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Debate: Should the militia be government regulated?

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ยง1202 of the book describes Power over the Militia and analyzes the origins of the Second Amendment. Justice Story clearly viewed the original meaning of the Amendment as a concession to moderate Anti-Federalists who feared federal control over the militia:

"It is difficult fully to comprehend the influence of such objections, urged with much apparent sincerity and earnestness at such an eventful period. The answers then given seem to have been in their structure and reasoning satisfactory and conclusive. But the amendments proposed to the constitution (some of which have been since adopted) show, that the objections were extensively felt, and sedulously cherished. The power of congress over the militia (it was urged) was limited, and concurrent with that of the states. The right of governing them was confined to the single case of their being in the actual service of the United States, in some of the cases pointed out in the constitution. It was then, and then only, that they could be subjected by the general government to martial law. If congress did not choose to arm, organize, or discipline the militia, there would be an inherent right in the states to do it. All, that the constitution intended, was, to give a power to congress to ensure uniformity, and thereby efficiency. But, if congress refused, or neglected to perform the duty, the states had a perfect concurrent right, and might act upon it to the utmost extent of sovereignty. As little pretence was there to say, that congress possessed the exclusive power to suppress insurrections and repel invasions. Their power was merely competent to reach these objects; but did not, and could not, in regard to the militia, supersede the ordinary rights of the states. It was, indeed, made a duty of congress to provide for such cases; but this did not exclude the co-operation of the states. The idea of congress inflicting severe and ignominious punishments upon the militia in times of peace was absurd. It presupposed, that the representatives had an interest, and would intentionally take measures to oppress them, and alienate their affections. The appointment of the officers of the militia was exclusively in the states; and how could it be presumed, that such men would ever consent to the destruction of the rights or privileges of their fellow-citizens. The power to discipline and train the militia, except when in the actual service of the United States, was also exclusively vested in the states; and under such circumstances, it was secure against any serious abuses. It was added, that any project of disciplining the whole militia of the United States would be so utterly impracticable and mischievous, that it would probably never be attempted. The most, that could be done, would be to organize and discipline select corps; and these for all general purposes, either of the states, or of the Union, would be found to combine all, that was useful or desirable in militia services."[1]



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