For clarity’s sake, re-write the Second Amendment or pass legislation clarifying the Amendment.

Gun rights activist David Hogg, himself a survivor of the Stoneman Douglas school shooting, caused a bit of a stir last week by claiming that the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution has been intentionally interpreted by conservatives and gun rights proponents in order to create an individual right of gun ownership.

I believe the contentious issue of gun ownership can be settled by re-writing a poorly written Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment currently reads as follows:

“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.”

I disagree with proponents on either side of the gun debate that argue the Amendment is clear in its meaning. The poor sentence structure is at the base of the Amendment’s misinterpretation. Was the intent of the amendment to ensure that a ready militia would be made available in times of national emergency? Was a militia preferable to a standing army? Was the regulation of a militia necessary to impede attempts to attack the central government? Were the framers of the Constitution drunk or in a rush to get home?

The above questions are an outgrowth of the poor structure of the clause. A better writing could look like this:

“In order to man and maintain a well-regulated militia, a militia that is necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the individual to bear arms shall not be infringed or abridged.”

A clearer construction of the amendment should go a long way in bringing about clarity. A re-write also sends a clearer message about the government’s intent behind providing the people with the right to bear arms.

Another option that could provide clarity is to craft legislation that explains this right. For example, legislation would expand on my proposed constitutional language by providing that eligibility for carrying arms would be based on each state’s eligibility requirements for membership in their respective National Guard, plus any other federal requirements for National Guard membership.

The type of weapons owned would be limited to the type of individual weapons a Guardsman would be expected to use in the field. Each state would have its own rules for which weapons can be carried out in public.

The States, pursuant to their Tenth Amendment rights, would regulate gun ownership and carry laws for citizens that are disqualified for National Guard membership due to age or physical disabilities.

As a gun owner, I support the natural expectation of each citizen to protect themselves, including securing such protection with the use of a firearm. A legislative or constitutional fix seems like common sense, but we have to remember that we are dealing with politicians who believe they score more points scaring up votes rather than pursuing rational fixes.

Alton Drew

27 February 2023

Alton Drew

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