The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution is called The Bill of Rights. My hunch is that Donald Trump doesn’t even know this as he invokes the second of these amendments as if it is the Holy Grail. Hell, he probably doesn’t even know what a grail is, let alone the Holy Grail.
Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Press
Amendment 2 - The Right to Bear Arms
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.
Amendment 3 - The Housing of Soldiers
No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Amendment 4 - Protection from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
Amendment 5 - Protection of Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property
Amendment 6 - Rights of Accused Persons in Criminal Cases
Amendment 7 - Rights in Civil Cases
Amendment 8 - Excessive Bail, Fines, and Punishments Forbidden
Amendment 9 - Other Rights Kept by the People
Amendment 10 - Undelegated Powers Kept by the States and the People
In today's world Amendment 3, The Housing of Soldiers, has lost its relevance. I contend, as do many others who dare admit it, that the same applies to Amendment 2 The Right to Bear Arms.
All of the other amendments are crucial to our democracy. They are part of what make us a great country.
I think that to fully understand why The Right to Bear Arms amendment became outdated and irrelevant once the country actually had a well-regulated militia you must look at the history of the National Guard. The Second Amendment became less and less relevant on December 13, 1636, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony organized three militia regiments into the Massachusetts Army National Guard to defend against the growing threat of the Pequot Indians. All able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60 were required to join the militia. Of course they were armed.
If anyone wants to be a stickler for when ordinary citizens stopped needing to help protect the nation by being armed they can pick any of these dates in the early 1900’s:
In 1903, with passage of the Dick Act, the predecessor to the modern-day National Guard was formed.
Congress passed the National Defense Act of 1916, which required the use of the term "National Guard" for the state militias and further regulated them. Congress also authorized the states to maintain Home Guards, which were reserve forces outside the National Guards being deployed by the Federal Government.
In 1933, with passage of the National Guard Mobilization Act, Congress finalized the split between the National Guard and the traditional state militias by mandating that all federally funded soldiers take a dual enlistment/commission and thus enter both the state National Guard and the National Guard of the United States, a newly created federal reserve force. Wikipedia
Not only does the United States have a “well organized militia” but every inch of the United States is protected by a police or sheriffs department. The first publicly funded police force with officers on duty full-time was created in Boston in 1838. Today many local law enforcement agencies have trained civilian volunteers working alongside or regular officers, or sometimes independently walking a beat or occassionly with their own police cars as auxiliary or reserve officers, special deputies or members of a sheriff’s posse. Of course today police departments have the same weapons and some of the same equipment as National Guard units.
I was a reserve police officer for 20 years, half of this time in the town of Mason, Michigan and half in the city of Middleboro, Massachusetts. (I went to the Plymouth County Reserve-Intermittent Academy.) I generally worked one night shift a week along with a full-time officer. All told I put in several thousand hours. I also published the number one website about police stress, Police Stressline (Archived by the Library of Congress which is why I was known as the social worker cop.
I didn’t carry an off duty weapon in Michigan but I often did in Massachusetts. At the time some police departments required that their officer carry off-duty, others left it up to their discretion. I don’t know the general policy across the country today. Here’s an article “5 Reasons Why Cops Should Carry Off-Duty” which address the issue if the department doesn’t require it.
I can tell you from my experience what it is like to carry a concealed weapon off duty and why I think only law enforcement officers should be allowed to do this. It has to do with the badge and the gun. The badge is actually more powerful and more important than the gun.
My police colleague Jim S. was once checking out at a large Walmart type store when the customer in front of him on the line went behind the counter and put a knife to the cashier's throat and demanded she empty the cash register. He didn't have the little five shot revolver he sometimes carried off-duty, generally only at night after a late shift when he walked home from work. Of course he did have his badge, and he did have authoritative body language and “the voice” of a confident police officer.
He took out his badge and held it not far from the criminal’s face and told him in no uncertain terms to drop the knife and put his hands up.
Jim took him down forcefully, told him he was under arrest, and held him in an arm lock on the floor until the police could come, cuff him, and take him away. End of story… almost…. the store manager offered to give him a gallon of ice cream but being totally honest (and knowing that our chief was a stickler for not taking gratuities) he declined the “reward.”
All this being said, what I also learned when I carried a concealed weapon, a small five shot .38 Ruger SP101 revolver or a .380 Walther PPKS seven shot semi-automatic, was that there was almost never a time when I didn’t feel like a cop even when outside our town where I had no arrest authority. On the dozen or so occasions over that many years when I thought there might be a time when I or someone else might be in danger I went over the exact scenario as to what I would do.
This scenario always involved displaying my badge and announcing “police” even if it was in a city like Boston where I didn’t have jurisdiction.
Full-time and volunteer cops I knew had a certain police sensibility. For example, they often choose a seat in a restaurant so their back was to the wall and they could see everyone who came in. In a small town where the nere-do-wells knew who they were it was advisable to know if they came into a eatery. It’s not that they are paranoid, it is that they are alert and always engaged in risk assessment that eventually comes naturally.
All this being said, I see no reason why civilians need to carry handguns whether concealed or not. I certainly do not think civilians should be allowed to own assault rifles.
Sorry Wayne LPierre, it doesn’t take a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun. It takes a cop with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun. Good guys, no matter how well meaning, with guns are dangerous and may inadvertently be shot by the police.
I stopped carrying a concealed weapon once I no longer had a badge. If I was going someplace unsafe pepper spray was the only thing I would occasionally carry.
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