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Letters: About that well-regulated militia

September 14, 2013

Re "The real right to bear arms," Opinion, Sept. 8

The point was once frequently made that the National Guard was our "well-regulated militia" and that, therefore, there was no need for citizens to keep their muskets at hand.

Today, National Guard units are organized at the state level. It sounds like a contradiction in terms to say Massachusetts National Guard or California National Guard, but the state units are our well-regulated militia.

This point hasn't come up in recent years, so Joseph J. Ellis' examination of the language and intent of the Constitution is refreshing.

For the safety and advancement of society, we need to continue arguing the "real right to bear arms" until Congress addresses the Supreme Court's ruling in Heller vs. District of Columbia, putting an end to the regular, devastating gun violence in this country.

Les Boston

Sherman Oaks

Ellis misses some historical facts. As Antonin Scalia wrote in his majority opinion in Heller, the individual states, as a response to England's limited right to bear arms, had far greater rights. In fact, some states even mandated by law that each household possess arms.

Although it is true that a benefit of a broad-based right to bear arms would facilitate the organizing of a state militia, the right is a worthy one in and of itself.

A good analogy is a free press being necessary for a well-functioning democracy. While freedom of the press is important to our nation, the freedom alone is a worthy one even without its role in maintaining democracy.

Jeff Avrech

Los Angeles

The 2nd Amendment is irrelevant in this discussion. Long ago it was determined that the government can ban machine guns; therefore, the 2nd Amendment does not preclude the government from regulating guns. The only question is how much regulation is permissible.

On that, the 2nd Amendment is silent. It can only be determined by lawmakers or (shudder) the courts.

Rory Johnston



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