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Let’s talk about what the Second Amendment really means

A customer browses the inventory at Worth-A-Shot Firearms in Millersville on Tuesday. The store displays the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on its walls.
A customer browses the inventory at Worth-A-Shot Firearms in Millersville on Tuesday. The store displays the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on its walls. (By Christina Jedra / Capital Gazette)

Many people have voiced opinions about the right to possess firearms as a black and white issue (“2020 Democrats are talking gun control. Will they propose ideas that would actually work?” Aug. 12). Either you support the Second Amendment or are opposed to it.

But the issue is nuanced, and taking extreme positions only pushes people further apart. If we are unable to listen to each other, how will we ever compromise or resolve our differences?

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The Second Amendment says that "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.” I have never heard anyone addressing the first clause of the Second Amendment. I have often heard people say that they have the right to have guns to defend themselves, but that is not what the Second Amendment states.

The founding fathers showed great wisdom in laying out a template for governance. They could never have imagined guns that are capable of firing multiple rounds in a matter of seconds. At the birth of our nation, most people lived in the country and guns were a necessity for hunting and protection from wild animals. There might have been a sheriff, but there was no police force to protect the citizenry from outlaws.

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I would love to hear a definition of “a well regulated militia.” Do we have a militia in Baltimore? Is it the same as the National Guard? How is a militia different from the police or the military? The time is ripe for a national conversation about arms and what the Second Amendment actually means. A conversation where we listen to what others have to say.

Barbara Pilert, Baltimore

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