Penn and Teller had a show called “Bullshit” that was on CATV a few years ago. The premise of the show was attacking people with stupid opinions. They tackled the Second Amendment and gun control in one episode.

An interesting take. The phrase “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” is there precisely because the state has an armed militia, and the people may someday need to oppose that militia with arms because the state will use it as a tool of oppression.

Categories: Gun Laws


Robert · August 5, 2023 at 10:10 pm

The people who wrote the second amendment were perfectly clear in their intentions to declare an absolute right for all citizens to bear arms of all types, including military-grade weapons. And government officials have been equally clear ever since then that they did not want citizens to be armed.

Obscure parsing of the independent clauses of the amendment is only useful for obscuring the basic conflict.

But I can play along for just a bit. The phrase “well-regulated militia” had a distinctly different meaning in the 1700s and 1800s. It would translate today as “well-provisioned” or “well-supplied” militia.

Militia members were expected to supply their own military-grade weapons for operations. And they did. Up to the Civil War in the 1860’s, it was not unusual for wealthy individuals to own cannons, which they brought with them or loaned out for militia operations.

Regular standing armies, generously supplied by the government, turned out to be frequently more effective than volunteer militias in combat or enforcement operations, and much easier for the government to control. So, militias have been encouraged to fade away. They might be permitted to operate temporarily at the fringes of natural disasters or riots when the police forces have abandoned an area. But the government does not really want them operating at all.

    Noway2 · August 6, 2023 at 7:41 am

    Absolutely correct. The word militia or being in a militia will get you in their attention list VERY quickly. The idea that a group of people train, learn, prepare, and practice to use coordinated force scares the living hell out of govt. and law dawg types. The reason should be obvious: the militias would be capable of not only standing up to them, but bringing them to their knees in a guerrilla conflict. Look at what one man, Chris Dorner, did to them. Now imagine 12 or more Dorners operating in a coordinated fashion with tactics and strategy. Govt. was a compliant and passive populace. It’s easy to police and rule. They don’t want a populace that could tell them to eff off and back it up.

    Divemedic · August 6, 2023 at 2:30 pm

    “The phrase “well-regulated militia” had a distinctly different meaning in the 1700s and 1800s. It would translate today as “well-provisioned” or “well-supplied” militia.”

    There is absolutely no evidence that this is the case. There will be a post coming on that.

      Brian_E · August 6, 2023 at 2:53 pm

      My understanding has been that ‘well regulated’ meant ‘well trained’, and had nothing to do with any external control that many modern interpretations imply.

        Divemedic · August 6, 2023 at 3:28 pm

        Please see my latest post.

      Burnt Toast · August 6, 2023 at 3:02 pm

      Regulated also has meant ‘very good’, ‘the best’, ‘the standard’.
      Went to Flagler museum recently. For those who don’t know, Flagler was a Florida railroad tycoon. Sadly, no heirs.
      Anyway, expected to and did find a couple of clocks at the museum that labeled were “Regulator”. A quick internet search, “These clocks were initially used in observatories and clock and watch shops as the standard of accuracy during repairs, synchronization, and manufacturing.” High noon and sundials not so good when timing freight trains by the minute.
      The definition of “regulate” has drifted quite bit over hundreds of years.

        Divemedic · August 6, 2023 at 3:28 pm

        See my latest post.

S Beam · August 6, 2023 at 7:48 am

I would say this is not an alternate view of liberty . It is the common sense correct view of the 2nd amendment. Anyone that casts doubt clearly is unable to read and comprehend simple english.

JaimeInTexas · August 6, 2023 at 8:47 am

I also like to point out “unconstitutional” actions by the FedGov but we are in a post-constitutional regime. Way beyond. We are under power politics.
I blame the Committee Of Style where precision died and Hamilton exacted his revenge.
If no 1st Amendment, would the FedGov have the authority to infringe on freedom of spedch, to peaceably assemble, etc. ? If course not. And yet an amendment was required to clarify?
The biggest failure (intentional, IMO) was not to include explicitly, mechanisms by member States against FedGov’s usurpations, especially by the SCOTUS.

Joe Blow · August 6, 2023 at 11:44 am

Exactly as has been said, that is the corrdlect reading of the 2nd ammendment. The ancillary debates we are CONSTANTLY LOSING (I might add), are due to slick tongued lawyers sucking people into sidebar arguments.
Do not debate tyrants.
Your only response to any attempt to restrict your access to arms is ‘shall not be infringed’.

    Divemedic · August 6, 2023 at 2:29 pm

    Nope. The pro-gun side has said that the militia is the armed population, who has to have weapons in order to serve in the militia. Penn and Teller are making the case that BEACAUSE the militia is owned and regulated by the government, the people need to possess weapons as a counter balance to the power that this grants to the government.

Burnt Toast · August 6, 2023 at 2:18 pm

Penn & Teller present an excellent counterpoint to those that insist that “militia” here means the government’s active military.

Fine, the militia is the military, they are to be regulated too. We can agree on that.

Regulated by the people, People armed to kill them if they need to.

    Divemedic · August 6, 2023 at 2:28 pm

    Finally, someone who understands the point.

Skeletor 2024 · August 6, 2023 at 7:35 pm

I like the Mark Dice man on the boardwalk approach where he doesn’t say anything while letting them step in it.
These people vote for the golden workers utopia that is California and it is spreading.
Penn had the great I like skulls so much, I have one under my face quote.
Sadly, the smoke and mirrors delusion of muh democracy has reached the end of the line.
Sad trombone is always so sad.

Boba O'Really · August 7, 2023 at 6:43 pm

“..can’t seem to point out any other places where those hack framers fucked up the wording.” Hilarious.

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