A Well-regulated militia

As I listen to the comments about the need to do something to keep another Uvalde from happening, I’m hearing the usual comments that the second amendment is more to authorize a militia than the individual right to bear arms. 

That I disagree is not an adequate reason to ignore the argument – scientific method pretty much demands listening respectfully to folks who disagree.  Fortunately, the internet gives me access to historical research that was confined to university campuses a quarter-century ago.  There is the problem of avoiding confirmation bias, but I can cope with that.

Hartnation goes through the importance of the militias during the American revolution.  Remembering my long ago American History classes, I think George Washington expected a militia unit to be able to stand and fire 3 rounds, but not stand when the Brits closed with bayonets.  Hart described how dependent the Continental Army was on the local militias:

At the beginning of American independence an immense task faced the colonial revolutionary. The English army, the best-trained, best-equipped military in the world, had served in the Americas, enforcing the will of the crown for many decades. American victory rested in the ability of the colonists to put together a viable fighting army. We know from history that the American Continental Army, commanded by George Washington, defeated the superior British army and expelled the rule of the crown from the colonies by 1783.

. . . How much did the colonial militia contribute to enable the Continental army to defeat the British? I would posit that the militia movement was the driving force behind the Continental Army’s victory over the British because they were the main source of manpower, because they were already trained and armed with a 150 year harden tradition of defense to protect their own communities, and because the militia was made up of mostly  farmers and landowners, they stood to gain the most from independence giving them something tangible to fight for other than “liberty”.”

Militias also provided the Continental armies in the field much-needed manpower, albeit on a temporary basis. When British commanders planned for their campaigns against the Continental armies in the field, they had to take in account the size of the militia forces operating in those same geographic areas. The British knew the militia were unpredictable, but they could not totally neglect their presence either. In some instances, militia units were the deciding factors in important battles. The war’s first battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts were fought mostly by militia with some minutemen units. At the Battle of Bunker Hill, outside Boston, militia dealt a deadly blow to the British. Later in the war at battles such as Bennington, Vermont, King’s Mountain, Cowpens, both in South Carolina and Guilford Courthouse, in North Carolina, the militia was crucial to American victories.”

Reviewing those historical comments, I get the feeling that the militia at the time of the American Revolution could have been described (as in the quote misattributed to Admiral Yamamoto) as a rifle (or at least a musket) behind every blade of grass.  The better regulated, the better drilled and prepared, the more essential to the security of a free state.

The Supreme Court  (Miller case) ruled that the Second Amendment did not protect weapon types not having a “reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia”.  This kind of invalidates the arguments against “weapons of war.”  That 1939 decision protects them.

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