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The 2nd Amendment

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CBWx2:
Preface: For the purposes of removing this debate from being framed around a horrible and senseless American tragedy, I decided it best to have the 2nd amendment debate in a separate thread.

Was the 2nd amendment's purpose to allow private citizens to arm themselves to defend against their own government? This is the argument that so many gun enthusiasts have levied time and time again against those that call for stricter regulation. After all, it's a well known fact that the founding fathers were all about insurrection, right? They were all for armed rebellions to protect individuals from the oppression of government, right?

Before one buys into this argument, a logical question to be asked should be; if the founders were so opposed to central government or central authority, why create one at all? Why go through the trouble of establishing a central government only to allow for it to be overthrown by any group of angry citizens with firearms that disagree with a certain law or ordinance? Granting the right to rebel whenever a law or ordinance passes that is seen as an affront to one’s own sense of liberty doesn't ensure freedom. It ensures anarchy. So if anarchy was the point, then why bother creating a central authority at all?

The 2nd Amendment is written as follows:

"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."

The first part of that sentence provides some insight. The words “well regulated militia” sounds a little different than how the 2nd amendment is currently interpreted, especially among those on the far right. “Well regulated” sounds a bit like a call for government oversight, and a “militia” is altogether different than allowing every Tom, **CENSORED**, and Harry to own their own private arsenal just in case they feel the need to rise up against the powers that be.

A militia is a body of private citizens that are trained for military service and can be called upon as a functioning army in times of emergency. In other words, a militia is essentially the same as a group of reservists. Not trained to rise up against the government, but trained in service of the government. Further evidence of this intent can be found in Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution:

"The Congress shall have Power… to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
 
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress…"

In other words, the intent of the 2nd amendment was to allow each state to have it’s own functioning army of trained reservists, which were to be trained and armed by the federal government, and were to be called on by the state and federal governments to enforce laws and ordinances passed by those governments. If a potential armed insurgency was seen as a good thing by the founders, then why did they grant congress the powers to train and call on militias for the expressed purpose of suppressing insurrections?

Another clue comes from the Militia Acts of 1792, which were written in response to…wait for it…an armed rebellion, Shay's Rebellion, which was started by a former Revolutionary War vet who rose up against the Massachusetts state government.

The purpose of those acts were to make it easier for the federal government to respond to threats of national security. The first expanded the powers of the president to call upon state militias to respond to a threat, something that could only previously be done at the federal level by congress. The reason for this was to ensure that even if a rebellion took place during times congress was out of session, the president could have authority to respond. The second outlined the rules to how the federal and state governments would regulate militias, and expanded militia membership so that the government would not run the risk of being out-manned by an invading or insurgent force. In less than three years after their passage, these acts were invoked to put down another armed rebellion, this time against the federal government. The Whiskey Rebellion, which occurred as the result of a federal tax on whiskey imposed during the presidency of George Washington.

There is enough evidence to suggest that those who interpret the 2nd amendment as granting the freedom to rebel against the US are peddling a load of horse crap. The Florida National Guard and every other National Guard under the service of the other 49 states and US territories stand as a representation of the type of militia that the 2nd amendment intended on creating. The 2nd amendment was not created to empower a bunch of paranoid anarchists with intent on sedition and armed rebellion at the first sign of discontent with the federal government.

olafberserker:
lol, great idea after propping your "argument" up against the tragedy in Connecticut for 30+ pages .........  ::)

CBWx2:

--- Quote from: olafberserker on December 20, 2012, 07:49:22 AM ---lol, great idea after propping your "argument" up against the tragedy in Connecticut for 30+ pages .........  ::)

--- End quote ---

So since you are so opposed to me having done that in your view, how about a thoughtful and fact filled retort? Or are you capable of such a thing? I think I know what the answer to that is. Go ahead and prove me wrong, champ.

spartan:
The Federalist papers clearly state that an armed citizenry is the last line of defense against a tyrannical and/or overbearing Govt.

"Well regulated" is not referring to rules and regulations but discipline and training. Militias were also made up of volunteers, who, for the most part turned up with their own weapons. Without them their would not be any militia. And finally, I very much doubt if the founding fathers were writing all this stuff so folks could go hunting on the weekend. They specifically put it in there so citizens could defend themselves against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

olafberserker:

--- Quote from: CBWx2 on December 20, 2012, 08:42:37 AM ---
--- Quote from: olafberserker on December 20, 2012, 07:49:22 AM ---lol, great idea after propping your "argument" up against the tragedy in Connecticut for 30+ pages .........  ::)

--- End quote ---

So since you are so opposed to me having done that in your view, how about a thoughtful and fact filled retort? Or are you capable of such a thing? I think I know what the answer to that is. Go ahead and prove me wrong, champ.

--- End quote ---

not interested champ, it's been proven once again in the other thread that attempting a discussion/debate with you is a waste of time .....  now spin boy spin

Chief Joseph:

" if the founders were so opposed to central government or central authority, why create one at all? "

Central authority with all the power or no central authority at all aren't the only two options.

Did you seriously go through the trouble of starting a thread just to present a crappy false dichotomy?

 "a bunch of paranoid anarchists with intent on sedition and armed rebellion at the first sign of discontent with the federal government."

Every paranoid anarchist intent on sedition that I've talked to says they're not rebelling until the second sign of discontent. You wouldn't be deliberately misrepresenting their position, would you?

CBWx2:

--- Quote from: spartan on December 20, 2012, 09:25:55 AM ---The Federalist papers clearly state that an armed citizenry is the last line of defense against a tyrannical and/or overbearing Govt.

--- End quote ---

The Federalist papers were written with the aim of warming people towards the establishment of a central government. Many colonists were weary that the creation of a new government would closely resemble that of the one that they had just gained independence from. The federalist paper's insistence that an armed citizenry be the last line of defense against a tyrannical government wasn't cart blache to rise up against the federal government, it was a way to ensure that the citizenry would have protection in case the new government failed.


--- Quote from: spartan on December 20, 2012, 09:25:55 AM ---"Well regulated" is not referring to rules and regulations but discipline and training. Militias were also made up of volunteers, who, for the most part turned up with their own weapons. Without them their would not be any militia. And finally, I very much doubt if the founding fathers were writing all this stuff so folks could go hunting on the weekend. They specifically put it in there so citizens could defend themselves against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

--- End quote ---

It's referring to both rules and regulations and discipline and training. In fact, you could argue that the primary rule and regulation was the insistence on discipline and training.

As to the volunteer comment, you are right about those who turned up with their own weapons and ammo, but that is neither here nor there. Private gun ownership wasn't a concept invented by the founders. It was a holdover from the British colonial militia system. It was cheaper for the British government to have private, armed citizens provide for protection of colonies instead of a standing army.

The 2nd amendment was written within the logistical framework of the time. The founders reliance on militias was pretty much a way of maintaining the status quo. The colonists were weary of a professional, standing federal army, so the 2nd amendment was written in such a way as to ease these fears while still providing for the protection of the country. The way to ensure the colonists that a central government would not dissolve state governments was to allow for each state to have their own army, one that was in the service of both the state and the federal government. The 2nd amendment and article 1 section 8's intent was to strike a balance of military power between the states and the federal government. Not the creation of armed citizen guerrillas.

The phrase "both foreign and domestic" doesn't mean foreign governments and our own government. It means protection against both an invasion and an insurrection.

CBWx2:

--- Quote from: Illuminator on December 20, 2012, 10:05:48 AM ---
" if the founders were so opposed to central government or central authority, why create one at all? "

Central authority with all the power or no central authority at all aren't the only two options.

Did you seriously go through the trouble of starting a thread just to present a crappy false dichotomy?

--- End quote ---

That isn't a false dichotomy. I am looking into the intent of the 2nd amendment, and whether or not it was written with the intent protecting the perceived right of armed insurrection.

The founders were weary of a central authority that could take all the power from state governments, but the 2nd amendment wasn't the safeguard that they employed to ensure that that wouldn't happen. The representative government and checks and balances written within the constitution was. The notion that they wrote the 2nd amendment with visions of armed insurgents gunning down federal marshals based on a subjective measure of infringed liberty is absolutely absurd. If they were willing to see the federal government dissolved so arbitrarily, then I highly doubt they would have went through the painstaking measures that they did to form one.


--- Quote from: Illuminator on December 20, 2012, 10:05:48 AM --- "a bunch of paranoid anarchists with intent on sedition and armed rebellion at the first sign of discontent with the federal government."

Every paranoid anarchist intent on sedition that I've talked to says they're not rebelling until the second sign of discontent. You wouldn't be deliberately misrepresenting their position, would you?

--- End quote ---

My apologies. I misstated your arbitrary measure of when it is appropriate to take up arms against your own countrymen.

Dolorous Jason:
The Founding Fathers on the Second Amendment
"I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
George Mason
Co-author of the Second Amendment
during Virginia's Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788


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"A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves …"
Richard Henry Lee
writing in Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republic, Letter XVIII, May, 1788.


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"The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full posession of them."
Zachariah Johnson
Elliot's Debates, vol. 3 "The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution."


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"… the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms"
Philadelphia Federal Gazette
June 18, 1789, Pg. 2, Col. 2
Article on the Bill of Rights


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"And that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the Press, or the rights of Conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms; …"
Samuel Adams
quoted in the Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer, August 20, 1789, "Propositions submitted to the Convention of this State"


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The Founding Fathers on Arms
"Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence … from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that's good."
George Washington
First President of the United States


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"The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as property. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside … Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them."
Thomas Paine


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"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
Richard Henry Lee
American Statesman, 1788


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"The great object is that every man be armed." and "Everyone who is able may have a gun."
Patrick Henry
American Patriot


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"Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?"
Patrick Henry
American Patriot


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"Those who hammer their guns into plowshares will plow for those who do not."
Thomas Jefferson
Third President of the United States


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"The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that … it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; … "
Thomas Jefferson
letter to Justice John Cartwright, June 5, 1824. ME 16:45.


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"The best we can help for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed."
Alexander Hamilton
The Federalist Papers at 184-8




Debate over.

CBWx2:
Proper context is an important thing, Delirious. I can only guess that you are unaware of the context of any of the statements you posted. Question for you. In any of those snippets you posted, is it clearly illustrated that the intent was a trained civilian army to be placed in service of state and/or federal governments, or an armed group of civilian guerrillas that could overthrow an elected government? 

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