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Can't let the 2nd Amendment thing go(27 posts)

Can't let the 2nd Amendment thing goBikeViking at home
May 16, 2002 10:41 AM
The Second Amendment strikes back!

Posted: May 15, 2002
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2002 Laurence A. Elder

The Second Amendment is back.

Rejecting six decades of the government's head-in-sand approach to the Second Amendment, Attorney General John Ashcroft now says the founding fathers meant what they said and said what they meant. The Second Amendment confers an individual's right to keep and bear arms.

"Horrors!" say anti-gunners. This exposes John Ashcroft as the extremist opponents called him. After all, during the Senate confirmation hearings, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., voted against him saying, "This is not a man who treats people kindly." Michael D. Barnes, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence said, "This action is proof positive that the worst fears about Attorney General Ashcroft have come true: His extreme ideology on guns has now become government policy." On "This Week" with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts, Roberts said, "Anything that makes it easier to get guns is a bad thing."

Those who argue the Second Amendment applies to the "collective," rather than individuals, face a daunting task – taking on the founding fathers. Anti-gunners must argue that "the people" in the Second Amendment does not refer to individuals, despite this interpretation everywhere else in the Bill of Rights when the founding fathers referred to "the people."

Anti-Second Amendment people like Rosie O'Donnell argue that the reference to "the militia" in the Second Amendment means National Guard. And, goes the reasoning, since states possess National Guards – our "militia" – why do individuals need a right to keep and bear arms? This shows profound ignorance of the purpose of the amendment. The founding fathers intended the amendment to serve as a bulwark against tyranny by government. How, then, can the National Guard – an arm of government – protect citizens against the very government for which the National Guard works?!

U.S. Code Title 10 defines militia as: "All able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard. The classes of the militia are (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia." This means we – the citizens – are the militia.

George Mason, called the father of the Bill of Rights, said, "What is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them." James Madison, called the father of the Constitution, said of tyrants, "[They were] afraid to trust the people with arms," and lauded "the advantage of being armed, which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation."

Thomas Paine said, "The peaceable part of mankind will be overrun by the vile and abandoned while they neglect the means of self-defense. [Weakness] allures the ruffian [but] arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe and preserve order in the world. Horrid mischief would ensue were [the good] deprived of the use of them. The weak will become a prey to the strong."

Even some noted liberal professors admit the obvious. Harvard's Laurence Tribe says, "The 14th Amendment, which makes parts of the Bill of Rights applicable to the states, reflected a broad agreement that bearing arms was a 'privilege' of each citizen." Fellow Harvard liberal law professor Alan Dershowitz agrees, and scolds fellow liberals for twisting the words of the Second Amendment in a way that could come back to haunt them. "Foolish lib
Can you feature...Jon Billheimer
May 16, 2002 10:58 AM
...any level of government permitting the sort of individualism and "duty to revolt" in today's society that Paine and other founding fathers tried to enshrine in the U.S. constitution? Come on now! Observe what happens to any individual or group that takes armed action against the government: Wounded Knee, Waco, etc., etc., etc.

The problem with all this constitution thumping, in my opinion, is that it bears little relevance to today's world or real, pragmatic issues in civil society. The men who framed the U.S. constitution over 200 years ago did not and could not foresee modern mass society with all its issues and problems. Trying to frame and solve all current issues by referring to some hallowed historical document makes about as much sense as trying to interpret every event and condition by a literal reading of the Bible and/or any other ancient religious or philosophical manuscript. It just doesn't work. We end up straining at gnats. This is not a reflection on John Ashcroft--or his philosophical and political opponents. Just a common sense observation.

I don't know what the practical solutions to violence in civil society are, but I am quite sure that they won't be arrived at by legal/historical debates about what a bunch of guys 200 years ago may or may not have thought.

I know, BV, that I've really stuck my head into it now. But I thought I would throw a pragmatic monkey wrench into the debate!
Can you feature...weiwentg
May 16, 2002 11:39 AM
>The men who framed the U.S. constitution over 200 years ago did not and could not foresee modern mass society with all its issues and problems.

specifically, I believe that the Founding Fathers intended for the citizens to be able to overthrow the government if it went bad. in those days, that meant an armed militia.
nowadays, no militia can overthrow the government. BV, from the evidence you've presented, you're quite right in terms of the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. However, it does not apply today, and frankly it should be repealed. or at least rewritten to allow for strict gun control laws.
remember, the Prohibition was instituted. after it was proven to be a very bad idea, it was repealed.
I find what Jon says on inflexible interpretations quite right. too many fundamentalist Christians stick to a narrow interpretation of the Bible, and forget the cultural and social context in which it was written. the NRA is doing the same with the 2nd Amendment.
Can you feature...BikeViking at home
May 16, 2002 12:26 PM
The Constitution is a beautifully written document and I think the Framers were a lot smarter than we give them credit for.

See my other post where I compare the 2nd Amendment to a nuclear weapon (no I don't think everyone should have nukes!!) LoL
Can you feature...BikeViking at home
May 16, 2002 12:15 PM
The Framers were smart guys hwo had seen what government is capable of. The 2nd Amendment was written as a sort of "failsafe". You are right, there is no way they could have seen what society is like in these times. But people are people and the need for power has not changed one iota in our history. The reasoning behind the Amendment is similar to a nuclear weapon, you NEVER want to use it, but when pressed to the wall, you have the means to defend your liberty. Like they couldn't see what our future would be, neither can we see what our world will be like in 215 years. Best to leave the "nuke" there and hope it has to never be used.
I won't give up my bike ...RoyGBiv
May 16, 2002 11:06 AM
until you pry my cold, dead fingers from it ..
Oh. Sorry, This is a non-cycling discussion.
Never mind.
Exactly what "tyranny/enslavement" should we anticipate?128
May 16, 2002 12:06 PM
William F. Buckley, Jr. (archive)
(printer-friendly version)

April 10, 2002

Exit gun control

News stories from around the nation identifying gun control as a trip-wire issue dividing conservatives and liberals don't surprise. The events of Sept. 11 have heightened the resolution of the "individual rights" interpreters of the Second Amendment. These are distinguished from the "collective rights" faction. The former stare the language in the face and come away with a reading different from the collective crowd.

At issue is the interpretation of a single sentence: "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." Opponents of comprehensive gun-control laws view this as a constitutional guarantee of the right of Americans to own guns. An easy way to put it is that they view the amendment as if the initial clause were irrelevant, leaving us simply with a guarantee against federal gun control that challenges the right of citizens to own weapons.

By contrast, of course, there are those (roughly speaking, the nation's intelligentsia) who insist that the Second Amendment goes no further than to say that Congress may not legislate against the right of individual states to organize militias of arms-bearing citizens.

The learned arguments go on and on. The gun-control lobby has suffered two severe blows in the recent period. One of them is that professor Laurence Tribe of Harvard, much esteemed by American liberals in part because of his enthusiasm for abortion rights, having examined the historical documents, opines that indeed the people who framed the Bill of Rights intended to guarantee individual, not merely collective, gun-ownership rights. And the 5th Circuit ruled in the same direction in United States v. Emerson.

As with other contentions requiring constitutional interpretation, the division over gun control is only one part historical: What did the framers intend? Another, more significant part, is political: What does the American public want? But it's better, and safer, to ask the question: What do the American people reasonably want?

It probably could be established by polling that the American people would be happy to hang anybody who burns the U.S. flag, but such sentiments are not likely to be codified. It's more fruitful to argue reasonable limitations on gun ownership. A comic routine in Las Vegas in 1980 featured a debate between presidential contenders Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter on the matter of gun control, Walter Cronkite presiding.

"What about atom bombs, Governor Reagan? Do you believe the Constitution guarantees the right of individuals to have atom bombs?"

"Well, Mr. Cronkite," the comedian answered pensively, "just small atom bombs."

The assertion of a right at ridiculous lengths -- the absolutization of it, in the manner of the American Civil Liberties Union -- is a way of undermining it. If the Constitution says you can say anything you want under any circumstances, then you can shout "fire" in a crowded movie theater. If you have the right to remain silent in all circumstances, then you can decline to give testimony vital to another citizen's freedom and rights. If you insist that a citizen has the right to own a machine gun, you discredit his right to own a pistol or a rifle.

What ripened in the aftermath of Sept. 11 was a sensibility of the individual citizen's dependence, at the margin, on his own resources. George Will put it pithily (as ever), when he asked, Call for a cop, an ambulance and a pizza, and ask which is likelier to get to you first. A rifle in the closet wouldn't have been useful against the swooping 767s that struck the Twin Towers. But a sense of the implications of chaos and anarchy was sharpened. An analyst 20 years ago remarked that an 82-year-old couple living in an apartment in the Bronx, after twic
Exactly what "tyranny/enslavement" should we anticipate? cont.128
May 16, 2002 12:09 PM
after twice being assaulted, found it possible to sleep at night only after acquiring a pistol and advertising its presence on a note pinned to the outside door.

Both sides will find it useful to temper extreme expressions of their positions. But it is certainly true that at this moment it is likelier that members of Congress running for election or re-election in November will not press the collective interpretation of the Second Amendment. END

A When James Madison proposed the Bill of Rights in the late 1780s, people were still suspicious of any centralized federal government. Just 10 years earlier, the British army been an occupying force in Colonial America÷enforcing arbitrary laws decreed from afar.

After the Revolutionary War, the states insisted on the constitutional right to defend themselves in case the fledgling U.S. government became tyrannical like the British Crown. The states demanded the right to keep an armed ãmilitiaä as a form of insurance. END

Briefly, hunters are the best conservationists, they preserve and conserve habitat and resources. And they generally kill to eat, and avoid all that mass produced madness that are pig farms and cow feed lots: animals should NOT be raised this way. And McD's has capitulated and it demanding it's poultry growers smartin' up the humane standards of it's growers.
The NRA is fn whacked.....(imho, of course)

Ted Nugent has a new book out "Kill it and Grill it" (he was on Letterman last night, what a nut.....! Wango Zee Tango!!

"Think. It ain't illegal yet" -funkadellic
As suspected:apparent extremists won't define yourphantom enemy128
May 17, 2002 4:36 AM
But, I guess, you (extremists) will support the federal and state enforcement of drug-war, federal-sentencing, abortion, securities trading, welfare and zoning laws. Not to mention the enforcement of foreign policy with which you may agree. Shall we let you militia-men (yup, that's what it amounts to boys, accept it) direct that as well?? Or can you muster the testicular fortitude to be consistent in your theory and remove all government from all things and subsitute individual gun ownership and collective state militias? Indeed the government may be and has been tryannical, but it will not gather on the common and announce it. You gotta be smarter than to believe any argument about the 2nd A, gun laws, and liberty have even the remotest meaningful connection to effective government redress. Do you mean to say guns as personal protection against B&E and, robbery and stuff? Maybe the enemy are individualpeople you fear? Do you live in a pretty rough neighborhood? Is it really the government and loss of liberty you fear ?

A government, gentlemen, of laws, not men.
But remember: laws, indeed, created by men.
As suspected:apparent extremists won't define yourphantom enemyBikeViking at home
May 17, 2002 5:58 AM
It's funny how one who adheres to the COnstitution literally is an "extremist". Hmmm....

Anyway, I am not a fan of the drug war (ain't working), but I am still wrangling with drug legalization. States should set their own sentencig requirements and the Feds set up theirs for Fed crimes. This will get long so I'll address other items as you ask about them.

The Framers believed in limited Fed govt, not NO Fed govt. That would be 50 countries and/or anarchy I just believe the Fed does more than it should.

I'll paraphrase Madison who said the more freedoms have been lost by slow creeping encroachment rather than violent usurpation. That is true and that is why all citizens who choose to, should be free to reasonably arm themselves as they see fit. The PC culture has kicked in, Everyone is offended by something and certain words and phrases are becoming "banned" (not legally as of yet) We are treading on dangerous ground when playing with free speech. A slow usurpation MAY be in the works. Only time will tell. I am sure there were those who NEVER thought the Civil War would have happened.

Please don't mistake my cautious examination of governmental intent for paranoia.
A literalist would not ignore the first part of the 2nd A.128
May 17, 2002 6:51 AM
You clearly imply extremism when you consider only half an issue. Please see Buckley article.

as far as 'literalist' in your context of the Constitution I am not familiar with that school at all. Biblically, I do see that used. But the Constitution is overwhelmingly known as a "living" document; subject to change, amendments, repeal, and the like. Are you familiar with the number 2/3rds?

I am well aware of the tension b't gov't powers and limits, and that the C is essentially a limit on centralized power. But recall too, that it's also a compromise between the Rich (Aristocratic/landed/Hamiltonian(??)) and Poor (you find the cite. Read the Federalst Papers, I'm forgetting right now) and hence the creation of "the compromise'; Congress (monied/nobles oblige etc) and Reps (the people of these states united). That tension too (rich/poor) is imbedded in the constitution too. And the C makes provisions for access and redress to social institutions. I am anticipating your thought that the 1960's rebellion (not the soft, middle calss hippy stuff, I mean the civil rt.s stuff) does not fit your thesis of what rights deserve Constitutional blessing. It is not 'slow and creeping', it is now, under our nose.

If you fear 'slow creeping encroachment' look at the tax code, energy policy, labor regulations and the like. is "PC culture" really the form of your fears?. The powers that be will never encroach your liberty so obviously that a gun handy will prevent. PC politics of victimization, and identity politics, and ivory tower fads (deconstructionism) wax and wane, the pendulum is already swinging back on that crap. (yesterday's court decision aside!)

Many people believed the Civil War was possible. In fact, inevitable. Don't you think the Civil Rights revolution of the sixties would have been a better, less arcane example? If you are honest, you must hold the civil rights activism against government activities as a totem to your beliefs as how the people must assemble to rebell against governmental encroachment by Constitutional caveat.

"The price of freedom is constant vigilance." and at times an ass whoopin.
how will a gun help you defend yourself against the government?ColnagoFE
May 16, 2002 12:14 PM
I mean a nuke or at least a big tank or two might do some damage, but do people in this day and age think that they are gonna be able to stand up to the government with a gun or many guns even? Maybe in George Mason's day, but not now.
how will a gun help you defend yourself against the government?DougSloan
May 16, 2002 12:15 PM
Don't know -- 264 million vs. 1 million are pretty good odds :-)
you and BVMJ
May 17, 2002 1:06 AM
live in a fantasy land of civil war and a freedom crunching US government

keep justifying the right to bear arms and let the carnage continue
you and BVDougSloan
May 17, 2002 6:29 AM
I agree that far too many people are killed with guns. Come up with a viable alternative for protection, though, and I'd change my position in a heartbeat.

Keep in mind that guns are only the instrumentality of killing, not the cause. The cause is usually bad people. Those bad people might very well kill or maim others one way or another, even without guns.

Maybe we should ban all instrumentalities of death, including cars, drugs (well, I guess we are trying there), carcinogens, medical malpractice, etc.

I'd like to know the stats on accidental vs. intentional deaths from guns. I think I read that the accidental deaths are near miniscule compared to intentional. That means that for the most part some bad person, or possibly a cop doing his job, made a conscious decision to use the gun to take a life. Contrast that with deaths from automobiles, which are overwhelmingly from mere carelessness. They kill people even when the drivers are not trying to kill. Sounds like the cars are much more dangerous.

Don't get me wrong. I really believe that if any viable alternative were available, I'd be for it and vote for a law banning guns.

Put it this way, though -- as long as criminals have guns, I want one, too.

you and BVMJ
May 17, 2002 7:51 AM
the guns don't kill people, people kill people is plain wrong

look at murder rates in countries with effective gun control - they're much, much lower - it's difficult to kill someone w/o a gun - possible, but difficult - it's a different, usually much more emotional/involved crime when you kick someone to death or stab them - it's too easy to pull a trigger and 'get a result'

as mentioned in another post/thread IMO the best argument (and the one I use at Euro-liberal parties) is that if all the law abiding citizens gave up their guns then it would just be the ones who weren't law abiding (i.e. criminals) who would be armed

all the 2nd amendment talk, fear of government and quasi-militia extreme right wing verbage leaves me (and most of the rest of the world) sneering and belligerent - while those who hold those views hold them legitmately and even patriotically (though I may contest their definition of patriotism) it's all about the right pitch to the right audience - a rational, objective, open-handed approach plays better than bellicose proclamations about dead white men and rehearsed, poorly rehashed arguments - it makes the US and the right in general appear crazy to an objective audience
stats and proposalDougSloan
May 17, 2002 8:33 AM
Ok, I'll keep the discussion on a pragmatic level. Let's ignore the 2nd Amendment, the militia argument, or fighting the government. That's all pretty much academic, anyway.

However, consider some stats and information from "reality." Here's a good discussion:

You compare murders in the U.S. with other countries that may have banned guns. The question I have is whether your comparison has controlled all the variables? In other words, if other countries have lower murder rates, is gun legality the only difference that might affect the results? Likely not.

Some countries have legal systems that make if far easier to convict and confine criminals than here, believe it or not. Most other countries do not have nearly the equivalent civil rights of the accused or convicted. Therefore, it's much easier to convict, and therefore again it's more likely to deter crime in the first place. Take a look at China. They may have almost a nil murder rate, as you get the death penality for even looking at someone wrong. Recidivism is extremely low, whereas many murders in the U.S., using guns or not, are committed by ex-cons (who can not legally own guns, by the way).

Let me ask you this. Would you agree determine the outcome of the gun ownership question upon statistics or an experiment as to what actually results in fewer murders? Control for other variables as best we can. If packing heat by law-abiding citizens means fewer murders, we keep the guns. If that results in more murders, we get rid of *all* of them (we have to make them unavailable for everyone who might use them illegally -- that's a requirement).

I'd live with the outcome either way.

there are lots of non-lethal weapons being developedColnagoFE
May 20, 2002 7:48 AM
Stuff like remote stun guns, chemical weapons, and other non-lethal means of defense being developed. I would imagine that at some point these would be a better alternative than a gun.
May 20, 2002 7:51 AM
If that is the case, and an effective non-lethal weapon is available, then the only true purpose of a gun is to murder (i.e., permanently disable).

I'd buy one in a heartbeat if it worked and get rid of all guns.

the one thing I always remember about gunsColnagoFE
May 20, 2002 11:06 AM
I grew up in the midwest and have owned guns (rifle...shotgun) for hunting when i was younger but have none now. if i lived in a bad neighborhood i'd consider owning one again so i'm defintely not anti-gun. the one thing that anyone that owns a gun should keep in mind is that guns--especially handguns--are made for killing--and whenever you point a gun at a person or animal you should always be intending to kill. if you can't make that commitment then don't own a gun. pointing a gun at the bad guy and hoping they run away is a myth made popular in movies. it might work, but you damn well better be willing to kill if you point that thing. i think that everyone that owns a gun should also have to pass some kind of test to prove they know how to use a gun as well. it's scary thinking of all the people that own guns that have never been trained on gun safety and issues.
the one thing I always remember about gunsDougSloan
May 20, 2002 12:28 PM
I grew up with guns, too, but they never were really a big deal. My great uncle made shotguns in his garage. I took safety lessons in cub scouts.

You are right. Guns are made to kill things. You never even pull a gun, much less point it, at someone unless you intend to kill them.

I also remember hearing from age 2, "All guns are loaded." Not literally, but you assume they are for safety.

If it weren't for the (arguable) protections of the 2nd Amendment, I think we would be required to show proficiency, if not need, for gun ownership. It's easier than driving a car, though, and they'll let any idiot do that.

how will a gun help you defend yourself against the government?BikeViking at home
May 16, 2002 12:22 PM
Guerilla warfare will be the method of choice, should things here get SOOOOO bad that a citizen uprising is necessary. Through this type of warfare, you gain access to captured and better weaponry.
Agreed. But can you drive a tank or fly an F-16? nmBrooks
May 16, 2002 1:19 PM
It ain't gonna happenColnagoFE
May 16, 2002 1:24 PM
So theoretically you could have a civil war, but this isn't the age of gatling guns. I think you are deluded if you think a gun or a room of guns is going to allow you to overthrow the government.
It ain't gonna happenBikeViking at home
May 17, 2002 4:10 AM
The alternative is to do nothing and become the member of another totalitarian State? Iam not saying my Ruger P89 is the weapon of choice against a govt gone wild, but it beats the hell out of nothing.
May 17, 2002 7:18 AM
You really have to be joking. Tell me you are.
May 17, 2002 6:45 PM
there is no logical connection between gun control, and the state becoming totalitarian.