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the definition of "well regulated" question

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Greenmachin3, Feb 22, 2013.

  1. Greenmachin3

    Greenmachin3 Well-Known Member

    After watching a documentary about double rifles and shotguns by famous old companies, a thought occurred to me. Most people assume today "well regulated" in 2nd amendment means "well controlled" or "well supervised", but when it comes to double rifles and shotguns, well regulated means good accuracy and precision between barrels. It seems any company that makes these fine firearms tends to go on and on about how important well regulated barrels are. By that logic, I could see how important a well regulated militia is.. a group of ordinary folk who can actually hit something with a certain level of accuracy with their firearms if the need arises.

    Could "well regulated" actually mean "capable of good accuracy" ? Has something been lost in translation as English has changed over the last three centuries.

    Using it a defense against anti's would be fun if it were indeed what was meant.
  2. Akita1

    Akita1 Well-Known Member

    That would be awesome! Have to look into the etymology of the time but the general consensus I learned in my history studies in college was that "well-regulated" was consistent with training and discipline.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
  3. Zardaia

    Zardaia Well-Known Member

    Well regulated at the time meant "to make regular." It meant well equipped and trained, on par with the "regular" troops. Obviously somewhat impossible today with all the heavy weapons/equipment that would be far beyond most people's means even if they were legal (exception of small arms), but no it does not mean controlled.
  4. ohwell

    ohwell Well-Known Member

    What it refers to is a well regulated militia, but it says the peoples right to bear arms shall not be infringed. The whole group of people shall not be infringed. The militia is actually a set of volunteers from the larger group of people.
  5. joeschmoe

    joeschmoe Well-Known Member

    It means to keep in good working order. Like a mechanical watch or printing press must be kept "well-regulated" or they do not work correctly. The wrong time or misprint is the same as failing completly. Only in the modern era does the word regulated mean "controlled" in a negative sense.
  6. Greenmachin3

    Greenmachin3 Well-Known Member

    I see. Hopeful thoughts, then. Regulating the barrels of a double rifle is to put them in good working order (a double rifle with poor accuracy is useless and therefore not in good working order).

    ohwell, I'm not getting your point. I understand the militia aspect, I was just curious about the term regulated. Please advise.
  7. AlexanderA

    AlexanderA Well-Known Member

    A "well regulated" militia, in the 2nd Amendment sense, means that it's an army, and not merely an armed mob. That implies drill, discipline, organization, and officers. As far as accuracy of individual weapons, remember that in 1791, the standard infantry weapon was a smoothbore flintlock musket, with which you'd be lucky to hit a line of opposing infantry at 100 yards. The specifications expected of the weapons obviously move with the times. Whatever the regular army uses, would be adequate.
  8. Greenmachin3

    Greenmachin3 Well-Known Member

    Interesting, a few different interpretations it seems from different people, it seems.
  9. joeschmoe

    joeschmoe Well-Known Member

    If a watch is not "well-regulated" then it either doesn't work or shows the wrong time. It has failed at it's task. A printing press that smears ink or has paper fly off the wheels cannot serve its purpose either. They must be "well-regulated".

    A militia must be "in good working order" so that it can be depended upon to do its task; to defend the Republic.
    Think back to the time of the Revolution. Minutemen were an elite group of Militia who kept thier guns and equipment at the ready to be called to serve in less than a minute to fight.

    This could not happen if they were not in "good working order".
    "My gun doesn't work"
    "I don't have powder"
    "I can't find my gear"
  10. Greenmachin3

    Greenmachin3 Well-Known Member

    I see, thanks.

    Like I said, perhaps I was being a bit hopeful, but I couldn't help but notice the similarity in terminology between making a double rifle shoot accurately and making a militia function well.
  11. AlexanderA

    AlexanderA Well-Known Member

    In 1791, no. The "militia" referred to in the 2nd Amendment was the entire body of the people (or at least the able-bodied, free, males). The "volunteer" militias arose in the 1820's and thereafter, after the breakdown of the general militia system (the annual musters degenerated into drunken picnics).

    To this day, the U.S. Code defines the "militia" as including all abled-bodied males between the ages of 17 and 45. (10 USC section 311.) The "volunteer" portion of this (the organized militia) is the National Guard, and the rest is the unorganized militia.
  12. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

    All you have to is read the context, if "well-regulated" means heavily legislated then does "A heavily legislated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" make any sense as a restriction on the federal government?
  13. JellyJar

    JellyJar Well-Known Member

    To me "regulated" means adjusted to a set standard. Therefore, "well regulated" means that a good standard has been adopted and whatever ( militia in this instance ) is properly set up to meet those standards.

    The key word in the whole 2A is the word Militia. Based on the historic use of the word during the founding of this country Militia means just about everyone who is capable of bearing arms.
  14. 12many

    12many Well-Known Member

    It means well trained, skilled, and well equipped.

    Stated another way - A well trained and equipped militia is necessary for the security of a free state and therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    I also beleive the free state the founding fathers was talking about was freedom from both outside powers and freedom from our own government. They just overthrew their own government, the British, so this was very much on their minds.
  15. ohwell

    ohwell Well-Known Member

    I would say the well regulated militia part means well trained and organized. MY point is the militia is a subgroup of the people meaning they cant regulate the whole peoples right to bear arms. They can only regulate the militia. The whole people shall not be infringed.
  16. joeschmoe

    joeschmoe Well-Known Member

    Yes. The terms are the same because the meaning is the same. If, today you go to the fancy gun shops in London (yes, England) they will "regulate" your families $15,000 Purdy shotgun. It means they will check to make sure all the measurements are correct, safe and ready to use. They will give you a certificate that says it has been "regulated". They have been doing this for centuries. These are not about government regulations to limit ownership.

    IMO, ammo cannot be banned because the Militia must be kept in "good working order". Guns don't work without ammo. The "well-regulated" phrase protects our right to ammo, accessories and training.
  17. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Well-Known Member

    The response to this is to ask if they would like to ban women voting too?
    as according to them they shouldn't own guns....
  18. AlexanderA

    AlexanderA Well-Known Member

    The practical significance of 10 USC sec. 311 is that it defines the base (the unorganized militia) from which a future military draft would be drawn. We've never drafted women, but I can't imagine a future draft exempting women. If it did so, men could successfully attack it as being discriminatory and unconstitutional. So as it stands, yes, 10 USC sec. 311 is probably unconstitutional.

    In the Heller case, Justice Scalia decoupled the right to bear arms from service in the militia. He treated the introductory clause of the 2nd Amendment as a mere nullity. (Which I think was a mistake, since it cements the right to own military-style weapons.)
  19. Romeo 33 Delta

    Romeo 33 Delta Well-Known Member

    In English grammar, "A well-regulated militia ..." is a Nominative Absolute and can better be understood by adding the word "THAT" or "BECAUSE" before the phrase. It indicates that the Framers believed and stated the proposition that a well-regulated militia was necessary in order for a free state to be maintained.

    However, having stated that, it does not alter one iota the fact that THE RIGHT belongs to THE PEOPLE, regardless of their status ... militia members or not. No military/militia association is required for the right to exist or to be exercised. (English grammar rules!!!)

    I think Miller makes the point better. McReynolds, writing for the majority, that while the Court could take no notice that a short-barrelled shotgun had any utility/use for the militia/military service (since no one came forward to support Miller's position), my understanding is that it was made clear that arms in general use by the military or arms which would be useful for military service were precisely the kinds of arms which the Framers had intended be protected from infringement by the government. I'd take this as a clear indication that an AR15 or AK47 type arms (and many others too) clearly have utility for military use and meet the standard set by the Framers in the 2nd Amendment.
  20. karlsgunbunker

    karlsgunbunker Well-Known Member

    From: A Dictionary of the English Language
    A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson



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