The text of the Second Amendmentisn’t very long, but some of its most fervent proponents seem unable to remember all of it.
Diane Wolk Rogers, a history teacher who survived the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, decided to give a prominent NRA spokeswoman a lesson on the topic Wednesday night.
At a CNN town hall on gun violence, Rogers asked the National Rifle Association’s Dana Loesch, “What is your definition of a ‘well regulated militia’ as stated in the Second Amendment?” She continued: “And using supporting details, explain to me how an 18-year-old with a military rifle is ‘well regulated’?”
In response, Loesch said, “George Mason was one of the founders. And he said ‘the militia is the whole of the people.’ It’s every man and every woman.”
Loesch’s comment was bizarre, in part, because she completely side-stepped the question of regulation of gun ownership. She went on to say, later in the evening, that the Parkland shooter shouldn’t have been able to get a gun because he was “crazy.”
Loesch’s citation of Mason is bizarre for another reason. His comments came not in a discussion about gun rights, but in a discussion about the government’s war powers. He was contrasting a militia with a standing army.
Mason argued that “once a standing army is established, in any country, the people lose their liberty.” Given that the United States has long since settled the question of whether it would have a standing army, it’s hard to see how Mason’s comments are relevant today.
As Rogers was pointing out, the natural reading of the Second Amendment is that it is about regulated militias, not about an individual right to own guns. In fact, this is how the amendment was interpreted until about a decade ago when the Supreme Court decided to radically reinterpret the law’s meaning.
Nevertheless, the NRA continues to argue against nearly any regulation of individual gun rights based on an ahistorical reading of the text.
Watch the exchange below:
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