A Well-Regulated Militia



Michael P. Tremoglie



In his final statement to Pennsylvania's ratifying convention James Wilson said:


 " It is said that Congress should not have the power of calling out the militia to execute the laws of the union... nor should the president have command of them....I believe a gentleman who possesses military experience will inform you that men without an uniformity of arms, accoutrements, and discipline are no more than a mob....By means of this system a uniformity of arms and discipline will prevail throughout United States... militia formed under this system will be..a bulwark. In every point of view this regulation is calculated to produce the best effects. "


Wilson was no ordinary delegate. According to liberal historian Garry Wills:" Wilson was one of the principal drafters of the Constitution and the principal ratifier of it."  When Wilson spoke, he was speaking conceptually about the Constitution. It is with that statement, made in December 1787, that the meaning of the phrase " well regulated militia," may be found.


Well regulated according to Princeton's Wordnet means: "orderly adj, 4: marked by or adhering to method or system, a well regulated life."  


Is it possible that well regulated does not mean, "governing," as the liberals have been claiming all along. Has the liberal intelligentsia distorted the meaning? If so, it would not be unusual.


Consider Rutgers Associate Law Professor Steven Gifis, who wrote in his Law Dictionary that the Second Amendment does not apply to private conduct. Gifis cites Laurence Tribe. It just so happens that Professor Tribe, who has unimpeachable liberal credentials, has opined that the right to bear arms is an important political right that should not be dismissed as "wholly irrelevant." Tribe thinks the Second Amendment stipulates, "the federal government may not disarm individual citizens without some unusually strong justification."

So, it is quite possible that the Second Amendment only refers to the uniformity of the militia not the control. The US Code already defines militia,

“ The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are -

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard

and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia. “

Clearly then the US code acknowledges ordinary citizens as members of the unorganized militia. This would imply that if needed they would be required to train with and adopt the practices of the organized militia.

However, David Yassky, former counsel to Chuck Schumer, a gun control fanatic, defines the Amendment has not intended to "empower individuals or small groups of disaffected citizens to take up arms against the established order."

Notice the subtle prevarication by Yassky, who is obviously a clever lawyer. He says the Amendment is not intended for “disaffected citizens to take up arms against the established order.”

Who said that is the purpose of the Second Amendment? The only purpose of which I am aware is for self-defense. One familiar with the Bill of Rights polemics would know that is the case.

However, Yassky is more concerned with portraying Second Amendment advocates as rabid revolutionaries. His prevaricating is not limited to this one statement.

Yassky’s continues his speciousness when he claims the vast majority of legal scholars believe the Second Amendment was intended to protect states' militias from the new central government created by the Constitution.

What Yassky is doing is a rhetorical device known as ipse dixit-quoting authorities to prove one’s claim. In Yassky’s case, this is particularly farcical because he does not quote authorities and even if they were it does not prove anything.

I do not claim scholarship. I do not claim the scholarship of others. However, if the definition of WordNet is accurate then maybe the phrase “ well regulated militia," has been misinterpreted. Only one familiar with eighteenth century English can answer that.

Any unbiased English scholars available?


Michael P. Tremoglie is a former Philadelphia police officer now a freelance writer working on his first novel. He writes for Front Page Magazine: http://frontpagemag.com/columnists/tremoglie/index.htm