USS Clueless -- The right to keep and bear arms

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The right to keep and bear arms

Periodically there is some sort of horrible event involving firearms which makes the national news, and every time it happens, inevitably there are calls for more restrictions on the rights of Americans to own firearms.

The US has a murder rate ten times that of nations such as the UK which forbid most people from owning weapons

I abhor the carnage caused by in particular handguns. I personally hate them; it makes me nervous just to look at them. I do not own a gun, and probably never will. Nonetheless, I oppose restrictions on them.

But that's because I understand the purpose behind the Second Amendment. It reads:

"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."

Now many people don't know what the Founders meant by a "militia". I've seen articles claiming that the National Guard is our "militia" and that the the arms held by the Guard satisfy the Second Amendment. Those writers don't know history. (But then, there's a lot of that going around.)

At the time of the American Revolution, European armies tended to be made up of several tiers of troops of varying quality and training. The top level was called The King's Guard (or The Guard, for short) and it had nothing to do with what the US calls "The Guard". In the US military, the equivalent of The Guard are elite formations like the Green Berets, which recruit from the rest of the Army. The next level down were called Grenadiers, and below that were Musketeers. (There sometimes was a level in between called Fusiliers depending on the army.)

That represented the regular army. But when a hot war broke out, it was common to flesh out the army with conscription. Units formed in that way were referred to as Militia, and many of them were veterans. However, many had never served. Nonetheless, they knew how to use weapons in many cases (and muzzle loading muskets were far more complex to use than modern rifles) becase they had used them as private citizens

The American Revolution was fought on the rebellion side primarily by such troops. It wasn't until the last couple of years of the war that Washington's force achieved something like the quality and training that Europeans would have expected in a regular force. And even then, they primarily used rifles they themselves owned

Without a large stockpile of weapons in private hands, the American Revolution would have been impossible. The Founders learned that lesson well; the willingness and ability to fight for your rights is the foundation of all liberty.

And that is just as true today as it was then. For the ultimate guarantor of our freedom from invasion, and more importantly from a military coup, is the huge stockpile of weapons which are in private hands.

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