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View Full Version : "Well-regulated" does not mean "Regulations"


mikehaas
11-27-2007, 12:38 PM
Many years ago, I ran into an statement by an online Second Amendment expert - which we all are of course :rolleyes: - that seemed to be quite plausible and have a significant bearing on any interpretation of the 2A, if true. Circumstances didn't permit a dialogue and I have no clue who the originator is, or was. I'd forgotten about the idea for years now, but the Heller issue has jogged it to the surface for me. Maybe someone has a relevant comment.

The issue circles around the meaning of words at the time of the draftiing of the Bill of Rights - specifically the meaning of the phrase "well-regulated" as it applies to the amendment.

It goes like this: In the 1700's, there was a common craftsman profession that existed that is no more - that of a "Regulator". This person was employed to adjust the mechanics of contemorary mechanisms, such as timepieces. Often this was the person called upon to light streetlights and provide other similar public benefits.

The point is that, back then, "regulation" commonly meant keeping something in tip-top shape - finely-tuned, adjusted, running well, lubricated, clean, etc. One would "regulate" your timepiece to not run fast or slow.

In technical terms, when you adjust your kitchen spigot to be "just right", you have "regulated" the flow, so why does "well-regulated", in terms of the Second Amendment, necessarily mean "pile on 20,000+ gun laws until the language has no practical effect?"

In the context of the times, when the founders stated that a "well-regulated militia" is necessary to the security of our free state, wouldn't that indicate a dictate to keep the "Right to Keep and Bear Arms" healthy and strong? (Instead of neutered and weak.)

Does anyone think that, with the phrase "well-regulated", the founders intentions were "we better let the states legislate the HELL out of this one because we can't trust the average American with a gun?"

Mike

tgriffin
11-27-2007, 12:43 PM
Wow.... That certainly puts a different perspective on things doesnt it? I don't have the time myself to search for it, but it would be interesting to read cited examples of the orgin of the word "regulated" as used in the aforementioned context. Sounds like good fodder for the amicus brief.

dustoff31
11-27-2007, 12:50 PM
Many years ago, I ran into an statement by an online Second Amendment expert - which we all are of course :rolleyes: - that seemed to be quite plausible and have a significant bearing on any interpretation of the 2A, if true. Circumstances didn't permit a dialogue and I have no clue who the originator is, or was. I'd forgotten about the idea for years now, but the Heller issue has jogged it to the surface for me. Maybe someone has a relevant comment.

The issue circles around the meaning of words at the time of the draftiing of the Bill of Rights - specifically the meaning of the phrase "well-regulated" as it applies to the amendment.

It goes like this: In the 1700's, there was a common craftsman profession that existed that is no more - that of a "Regulator". This person was employed to adjust the mechanics of contemorary mechanisms, such as timepieces. Often this was the person called upon to light streetlights and provide other similar public benefits.

The point is that, back then, "regulation" commonly meant keeping something in tip-top shape - finely-tuned, adjusted, running well, lubricated, clean, etc. One would "regulate" your timepiece to not run fast or slow.

In technical terms, when you adjust your kitchen spigot to be "just right", you have "regulated" the flow, so why does "well-regulated", in terms of the Second Amendment, necessarily mean "pile on 20,000+ gun laws until the language has no practical effect?"

In the context of the times, when the founders stated that a "well-regulated militia" is necessary to the security of our free state, wouldn't that indicate a dictate to keep the "Right to Keep and Bear Arms" healthy and strong? (Instead of neutered and weak.)

Does anyone think that, with the phrase "well-regulated", the founders intentions were "we better let the states legislate the HELL out of this one because we can't trust the average American with a gun?"

Mike

You are absolutely correct. However they did delegate to the states the responsibility to "regulate" (train, maintain, keep it running well, etc.) the militia, accorrding to standards prescribed by congress.

Like so many other words today, the original meanings have been forgotten or intentionally twisted to suit someone's particular need.

bwiese
11-27-2007, 1:01 PM
Mike,

I do recall sometime back a linguist/semanticist was probing the 2nd's use of term "regulated": he found that "regulated" had an overall meaning of, at the time of writing, (approximately; can't remember his exact phrasing) "well-equipped, with well-maintained gear".

And whatever the meaning of that prefatory clause is - even if it referred to the moon being made of green cheese - the final clause ("the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed") has no dependence on the former. Flowery prefatory justification phrases do not reshape or hinder the meaning of the independent phrase "... shall not be infringed".

On a raw linguistic/grammatical analysis alone - and despite whether or not we worry about flowery writing (by our standards today) of the time - we have the solid ground.

tman
11-27-2007, 1:29 PM
Here's a write-up on the meaning of the phrases used in the second amendment: LINK (http://209.85.173.104/search?q=cache:LO4XB-ZuLGgJ:truthammo.com/index.php%3Fact%3D2ndamendment)

The server is currently down but that's the cached page.

Glock22Fan
11-27-2007, 1:31 PM
The original meaning of the word lives on today in the expression "Regulator Clock" (http://www.nawcc.org/museum/nwcm/galleries/precision/precision.htm or Google it). A "Regulator Clock" was one that was extremely accurate, often with an 8-day movement. It was the clock that other, lesser, clocks were "regulated" from. Antique regulator clocks can be extremely valuable.

Clearly, the term means a well adjusted, reliable and accurate clock in this context.

In the context of a militia, it surely means a well equipped, properly organized, disciplined unit. Not the National Guard, that didn't exist at that time, but the groundswell of "the people," coming together for the common good as needed.

I'm not sure about the U.S. but, in the England of those days, all able bodied men were expected to be self-organized and practise martial drills on a regular basis. IIRC, it is still "on the books" that Englishmen should practise archery on the village green after Sunday Service. This is surely the basis of "The Militia."

Piper
11-27-2007, 1:39 PM
It seems to me that if "regulation" ment piling on laws, then the phrase "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" would contradict that.

Glock22Fan
11-27-2007, 1:46 PM
It seems to me that if "regulation" meant piling on laws, then the phrase "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" would contradict that.


+10000

"A well regulated timepiece being essential for timely operation of railway schedules, the right of the people to own and wear watches shall not be infringed."

chris
11-27-2007, 2:00 PM
pardon me for saying this. i thought "state" meant the whole country not individual states. that being saying we have a secretary of state. which she right represents the whole US not individual states. granted states have the power to do many things but messing around with the Bill of Rights is a no no.

such as the president represents the head of state so to speak. forgive if i'm wrong on this.

mike you are right your post does make sense.

dustoff31
11-27-2007, 2:30 PM
Chris,

Interesting that you mention this. Personally, I think this is the only part of the 2A that could possibly be confusing to anyone. Did they use the term "state" to mean the nation state, the individual states, or the state of being free as individuals? Or perhaps all three?

In the end I don't think it matters as it goes on to say the right shall not be infringed.

Smokeybehr
11-27-2007, 3:01 PM
Chris,

Interesting that you mention this. Personally, I think this is the only part of the 2A that could possibly be confusing to anyone. Did they use the term "state" to mean the nation state, the individual states, or the state of being free as individuals? Or perhaps all three?

In the end I don't think it matters as it goes on to say the right shall not be infringed.

As I understand it, each State was an independent entity, with the Federal Government having narrow powers regarding the way the States interacted. After Lincoln and the War of Northern Aggression, the Federal Government usurped a lot of power from the states, which has lead to the overarching power that the FedGov has today. The 9th, 10th, and 14th Amendments are what causes the States and Fed to fight each other for power.

I'd like to know whether the Framers were intending the word "state" to mean condition, or political subdivision... That's the whole crux of the issue.

dustoff31
11-27-2007, 3:11 PM
As I understand it, each State was an independent entity, with the Federal Government having narrow powers regarding the way the States interacted. After Lincoln and the War of Northern Aggression, the Federal Government usurped a lot of power from the states, which has lead to the overarching power that the FedGov has today. The 9th, 10th, and 14th Amendments are what causes the States and Fed to fight each other for power.

I'd like to know whether the Framers were intending the word "state" to mean condition, or political subdivision... That's the whole crux of the issue.

We're seeing eye to eye here. I tend to think they meant the condition of being free, as that would take care of all the others.

Librarian
11-27-2007, 3:28 PM
See Eugene Volokh's post here (http://volokh.com/posts/1195588709.shtml).
This Article makes a simple claim: there’s no need to assume. There is ample evidence about the original meaning of the term “free state.” “Free state” was used often in Framing-era and pre-Framing writings, especially those writings that are known to have influenced the Framers: Blackstone’s Commentaries, Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws, Hume’s essays, Trenchard and Gordon’s Cato’s Letters, and works by over half the authors on Donald Lutz’s list of thirty-six authors most cited by American political writers from 1760 to 1805. It was also used by many leading American writers, including John Adams in 1787, James Madison in 1785 and the Continental Congress in 1774.

Those sources, which surprisingly have not been canvassed by the Second Amendment literature, give us a clear sense of what the phrase “free state” meant at the time. In eighteenth-century political discourse, “free state” was a commonly used political term of art, meaning “free country,” which is to say the opposite of a despotism.

FreedomIsNotFree
11-27-2007, 4:54 PM
I agree wholeheartedly that the meaning of "well regulated" has been completely perverted by the layman's understanding of the terminology.

That said, we must acknowledge that there were some gun laws before and after the ratification of the Constitution. Clearly shall not be infringed does not mean zero regulation. If it had, we would have record of such challenges to rely on as precedent today.

Although "well regulated" does not mean "many laws" as the gun-grabbers of today would like us to believe, the 2nd Amendment does not forbid some regulation.

This really brings me to the larger question that hasn't been answered. What the hell did the framers mean when they said "shall not be infringed"....many another thread will deal with that question.

dustoff31
11-27-2007, 5:32 PM
I agree wholeheartedly that the meaning of "well regulated" has been completely perverted by the layman's understanding of the terminology.

That said, we must acknowledge that there were some gun laws before and after the ratification of the Constitution. Clearly shall not be infringed does not mean zero regulation. If it had, we would have record of such challenges to rely on as precedent today.

Although "well regulated" does not mean "many laws" as the gun-grabbers of today would like us to believe, the 2nd Amendment does not forbid some regulation.

This really brings me to the larger question that hasn't been answered. What the hell did the framers mean when they said "shall not be infringed"....many another thread will deal with that question.

Perhaps we should find out what British law for the colonies said about guns as that is what would have been in effect prior to the constitution, would it not?

Piper
11-27-2007, 6:03 PM
You really need to get "In Search of the Second Amendment". That DVD has seriously opened my eyes about what the 2A really means. The one nagging thing about the DVD I see is no one wants to talk about CCW in the DVD. They always refer to keeping a firearm in the home, as if they are afraid of opening a can of worms.

Although I don't know where it is, I have a book that talks about the history of concealed carry laws and what's amazing is how the laws came about in each state. Californias CCW laws were written in about 1850 due to migration of people from the south and their concerns about deuling. The northern states didn't actually see CCW laws until the 1920's. From what I read about gunlaws this far, laws regarding weapons have always been written as a knee jerk reaction to some criminals wrong doing. And each time the law was implemented, no one ever considered the constitutionality of the law. And so here we are today, paying for the sins of someones father or mother as the case might be.

dustoff31
11-27-2007, 6:17 PM
From what I read about gunlaws this far, laws regarding weapons have always been written as a knee jerk reaction to some criminals wrong doing. And each time the law was implemented, no one ever considered the constitutionality of the law. And so here we are today, paying for the sins of someones father or mother as the case might be.

Right. Punishment or loss of rights should be based on what one did or does, not what someone thinks another MIGHT do. You know that due process thing.

Back in our beginning, I'm thinking things worked similar to this: Subject to due process, if Bob was acting crazy they threw him in the assylum and that was that. Same for George the robber. Bob and George both got their guns taken away because you just don't give guns to people in jail or the nuthouse. That's common sense. When Bob stops acting crazy and George's sentence is served they can have their guns back.

AggregatVier
11-27-2007, 11:03 PM
In order to operate correctly, computers require a "well regulated" power supply.

The concept is just a valid today as in the late 1700's. The analogy for "well regulated" .timepieces is still used today as well.

Dynamic redefinition is a concept "programmers" are very familiar with.

Outlaw Josey Wales
11-28-2007, 1:53 AM
From what I read about gunlaws this far, laws regarding weapons have always been written as a knee jerk reaction to some criminals wrong doing. And each time the law was implemented, no one ever considered the constitutionality of the law. And so here we are today, paying for the sins of someones father or mother as the case might be.


Nation of Cowards
by Jeff Snyder

Nation of Cowards is a collection of incisive essays that go past the numbers to the basic issue of protecting life. Snyder's analysis puts the defense of firearms ownership where it ultimately must rest. Namely, it is immoral to say that because criminals do bad things that the rest of us must disarm.

Snyder also warns against assuming that other rights protected by the Bill of Rights will not "go" until after guns are confiscated. He correctly identifies a rather uniform unraveling of all of our rights.

Larry Pratt said about Nation of Cowards: "This book belongs in the intellectual arsenal of every Second Amendment advocate."

tenpercentfirearms
11-28-2007, 6:50 AM
Just look at the modern definition of regulate.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/regulate
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source - Share This
reg·u·late /ˈrɛgyəˌleɪt/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[reg-yuh-leyt] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–verb (used with object), -lat·ed, -lat·ing. 1. to control or direct by a rule, principle, method, etc.: to regulate household expenses.
2. to adjust to some standard or requirement, as amount, degree, etc.: to regulate the temperature.
3. to adjust so as to ensure accuracy of operation: to regulate a watch.
4. to put in good order: to regulate the digestion.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Origin: 1620–30; < LL régulātus (ptp. of régulāre). See regula, -ate1]

—Related forms
reg·u·la·tive /ˈrɛgyəˌleɪtɪv, -yələtɪv/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[reg-yuh-ley-tiv, -yuh-luh-tiv] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation, reg·u·la·to·ry /ˈrɛgyələˌtɔri, -ˌtoʊri/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[reg-yuh-luh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation, adjective
reg·u·la·tive·ly, adverb


—Synonyms 1. rule, govern, manage, order, adjust, arrange, dispose, conduct. 2. set. 4. systematize.
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
American Heritage Dictionary - Cite This Source - Share This reg·u·late (rěg'yə-lāt') Pronunciation Key
tr.v. reg·u·lat·ed, reg·u·lat·ing, reg·u·lates

To control or direct according to rule, principle, or law.
To adjust to a particular specification or requirement: regulate temperature.
To adjust (a mechanism) for accurate and proper functioning.
To put or maintain in order: regulate one's eating habits.

aileron
11-28-2007, 12:14 PM
So now that we have established that well-regulated means well maintained, well operating.

How is SCOTUS going to use the term since they have re-worded the question with the word in it.


Whether the following provisions, D.C. Code §§ 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02, violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?

Could it be that they themselves have failed to understand its meaning upfront and framed the question without understanding its usage of the time??? Thinking that well regulated meant regulated by the state?

If so how will they deal with that if they find out their base question is in error? Will they correct it?


I think it doesn't matter all that much, but I would hope they would point out what they mean when they say state regulated militia.

Smokeybehr
11-28-2007, 1:12 PM
So now that we have established that well-regulated means well maintained, well operating.

How is SCOTUS going to use the term since they have re-worded the question with the word in it.



Could it be that they themselves have failed to understand its meaning upfront and framed the question without understanding its usage of the time??? Thinking that well regulated meant regulated by the state?

If so how will they deal with that if they find out their base question is in error? Will they correct it?


I think it doesn't matter all that much, but I would hope they would point out what they mean when they say state regulated militia.

Hopefully, Heller will also clarify the Organized vs. Unorganized Militia debate, and will show that the National Guard *is not* the Militia of the People.

The best that we can hope for is a complete demolishing of the idea that RKBA is a collective right, and that it's an individual right, like those in the rest of the BOR. That will lead to at least a reexamination and at most an overturning of a lot of the laws based on the notion that RKBA is a collective right.