothing to do with female fashions, such as sleeveless dresses revealing bare arms.

I have family members and good friends who disagree with me, but I’m one of those who believe reasonable gun controls, in addition to being constitutional, would be a huge plus for public safety.

You may have noticed that the 2nd Amendment’s first two phrases focus on the necessity of a well-regulated militia. I believe the Founding Fathers envisioned an organized and well-regulated militia. I can’t believe they had in mind more than 300 million people running around with weapons ranging from small caliber revolvers to assault weapons.

As far as any reasonable gun control goes, I believe we’re past the point of no return for that. Our nation and, in fact, pretty much the entire North and South American continents are far too flooded with all kinds of weaponry.

Given that, I don’t know who I fear most — urban gangs, organized mafia and other bad guys, or those fully armed crazies who believe they’re on justified missions to shoot people and blow up buildings.

If we could go back 100 years and start over, I think it would be possible to effectively regulate who can have what kinds of guns, and how they qualify to do so. It would be as reasonable as regulating who can drive motor vehicles, work as electricians or plumbers or barbers.

Now we grant carte blanche to every Tom, Dick and Mary to buy, and in some instances carry, everything from concealed revolvers to those fun little AK-47s. From my perspective, all that has little to do with a well-regulated militia.

But as I said earlier, thanks to the NRA and others, all we can do now is deal with it.Bob Elliott, longtime resident of Iowa City, served a term on the City Council and is retired after 30 years at ACT’s national office. Comments:

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