Archive for American Revolution

Gun Control Debate Part One: Where is your militia?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2013 by blackshepherd

In the following posts I have highlighted typical arguments from gun-control advocates in green text. I did not make these up, they are verbatim from personal conversations or cut and pasted from internet comments.What I believe to be reasonable responses to these arguments are below them. In light of what I have written so far this will probably become at least a five part series.

Please feel free to point out errors in my logic or disagreements with my conclusions. I want to emphasize throughout that education is the cure to ignorance. The only evil in ignorance is not rectifying it. If anything that I write strikes up some cognitive dissonance please look inward and find the source of discomfort. These are your birthrights people, learn what they mean.

 

So you’ve got “Second Amendment” rights? Where’s the rest of your militia?

The right to bear arms is predicated on the necessity of a well-regulated militia.  We keep arms in a well-regulated militia i.e. law enforcement, and the National Guard.

Let’s start with the actual text of the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:

“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.”

Much debate about the meaning of the amendment seems to derive from the comma following the first clause. I will refer to the Supreme Court decision in the District of Columbia v. Heller available here: www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/07pdf/07-290.pdf 

“The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms. Pp. 2–22.

(b) The prefatory clause comports with the Court’s interpretation of the operative clause. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederal-ists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.

If you would like to argue the academic faculties and research capabilities of the Supreme Court that is your prerogative. However, I think it is fairly straightforward. The 2008 Heller v. Washington DC decision reaffirmed that the right to bear arms was an individual right. The 2010 McDonald v. Chicago decision reaffirmed that decision and made clear that it applies to every state, every city and every town in the United States. The militia refers to every citizen of the United States of America. Not the National Guard, not the Reserves, not any federal, state, or local law enforcement agency.

So there you go, fairly straightforward.

When the Constitution was written there were only one-shot guns and rifles with a three-minute time to reload.

The authors of the Constitution had no inkling of the possibilities of advanced weaponry such as automatic weapons and multiple round magazines.

To limit the Second Amendment to muzzle-loading weapons would be the equivalent of limiting the First Amendment to writings produced by quill pens and hand-cranked printing presses. No internet, television, newspapers, radio or any other form of mass communication would be protected. By all means neo-Luddites, pull your soapbox out onto the street corner and start spreading the word.  It is clear that the Bill of Rights applies to modern technologies.

In addition the premises of this argument are faulty. The great majority of volunteers involved in the American Revolution were armed with weapons which were the cutting edge of technology. The guns were often superior to what the British regulars were armed with. They were desperately short of bayonets which did turn the tide in several battles, especially early in the revolution. However, if you think it took a man whose livelihood or life depended on his weapons three minutes to load his rifle then you need to do some additional research.

I suggest starting here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=searchalias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=paul%20revere%27s%20ride&sprefix=paul+revere%27s+%2Cstripbooks&rh=i%3Astripbooks%2Ck%3Apaul%20revere%27s%20ride

Anyway, since when is the Constitution written in stone? The Constitution has been changed dozens of times since 1787. They call those things at the end “amendments” for a reason. We’ve made changes in the right to vote, the right to own slaves, the right to buy and sell alcohol.

If, as gun control advocates claim, gun control laws really do control guns and save lives, there is nothing to prevent repealing the Second Amendment, any more than there was anything to prevent repealing the Eighteenth Amendment that created Prohibition.

If one truly believes that gun ownership is evil, your only ethical course of action is to remove the 2nd amendment altogether. And there is a reason that altering amendments is very, very difficult to do. But hey, if the vast majority of Americans believe as you claim then you should have no problem voting out the 2nd amendment. Good luck! In the meantime stop trying to legislate away the rights you don’t care for in a piecemeal manner.

You can’t shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

 You have the right to practice your religion, but not if your religion involves human sacrifice. You have the right to free speech, but you can still be prosecuted for incitement or conspiracy, and you can be sued for libel.

What they are trying to say is: All rights come with responsibilities and limitations.

They are correct, every right is subject to limitation when it begins to threaten others, and the Supreme Court has affirmed that even though there is an individual right to gun ownership, the government can put reasonable restrictions on that right.

Again from Heller:

“(f) None of the Court’s precedents forecloses the Court’s interpre­tation. Neither United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, 553, nor Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, 264–265, refutes the individual-rights interpretation. United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174, does not limit the right to keep and bear arms to militia purposes, but rather limits the type of weapon to which the right applies to those used by the militia, i.e., those in common use for lawful purposes. Pp. 47–54.

        Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, con­cealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of fire­arms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”

So, the argument begins to become, “what are reasonable restrictions on arms?”

To be explored in the next section.

 

 

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