Updated: Jul 17
by James Feiseher, M.D.
In a Letter to the Editor published in Foster’s, Dover Democrat Jim Feiseher explores how the Capitol insurrection might help reset our views on the Second Amendment
“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” ~ Second Amendment to the Constitution 1791.
The insurrection on January 6th could have been much worse.
On that day, insurrectionists were invited to Washington, DC by “the former guy” (in the White House) and they acted on what they thought were his instructions. They planted pipe bombs at both the Democratic and Republican headquarters, perhaps as a diversion tactic. They brought in Molotov cocktails, zip ties, bullet-proof vests, baseball bats, metal pipes and constructed several gallows in an attempt to overthrow the 2020 election and kidnap and kill the Vice President and members of Congress.
Some brought in guns, but most of the guns were stashed outside the District of Columbia because of firearms restriction laws.
Without those firearms restrictions, the events of January 6th could have been quite different. We could have lost our Vice President, half of the U.S. Congress and our Democracy itself.
The insurrectionists thought they were patriots. The “former guy” called them patriots.
They believed they were the “good guys with a gun.” If more of them had carried guns during the insurrection, there would have been many more injuries and deaths. The death toll on January 6th was far less than at Sandy Hook, Parkland or Las Vegas. In short, firearms regulations save lives.
The Second Amendment calls for “well-regulated militias,” not simply militias. The militias that attacked the Capitol on January 6 were not “well-regulated,” or even “regulated.” They were formed to impose their view of government and society on everyone else, even if it meant destroying the Republic and the Constitution that guides it.
In 1791, the framers of the Second Amendment wanted to protect our fledgling republic from tyranny. There was no standing army or national guard to ensure domestic tranquility or protect us from an invasion from a European monarchy. They needed the militias supplied by the thirteen independent states: the second amendment.
Today, there are literally millions of “militias” in the US as the conservative judges on the Supreme Court have overlooked the “well-regulated militias” portion of the Second Amendment and have allowed each American to be a militia of one if he or she so desires.
Today’s guns rights groups have adopted the vigilante phrase: “the only thing to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” But January 6 showed us that the concepts of “bad” and “good” are in the eyes of the beholder. Vigilantes see “good” and “bad” in the hands of the gun holder.
The firearms regulations in Washington DC limited the tragedy of January 6. When enforced, firearms regulations do work
For almost 200 years, the Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment in the context of well-regulated state militias. It is only in the last 50 years that the concept of state militias has been reinterpreted by the Supreme Court to mean any individual who wants a gun.
Can we enforce the Second Amendment by insisting on well-regulated state militias? Probably not and certainly not with the present composition of the Court.
Our only other option is to promote common sense firearms regulations to protect the life and liberty of our citizens. Victims of gun violence lose all freedoms, including their right to bear arms.
We can find ways of preserving the right of gun ownership and still reduce gun violence in the U.S. If every person is a militia, then commonsense firearms laws adhere to the Second Amendment’s call for being “well-regulated.”
January 6 has shown us that to do otherwise would mean the loss of life, Congress, our Republic and the Constitution itself.
About the author
Dr. Fieseher has been a primary care physician for 30 years, starting with Dover Family Practice in 1990. He has practiced in Dover and Portsmouth for most of his professional career, but also spent three years in the Veterans Health Administration and two years at Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Manchester. He retired in March, 2020, “but can be coaxed out of retirement if I don't have to travel too far.”