A year has passed. The outrage has subsided. The public outcry for change has faded. But the slain are still deceased; the wounded are still trying to recover and lives and families have been damaged forever.

However, virtually nothing is being accomplished in order to actually change the current situation. In our world of instant messaging and around-the-clock news coverage, it seems as though matters which should command our attention for a considerable time, are lost in a matter of weeks.

The shootings in Tucson on Jan. 8, 2011 have, very unfortunately, faded from the national spotlight. There is occasionally some recollection of this tragic event, such as when Congresswoman Giffords, whose recovery is beyond miraculous, made a surprise visit to Capitol Hill to cast a vote in the debt-ceiling debacle a few months back.

I believe, however, that we seem to keep missing a crucial point in the waning debate of gun control versus gun rights. The ultra-conservatives of the far right always seem to invoke the Constitution and their wrong-headed beliefs as to what the Founding Fathers meant in that document. I find their interpretation of this document, in relation to the ownership of weapons to be mind-numbingly ignorant. What I find exceptionally distasteful is the propensity of this group to engage in "Cafeteria Constitutionalism," wherein they are all for some parts, as long as those sections are interpreted in the manner of which they approve, and would rather turn a blind eye to other sections of the Constitution, of which they would rather not speak for fear of coming into conflict with their narrow, parochial views.

Amendment II

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.

What did the Founding Fathers mean by the above? What is the interpretation of this amendment, from a late 1700's perspective? For those who have studied history, these questions should not be difficult to answer. The answer can be readily seen in the War of 1812. This country had no large, standing army and feared that, if attacked by another country we would need all of the weapons and militia possible in order to defend ourselves. At that time, this justification for the Second Amendment was very rational and defensible. Today, it is obviously not so and really has not been so since the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848. The "...regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state" argument does not hold.

The Second Amendment, taken in the context of 1791 and 2011 must be different. While having known for years that our government is not prone to the use of "common sense," I still rather like that concept. In 1791, the weapons used by most owners were of a single shot, muzzle-loading type, most of which still required a flintlock and flash pan for ignition of the gun powder. Even by the Civil War era, the standard weapon of both armies remained a muzzle loader, with the added technology of a percussion cap, paper cartridge and rifled barrel. A well trained soldier, during the Civil War, could be counted upon to get off three shots per minute.

Generally, the overwhelming benefit of gun ownership for many, during the late 1700's and through decades later, was having those weapons to put food on the table. Today, most of us are more prone to go to a grocery store. It just seems a bit easier. However today, if one really does want to hunt, particularly larger game, what type of firearm is necessary? Most states permit some type of high-powered rifle. Some, in the flatlands of the Midwest, restrict hunters to shotguns loaded with deer slugs, fearing that bullets fired from a high-powered rifle will miss, travel forever across the flatlands and hit some unintended target. What is not necessary for hunting larger game in this country is a semi-automatic assault rifle. I do not pretend to know much of anything about hunting larger animals; however, I have never heard of an instance when a group of deer, when under fire, formed into line of battle, yelled "fix antlers" and then advanced upon the hunter at the double quick. From what I have seen and heard, they usually skedaddle.

For those, who think that their ownership of guns protects them from their own government, it would be best to pull your head out of your rear. If you are paranoid enough to believe that there will be a military coup in this country, do you really believe that you and several other fools armed with shotguns, handguns and rifles will be able to take on the United States military with their aircraft, drones and armored vehicles? You are not Patrick Swayze and, if nobody pointed it out to you, Red Dawn was a really bad movie.

Of course, here in Arizona, it seems that ignorance knows no bounds in regard to controlling firearms.

This mind-numbing ignorance can be seen in the fall raffle sponsored by the Pima County G.O.P (Goofy, Outlandish, Pinheads), which stated you could "help Pima GOP get out the vote and maybe help yourself to a new Glock .45." You could also win, "three 12-round magazines, adjustable grips and a case."

But, then again, what could one expect, when the Arizona Legislature, within four months of the tragedy in Tucson, decides to adopt an "official state gun?" It is incomprehensible to believe that any state, anywhere, needs to have an official state gun, for any reason. The reason is that the Colt 45, single-action revolver is an iconic image of the Old West. Buncombe, I say. Having taught U.S. history for 16 years, I know better.

The good old days really were not very damn good at all. In regard to the Colt 45, possibly the members of the Arizona State Legislature should make the trek to Tombstone, if they are really into the Old West. While there, they could even stop at Boot Hill and peruse the tombstones, so as to see what this iconic weapon did for those who lived at that time. Possibly the legislators should have done such research before voting to allow guns into bars. Some of my favorites from the grave placards are:

  • John Hicks, 1879. Hicks was shot by Jeremiah McCormick, superintendent of the Lucky Cuss Mine. A saloon Brawl.
  • Hancock, shot, 1879. Shot by John Ringo when he made a disparaging remark about some woman.
  • Johnnie Wilson. Shot by King. Two gunmen's discussion of the fastest way to draw, ended here.
  • Killeen. Shot by Frank Leslie, 1880. Results of a disagreement over Killeen's wife. Leslie married the widow.
  • Chas. Helm. Shot, 1882. Shot by Wm. McCauley. Two hot-tempered ranchers, who disagreed over the best way to drive cattle, fast or slow.
  • James Hickey, 1881. Shot by Wm. Clayborne

He was shot in the left temple by Clayborne for his over-insistence that they drink together.

Ah, those were the good old days!

Once again, invoking that waning philosophy of common sense, I would suggest that our government ban the sale and ownership of semi-automatic assault weapons. These weapons serve no practical purpose for the common citizenry. Pass legislation that strives to have better background checks, inclusive of an appropriate waiting period before the weapon is given over, and mandates the registration of all handguns.

That for which I am calling may be difficult to achieve, for it is a return to the use of common sense. Some say it is dead. For the benefit of our country and its people, I do so hope that they are wrong.


Mark Neish lives in Sahuarita and holds a doctorate degree in education administration from Kansas State University and his teaching certificiate from the University of Nebraska. He has served as a principal at high schools in Arizona, Idaho and North Carolina.


(14) comments


As with so many pundits, Neish tries to spin his way out of a trap of his own making. Believing guns are evil blinds him to fact and logic and he stretches both to make his point.
Truth be told, the question has been answer by the Supreme Court and only those that disapprove of the rule of law would continue to dispute the findings. The 2nd Amendment, like the 1st (and the rest) belongs to the individual and not some amorphous government entity. We used to call this “grasping at straws”.
He further degrades himself intellectually by lumping all of those that support the 2nd Amendment in the “ultra-conservatives of the far right”. Nothing could be farther from the truth. He continues to embarrass himself by reviving the tired but much used refrain that the Founding Fathers only support the people owning single shot, muzzle-loading types of weapons. He must also think that they only supported 1st Amendment protection for those that used quill pens and set type by hand. Of course computers, electronic transfers, the digital age and the author’s iPhone would not be covered.
He then takes another page from the Brady Bunch playbook by announcing firearms were only for hunting and putting meat on the table. Funny, I’ve read the Constitution and the words hunting never appear. He continues his rant by claiming individual weapons are no match against the US military but I would refer him to the not so distant past history of another country that took on the US military with such weapons, Vietnam.
Wait, wait, I take it all back. I just realized Neish suffers from a debilitating illness and should be given a free pass to express his thoughts as part of a therapy. I see at the end of the article that he holds a doctorate degree in education administration (a running joke in the academic world) and you can’t get any more mind numbing an warped than that. Sorry Mark for bringing logic to a knife fight.


Yeah, we all see the blood flowing in the streets because law abiding gun owners who carry on a daily basis are acting like it's the "wild, wild west".
Please. You're scare of firearms because you're, by your own admission, ignorant on the subject.
But hey, don't let that stop you from infringing on others rights. I just wonder how open you'd be to the 1st amendment, or the 4th, being viewed in context of over 200 years in the past.

Also, as a side note muzzle loaders and single shot rifles were cutting edge technology back then. Also, as a teacher I'm sure you're aware that the repeating rifle and revolver both were in existence during the civil war.


Funny thing how this is the actual text of the second amendment as retfied by the 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.
original proposed draft

But then when one actually reviews history, we see that our founding fathers wrote a perfectly good draft of the second amendment if a collective right was what they wanted.

the right to keep and bear arms
of the
(17 TH of 20 amendments)

on display at the Karpeles Manuscript Library
Santa Ana, California

"That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated Militia composed of the body of the people trained to arms is the proper, natural and safe defense of a free State. That standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power."

Why didnt the founding fathers just use that clearly written as a collective right eh einstein? Oh thats right, actions do speak louder than words.

Why is it that in the same archival records, we see over 30 references of "well regulated" meaning to be trained in the art of war, from the 1774-1789 Consititual writings and Federalist papers in this same museum?

Have you also removed all the dictionairies that say the same thing? Oh geez, you have not.

Hey maybe in your revisionist history class, you can prove to everyone how the militia existed before the armed individual. That way you can have an arguing point as to how the individual is only armed due to the militia first existing. Darn, good luck with that one einstein.

Maybe we can even have you prove how English scholars and all the courts in the english speaking world have been wrong all these centuries, and now the dependent clause of a complex sentence now determines the meaning of said complex sentence, instead of the independent clause.

See, in a complex sentence, the independent clause, a complete sentence capable of stannding on its own, must first exist in order for the dependent clause to have meaning. We know it sucks that something as simple as english language comprehension gets in the way of your fantasies and lovely spin rhetoric, but being you make your living on words and their meanings, it is astounding you are too stupid to realize this irrefutable fact.

Independent clause "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"

Dependent clause "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state"

Get back to us when you have properly refuted the HISTORICAL facts above, but please warn everyone as we will have to dress warm for hades freezing over.

Mike Vanderboegh
Mike Vanderboegh

Ah, yes, the "mind numbingly ignorant" hoplophobe. What would we do without periodic reminders of his existence to spur our own efforts against the citizen disarmament advocates such as he? For this, at least, we have Mark Neish to thank.

As far as the exclusive "collective right" interpretation of the Second Amendment that Neish tries to float, I would suggest that his argument is with the Supreme Court, for he seems to be mind numbingly ignorant of the Heller decision, which upholds the individual right to keep and bear arms.

And then we have this:

"For those, who think that their ownership of guns protects them from their own government, it would be best to pull your head out of your rear. If you are paranoid enough to believe that there will be a military coup in this country, do you really believe that you and several other fools armed with shotguns, handguns and rifles will be able to take on the United States military with their aircraft, drones and armored vehicles?"

Neish seems mind-numbingly ignorant of the long military history demonstrating the efficacy of guerrillas facing totalitarian governments. Also, for a high school principal, his historical amnesia shockingly extends to the Twentieth Century, for it does not take a military coup to achieve dictatorship. Hitler, for one, came to power using the "democratic" rules of the Weimar Republic, then promptly used the gun registration laws of that system to locate and confiscate weapons from the hands of the Jews and other regime opponents Democracy, absent constitutional republican limitations -- which is what the Bill of Rights is and why the Founders put it there -- can turn to tyranny overnight. My rights, God-given, natural and inalienable, are not subject to the whim of any collectivist majority. I apparently need to remind Neish of the certainty that when democracy turns to tyranny, the armed citizen still gets to vote. Don't believe me? Try it and watch what happens.

One last comment on the paragraph cited above: who do you suppose, Mr. Neish, make up the tip of the spear elements of the United States military? Why it is the sons and daughters of those you seek to disarm. Most elitists don't raise their kids to military service to their country. Good old boys do. When the tyrannical orders are issued, Mr. Neish, which way do you suppose those very expensive, technologically brilliant and very deadly weapons will be pointed? Toward their family members? Or the stupid, rapacious tyrants who issued the orders? And of what utility are such weapons when you are fighting a civil war with motivated insurgents who are using Fourth Generation Warfare (look it up, Neish) in your own country, astride your own corridors of logistics and communications? Even if you control the media, the EXERCISE of all that destruction would be politically unsustainable. Which brings me to this mind numbingly ignorant statement:

"I would suggest that our government ban the sale and ownership of semi-automatic assault weapons. These weapons serve no practical purpose for the common citizenry."

Ah, but they do, Herr Neish. They certainly do. And therein lies the central problem of your advocated thesis.

I was once asked by a citizen disarmament advocate who belonged to Handgun Control (now known as the Brady Campaign) what my position was on another, complete ban on semi-automatic rifles of military utility. As I began to explain, he irritatedly cut me off, saying, "Give me the short answer." I thought for a moment.

"Okay, if you try to take our firearms we will kill you." This was about as short and sweet as I could think of. He recoiled in shock and his eyes glazed over. He, as you, considered me "paranoid." But, as I once said to another citizen disarmament activist who made the same claim, let's say you're right. Let's say I AM paranoid. Indeed, let's say I'm crazy, as you no doubt by now believe me to be. Considering that there at least three million folks just like me -- three percent of American gunowners -- armed and trained to the use of those arms, that just complicates your problem doesn't it?

How do you propose to get our property away us -- we of the three million? Do you seriously think, extrapolating from your own cowardice, that we will simply hand them over if the penalty for not doing so is imprisonment or even death? Talk about mind numbingly ignorant. Mr. Neish, a man who is willing to die for his principles is most often willing to kill in defense of them and his life and the lives of all of his family as well. Everyone except citizen disarmament advocates understands this -- that the banning of "the sale and ownership of semi-automatic assault weapons" would be a declaration of war on a small but significant portion of the American people. You may kill us, sir, with your proposed tyranny, but you cannot convince us. And we will not go gently into your tyrannical good night, by a ratio of considerably more than 1 to 1.

Thus, now that you are not so "mind numbingly ignorant," do you still consider the stacking up of millions of bodies in a ghastly civil war worth the price of your proposal?

Mike Vanderboegh
The alleged leader of a merry band of Three Percenters
PO Box 926
Pinson AL 35126


Let's face it bro. You should be more afraid of bacon cheese burgers then you are firearms.


"The "...regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state" argument does not hold." You are correct, however, the right that is not to be infringed upon is not the well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state. It's the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Regardless of your view of arms, I am "the People". Why I want my guns and what type is not your business, your business is in trying to ________ your way through this opinion piece and still sound like you have upwards of an 8th grade education. And here's another gem "These weapons serve no practical purpose for the common citizenry" talking out of your ___again. You have no idea what is practical for me, and the idea that you taught history is appalling



9 (yes 9) Supreme Court Justices disagree with your interpretation of the Second Amendment. Even the Brady Campaign has stipulated that the Second Amendment refers to the rights of an individual.

Lemme guess - you're a Flat Earther, too.


The part of the sentence before the comma could have been a number of reasons. If you read the founding fathers documents it is clear that the RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE, means all the people just like in the other bill of rights. Self defense, national defense, hunting, collecting, shooting sports, and above all defense against a tyranical government and its agents. Ask old Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and a large number of other leaders what happens when they disarm the people. Hundreds of Millions killed in the last century and the current century when the people are defensless. Sit back with a bag of chips and a cola and whach what happens today when the economy goes south. England, Italy,Syria,etc. If you think it can't happen here it is you that are nuts.

Pat Hines
Pat Hines

"Neish: Putting the 2nd amendment into context"

The answer is NO Mr. Neish. We aren't letting you and your kind do this sort of thing.

In fact, Mr. Neish, let me inform you that the 100+ year experiment with progressive/fascism is over. It's over because we gun owners say it's over.

Do you understand?

Travis Lee
Travis Lee

It's funny, years ago when we argued about the Second Amendment, our opponents would be outraged that we believed that The US Government could POSSIBLY become tyrannical and totally disengaged from Constitutional limits, the law, and widespread popular will of the citizenry.

Now their only argument amounts to conceding that we already HAVE the tyrannical situation we warned about, and they assert that our DEMANDS that the government operate lawfully will be (and should be) answered with secret police, martial law, and attacks from predator drones.

The Regime in DC has already declared Christians, gun owners, war veterans, Tea Partiers, and pretty much anyone living in "Red" states to be enemies of THE State, and suspected "terrorists".

And you wonder why we are armed.

Henry Bowman
Henry Bowman

"For those, who think that their ownership of guns protects them from their own government, it would be best to pull your head out of your rear. If you are paranoid enough to believe that there will be a military coup in this country, do you really believe that you and several other fools armed with shotguns, handguns and rifles will be able to take on the United States military with their aircraft, drones and armored vehicles?"

Ah, yes, the old "argumentum ad Borgium": "Resistance is futile." Tell it to the Afghanis, the Iraqis, the Viet Cong, the Pakistanis, the Al Qaedas.

The ignorance of this argument is obvious to anyone who knows enough actual history to realize that not only is the Second Amendment CAPABLE of defending the citizenry against government oppression, but that it HAS ALREADY DONE SO numerous times. To wit:

The theft of the 1800 presidential election, where a threat of a march on Washington by 20,000 armed members of the Pennsylvania citizen militia (among others) stopped the Federalist-controlled House from throwing the presidential election to the (Federalist) loser of the election.

The Coke-Davis affair, in which the carpetbagger Reconstructionist Texas Governor Coke refused to vacate the Capitol building after losing the election to Govener-elect Davis. He was persuaded to vacate after news of citizens preparing for an armed confrontation at the Capitol reached him.

The citizen uprising in Las Vegas NM in 1879, to reclaim their town government from a mob of criminals with such complete control that they could and did murder citizens with impunity because even the coroner was a mob member.

The Battle of Athens, Tennessee (August 2, 1946), during which a town took their government back from a corrupt political machine that used election fraud to retain control of the town indefinitely.

And let's not forget just over the Canadian border in 1994, where armed men of the Oka tribe had to physically stand off government bureaucrats intent on turning their sacred burial grounds into a golf course despite signed treaties. They won. If they hadn't had the means of resistance, the government would have bulldozed right over them.

The argument that "it can't happen here" is pretty much trashed by the reality that it HAS happened here, many times. It might be interesting to know why a lifetime professional educator (in government-run schools, perhaps?) doesn't know enough history to realize this.


Here's a clue about Constitutional interpretation: An Amendment may have more than one purpose. Neish is quite correct regarding the purpose of the Second Amendment... as far as he goes... which isn't very far at all.

Consider that the Founders had just fought a war against the standing army of their own oppressive government. The first shots fired in that war were in fact to thwart British efforts at gun control, specifically, to stop LTC Francis Smith's marched on Concord to seize guns and ammunition from the Massachusetts militia.

After the war, the Founders were reluctant to form a standing army, knowing full well that such might be turned against future generations of Americans. (How prescient they were! The recent NDAA authorizes the military to seize American citizens without warrant or charges, imprison them without access to counsel and hold them forever without right to trial. But I digress.) What Neish apparently fails to understand is that the intent of the Second Amendment went further, and in fact the historical record is replete with references to the Founders' intent to ensure that the People should always be able to overthrow their own government by force of arms.

To assert that the sole purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that the militia was able to serve as the American army is a bit like saying, "The sole purpose of Mark Neish is to write poorly-researched columns to undermine the freedom of the American People". I sincerely hope there's more to Neish than that. As to the Second Amendment - there is no doubt.


Someone should point out to this over-educated moron that the word "regulate" did NOT mean to "control" in the 18th Century. It meant to "make regular, or even." Secondly, there IS NO SUCH THING as a "semi-automatic assault rifle!" The definition of an assault rifle is an individual weapon which is capable of EITHER semi-automatic or automatic fire by the use of a selector switch. Those weapons that he pooh-poohs, and are generally available to the public do NOT convert to automatic fire with the flick of a switch, therefore are NOT "assault weapons." These idiots, and this guy is one of 'em, want to ban guns that LOOK dangerous to them and it's as simple as that.


Neish should have titled his opinion "Putting the second amendment in the ash heap" subtitled "How to start the next civil war."

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