Last night over at BSB, bryan had a nice post about how the proposed changes in the concealed carry law (as pointed out by Jill) would make it easier to carry a concealed weapon than to vote.

Ignoring the irony that the wingnuts work like hell to restrict people’s right to vote while working to allow unfettered access to firearms, there is a legitimate public safety issue here. Let’s start by reviewing the 2nd Amendment:

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.

If you read on the precendent in English law that prompted the 2nd Amendment, and the editing process the Amendment underwent before ratification, it becomes painfully clear that the Amendment was intended for common defense. The plain intent was for the citizenry to be armed such that an overwhelming mass uprising in the event of tyranny foreign or domestic would be possible in the defense of the collective populace. This was a valid and legitimate reason then, as it is now. The goal was clearly something akin to the Swiss Militia, tho far less rigorously organized.

Wolverines!So, what exactly does a voluntary “well regulated militia” mean? While it’s open to debate, I have a hard time figuring out what untrained concealed-weapon carry has to do with “well regulated militia”. Being required to show competency in weapon use and safety is a completely legitimate “restriction” on firearms ownership, without actually infringing on anyone’s rights. After all, if you can’t safely use a weapon, what use are you when the Russkies/Cubans come? (Wolverines!)

If you want to carry a firearm, demonstrate proficiency in safety and handling first. The fact that firearm owners would oppose this is baffling – after all, we’ve all (those of us who have shot, anyway) seen the knucklehead risking everyone’s lives at the range by improperly handling his or her weapon, and at virtually all firing ranges such lax handling ability is strongly frowned upon, if not outright punished by way of ejection from the range. If that’s not infringement on the right to bear arms, they why can’t society at large have a similar rule?

Of course, the natural eventual conclusion of the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment that I hold (and think perfectly clear) is that items like Evil Black Rifles (aka “Assault Rifles”) and even full-automatics should be available to the public. And they are, for legitimate reason. They are a little harder to acquire, and require registration (in the case of full automatic weapons), but the fact is that these weapons are still legal to own.

So where is the infringement? Nobody considers the restrictions of free speech in the interests of public safety (see Brandenburg v. Ohio) an infringement on the 1st Amendment. So what’s the difference here?

Restricting purchase of firearms by people who are an imminent threat to themselves and others is perfectly legitimate, as is restricting public carry in peacetime to those able to demonstrate proficiency in concealed carry. Someone trained in concealed carry is less likely to cause “imminent unlawful action” if they draw a concealed weapon in public.

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  • Nice post. Thanks.

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  • Jeff

    Actually you need to do a bit more reading on that the collective rights interpretation is a recent (last 70 years) one…since you quote English law perhaps you should read this:

    http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/lhr/25.1/churchill.html

    That being said, be careful what you are wish for because according to the USC the militia is comprised of:

    TITLE 10 > Subtitle A > PART I > CHAPTER 13 > ? 311

    ? 311. Militia: composition and classes

    (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
    (b) The classes of the militia are?
    (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
    (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

    You do also know that the Swiss Militia keep fully automatic select fire weapons and ammo for use in those weapons in their homes don’t you?

  • Jeff, that’s an excellent link. Thank you. I presume then that you are advocating the view of firearms ownership as a civic right? I’m not opposed to that interpretation. In fact, I’d be open to a discussion of instituting mandatory military training (with an option to substitute civil service) and a “stand-down” non-deployable militia similar to the Swiss system. There are a ton of great benefits such a program might provide, beyond having a militia available in case of a foreign invasion.

    To be honest, I’m undecided at best with concealed carry. That is certainly not constitutionally protected, and I’m not convinced it’s a good idea. Proof of competency and the law and it’s ramifications in order to carry a firearm is not an infringement on the right to “keep and bear arms”.

    Yes, I’m aware of the fully automatic select-fire weapons and ammo the Swiss Militia possess at home. I don’t object to people with extensive training possessing full-auto weapons.

    This may have some deviation from “traditional” liberal positions, but we’re a big tent.

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