‘Well reg­u­lated’ doesn’t mean what you think

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - Tom Beaufel­ter, Ti­mo­nium

I am writ­ing re­gard­ing your ed­i­to­rial, “Al­ter­na­tive Fact of the Week: Trump’s prom­ise to end birthright cit­i­zen­ship and other as­sorted xeno­pho­bia” (Nov. 1), par­tic­u­larly the ob­ser­va­tion, “As a side note, it’s in­ter­est­ing that the same crowd who make much of the par­en­thet­i­cal phrase ‘ and sub­ject to the ju­ris­dic­tion thereof ’ in the 14th Amend­ment seem all too ea­ger to ig­nore the ‘well reg­u­lated mili­tia’ bit in the 2nd.”

The writer seems to think that the term “well reg­u­lated” in the amend­ment means reg­u­lated by the gov­ern­ment as we think in terms of the gov­ern­ment con­trol­ling a process through reg­u­la­tions to­day such as U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency reg­u­la­tions or Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion rules. Any­one who truly un­der­stands the words of the Sec­ond Amend­ment knows that the term “well reg­u­lated” as used in 1789 meant “well-func­tion­ing” or “ef­fi­ciently run.” The com­mon us­age of the term “well reg­u­lated” to ex­press that some­thing was func­tion­ing well or ef­fi­ciently fell out of fa­vor in the mid- to late-19th cen­tury.

There is no need to ig­nore the “well reg­u­lated” ter­mi­nol­ogy of the in­tro­duc­tory phrase of the Sec­ond Amend­ment. To think that the Found­ing Fa­thers wanted the gov­ern­ment to reg­u­late them is, quite frankly, ridicu­lous.

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