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History of gun rights affected by courts

To the excellent arguments of Navy vet David E. Wilson and Bret Stephens in the Feb. 24 paper, I’d like to add that the Second Amendment need not be repealed if we only rediscover what our Founding Fathers meant when they included it in the Constitution. This action came about because of a dispute between those, including Washington and Adams, who called for a professional military and those who feared a standing army would lead to tyranny and dictatorship. The latter group favored a continuation of state militias composed of private citizens to be called up during national emergencies.

Washington, on his part, had experienced state militias in both the French and Indian War and the Revolution, and found them to be unreliable, writing that they were “timid and ready to fly from their own shadows,” deserting en mass when most needed.

Washington and those who agreed with him lost the argument to those who had become fond of the militias left over from colonial days, calling them “citizen soldiers.” Virginia, for example, included in its Constitution the provision that “each state should always keep a well-regulated and disciplined militia,” to which Washington responded, “I used every means in my power to destroy all state distinctions.

Having won the argument, the advocates of state militias inserted the Second Amendment into the Constitution, essentially copying the words of the Virginia document that “a well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Militia men, who were private citizens, were required to bring their own guns from home whenever they were called into service.

Everyone now should acknowledge that we as a nation have long since established a professional standing army in which members are not required to furnish their own weapons. For this reason, the Supreme Court has ruled four times that the amendment applies to militias and not to individuals. These rulings allowed Congress to pass gun laws, including the 1934 one that outlawed machine guns.

This interpretation was reversed in June 2008 by a conservative court that declared that the Second Amendment applied not to militias, but to individuals. Justice Antonin Scalia denied that the term “to bear arms” had a military meaning and the word “bear” meant “to carry.”

This ruling allowed gun manufacturers, who sat on the board of the NRA and faced a shrinking market for hunting rifles, to sell assault rifles not only to the military but to civilians as well. Meanwhile the NRA continued to contribute lavishly to political campaigns (our own Sen. Cotton has benefited from nearly $2 million), in the process blocking all efforts at common-sense gun restrictions.

Isn’t it time to give weapons that have the sole purpose to kill masses of people back to the military?



Here’s a nomination

for athletics director

Isn’t it time for Mike Anderson to become director of athletics at the University of Arkansas? He has, and is still having, success with the basketball team. He has great recognition in sports programs throughout the country. He reminds much of Frank Broyles, who believed success in one sport encourages success in all others at his school.

As director of athletics, Anderson could continue to handle basketball with the help of a younger, promising assistant coach. Andersen’s move to the athletic directorship would make national news and would attract promising athletes and promising students throughout the country and the world.



Print Headline: NWA LETTERS

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