In the wake of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, CNN held the town hall called “Stand Up. The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action.”
The exchange between history teacher Diane Wolk-Rogers and National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch revealed what I fear is rampant in our public schools today — teaching that either intentionally or negligently disregards the truth about the Second Amendment to advance the cause for gun control.
The teacher prefaced her question to Loesch by describing how she viewed the dead body of one of the students and watched the student’s parents kiss their child goodbye as they closed her casket.
This sad anecdote, however, was irrelevant to her question; she cheaply used it to engender sympathy for her cause. The teacher then said she hugged the victim’s brother and told him his sister “died a martyr.” But that was a lie; a martyr is someone who dies for his beliefs; the sister didn’t. The teacher, however, wanted a martyr for her cause.
She then declared she’s proud and inspired that her students started a “revolution” with the Never Again movement and that she’s a part of it. (I wonder if the teacher realizes that most revolutions include guns, violence and death.)
After setting her rhetorical trap, the teacher, with a pained and disgusted look on her face, sprung the question: define “a well-regulated militia as stated in the Second Amendment” and then answer, “how an 18-year old with a military rifle is well-regulated.” She added, ominously, the whole world will grade your answer.
Loesch quickly and succinctly answered: the militia is all adult citizens and well-regulated means they can operate and service their firearm. Bingo.
She nailed it. Yet, instead of awarding a grade A, the teacher stood there baffled, clearly stumped. Either not wanting to admit the truth or not knowing it, she rephrased her question and threw back at Ms. Loesch her own explanation about how she had defined the terms “in the context of the times” – as if that somehow discredited the answer.
In what context did she expect the answer? The future? Yes, she did. In rephrasing her question, she added the word “now” to try to move the context of the militia clause up to the present so that it would be explained in the context of today; i.e. that an 18-year old having a “military rifle” proves firearms are not being “well-regulated,” as in the modern sense of government agencies regulating peoples’ conduct.
But that’s not what it means. One interprets a clause by how it was defined and understood by those who wrote it, not by how someone may interpret it 200 years in the future.
She was trying to discredit the right to bear arms by pinning her argument on what she thinks is the incongruity between the militia clause and modern times. Yet, it doesn’t matter what the militia clause says or means then or now when ascertaining our rights.
That’s because it’s the prefatory and not the operative clause of the Second Amendment. It simply states one of the purposes of the right found in the operative clause, which is the right to keep and bear arms. We could just delete the militia clause and it would have no effect on the Second Amendment.
Had Loesch elaborated upon her answer, it would have benefited those who don’t understand the militia clause, including probably all of Diane Wolk-Rogers’ students. By “well-regulated militia” the Founders meant the people, comprised of able-bodied adult men, which meant men 18-years of age and older, should keep and bear firearms and be well-trained, drilled and disciplined in their use.
Federal statutes in 1791 and 1792 made this compulsory. The arms used by the militia were “training arms,” i.e. muskets with bayonets. “Training arms” were the “military assault rifles” of their day.
The purpose? Our Founders believed a well-armed and trained people — not the government’s soldiers — is necessary to secure the liberties of a free people against tyranny. If the people are to have a chance defending their liberties against the soldiers of King George III or any future tyrant, they must have the same or similar weapons as the soldiers, whether a musket with bayonet or an AR-15.
It’s clear Diane Wolk-Rogers is not teaching this lesson to her students. She either doesn’t know it or intentionally hides it to help make new revolutionaries for her cause.
Although the early militia acts are not in force today, that does not negate the purpose of the militia clause. Although King George III is long gone, he was a pussycat compared to modern tyrants such as Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong — all of whom disarmed many of their own people before unleashing upon them some of the worst tyrannies in history.
The Father of Our Country, George Washington, said, “A free people ought not only be armed but disciplined.”
The need for the people to be armed to resist tyranny either from at home or abroad is an eternal truth encapsulated within the Second Amendment. We harm ourselves as a free people if our teachers refuse to teach it.
Marc A. Scaringi is a practicing attorney, former Donald J. Trump-endorsed delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention and host of “The Marc Scaringi Show” on WHP 580 and I Heart Radio Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. A version of this op-ed previously appeared on PennLive.
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