Comments on the Pop Quiz

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.

This site is linked to the RKBA ring, and not to any gun control ring, and with obvious reason. While I attempt to acknowledge the best of the gun control arguments, I'm not neutral on the gun question. Who is? Still, by the nature of the people riding the RKBA ring, it is hardly surprising that the answers selected by the bulk of the respondents have been consistent with a strong Second Amendment stance. Who knows? Perhaps I've even had some gun control advocates with good reading comprehension skills?

I did have one respondent go straight down the "wrong" answers. None of the above. The Bill of Rights is obsolete, and should be ignored. All of the above. The Congress may freely regulate all listed aspects of gun possession. Armed citizens are a threat to the security of a free state. I can respect these opinions as an honest belief about how the country ought to be run, assuming the respondent is attempting to use constitutional means to implement his opinions. However, as an instructor grading "a reading comprehension problem," I'd have to give they guy an F.

Given that my audience is likely biased towards a strong Second Amendment position, the big surprise is that most respondents answer question 3 wrong. The founding fathers thought an armed and trained population Necessary to the security of a free state. The most common answer is Very Important. The founding fathers lived at the end of an era where militias backing democratic institutions were just getting the upper hand over kings controlling standing armies. They had a very low opinion of standing armies. The Constitution forbids appropriating money for federal standing armies more than two years in advance. This is the only expenditure so limited. The states must receive permission from Congress before hiring troops. Thus states too are limited in their ability to create standing armies. (The argument that the Second Amendment was intended to protect the state's power to raise troops is clearly incorrect, as Congress is explicitly given the authority to regulate state troops.) At the time, there were no police forces. This left the militia - a people armed and trained to defend the community - the only defense of peace and security. By the rules established by the founding fathers, rules established in a rational response to the problems of their time of the of the then recent English Civil War and Glorious Revolution, a well regulated Militia was Necessary, not Very Important, but Necessary.

Yes, I used past tense. The modern world is very different. I am far more ready to assert the founding father's opinions of what was right for the 18th Century than I am to assert that their opinion still holds true today. Still, this is a reading comprehension test. The correct answer is Necessary.

There have been some good comments and mini essays in the Essay field. I did receive that last question, "Who regulates the militia?" It wasn't a reading comprehension question on the wording of the Second Amendment, and I had to provide my own multiple choice answers, but I posted it anyway. The challenge stands. Reading comprehension. Multiple choice. Second Amendment. Slanted to force a pro gun control answer. Any takers?

If your question doesn't follow all the rules, I might post it anyway.

The following reflects 35 answers to the pop quiz, received from March through November of 2000. A single vote is worth about 3%. No attempt is made to correct rounding errors. Thus, the answers will often not add up to 100%.

The answers tinted blue are from my perspective "correct." The first three are correct reading comprehension answers, given the text of the Second Amendment. As our culture and the effectiveness of firearms have changed since the Revolutionary answer, it is possible to disagree with the founding fathers, but the blue answers reflect their opinions and are correct reading comprehension answers. The last question requires some knowledge of the Constitution, not just the Second Amendment, but the blue answer is correct.


1) It is the right of whom to keep and bear arms? 


2) To what extent can Congress infringe upon the Right to keep and bear Arms?


3) How important is an armed and trained population to the security of a free state?


4) Who regulates the militia?