January 10, 2013
A Modest Proposal: Call Up The Militia

At least a portion of our national screaming match about guns has turned to actions that can be unilaterally taken by the Executive Branch. Robert Reich offers some of them here. There is one suggestion I have yet to see offered.

Call up the militia.

Guess who is the commander-in-chief of the militia referenced in the part of the Second Amendment that no one seems to know about? That’d be the President of the United States, according to Article II. So the commander-in-chief should activate the militia. Clearly, “security of a free State” is at stake if ordinary citizens are not safe to go to schools, shopping malls, movie theaters, public appearances of their elected representative, and Unitarian churches. (To name but a few of the sites of mass shootings in the last few years.)

So, President Obama should call up the militia. Anyone who owns a gun is ordered to report with their weapons for militia training and assignment. They would be evaluated as to their fitness for duty — including a mental health screening — as well as the condition of their arms and their proficiency in handling them. They would be furnished with proof that they reported for and completed this training. Thereafter, any gun owner who cannot furnish such proof would be subject to penalties, and still be required to report for militia duty.

It’s simple. It’s in the Constitution. And, of course, it is 100% unworkable.

For starters, I think we know the people screaming loudest about the Second Amendment would never submit to this sort of “tyranny.” (For rather a lot of them, the definition of “tyranny” is having to do anything a black person says.) It would cost a lot of money and time, both for organization and enforcement. Military resources would almost certainly have to be diverted to the task. And last, but certainly not least, “the militia” was redefined in 1903 to mean The National Guard.

Which brings us to the fun part. Just who do you think would waste no time at all in loudly and repeatedly bringing up that last fact? I’m gonna go with “Gun Owners” on that one. Maybe even Wayne LaPierre his own self. But even if they don’t point to that particular law, one way or another it’s a safe bet that they will themselves make the point that they are not subject to being a militia in the sense that the Founders not only intended, but specified.

And once we’ve established that the first clause of the Second Amendment is outdated and inapplicable, maybe — just maybe — we can have a sensible conversation about the amendment in its entirety. (Yeah, I know. But I said “maybe” twice, so cut me some slack...)

Sure, it’s kind of a convoluted way to make a point. But our Republican friends do that sort of thing all the time — how many votes has the House held to repeal Obamacare? (Also, too, Clinton Impeachment. Heck, the war in Iraq.) Government-as-performance-art can work for our side too, once in a while...


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Posted by Kurt Weldon at January 10, 2013 04:03 PM
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Brilliant and smart, first time I've read this concept anywhere. You're right that it would not ever really happen under That One, but we are talking about political theater, right?

Posted by: Oblio on January 11, 2013 10:18 AM

That would of course be the "well-regulated" milita?

To my albiet hazy recollection of the Constitutional Law I learned back when schools still taught it the Second Amendment provides protection of the majority against the tyrrany of a minority. Doesn't say anything about overthrowing a suddenly tyrranical government. Doesn't say anythimg either about throwing down an incrmentally tyrranical church, or about illiterate bare-footed kool-aid guzzling rubes running around with Weapons of Mass Destruction. What it says is "a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right to keep and bear Arms, shall mot be imfringed."

Posted by: Thomas Ware on January 12, 2013 5:26 PM

The extreme 2nd Amendment people are convinced that gun controll is all part of conspiracy and that the first and 4th Amendments are next, after the 2nd Amendment crashes and burns.

Don't give them the satisfaction of debunking these so-called conspiracies. Feed them more conspiracies to worry about. That's what I've been doing.

Very crankily yours,
The New York Crank

Posted by: The New York Crank on January 15, 2013 3:34 PM

NY Crank (Can I call you "NY"?) - I can't help noticing the 2nd Amendment people have sat idly by polishing their guns - not to mention their weapons - while the 1st and 4th Amendments have been pretty thoroughly gutted. But then, I'm fairly cranky myself...

Posted by: Kurt Weldon on January 16, 2013 11:22 PM
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