Editor, Daily Press:

Kudos to Johnathan Jobe, in the Sept. 3 Daily Press, for presenting historical background on the Second Amendment.

However, at the risk of being placed in Dr. Jobe's group of "ilks," I hope he will allow me to suggest the Second Amendment lies under a cloud that clearly makes understanding its "true meaning" far from being "stated clearly."

From the time of its framing (circa the 1700s) until the 20th century, the amendment was pretty much ignored and militias were far from being well-regulated. In 1939, the Supremes, using a "collective rights theory" and the prefatory phrase "a well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free state," declared the framers intended only to restrict Congress from taking away a state's right to its self-defense. There was no mention of individual rights to guns.

This ruling seemed to work well until 2008, when the Supremes sang a new song. At this time, they posited an "individual rights theory," which allowed them to say gun ownership could not be banned in Washington, D.C., as was then being proposed. Banning, no - but the possibility of regulating gun use in other ways, yes. In 2010, the Supreme Court again left open the possibility of regulating guns. Regional courts followed this ruling by permitting various regulations, such as saying a juvenile cannot own or be sold a gun. (Information comes from the Legal Information Institute, a non-partisan organization.)

So, there you are - in a muddle. But since Dr. Jobe has given an excellent account of the historical circumstances attending the writing of the Second Amendment, you might well conclude that the amendment is out of date.

You're still not convinced? You say, let's allow people to bear arms any way they like. Phooey on the need for well-regulated militias to offer each state self-defense. But, today, where are the militias mentioned in the prefatory phrase? We can hardly call the fanatics who fire at will in our churches and schools, at malls, and on our streets a well-regulated militia.

Well, it's still something of a muddle - and an important problem to be solved.

Dr. Robert A. McQuitty


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