Second Amendment Not a Blank Check

July 21, 2017

I had a letter in yesterday’s Brunswick Times Record, about the Second Amendment.  The text of the letter is below.  I wrote it in response to an opinion column by Dale Landrith Sr. the BTR published on July 18


Second Amendment Not a Blank Check

In his otherwise laudable column on “The Bill of Rights,” Dale Landrith Sr. makes an important mistake about the Second Amendment.

“The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” he quotes it as saying. Landrith omits, however, the first and very important words of the Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State …” The idea that gun ownership and use need to be “well regulated” is right there in the text of the Second Amendment and has been since 1791.

What “well regulated” means is something worthy of public debate. Should there be criminal background checks for all gun purchasers? Should silencers be allowed? Should there be stricter limitations on ownership of automatic weapons? Should there be locations (schools, courthouses, etc.) where guns are not allowed? These and many other questions deserve our attention. I believe these are all measures we need, and all fully in keeping with the Second Amendment.

Hildreth says “When surveyed the American people do not want the Second Amendment violated. Gun owners and non-gun owners do not want restrictions on the ability to possess firearms.” That’s incorrect. Public opinion polling regularly shows that a majority of Americans want sensible regulation of firearms such as those measures listed above.

The Second Amendment is not a blank check that anyone anywhere has a right to any gun. It is not a prohibition on regulation of firearms. It never was.

Doug Bennett,  Topsham

About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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