The gun lovers of the NRA are not alone in thinking that the Constitution grants individual Americans the right to own weapons. Even newspaper editors calling for restrictions on guns believe that. But it is not true.

In the Second Amendment, gun ownership is clearly limited to members of a militia. It is not the right of every private citizen.

The question is then, what did the word “militia” mean to the authors of the Bill of Rights in 1791? We find the answer to that in Johnson’s great Dictionary of 1755, where “militia” is defined as “a standing army.”

At a time when the government could not provide weapons for the defense of the country, soldiers had to arm themselves. These conditions no longer exist. The right of private citizens to own guns never existed.

What need is there for historical argumentation, however, when Americans are murdered daily with firearms? It’s a matter not of past history but of current common sense. How many more people have to die before the NRA says, it is enough.

David H. Mills, Waterville

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