Let’s start this off with something simple and non-controversial, shall we?
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
So, here in the United States we have that bit of text up there in our Constitution. Some of us like it, some of us really don’t and all of us disagree about what exactly it means.
Wikipedia has an overview at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2nd_amendment, but for a serious discussion of where it came from and what it was intended to mean you need to read https://www.uclalawreview.org/why-the-second-amendment-has-a-preamble-original-public-meaning-and-the-political-culture-of-written-constitutions-in-revolutionary-america/ (full-text PDF at https://www.uclalawreview.org/pdf/56-5-7.pdf).
Konig makes it pretty clear in that article that as originally understood the 2nd Amendment refers to a right (and possibly an obligation) of the citizens to take up arms in the context of an organized militia to defend their collective freedom. The details are still open to some interpretation, but the basic structure of the intended and originally understood meaning is unambiguous.
What to do with that these days?
Now, I approach this issue as I do any other: starting from the free individual and deciding what freedoms I think it’s reasonable to give up to the State and what powers I think a free individual should be willing to grant to a State.
There are frankly some weapons I think it’s completely reasonable to give up my right to keep in my house, since I don’t think any of the rest of you nutters should have access to them either. And you’d be completely right in not trusting anyone to keep some of these things safely.
On the other hand, I think it’s completely unreasonable for a free individual to give over their defense entirely to the State.
It’s not desirable for any State to try to completely professionalize civil defense either; that ends up creating a class of citizens who feel entitled to control the rest (see, for example, the cult of the veteran and the very visible problems in modern policing …) as well as infantilizing the rest of the population who end up unable (and possibly even unwilling) to act effectively in an emergency.
(At this point in the train of thought, many States have opted for military or civil service requirements, but the United States has a long and noble history of rejecting servitude even to itself so I’ll pass that option by.)
So, we need some middle ground here: there’s no way anyone should be keeping an armed tank in their back yard, but it would also be foolish to not have some percentage of the population at least familiar and capable with more than a plastic knife.
We do have to do something, though.
We’ve had effectively unregulated access to serious personal firepower for some time now and frankly so many people are being killed and injured each year with these things that the situation can’t go on like this much longer.
And we need to find some solution between the rising “no one has guns except the police” side and the “you can take my gun from my cold dead hands” side, ’cause that collision isn’t going to go well for anyone.
That really only leaves one option: the state militia.
Now, out here in the West we don’t really have a strong tradition of actual militias; historically, the West has been more posse territory. But ad-hoc, single-use organizations don’t make for long-term civil stability (and aren’t very consistent with the “well regulated” bit anyway); they also generally don’t involve much training or expertise and make for a helluva a lot of mistakes.
A formally constituted state milita organization would do better.
I have my own thoughts on how best to organize such a thing at a state level, but I’ll address that in a later post. For now, though, the first official fix this blog proposes is: reasonable gun control requires that we (re)establish formal state militias.