Letter: ‘Right to Beat Arms’ contains no qualifiers

Posted 5/9/23

To the editor:

Clay Commons is perplexed by the Supreme Court’s interpretation or lack thereof for the Second Amendment clause regarding “A well-regulated Militia …” …

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Letter: ‘Right to Beat Arms’ contains no qualifiers


To the editor:

Clay Commons is perplexed by the Supreme Court’s interpretation or lack thereof for the Second Amendment clause regarding “A well-regulated Militia …” (“No simplistic answers for questions on gun control,” May 4). He thinks they erred in not giving it more weight. 

Has Mr. Commons ever read the Rhode Island Constitution? It was written in the same era of our nations founding. What does it say?

Article 1, Section 22 Right to Beat Arms: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Not a single qualifier here. Not for a militia. Not what “arms” are. No governmental checks and balances.

What I think so many seem to have forgotten is arms are the equalizer. I’m 59 years old and I think the only hand-to-hand brawl I ever had was when I was 11. I’m fit but not athletic. There is a fair percentage of the citizenry that I would lose handedly to in a physical confrontation. For woman of small frame and light build even more so.

The largest attacker would be rendered non-threatening with bear spray, a stun gun, a firearm, perhaps with a little luck even a tire iron. To “bear arms” has and continues to be one of the things that sets us apart from the rest of the world. It comes at great cost, but it is one of the pieces of our puzzle that maximizes individual freedom. 

When Russia invaded Ukraine did the government open the warehouses and distribute everyone a bushel of grain? No they opened the armory and distributed firearms to every man and woman who wanted to be able to defend themselves.

Were Vietnam, Korea and Afghanistan First World countries with well-run centralized nanny states when they repelled foreigners who felt they knew what was in the best interests of the world for them? No, but they bore arms, and typically much less sophisticated arms than their attackers. Without arms a people are eventually subjugated to the will of a minority. 

The answer to gun violence does not lie within government’s control of arms. There are other pieces of our Constitution that we neglect that exacerbates the violence. Consequences for lawlessness have ceased to have any deterring effect. A century ago you treated your fellow man with respect and reverence. You knew the consequences of deciding you could be the government. There will always be individuals who can’t live peaceable. What’s changed is we no longer make examples of these individuals as a means to demonstrate we must conduct ourselves with order, civility and humility. 

Scott Boyd

20 Kensington Ave.


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