Rev. William Cook
What did the Framers mean by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution which reads, 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? The answer lies in the meaning of “Militia” and “infringed” as understood by Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Americans. We look to “The forgotten Founding Father,” Noah Webster (1758-1843), for the meaning of both.
Noah Webster (1758 – 1843), was a lexicographer and a language reformer who is often called the “Father of American Scholarship and Education.” During his life, he was also a lawyer, schoolmaster, author, newspaper editor, as well as an outspoken politician. He began compiling An American Dictionary of the English Language in 1807, 31 years after the Declaration of Independence was ratified on July 4, 1776, 24 years after the American Revolution was formally concluded on September 3, 1783, and 16 years after the Bill of Rights was ratified on December 15, 1791. The first edition of his dictionary was published in two volumes in 1828, and the second, 33 years later in 1841.
The definition of “Militia” from An American Dictionary of the English Language along with some poignant quotes by a few Founding Fathers should suffice to illuminate the Framers’ intent in the Second Amendment.
MILI’TIA, noun [Latin from miles, a soldier; Gr. war, to fight, combat, contention. The primary sense of fighting is to strive, struggle, drive, or to strike, to beat, Eng. moil, Latin molior; Heb. to labor or toil.] The body of soldiers in a state enrolled for discipline, but not engaged in actual service except in emergencies; as distinguished from regular troops, whose sole occupation is war or military service. The militia of a country are the able bodied men organized into companies, regiments and brigades, with officers of all grades, and required by law to attend military exercises on certain days only, but at other times left to pursue their usual occupations [emphasis added]. —Noah Webster’s 1828 Edition of the American Dictionary of the English Language
“Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American… The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.” —Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, February 20, 1788
“To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them…” —Light Horse Harry Lee, in Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republic (1787-1788)
“A well regulated militia, composed of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country.” (First Annals of Congress, at 434, June 8, 1789. —James Madison
“I ask you sir, who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people.” (Elliott, Debates, 425-426) —George Mason
“The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic …” —Joseph Story, Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court
“A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.” —George Washington
If we believe media reports that the FBI and Broward County Sheriff’s Office dropped the ball on 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter, and that Broward County Sheriff’s deputies failed to intervene during the attack, why the continued haranguing for added infringements on gun ownership, including greater austerity in vetting the mental fitness of aspiring gun owners?
In a South Florida Sun Sentinel article published on Friday, reporters John Maines and Megan O’Matz, did yeoman’s work in documenting the significant advance warnings the FBI and Broward County Sheriff’s Office received about Nikolas Cruz, beginning two years ago. The article, Nikolas Cruz: A timeline of the warning signs ahead of Stoneman Douglas shooting, reveals that the “sheriff’s office received at least two calls from people concerned that Nikolas Cruz would shoot up a school. But deputies brushed them off.”
The article also reveals that “a neighbor’s son told the Broward County Sheriff’s Office” on February 5, 2016, “that Cruz, pictured with guns on Instagram, ‘planned to shoot up the school.’ A deputy responds, discovers Cruz owns knives and a BB gun, and forwards the information to Marjory Stoneman Douglas high’s school resource officer Scot Peterson.
The Sentinel article also indicated that in September 2017, “A blogger in Mississippi warns the FBI that a someone named ‘nikolas cruz’ wrote on his YouTube page: ‘I’m going to be a professional school shooter.’” The report also reveals that “A caller from Massachusetts tells BSO that Cruz is collecting guns and knives and “could be a school shooter in the making.” The caller says Cruz is now living in Lake Worth. A Broward County Sheriff’s deputy tells the caller to contact the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.”
If simple due diligence by authorities would have prevented the attack, obsessing over Cruz’s mental state or use of an AK-47 is completely detached from reality. Moreover, why would anyone entrust the definition of “mental stability” to a Government that has amassed $18.96 trillion in debt, that would allow men and women who believe they are the opposite gender to enlist in the US Military, that has appointed members of Hamas, a US-designated terrorist group, to sit on our Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Countering Violent Extremism Working Group, that approves same-sex marriage, that has defended the mass murder of more than sixty million unborn children, that insists America is facing “an opioid crisis,” while effectively ignoring our nation’s immigration crisis, that refuses to secure our borders while defending the rights of non-citizens over those of citizens? INSANE!
The Musket was the AK-47 of the American Revolution. The British might have won if George III had thought to impose mental health and age restrictions on ownership of the muzzle-loaded, smoothbore long gun that became the “workhorse of the Revolution.” God forbid there is not another Donald Trump after the next Barack Obama?
Could it be that there are worse fates than dying in a mass shooting at school? What about being indoctrinated in practical atheism, “climate change,” and Socialism? What if the school teaches that a man can be a woman, or a woman, a man? What if students are being taught that premarital sex is good? That abortion will make the problem go away? What if students learn that two men or two women can be married? What if they are taught to hate their country? What if much of what they learn at school is wrong.
Further discussion of restrictions on gun ownership is an outrage and an attack on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. Nothing more, nothing less. We the People, this clergyman included, repudiate the notion entirely.
Government does not exist to placate shrill ignorance, but to defend the Constitutional rights of all American citizens. The Second Amendment is not open to revision in the court of public opinion. Citizens’ right to keep and bear arms is not debatable.
The gun control cabal does not expect to eviscerate the Second Amendment in one fell swoop, but will adhere to the maxim, “a good crisis shall not go to waste.” Gun grabbers will happily walk away with incremental success, with a ban on the AK-47, or “mental fitness” as a prerequisite to gun ownership.
Notwithstanding strident demands that “Something has got be done!” nothing more is needed save a firm resolve to uphold the Second Amendment. Defenders of the right to keep and bear arms should not let the Stoneman crisis go to waste either, but use it as a teachable moment to enlighten the American people on Amendment II and Founding intent.
February 28, 2018
 Kendall, Joshua C. (2012) The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster’s Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture. New York, New York, Berkley Books.
 Noah Webster (1758 – 1843), was a lexicographer and a language reformer. Webster’s Dictionary 1828 – Online Edition, American Dictionary of the English Language. Retrieved from http://webstersdictionary1828.com/NoahWebster