Wait, what did you say about ‘well-regulated’?

A reader offers some thoughts on America’s gun crisis.

SHARE Wait, what did you say about ‘well-regulated’?
Chicago police display some of the thousands of handguns confiscated in 2014.

Chicago police display some of the thousands of handguns confiscated in 2014. America has some 400 million guns, far more guns than people.

Associated Press

Traditionally, columnists ran letters from readers as a way to take the day off. You never see those anymore — anyone lucky enough to still have a newspaper column is also smart enough to write it themselves.

However. This reader makes an excellent point and, rather than just take his suggestion and repackage it as a genius divination of my own, I thought it made more sense for me to just let him say it. The only edits are where he starts citing case law, which I thought was going into the weeds for the average reader.

Opinion bug


Our current irresponsible, almost insane gun situation is not part of the fabric of this country, but a recent interpretation of those who hate the idea of government and authority. They shout louder, but that doesn’t mean softer, more sensible voices can’t also have their say:

Mr. Steinberg:

I am a digital subscriber to the Sun-Times and read your column regularly. Since I read your thoughts, I decided to share a thought I had about the right to bear arms with you.

As I am sure you are aware the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution states:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

People who cite the Second Amendment ignore the first part that refers to a well-regulated Militia. The Amendment should be interpreted in context. This means that the right to bear arms is linked to a well-regulated Militia. Just as the state can regulate the practice of medicine it can regulate the militia, or as it is now constituted, the National Guard.

A person seeking to obtain a weapon, especially a weapon such as an AR-15, should be registered for possible call-up and service in the National Guard. This would allow tracking of these individuals and subject them to being regulated by the authorities. Also, as a potential member of the National Guard they could be subject to a medical examination, which would include a mental health examination. If they fail the physical or mental health portion of the medical examination, they would not be eligible to be a member of the National Guard. This would take them outside the context of the Second Amendment.

While the Second Amendment states that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed it does not define what an infringement would be. The wording of this amendment also contrasts with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution that states that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Even though “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech,” a person is not allowed to yell “fire” in a theatre.

There are other rights that are protected by the Constitution, such as the right to engage in the common occupations of life. The right to work for a living in the common occupations of the community is a property right. ... It is also a liberty interest entitled to protection of law as guaranteed by due process clauses of the Illinois and federal constitutions. ... It is not considered to be an infringement of this right to require certain minimum standards for someone to be qualified to practice certain professions, such as medicine. Specifically in Illinois there are substantial requirements before a person can be licensed to practice medicine. ... In determining physical and mental capacity under the Illinois Medical Practice Act, the Illinois State Medical Board may, upon a showing of a possible incapacity or conduct or activities that would constitute grounds for discipline under the Illinois Medical Practice Act, compel any applicant to submit to a mental or physical examination.

To my knowledge, it has never been held by any court that the requirements for getting a license was an infringement on the right to engage in the common occupations of the community.

I realize that gun violence, in light of the Second Amendment, is a complex issue and my idea is very different than generally accepted thinking on the subject. However, it is important that different ideas should be considered to help save lives.

If this email gives you an idea for a column to put an idea into the marketplace of free speech, feel free to use any thoughts I have included. It is the thoughts that are important not the name of the thinker.

Very truly yours,

Alan Rhine


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