For 'A Well-Regulated Militia,' What Firearms, Gear, and Skills Should You Own?
The brutal murders of 20 schoolchildren and six adults in Newtown, CT, stunned the world last week. A mentally ill young man apparently discovered that his long-suffering mother was going to attempt to have him committed to a psychiatric facility; he took out his rage upon her and then his former elementary school's faculty, staff, and students.
It was senseless. It was barbaric. As parents, it is difficult for us to cope with the thought of having our youngest beloved ripped from us by any method, much less something as abhorrent as intentional, callous murder. No decent person could feel anything but anguish for their loss.
As Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel warned us, however, there is a mentality among the opportunistic political class that demands they "never let a serious crisis go to waste."
While America recoiled, media vultures first pounced upon the survivors while they were still in shock. Since then, they have attacked America's lawful gun owners, of which there are roughly 100 million.
We've heard calls for "gun control" in recent days, including specific demands for a ban on so-called "assault weapons." Detractors question the need for weapons "designed for war" whose "only purpose is to kill"; they insist that you "don't need an assault rifle" for hunting deer.
This is ignorance, and further, completely misses the point. To cite something I wrote earlier in the week:
The Second Amendment was not written to protect firearms designed for the taking of game, nor firearms designed for sport or individual personal defense, except that such a purpose proves to be militarily useful.
The explicit purpose that the Second Amendment was written was so that civilians that comprised the militia and alarm list would be armed with military-capable arms to depose would-be tyrants.
I'd amend that slightly to more accurately reflect that the intention was to arm citizens with contemporary arms of military utility. To assert that the right applied merely to flintlock muskets suggests that human rights are superseded by advances in technology, which is on its face a preposterous statement. Could anyone rationally argue that freedom of speech does not apply to modern forms of communication?
The Second Amendment was written to ensure citizens had contemporary rifles of military utility, and no single rifle more accurately fits that description today than AR-15 rifles patterned after the M-16 rifle and M-4 carbine that have been the U.S. military standard for half a century.
If Americans are interested in adhering to the Founders' intentions for a "well-regulated militia" as envisioned, it is our duty not to just own firearms (with exceptions made for religious, mental, and physical limitations), but to own AR-15 rifles and accessories and to train with them to an agreed upon standard of competency. This competency (and proficiency) is what the Founders meant by the term "well-regulated," which in the English of the day meant "smoothly functioning."
An unorganized militia's military efficiency can be measured a number of ways, but the most easy and logical to measure is to require a certain minimal level of equipment and to judge proficiency with military-capable firearms.
As previous militias were required to maintain a minimal level of stores, a modern contemporary militia would want to be equipped with the following:
- an AR-15 rifle or carbine, with iron sights or optics
- at least four but preferably seven or more 30-round magazines
- a chest rig or bandolier for carrying loaded magazines
- a constantly maintained reserve of 1,000 rounds of full-metal jacket (FMJ) ammunition for training and service use if called upon
- appropriate seasonal clothing
- a first aid kit (preferably an individual first aid kid, or IFAK)
- food, water, and temporary shelter for three days
The traditional way to measure weapons proficiency is a marksmanship test such as the Army Rifle Qualification Test or the Marine Rifle Qualification Test. A variant of this test commonly used today is the 25-meter Army Qualification Test (AQT) as administered during Project Appleseed events, which itself is based upon World War I riflemanship standards (disclosure -- the author is an Appleseed instructor) but adapted and scaled to fit a 25-meter range.
Ideally, citizens should be able to use AR-15s or comparable arms to demonstrate proficiency at 100 yards, 200 yards, 300 yards, and 400 yards either on the scaled 25-meter range or, where available, an actual known distance (KD) range. Such training does not constitute violations of the law in regards to the establishment of private militias, yet still ensures a level of firearms proficiency among the general population that serves the deterrent effect the Founders intended: to dissuade the undermining of the republic by enemies "foreign and domestic." The thought of engaging a nation with tens of millions of self-equipped riflemen capable of decimating government forces from nearly a quarter-mile away is chilling to any would-be tyrant.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is the last line of defense against tyranny and, far from being a colonial relic, was most recently used in 1946 in several areas as returning GIs took on tyrannical local government machines. The most significant of these, the "McMinn County War," saw young veterans home from World War II depose a corrupt and tyrannical government using military arms.
Eleanor Roosevelt wrote at the time of this morally required insurrection:
We in the U.S.A., who have long boasted that, in our political life, freedom in the use of the secret ballot made it possible for us to register the will of the people without the use of force, have had a rude awakening as we read of conditions in McMinn County, Tennessee, which brought about the use of force in the recent primary. If a political machine does not allow the people free expression, then freedom-loving people lose their faith in the machinery under which their government functions.
In this particular case, a group of young veterans organized to oust the local machine and elect their own slate in the primary. We may deplore the use of force but we must also recognize the lesson which this incident points for us all. When the majority of the people know what they want, they will obtain it.
Any local, state or national government, or any political machine, in order to live, must give the people assurance that they can express their will freely and that their votes will be counted. The most powerful machine cannot exist without the support of the people. Political bosses and political machinery can be good, but the minute they cease to express the will of the people, their days are numbered.
This is a lesson which wise political leaders learn young, and you can be pretty sure that, when a boss stays in power, he gives the majority of the people what they think they want. If he is bad and indulges in practices which are dishonest, or if he acts for his own interests alone, the people are unwilling to condone these practices.
When the people decide that conditions in their town, county, state or country must change, they will change them. If the leadership has been wise, they will be able to do it peacefully through a secret ballot which is honestly counted, but if the leader has become inflated and too sure of his own importance, he may bring about the kind of action which was taken in Tennessee.
A former first lady of the United States condoned insurrection to restore constitutional law, and against corrupt local representatives of her own Democratic Party. She knew a history uncorrupted by modern-day revisionism.
In the days after April 19, 1775, Founding Father Samuel Adams trod the road between Lexington and Concord at the carnage wrought when British General Thomas Gage triggered the American Revolutionary War while attempting to impose gun control on the Colonials. Surveying the burned-out buildings, bloody lanes, shot-pocked walls, and bodies awaiting burial, he remarked:
If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.
Now is not a time for those whom Thomas Paine labeled "sunshine patriots." The republic will stand or fall based upon whether its citizens choose to defend the Constitution. Let us pray that all Americans realize the stakes in play, and act with calm restraint.