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Was "militia" just another word for “the public” at the time the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified?

First of all, the terms “public” and “militia” did not have universally accepted meanings at the time just prior to the U.S. Constitution being developed and ratified.In the U.S. Constitution itself, “public” was used to descriptively refer to anything pertaining to the people generally. Hence the references to “public Trust,” “public danger,” and so on.Prior to this, the term “publick” was often thought to mean some uncountable, or referring to the many, not specifically used as a noun in the same way we would today. Rather, it had different meanings employed depending on the context and locale it was being used in. It could be used to refer to the large quantity of people generally, for example the “publick good” might be used just as would be the “general publick” or the “publick populace” in other usages not universally adopted. (“Populace”as an ancillary example was derived from Middle French and Italian precursors.) Examples (including, but not limited to, the use of “publick” as a noun to refer to the people generally):publick - Wiktionary“A MODEST PROPOSAL For preventing the children of poor people in Ireland, from being a burden on their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the publick. by Dr. Jonathan Swift 1729”“Populace” was considered to mean also the same as “populacy” and was also understood by most persons in the late 1700s in what is now the United States of America, to mean the same thing as what we understand “the public” to mean today. Thus, “the publick,” or the “publick populacy,” literally defined in a commonly accepted dictionary of the time used by the Founders, meant “the common people,” which was in fact synonymous with the unorganized form of the “militia.”See “Populacy” at: " Page View - A Dictionary of the English Language - Samuel Johnson - 1755Language was substantially in flux at the time as much of language is today. Contrary to the beliefs of some, however, the U.S. Constitution is not a “living document,” but rather is a foundation for the rest of our laws; and is the highest law of the land. Although it has had quite a few amendments, it has had very few repeal actions which invalidated prior amendments. The Second Amendment, like the First, will never be erased so long as there is still a United States of America, unless a favored political group decides they wish to do that and thus risk a Second Civil War. Yet if that comes to pass, it is those who are armed, and those who persist in battle, that would win, regardless of the might of their adversary. For examples of this outside the United States, look up the terms “Vietnam” or “Winter War” (where, with respect to the “Winter War,” the much smaller country, Finland, was arguably the victor in terms of its ability to deter Russian campaigns).In practice however, the terms which we now understand as “public” and the “militia” were, for all intents and purposes, synonymous at the time, in words as frequently employed in late 1700s usage.Unfortunately for people interested in using this question as a rationale for banning guns, the answers previously provided arguing against the idea of the public (as in, the people generally) as the militia at time of ratification, are not merely uninformed, but just flat wrong.Some have suggested slaves did not meaningfully participate in the Revolutionary War in an organized or unorganized “militia.” While slavery is a horrific practice, only part of which was defeated via the Civil War, it is historically incorrect to suggest slaves did not voluntarily help during the Revolutionary War. Some were indeed given the choice to do so and others rebelled so that they could participate despite the severe and oppressive treatment which made it nearly impossible to utilize their personal agency in a manner they would wish regarding a “militia.” The below quotes are from a Wikipedia article with links to original source text.“Recent research concludes there were 9000 blacks occupying both combative and supportive roles in the Patriot side of the war, counting the Continental Army and Navy, and state militia units, as well as privateers, wagoneers in the Army, servants to officers, spies, and support roles. [1]As between 200,000 and 250,000 soldiers and militia served during the revolution in total, that would mean black soldiers made up approximately four percent of the Patriots' numbers. Of the 9,000 black soldiers, 5,000 were combat dedicated troops. [2]Notably, the average length of time in service for an African American soldier during the war was four and a half years (due to many serving for the whole eight-year duration), which was eight times longer than the average period for white soldiers. Meaning that while they were only four percent of the manpower base, they comprised around a quarter of the Patriots' strength in terms of man-hours, though this includes supportive roles. [3]”From Battlefields ( Home ) we can also find reference to unorganized militia or “publick” in terms of contribution of women, probably more widespread than written history acknowledges, including in ad hoc combat which is to say on an as-need-be basis. The below quotes are from Battlefields[.]org with links to ancillary event summaries.“Sometimes they were flung into the vortex of battle. Such was the case of Mary Ludwig Hays, better known as Molly Pitcher, who earned fame at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. Hays first brought soldiers water from a local well to quench their thirst on an extremely hot and humid day and then replaced her wounded husband at his artillery piece, firing at the oncoming British. In a similar vein, Margaret Corbin was severely wounded during the British assault on Fort Washington in November 1776 and left for dead alongside her husband, also an artilleryman, until she was attended by a physician. She lived, though her wounds left her permanently disabled. History recalls her as the first American female to receive a soldier’s lifetime pension after the war.Phillis Wheatley, an enslaved African American living in Boston, took up the pen and wrote poetry, becoming one of the first published female authors in America and the first African American woman to be published. Her 1773 collection Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral was popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Her poems focused on patriotism and human virtues. She even wrote a poem about George Washington, “To His Excellency, George Washington” in 1775, which she personally read to him at his Cambridge headquarters in 1776 while he was with the Continental Army in Massachusetts besieging the British. Her visit was the result of an invitation from Washington. Wheatley obtained her freedom upon the death of her master in 1778.New York teenager Sibyl Ludington, was the female equivalent of Paul Revere, though she rode twice as far as Revere and in a driving rainstorm in April, 1777. Her ride took her through Putnam and Dutchess Counties, New York where she roused local militia to fight a British force that had attacked nearby Danbury, Connecticut. The Daughters of the American Revolution erected a heroic equestrian statue to Ludington in Carmel, New York along the forty mile route she traveled.”You would be hard pressed indeed to suggest that Sibyl Ludington was not a member of the “publick” as it might have been employed in parts of the country at the time (or the “populacy” as more defined then), just as much as she was part of an ad-hoc and unorganized militia action. Those who suggest otherwise apparently never heard of guerrilla tactics as have been used in the field since before the first European to visit the country even set foot on Native American lands.Let's examine the current U.S. Code on the meaning of “militia.” This draws from historical precedent in terms of meaning of the “militia.”10 U.S. Code § 246 - Militia: composition and classes(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.(b)The classes of the militia are—(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.(Aug. 10, 1956, ch. 1041, 70A Stat. 14, § 311; Pub. L. 85–861, § 1(7), Sept. 2, 1958, 72 Stat. 1439; Pub. L. 103–160, div. A, title V, § 524(a), Nov. 30, 1993, 107 Stat. 1656; renumbered § 246, Pub. L. 114–328, div. A, title XII, § 1241(a)(2), Dec. 23, 2016, 130 Stat. 2497.)The Heller U.S. Supreme Court DecisionSince the Heller decision, the meaning of the unorganized militia, specifically referring to “the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia,” and who are 17 or older, has been construed by the U.S. Supreme Court to represent those who possess the individual right, whether or not they in fact own arms, since the right to bear arms and defend one's kith and kin is independent of both modern law and possession of any material object or association with any group. This is based on historical precedent, since historically the militia have been understood to be the whole of the people.Quote below from the Heller decision:“As we will describe below, the “militia” in colonial America consisted of a subset of “the people”—those who were male, able bodied, and within a certain age range. Reading the Second Amendment as protecting only the right to “keep and bear Arms” in an organized militia therefore fits poorly with the operative clause’s description of the holder of that right as “the people.”We start therefore with a strong presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans.”If that wasn't clear enough, you can try this historical reference:Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government47. The Military & the MilitiaA standing army has always been used by despots to enforce their rule and to keep their people under subjection. Its existence was therefore considered a great threat to peace and stability in a republic and a danger to the rights of the nation. Since every aspect of government was designed to prevent the rise of tyranny, strict limits and control over the military were considered absolutely necessary. It was essential that the military be subordinate to civilian control."The supremacy of the civil over the military authority I deem [one of] the essential principles of our Government, and consequently [one of] those which ought to shape its administration." --Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801."The freest governments in the world have their army under absolute government. Republican form and principles [are] not to be introduced into government of an army." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes Concerning the Right of Removal from Office, 1780. Papers 4:282"[A commander who conducts a] great military contest with wisdom and fortitude [will] invariably [regard] the rights of the civil power through all disasters and changes." --Thomas Jefferson: Address to George Washington, 1783.(*) Papers 6:413"Instead of subjecting the military to the civil power, [a tyrant will make] the civil subordinate to the military. But can [he] thus put down all law under his feet? Can he erect a power superior to that which erected himself? He [can do] it indeed by force, but let him remember that force cannot give right." --Thomas Jefferson: Rights of British America, 1774.(*) ME 1:209, Papers 1:134"No military commander should be so placed as to have no civil superior." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Smith, 1801. FE 8:2947.1 The Uses of the Military"It is probable... that not knowing how to use the military as a civil weapon, [the civil authority] will do too much or too little with it." --Thomas Jefferson to William Carmichael, 1789."To carry on our war with success, we want able officers, and a sufficient number of soldiers. The former, time and trial can alone give us; to procure the latter, we need only the tender of sufficient inducements and the assiduous pressure of them on the proper subjects." --Thomas Jefferson to John Clarke, 1814. ME 14:79"Bonaparte will conquer the world, if they do not learn his secret of composing armies of young men only, whose enthusiasm and health enable them to surmount all obstacles." --Thomas Jefferson to Barnabas Bidwell, 1806. ME 11:116"There should be a school of instruction for our navy as well as artillery; and I do not see why the same establishment might not suffice for both. Both require the same basis of general mathematics, adding projectiles and fortifications for the artillery exclusively, and astronomy and theory of navigation exclusively for the naval students." --Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1821. ME 15:334"Neither a nation nor those entrusted with its affairs could be justifiable, however sanguine their expectations, in trusting solely to an engine not yet sufficiently tried under all the circumstances which may occur, and against which we know not as yet what means of parrying may be devised." --Thomas Jefferson to Robert Fulton, 1807. ME 11:328"I believe now we should be gainers were we to burn our whole navy, and build what we should be able on plans approved by experience and not warped to the whimsical ideas of individuals, who do not consider that if their projects miscarry their country is in a manner undone." --Thomas Jefferson to Richard Henry Lee, 1779. Papers 3:3947.2 Against Standing Armies"There are instruments so dangerous to the rights of the nation and which place them so totally at the mercy of their governors that those governors, whether legislative or executive, should be restrained from keeping such instruments on foot but in well-defined cases. Such an instrument is a standing army." --Thomas Jefferson to David Humphreys, 1789. ME 7:323"I do not like [in the new Federal Constitution] the omission of a Bill of Rights providing clearly and without the aid of sophisms for... protection against standing armies." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787. ME 6:387"Nor is it conceived needful or safe that a standing army should be kept up in time of peace for [defense against invasion]." --Thomas Jefferson: 1st Annual Message, 1801. ME 3:334"Standing armies [are] inconsistent with [a people's] freedom and subversive of their quiet." --Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Lord North's Proposition, 1775. Papers 1:231"The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force." --Thomas Jefferson to Chandler Price, 1807. ME 11:160"A distinction between the civil and military [is one] which it would be for the good of the whole to obliterate as soon as possible." --Thomas Jefferson: Answers to de Meusnier Questions, 1786. ME 17:90"It is nonsense to talk of regulars. They are not to be had among a people so easy and happy at home as ours. We might as well rely on calling down an army of angels from heaven." --Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1814. ME 14:207"There shall be no standing army but in time of actual war." --Thomas Jefferson: Draft Virginia Constitution, 1776. Papers 1:363"The Greeks and Romans had no standing armies, yet they defended themselves. The Greeks by their laws, and the Romans by the spirit of their people, took care to put into the hands of their rulers no such engine of oppression as a standing army. Their system was to make every man a soldier and oblige him to repair to the standard of his country whenever that was reared. This made them invincible; and the same remedy will make us so." --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, 1814. ME 14:184"Bonaparte... transferred the destinies of the republic from the civil to the military arm. Some will use this as a lesson against the practicability of republican government. I read it as a lesson against the danger of standing armies." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Adams, 1800. ME 10:15447.3 Against Forced Enlistment"In this country, [a draught from the militia] ever was the most unpopular and impracticable thing that could be attempted. Our people, even under the monarchical government, had learnt to consider it as the last of all oppressions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1777. ME 4:286, Papers 2:18"The breaking men to military discipline is breaking their spirits to principles of passive obedience." --Thomas Jefferson to John Jay, 1788. ME 7:1947.4 Controlling the Military"If no check can be found to keep the number of standing troops within safe bounds while they are tolerated as far as necessary, abandon them altogether, discipline well the militia and guard the magazines with them. More than magazine guards will be useless if few and dangerous if many. No European nation can ever send against us such a regular army as we need fear, and it is hard if our militia are not equal to those of Canada or Florida." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1788."Our duty is... to act upon things as they are and to make a reasonable provision for whatever they may be. Were armies to be raised whenever a speck of war is visible in our horizon, we never should have been without them. Our resources would have been exhausted on dangers which have never happened instead of being reserved for what is really to take place." --Thomas Jefferson: 6th Annual Message, 1806. ME 3:424"[Montesquieu wrote in his Spirit of the Laws, XIII,c.17:] 'As soon as one prince augments his forces, the rest, of course, do the same; so that nothing is gained thereby but the public ruin.'" --Thomas Jefferson: copied into his Commonplace Book."The following [addition to the Bill of Rights] would have pleased me:... All troops of the United States shall stand ipso facto disbanded at the expiration of the term for which their pay and subsistence shall have been last voted by Congress, and all officers and soldiers not natives of the United States shall be incapable of serving in their armies by land except during a foreign war." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1789.The Jefferson quotes are from the following source:"[The] governor [is] constitutionally the commander of the militia of the State, that is to say, of every man in it able to bear arms." --Thomas Jefferson to A. L. C. Destutt de Tracy, 1811."Uncertain as we must ever be of the particular point in our circumference where an enemy may choose to invade us, the only force which can be ready at every point and competent to oppose them, is the body of neighboring citizens as formed into a militia. On these, collected from the parts most convenient, in numbers proportioned to the invading foe, it is best to rely, not only to meet the first attack, but if it threatens to be permanent, to maintain the defence until regulars may be engaged to relieve them." --Thomas Jefferson: 1st Annual Message, 1801. ME 3:334Or the following:"I ask who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers."[2]- George Mason, Address to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 4, 1788"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every country in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops."[3]- Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, October 10, 1787"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country."[4]- James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434, June 8, 1789“A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves…and include, according to the past and general usuage of the states, all men capable of bearing arms… "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."[5]- Richard Henry Lee, Federal Farmer No. 18, January 25, 1788"What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. ... Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins." - Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, spoken during floor debate over the Second Amendment, I Annals of Congress at 750, August 17, 1789An important note on Jefferson (since I quoted from Jefferson extensively): he was a slave owner. This is not excused or dismissed here. However the logic is sound with respect to his statements on the “militia” and his statements on the military. We do not dismiss what he said on the militia, those statements stand on the merit of the logic behind them even though his practice of slavery must not itself be accepted or glossed over. Neither should modern-day slavery, which many Democrats in Congress in 2019 are currently advocating for!It is worth examining what Democrats in California's legislature and in Congress are trying to do with the meaning of militia. They want to alter or eliminate it as part of their assault against rights in the United States of America.First, California Democrats got SB 1100 (2018) passed and signed into law, thinking we could never get it overturned in the courts. False. Isn't that a big part of what this Kavanaugh thing was about? God forbid the Dems have to suffer a U.S. Supreme Court that might actually consider a gun case to overturn a California law. The world might explode! (Never mind that no other state has as many extreme and unconstitutional laws as California does.)So, after SB 1100 (2018). The Democrats reason that if they can get SB 1100 (an unconstitutional age restriction law, which requires people under a certain age to obtain a hunting license — a license unrelated to the exercise of the right which they've banned -- before being able to exercise ownership of a firearm) to stick in California, then they can make age restriction work for other ages too. Remember, if it is upheld at the 9th Circuit they will try to make it precedent in all the States that the 9th Circuit has purview over (and that is a lot of states) unless it is appealed from a 9th Circuit Court decision.Meanwhile, any person in California of really any age, can legally own items not defined as firearms under California law, such as a silenced .45 caliber BB device (does not qualify as a firearm under the law) or a black powder “loose shot” style shotgun or “BP shotgun pistol” (as such “BP” devices do not qualify as firearms).Now go look up the age of unorganized militia (that is, the general public who are not members of an organized militia) in U.S. Code, referred to above:all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States(Note that under the Equal Protection Clause, and in the Heller decision, this means the right to keep and bear arms for one's own defense is understood to be applicable for all persons, regardless of their gender. The right is not flowing from the U.S. Constitution, but rather is a natural right predating the U.S. Constitution, and even predating the Biblical composition.)That is what was used as a baseline for who gets an individual right under Heller (2008). The “unorganized” means in that context, not affiliated with a militia - just being individuals, who are nonetheless understood to have the right independent of their status in an organized militia, since they aren't normally in, and may never be in, an organized militia.It should come as no surprise that the vile nature of Democrats in California has spread to the House in Congress, where Democrats introduced a clone of California's SB 1100 (2018) in an attempt to age-ban everyone in the United States — this proposal is known simply as HR 717:Oppose HR 717 - Bans Americans Under 21 From Exercising their 2A RightsFortunately, this irrational and heartless proposal will not move forward in the Senate.

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