A statement in a recent letter to the editor noted that this country’s founders “never supported an unlimited right to guns”, and that “only citizens trained and qualified to be in the military should have a gun. Neither is true.
After the revolution, and given our new governments fear of standing armies, the concept of the militia was retained. Prior military training was not a requirement for leader selection. All men, excepting physically impaired, conscientious objectors, too young or too old, were required to serve. They were required to have, and maintain their own firearms, and accessories. Thus we have the right of the people to keep and bear arms which, thankfully, shall not be infringed. There never was any intent for the militia to have firearm ownership based on prior military training.
The bottom line here is that we the people have been since 1789, and still are, the militia. Our purpose is to prevent our government from becoming so intolerant as to be eliminated. We may not meet once a month as in the past, but the reason for bearing arms still exists, and rightly so.
Beyond this, the sporting use of firearms has always been accepted.
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From afar in California, I pop into chattanoogan.com every now and then to see what’s going on in the city where I spent my formative years and have visited family and friends over the decades. I write in response to the letter from Al Hockart who advocates that still valid today is the Constitutional vision by our Founding Fathers of an armed citizen militia to battle government should it become oppressive.This is a modern-day myth fantasized in certain quarters; it does not withstand critical examination.
Consider this simple set of made-up facts under this tyrannical government scenario, fanciful though it be. If we are hunkered down with our rifles, some semi-automatic perhaps, and handguns in our local Starbucks behind overturned tables waiting to exchange fire through the front windows with government troops, we will not see them taking cover outside behind nearby parked cars, poised to attack with similar weaponry. What we will see down the block is a tank ready to lob an artillery shell into the building that will blow us to smithereens. Or we might hear overhead an attack helicopter armed with a small air-to-surface missile that would do the same.
That in these times citizen militias will wage small arms battles across broad green Southern fields and in deep woods is a quaint one that obviously never will materialize. One might think it wiser and more productive, not to mention safer, for romanticists who hold it dearly but unrealistically to their bosoms to protect and express their political beliefs and rights via another method envisioned by the nation’s creators - the weaponless ballot box.