The Right To Bear Arms And The American Philosophy Of Freedom

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

Nelson Lund has a very interesting article at Heritage concerning the second amendment.  It’s a very lengthy article, and here is one sample.

With respect to arms, however, there was a special problem. The federal government was given almost plenary authority to create a standing army (consisting of full-time paid troops) and to regulate and commandeer the state-based militias (which comprised most able-bodied men). Anti-Federalists strongly objected to this massive transfer of power from the state governments, which threatened to deprive the people of their principal defense against federal usurpation. Federalists responded that fears of federal oppression were overblown, in part because the American people were already armed and would be almost impossible to subdue through military force.

Implicit in the debate between Federalists and Anti-Federalists were two shared assumptions: All agreed that the proposed Constitution would give the new federal government almost total legal authority over the army and militia, and nobody argued that the federal government should have any authority to disarm the citizenry. Federalists and Anti-Federalists disagreed only about whether the existing armed populace could adequately deter federal oppression.

The Second Amendment conceded nothing to the Anti-Federalist desire to sharply curtail the military power of the federal government, which would have required substantial changes in the original Constitution. Instead, it merely aimed to prevent the new government from disarming American citizens through its power to regulate the militia. Congress might have done so, for example, by ordering that all weapons be stored in federal armories until they were issued for use in performing military or militia duties.

Unlike many people in our time, the Founding generation would not have been puzzled by the text of the Second Amendment. It protects a “right of the people”: i.e., a right of the individuals who are the people. It was not meant to protect a right of state governments to control their militias; that right had already been relinquished to the federal government. A “well regulated Militia” is, among other things, one that is not inappropriately regulated. A federal regulation disarming American citizens would have been considered every bit as inappropriate as one abridging the freedom of speech or prohibiting the free exercise of religion. The Second Amendment forbids the inappropriate regulation of weapons, just as the First Amendment forbids inappropriate restrictions on speech and religion.

The only place where I have real disagreement with Lund is his ensconcing the ideological basis for the American war of independence in John Locke.  I’ve made my position clear on that, i.e., it has more basis in the continental Calvinist view of covenant than it does John Locke.  This is especially true of the constitution, and more true of the constitution than it is of the Declaration of Independence.

I’ve also discussed some of these things in Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense, where I rehearsed the historical and cultural context of firearms in colonial America at the time of the war of independence.

That having been said, I commend this paper to you.  Lund has done some meaningful research that will be helpful in how you think about these issues.


Comments

  1. On December 5, 2016 at 9:21 am, Frank Clarke said:

    A week or two ago, someone argued exactly that: that the 2nd amendment was meant to allow states to have militias. She may have been from California. I responded, tongue-in-cheek:

    —————
    It is the most closely-guarded secret in all of American history that the 2nd amendment was meant only as a means to enable states to maintain their own armies. Over the centuries, those opposed to this idea have methodically tracked down and destroyed any and all documents surviving from the founding era that might have suggested its true meaning. That, and that alone, is why there is today not a single scrap of documentary evidence supporting the entirely reasonable view that the right of the people to keep and bear arms in fact means something entirely different than what a plain reading of the text suggests.

    Dan Brown’s bestselling “The DaVinci Code”, in fact, was originally going to expose this vast conspiracy, but sinister forces within the publishing industry conspired to change Brown’s blockbuster story to something less controversial. They’re everywhere. We’re doomed.
    —————

  2. On December 5, 2016 at 12:43 pm, Torcer said:

    The sad state of affairs is that some will not get the joke..

  3. On December 5, 2016 at 12:41 pm, Torcer said:

    BTW, when the Gun grabbers deny they want to Confiscate* firearms – They are LYING TO YOU You only have to listen what they have said over the years to learn the truth of the matter:

    MSNBC’s Alex Wagner: Get Rid Of Second Amendment http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/11/06/msnbc_and_huffington_posts_wagner_get_rid_of_second_amendment.html November 2011

    MSNBC’s Ed Schultz Talks Gun ‘Confiscation’
    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/dan-gainor/2012/12/16/msnbc-s-ed-schultz-talks-gun-confiscation December 2012

    Mr. Cuomo, speaking on WGDJ-AM, said: “Confiscation could be an option.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/21/nyregion/cuomo-says-he-will-outline-gun-measures-next-month.html?_r=1& December 2012

    “Ban, seize semi-auto weapons”State Rep. Dan Muhlbauer, D-Manilla December 2012
    http://carrollspaper.com/Content/Local-News-Archive/Local-News/Article/Muhlbauer-Ban-seize-semi-auto-weapons/1/1/14934

    ‘Turn in your guns’ Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) December 2012,http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/273753-house-dem-calls-on-people-to-turn-in-your-guns

    “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States, for an outright ban, picking up [every gun]… Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ‘em all in.”Diane Feinstein on Gun Control “Turn ‘Em All In!”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-b45FdDN3s&feature=player_detailpage
    Published on Jan 2013

    “A couple of decades ago, Australia had a mass shooting similar to Columbine or Newtown. And Australia just said, well, that’s it — we’re not seeing that again. And basically imposed very severe, tough gun laws.” Obama June 2014 https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/06/10/remarks-president-qa-david-karp-ceo-tumblr

    You say gun control doesn’t work? Fine. Let’s ban guns altogether. http://fw.to/q3NgAlk LA Times May 2014

    Don’t just get rid of flag, get rid of the gun, too
    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/opinion/columnists/fl-jvcol-oped0626-20150625-column.html June 2015

    “We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.” Obama October 2015 https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/10/01/statement-president-shootings-umpqua-community-college-roseburg-oregon

    Effective Gun Control – A National Semi-Auto Ban
    Monday Oct 2015 Dailykos http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/10/5/1427845/-Effective-Gun-Control-A-National-Semi-Auto-Ban

    “In the Australian example, as I recall, that was a buyback program.”…..“I think it would be worth considering doing it on the national level” Hillary Clinton October 2015
    http://www.c-span.org/video/?328774-1/hillary-clinton-town-hall-meeting-keene-new-hampshire&start=2831

    A gun-free societyThe Washington Post October 2015 http://wapo.st/1LrJxz3

    Yes, They Want to Take Your Guns Away The Daily Beast November 2015 http://thebea.st/1HmJOfM

    End the Gun Epidemic in AmericaThe New York Times December 2015 [First Front Page Editorial In 95 Years] http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/end-the-gun-epidemic-in-america/ar-AAg2dhB?

    We don’t need gun control. We need domestic disarmament Huffingtonpost December 2015 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amitai-etzioni/needed-domestic-disarmame_b_8739712.html

    It’s Time to Ban Guns. Yes, All of Them.
    https://newrepublic.com/article/125498/its-time-ban-guns-yes-them
    December 2015

    Why It’s Time to Repeal the Second Amendment
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/why-its-time-to-repeal-the-second-amendment-right-bear-arms-20160613?page=2 June 2016

    Matt Damon wants an AUSTRALIAN style gun confiscation in the UShttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI4_ooOiRqk
    July 2016

    The loophole in the Mass. assault weapons ban Boston Globe Maura Healey July 2016
    https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/07/20/the-loophole-mass-assault-weapons-ban/eEvOBklTriWcGznmXqSpYM/story.html

    Clinton Delegate Explains How Democrats Will Ban All Guns
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nlhQafsx3o Published on Jul 2016

    KING: Dallas, Baton Rouge massacres show need for assault rifle ban Shaun King New York Daily News “A ban and complete eradication of assault rifles from the hands of everyday citizens is a reasonable reform.”
    https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/king-dallas-baton-rouge-murders-show-assault-rifle-ban-article-1.2715531 July 2016

    *Given the basic concept of synonyms and avocation by acquiescence one does NOT have to state certain words or phrases in order to be in favour of confiscation.

  4. On December 5, 2016 at 1:53 pm, Paul X said:

    The real reason to be armed is not because the founders approved, or the Constitution says so, or the courts might grudgingly go along – but simply to avoid being turned into a slave. Lenin’s “who does what to whom” becomes a bit more difficult when “the whom” are armed.

  5. On December 5, 2016 at 2:00 pm, Frank_in_Spokane said:

    I do intend to read the entire piece. But in your cite, the sentence, “A ‘well regulated Militia’ is, among other things, one that is not inappropriately regulated,” caught my eye. So I did a cursory search of the article for the word “regulate.”

    It would seem that nowhere does Dr. Lund disabuse us of the commonly held notion that the word “regulate” in the phrase “well regulated” pertains to government regulation. (And he doesn’t help matters with this sentence.)

    However, it has long been my understanding that, with regard to soldiers and military units, “well regulated” means “trained; disciplined; capable of accurately directing fire or otherwise acting together as a whole.”

    “The ‘Well Regulated’ Militia of the Second Amendment: An Examination of the Framers’ Intentions” by Daniel J. Schultz
    http://www.lectlaw.com/files/gun01.htm

    “Meaning of the words in the Second Amendment”
    http://www.guncite.com/gc2ndmea.html

  6. On December 5, 2016 at 3:00 pm, Fred said:

    Do this. Here is the pertinent part of art 1 sec 8. Now throw a period at the end and paste the 2A as the next sentence.

    “To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;
    To provide and maintain a navy;
    To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;
    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;
    [period] [the 2A 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.”

    When I look at it like that. I see a civil militia, who may not be disarmed, the part of which (or all) may be called into service. And in fact the 2A was in part an answer to the several states concern(s) about section 8 instantly conscripting the entirety of able bodied men. Interested on your, or others thoughts on this please.

    So the 2A finishes the sec 8 paragraph, by not removing arms from the people and not creating a standing army.

  7. On December 6, 2016 at 1:23 am, JohnathanStein said:

    Hershel — The simplest case to make for the FEDERAL right to bear arms is that the SAME right is found in most STATE constitutions.

    Exploring that little tidbit might be worth a column…

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You are currently reading "The Right To Bear Arms And The American Philosophy Of Freedom", entry #16070 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns,Second Amendment and was published December 4th, 2016 by Herschel Smith.

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