Do the Words “Well Regulated” Mean Anything?

See, here’s the problem.

The words “gun control” make the radical gun owners’ heads explode. Despite the fact that the vast majority of gun owners agree with things like background checks and licensing and other controls to help keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the insane, the radicals see the mere thought of even the slightest bit of regulation as a violation of the Constitution greater than any other.


And this is despite the fact that the Constitutional amendment in question is the only one that uses the words “well regulated.”

Go figure.

The First Amendment clearly says that “Congress shall make no law” concerning freedom of speech and the press and religion and so on. Yet, there are all sorts of regulations on our speech which do not violate the Constitution at all. There are restrictions on the time, place, and manner of the speech (Can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater); there are restrictions on speech that can cause a “clear and present danger” (you can’t incite a riot and then claim as a defense that you were simply exercising your First Amendment rights); there are restrictions on obscenity, military secrets, and laws against libel and slander.

And that amendment doesn’t even carry the words “well regulated.”

So what does that mean in the 2nd amendment? Why would the founders have added those words if they were meaningless?

Some will point out that it says “well regulated militia” and therefore the law only applies to the military. Well, by that definition, only the militia can have guns.

And even so, I wouldn’t object if non-military persons had to follow the same rules as our military when it comes to guns. No one joins the army and is handed a machine gun on the first day. No, first you have to be cleared to even be in the military in the first place to make sure you’re not a felon or insane. Then there is training to go through; there are safety courses; and there are many people overseeing you at first. You know — the same kinds of restrictions many of us feel are reasonable for anyone wanting to own a gun.

I have friends who are gun owners. Not one of them would be prohibited from owning their guns with these restrictions. Yet a few of them seem to think that any restriction is equivalent to “the government taking their guns away.” No, it’s more like the government taking cars away from people who don’t know how to drive, have no license, and/or are criminals or insane.

Sounds nice and “well regulated” to me. No Constitutional problems there. (And, once more, although the radical gun owners always point out the recent Supreme Court decision that says that citizens have the right to own guns, they ignore the parts of the decision that allow for the exact kinds of regulations I’m talking about here.)