Sunday, August 17, 2014

No, "well-regulated" does not mean "well-trained"--it means that the organisation is firmly under control

The usual pro-gun argument about the term "well-regulated" in the Second Amendment is that it has something to do with the militia being well-trained, but like most of the mythology surrounding the Second Amendment this takes that passage out of historical and political context.

I like to cite to Adam Smith's comment in wealth of nations that:
This distinction being well understood, the history of all ages, it will be found, bears testimony to the irresistible superiority which a well-regulated standing army has over a militia.[1]
This could would be scary if the meaning were "well-trained" rather than a standing army firmly under civilian control since the fear was that a well-trained, well-armed, professional military could indeed overrun a poorly trained civilian force.

Additionally, the Constitution was partially a response to Shays Rebellion, which was an out of control mob: not a militia.  Shays Rebellion was firmly in the minds of the people who were debating the Constitution and its ratification.  They would not have wanted a militia which was not firmly under control.

As I have said before, the issue isn't personal arms in the Constitutional debates as much as it is the nature of the defence establishment and civilian control over the military.  To say that the term "well-regulated" does not refer to making sure that the militia is firmly under civilian control is to show a degree of historical ignorance which is staggering

Where this falls into the topic of a militarised police force isn't so much that a police force is like Scotland Yard or the French Gendarmerie Nationale as much as that it is firmly under civilian control and well-regulated by rules and procedures which protect the people.

A strong, independent judiciary is a necessary institution in such a society to make sure that the military/police are kept under control.  That was why the Constitution specifically sets limits for the Judiciary and guarantees protections in the legal process, both civil and criminal.

As another commenter said, "well-regulated means exactly that", whether one is talking about militias or professional military. 

[1] Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, Book V, Chapter I-Of the Expences of the Sovereign or CommonwealthPART I Of the Expence of Defence V.1.27


  1. But the gun humping maniacs don't want to be under control which why the consistently and repeatedly lie about the 2A

  2. "This distinction being well understood, the history of all ages, it will be found, bears testimony to the irresistible superiority which a well-regulated standing army has over a militia."

    Let's talk about the irresistible superiority of the British Army over the colonial militia. Or perhaps the irresistible superiority of the US Army over say the Viet Cong, or the Iraqi or the Afghan insurgent forces.

    1. Rather, let's talk about the anachronistic sense of militia as it was understood back then. That's the key point for me.

    2. We lost the Vietnam war and our superiority has not ended the violence in the Middle East, or ended terrorism.

  3. Yes, well regulated means well trained as well as well armed, well equipped and well supplied. It does not mean controlled. There is another section that covers who may control an organized militia called up for specific reasons.

    A regulated military is a different subject. A military is a government funded and supplied force. A militia is not. A standing military falls to local control. A true militia is the common citizen willing to volunteer him or herself and their equipment for the common defense of the people, even a
    against a standing military, which the founders said a standing military would not be tolerated.

    If a standing military was not to be tolerated as the founders stated, and was called against the people in acts of tyranny, then the common militia is the people's defense.

    1. Your constant reference to the statements of the founders, is ridiculous. The founders also said slavery would be tolerated and so would the discrimination of women and everyone else except white land owners. Our laws have progressed over 250 years, even if you wish they had not.

  4. Yes our laws have progressed, if want to call it that. But our Bill of Rights still remain to be the constant root from which our laws arise from. The meaning of those basic rights cannot change, if they do manage to get changed then all of your precious progressed laws will mean nothing.

    Then all of this meaningless racist remarks that you and Mike constantly fail at trying to attribute to current gun owners and Republicans will come back and bite you right in the ass.

    1. What did I say that was racist?
      If the founders did not intend laws to change as society changed over the centuries, then why did they include a process to amend the constitution?
      Get with the times liar.

    2. Every other comment contains a racist statement. The founders did include the amendment process which has been used several times but no one has ever saw the need to change any of the core rights so those remain untouched thru today. So come on liar, tell me you can amend the constitution when the people wont. Till then, our laws still use the roots from which they came.

      Get with the times, idiot.