What is the Second Amendment saying?

I stay out of the gun control debate for a variety of reasons. But I saw  a recent Penn and Teller video on the subject, and thought it a bit off base. I wanted to see if the following makes sense (in contrast to Penn and Teller’s explanation). Either my logic or my history might be wrong.


Here’s the Second 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.”

Penn and Teller say that the “well regulated Militia” is the army the Founding Fathers had just won a war against, and that the need to fight against such a force is what makes it critical for citizens to own firearms..

And this is where I would invite correction of my thought processes, because this is what same to my mind.  Again, I apologize in advance if I’m scrambling my thinking somehow.

First, history: The founding fathers had fought a war against professional English soldiers, not irregulars or citizen soldiers. And irregulars or “citizen soldiers” are pretty close to the definition of a “militia” it seems to me. in which case Penn and Teller’s first assertion is just wrong.

But Second, logic: It would seem that the first clause “because we need X (a well regulated militia)” is somehow dependent upon the second, therefore “we must not Y (infringe on these rights”).

Putting it in causal order, is it not saying that citizen possession of firearms makes POSSIBLE a militia, which is necessary to the security of a free state? “Y makes X possible, and we need X, therefore we must have Y.”

TOTALLY SEPARATE of what this implies about the possession of firearms TODAY, does my thought on this make sense? I’m curious if this can be addressed without the discussion devolving.


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