The Second Amendment’s Fake History

Exclusive: A numbness followed the latest mass shooting  this time at a community college in Oregon. Many Americans were frozen in futility as powerful political forces asserted that the Second Amendment prohibits any gun laws. But that claim is historically false, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

False history continues to kill Americans, as we saw once again last week at Umpqua Community College in Oregon where a disturbed young man whose mother had loaded the house with loaded handguns and rifles executed nine people and then committed suicide one more mind-numbing slaughter made possible, in part, by an erroneous understanding of the Second Amendment.

A key reason why the United States is frozen in political paralysis, unable to protect its citizens from the next deranged gunman and the next massacre, is that many on the American Right (and some on the Left) have sold much of the country on a false history regarding the Second Amendment. Gun-rights advocates insist that the carnage can’t be stopped because it was part of what the Constitution’s Framers designed.

A painting of President George Washington leading a force of federalized state militias against the Whiskey rebels in western Pennsylvania in 1794.

A painting of President George Washington leading a force of federalized state militias against the Whiskey rebels in western Pennsylvania in 1794.

Republican presidential candidates have been among the leaders in promoting this fake narrative, with surgeon Ben Carson saying the latest slaughter and all the other thousands of shootings are just part of the price of freedom. “I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away,” Carson said, noting that he had removed bullets from a number of gunshot victims.

But the Constitution’s Framers in 1787 and the authors of the Bill of Rights in the First Congress in 1789 never intended the Second Amendment to be construed as the right for individuals to take up arms against the Republic. In fact, their intent was the opposite.

The actual goal of the Second Amendment was to promote state militias for the maintenance of order in a time of political uprisings, potential slave revolts and simmering hostilities with both European powers and Native Americans on the frontiers. Indeed, its defined purpose was to achieve “security” against disruptions to the country’s republican form of government. The Second Amendment read:

“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.” In other words, if read in context, it’s clear that the Second Amendment was enacted so each state would have the specific right to form “a well-regulated militia” to maintain “security,” i.e., to put down armed disorder and protect its citizens.

In the late Eighteenth Century, the meaning of “bearing” arms also referred to a citizen being part of a militia or army. It didn’t mean that an individual had the right to possess whatever number of high-capacity killing machines that he or she might want. Indeed, the most lethal weapon that early Americans owned was a slow-loading, single-fired musket or rifle.

No Anarchists

Yet, one of the false themes peddled by some on the Right and the Left is that the Framers, having won a revolution against the British Crown, wanted to arm the population so the people could rebel against the Republic created by the U.S. Constitution. This vision of the Framers of the Constitution and members of the First Congress as some anarchists wanting an armed population to overthrow the government if the people weren’t happy with something is completely opposite of what was intended.

Whatever one thinks about the Federalists, who were the principal constitutional Framers and the leaders of the First Congress, they constituted the early national establishment people like George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and Gouverneur Morris. They feared that their new creation, a constitutional republic in an age of monarchies, was threatened by the potential for violent chaos, which is what European aristocrats predicted.

According to the idea of a representative democracy, the Framers sought a system that reflected the will of the citizens but within a framework that constrained the passions of democracy. In other words, the Constitution sought to channel political disputes into non-violent competition among various interests. The Framers also recognized how fragile the nation’s independence was and how domestic rebellions could be exploited by European powers.

Indeed, one of the crises that led to the Constitutional Convention in the summer of 1787 was the inability of the old system under the Articles of Confederation to put down Shays’s Rebellion in western Massachusetts in 1786-87. So, the Federalists were seeking a system that would ensure “domestic Tranquility,” as they explained in the Constitution’s Preamble. They did not want endless civil strife.

The whole idea of the Constitution with its mix of voting, elected and appointed representatives, and checks and balances was to create a political structure that made violence unnecessary. In other words, the Framers weren’t encouraging violent uprisings against the Republic that they were founding. To the contrary, they characterized violence against the constitutional system as “treason” in Article III, Section 3. They also committed the federal government to protect each state from “domestic Violence,” in Article IV, Section 4.

One of the first uses of the new state militias formed under the Second Amendment and the Militia Acts, which required able-bodied men to report for duty with their own muskets, was for President Washington to lead a federalized force of militiamen against the Whiskey Rebellion, a tax revolt in western Pennsylvania in 1794.

In the South, one of the principal reasons for a militia was to rally armed whites to put down slave uprisings. Again, the Second Amendment was meant to maintain public order even an unjust order rather than to empower the oppressed to take up arms against the government. That latter idea was a modern reinterpretation or distortion of the history.

The Constitution’s Framers were not some early version of Leon Trotsky favoring permanent revolution. The most radical-talking leader at the time, Thomas Jefferson, had little to do with either the Constitution or the Bill of Rights since he was serving as a diplomat in France at the time.

Yet, the revisionists who have transformed the meaning of the Second Amendment love to cite provocative comments by Jefferson, such as a quote from a 1787 letter criticizing the Constitution for its commander-in-chief provisions. Jefferson argued that violence, like Shays’s Rebellion, was to be welcomed. He declared that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s [sic] natural manure.”

It is ironic, however, that Jefferson was never willing to risk his own blood as that “natural manure.” During the Revolutionary War when traitor Benedict Arnold led a force of Loyalists against Richmond, Jefferson, who was then Virginia’s governor, declined to rally the state militia in defense of the capital but rather fled for his life. Later, when British cavalry approached Charlottesville and his home of Monticello, Gov. Jefferson again took flight.

However, Jefferson was eager for Virginia to have a state militia of armed whites to crush possible black slave rebellions, another prospect that terrified him. As a slaveholder and a pseudo-scientific racist, Jefferson surely did not envision blacks as having any individual right to own guns themselves or to fight for their own liberty. Reflecting on blacks who fought bravely in the Revolution, Jefferson concluded that their courage was an illusion resulting from their intellectual inability to recognize danger.

Yet, whatever one thinks of Jefferson’s racism and cowardice, it’s a historical error to cite Jefferson in any way as speaking definitively about what the Framers intended with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He was not directly involved in either.

A Collective Right

The real history of the Second Amendment was well understood both by citizens and courts in the generations after the Constitution and Bill of Rights were enacted. For most of the years of the Republic, the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment as a collective right, allowing Americans to participate in a “well-regulated Militia,” not an individual right to buy the latest weaponry at a gun show or stockpile a military-style arsenal in the basement.

It’s true that many Americans owned a musket or rifle in those early years especially on the frontier, but regulations on munitions were still common in cities where storing of gunpowder, for instance, represented a threat to the public safety. As the nation spread westward, so did common-sense restrictions on gun violence. Sheriffs in some of the wildest of Wild West towns enforced gun bans that today would prompt a recall election financed by the National Rifle Association.

However, in recent decades understanding the power of narrative on the human imagination a resurgent American Right (and some on the Left) rewrote the history of the Founding era, dispatching “researchers” to cherry-pick or fabricate quotes from Revolutionary War leaders to create politically convenient illusions. [See, for instance, Steven Krulik’s compilation of apocryphal or out-of-context gun quotes.]

That bogus history gave rise to the image of the Framers being wild-eyed radicals encouraging armed rebellion against the Republic. Rather than people who believed in the rule of law and social order, the Framers were contorted into crazies who wanted citizens to be empowered to shoot police, soldiers, elected representatives and government officials.

This false history was advanced particularly by the American Right in the last half of the Twentieth Century as a kind of neo-Confederate call to arms, with the goal of rallying whites into a near-insurrectionary fury particularly in the South but also in rural areas of the North and West. Many fancied themselves an armed resistance against the tyrannical federal government.

Southern whites brandished guns and engaged in violence to resist the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, when the federal government finally stepped in to end Jim Crow laws and racial segregation. In the 1990s, “citizens militias” began to pop up in reaction to the election of Democrat Bill Clinton, culminating in the Oklahoma City bombing of 1994.

While designed primarily for the weak-minded, the Right’s faux Founding history also had an impact on right-wing “intellectuals” including Republican lawyers who worked their way up through the federal judiciary under Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

By 2008, these right-wing jurists held a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court and could thus overturn generations of legal precedents and declare that the Second Amendment established an individual right for Americans to own guns. Though even these five right-wing justices accepted society’s right to protect the general welfare of the population through some gun control, the Supreme Court’s ruling effectively “validated” the Right’s made-up history.

The ruling created a political dynamic in which even liberals in national politics, the likes of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, had to genuflect to the supposed Second Amendment right of Americans to parade around in public with guns on their hips and high-powered semi-automatic rifles slung over their shoulders.

What the Framers Wanted?

As guns-right activists struck down gun regulations in Congress and in statehouses across the nation, their dominant argument was that the Second Amendment offered no leeway for restrictions on gun ownership; it’s what the Framers wanted.

So, pretty much any unstable person could load up with a vast killing capacity and slouch off to a bar, a work place, a church or a school even an elementary school and treat fellow Americans as targets in a violent video game. Somehow, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was overtaken by the “right” to own an AR-15 with a 30-or-100-bullet magazine.

When right-wing politicians talk about the Second Amendment now, they don’t even bother to include the preamble that explains the point of the amendment. The entire amendment is only 26 words. But the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, another Republican presidential candidate, find the preamble inconvenient because it would undercut the false storyline. So they just lop off the first 12 words.

Nor do they explain what the Framers meant by “bear arms.” The phrase reflected the reasoning in the Second Amendment’s preamble that the whole point was to create “well-regulated” state militias to maintain “security,” not to free up anybody with a beef to kill government officials or citizens of a disapproved race or creed. (The Oregon gunman targeted practicing Christians; a previous gunman in South Carolina went after African-Americans in a church.)

Yet, after the massacre of 20 first-graders and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012, Fox News personality Andrew Napolitano declared: “The historical reality of the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to keep and bear arms is not that it protects the right to shoot deer. It protects the right to shoot tyrants, and it protects the right to shoot at them effectively, with the same instruments they would use upon us.”

Noah Pozner, 6, one of 20 children murdered on Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Noah Pozner, 6, one of 20 children murdered on Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

At the time, the clear message from the Right was that armed Americans must confront the “tyrannical” Barack Obama the twice-elected President of the United States (and the first African-American to hold that office) especially if he pressed ahead seeking commonsense gun restrictions.

But Napolitano is simply wrong on the history. The Second Amendment was designed for states to maintain “security,” whether that meant putting down a tax rebellion in Pennsylvania, a slave revolt in the South or a Native American uprising on the frontier. One can disagree about the rightness of those actions by state or federal authorities, but the history is clear.

The Second Amendment was not designed to encourage violence against the government or for that matter to enable troubled individuals to murder large numbers of their fellow citizens.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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128 comments for “The Second Amendment’s Fake History

  1. October 14, 2015 at 1:00 am

    I was drafted and sent to Viet Nam for a year. I was with the 101st Air Borne and received a Bronze Star. I suppose I could have been with billy boy clinton in London leading anti-war demonstration’s while I was serving my country. At one time he would have been shot instead of a bunch of fools making him our president. Our armed services had ben laden 3 different times ready to hand to billy boy on a silver platter. He said no. 9/11 would never have happened if we had had a decent president.
    Now to guns, single or mass shootings. The problem is not enough punishment. What ever happened to an eye for an eye? NONE of them deserve lethal injection. An old man told me 28 years ago, if they go back to hanging them on the courthouse square, 75% of murders would stop overnight, or the electric chair or a firing squad. Give them a choice of the three.

    • Evangelista
      October 14, 2015 at 10:36 pm

      “Eye for an eye” does not work. Nor does “punishment”.

      To recognize the first, read up on some pre-Islam Arabic history: Mohammed’s success with his new religion was 99.99% for providing a ‘common tribe’ with his Islamic community, the Islamic ‘tribe’ being, by their adoption of the common belief, common protection for all of the members of the common community against the petty tribal, family, group imposed eye-for-eye codes (which Islam still has troubles with, just as the United States, and Christianity, have trouble with ‘avengers instead of forgivers’, who want eye-for-eye instead of community)

      To recognize the second, read English history upt to and through Dickens’ Victorian times,when public hanging was the sentence for everything from sheep-stealing to poaching to hankerchief-stealing by children.

      The only way you make a society law-abiding is by making laws that are reasonable and forming a society that is reasonable, to induce the maximum number to recognize the laws they live by reasonable, and to want to obey, but, in fact, not need to, because the way of ‘obey’ coincides with what is recognized natural and reasonable.

  2. Waldemar Perez
    October 11, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    This is the statistical video that dismantle the anti-gun argument hypocritical I care about guns I don’t care about drone strikes lefty argument. Check it out is going viral..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pELwCqz2JfE

  3. ChillyDogg
    October 11, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    The three largest mass murders in US history, Haymarket Square, the Murrow Building and 9/11, were all committed without any guns at all.

  4. Waldemar Perez
    October 10, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Operation Northwoods

    See who are the real terrorists and engineers of SOME domestic massacres, pages 8, 9, 10 http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/news/20010430/northwoods.pdf

  5. Waldemar Perez
    October 10, 2015 at 10:08 am
  6. Waldemar Perez
    October 10, 2015 at 10:07 am

    The little-told story of how the U.S. government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition with deadly consequences.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2010/02/the_chemists_war.html

  7. historicvs
    October 10, 2015 at 10:07 am

    It is worthwhile to remember that in Colonial America, guns were expensive and owned by few. In the days before factories, each was handmade by a skilled gunsmith and might cost the buyer a half year’s wages or more. In addition, firearms and ammunition were by municipal law stored together in town magazines, not singly in people’s homes. Our ancestors had the wisdom to understand that in the presence of a deadly weapon, a moment of passion might end in a family member facing the hangman’s noose. The many streets in our old cities still named “Magazine” or “Powderhouse” are reminders of this practical policy.

    Guns were not a great part of American culture in the early days. When Samuel Colt devised a revolutionary method to mass-produce cheap guns in the 1830s, he went bankrupt because not enough people were interested in purchasing them. It was the Civil War that changed America’s habits and accustomed men to the daily carrying and use of firearms. The massive postwar spikes in the rates of crime and homicide were the result of this sinister habit, which began the transformation of a once open, safe American society toward the fearful crime-ridden world we have today.

  8. Waldemar Perez
    October 10, 2015 at 12:47 am

    I know you are eager to delete other peoples opinion (my comments) so go ahead. Delete the comments if you must, but WE THE PEOPLE OF THIS PLANET are tired of your ignorance on guns and your government.

  9. Waldemar Perez
    October 10, 2015 at 12:04 am

    Remember how the FBI poisoned alcohol during the prohibition to win the war on alcohol and people died? You naive morons in America would not by any miracle entertain the idea (which obvious to the rest of us on the planet) that some of these shootings are either false flags or engineered by actors. No, no, no sorry I forget we are now the exceptionals!! and we have check and balances. Have you people downloaded Operation Northwoods from the National Archives yet? Don’t forget to read pages 8, 9 & 10. And General Lemnitzer was promoted to head Operation Gladio in Europe then. Go to http://www.cia.gov and search for Operation Gladio of use Wikipedia, for you lazies that don’t read your own history BS.

    Gun Control: Fashionable Prohibition For Modern Lawmakers

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-09/gun-control-fashionable-prohibition-modern-lawmakers

    The little-told story of how the U.S. government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition with deadly consequences.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2010/02/the_chemists_war.html

  10. Waldemar Perez
    October 9, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    See my other comments above and below. The US territory of PR already tried extreme background checks under the guidance of the fed gov and they failed miserably. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-09/heres-what-happened-when-venezuela-imposed-gun-control-laws

    Lefties want to pretend they will be more successful on the War on Terror, The War on Drugs, and the War on Crime than those they hate so much, the republicans. Loosers!

    Here’s What Happened When Venezuela Imposed Gun Control Laws

  11. Larry Byrd
    October 9, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    I don’t know where you get your information, but here are some quotes by the founders:

    “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.”
    — George Mason, in Debates in Virginia Convention on Ratification of the Constitution, Elliot, Vol. 3, June 16, 1788

    “Whereas civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as military forces, which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”
    Tench Coxe, in Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution

    If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual State. In a single State, if the persons entrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair.
    Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28

    “[The Constitution preserves] the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation…(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”
    James Madison, The Federalist Papers, No. 46

    These are just a few quotes, but there are money more.

  12. October 9, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    ROBERT PARRY DID NOT STUDY HIS HISTORY, NOR THE WRITTEN WORDS OF OUR FOUNDING FATHERS IF HE THINKS THAT THE 2ND AMENDMENT WAS NEVER INTENDED TO ALLOW THE INDIVIDUAL TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS.

    Benjamin Franklin

    “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!”

    George Mason, co-author of the Second Amendment

    George Mason 001

    “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.” – Speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 14, 1778

    “That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.” – Virginia Declaration of Rights, June 12, 1776

    Richard Henry Lee, Anti-Federalist

    Richard Henry Lee 003

    “A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves… and include all men capable of bearing arms. . . To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms… The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle.” – Letters From the Federal Farmer to the Republican, Letter XVIII, January 25, 1788

    “(W)hereas, 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 nor does it follow from this, that all promiscuously must go into actual service on every occasion. The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle and when we see many men disposed to practice upon it, whenever they can prevail, no wonder true republicans are for carefully guarding against it.” – Federal Farmer, Anti-Federalist Letter, No.18, The Pennsylvania Gazette, February 20, 1788

    “No free government was ever founded, or ever preserved its liberty, without uniting the characters of the citizen and soldier in those destined for the defense of the state…such area well-regulated militia, composed of the freeholders, citizen and husbandman, who take up arms to preserve their property, as individuals, and their rights as freemen.” – Richard Henry Lee, State Gazette (Charleston), September 8, 1788

    Samuel Adams

    Samuel Adams 002

    “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; or to raise standing armies, unless necessary for the defense of the United States, or of some one or more of them; or to prevent the people from petitioning, in a peaceable and orderly manner, the federal legislature, for a redress of grievances; or to subject the people to unreasonable searches and seizures of their persons, papers or possessions.” – Debates of the Massachusetts Convention of February 6, 1788; Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1788 (Pierce & Hale, eds., Boston, 1850)

    George Washington

    George Washington 016

    “At a time, when our lordly masters in Great Britain will be satisfied with nothing less than the deprivation of American freedom, it seems highly necessary that something should be done to avert the stroke, and maintain the liberty, which we have derived from our ancestors. But the manner of doing it, to answer the purpose effectually, is the point in question. That no man should scruple, or hesitate a moment, to use arms in defence of so valuable a blessing, on which all the good and evil of life depends, is clearly my opinion. Yet arms, I would beg leave to add, should be the last resource, the dernier resort. Addresses to the throne, and remonstrances to Parliament, we have already, it is said, proved the inefficacy of. How far, then, their attention to our rights and privileges is to be awakened or alarmed, by starving their trade and manufacturers, remains to be tried.” – Letter to George Mason, Apr. 5, 1769; The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. III (1758-1775)

    “It may be laid down, as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defence of it, and consequently that the Citizens of America (with a few legal and official exceptions) from 18 to 50 Years of Age should be borne on the Militia Rolls, provided with uniform Arms, and so far accustomed to the use of them, that the Total strength of the Country might be called forth at Short Notice on any very interesting Emergency.” – Sentiments on a Peace Establishment in a letter to Alexander Hamilton, May 2, 1783; The Writings of George Washington [1938], edited by John C. Fitzpatrick, Vol. 26, p. 289

    “A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent on others for essential, particularly for military, supplies.” – Speech in the United States Congress, January 8, 1790; George Washington: A Collection, compiled and edited by W.B. Allen (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1988), Chapter 11

    John Adams

    John Adams 002

    “We are told: ‘It is a universal truth, that he that would excite a rebellion, is at heart as great a tyrant as ever wielded the iron rod of oppression.’ Be it so. We are not exciting a rebellion. Opposition, nay, open, avowed resistance by arms, against usurpation and lawless violence, is not rebellion by the law of God or the land. Resistance to lawful authority makes rebellion. … Remember the frank Veteran acknowledges, that “the word rebel is a convertible term.” – Novanglus Essays, No. V, 1774 – 1775; The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams, Volume 4; (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856), 10 volumes.

    “To suppose arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual discretion in private self defense, or by partial orders of towns, counties, or districts of a state, is to demolish every constitution, and lay the laws prostrate, so that liberty can be enjoyed by no man; it is a dissolution of the government.” – A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, Chapter Third: Marchamont Nedham, Errors of Government and Rules of Policy, 1787; The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams, (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856) 10 volumes, Volume 6

    Thomas Jefferson

    Thomas Jefferson 009

    “False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils, except destruction. Laws that forbid the carrying of arms laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.… Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they act rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” – Quoting Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishment

    “No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms [within his own lands].” – Proposed Constitution for Virginia – Fair Copy, Section IV: Rights, Private and Public, June 1776; The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition, Editor: Paul Leicester Ford, (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5); Vol. 2

    “A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks.” – Letter to Peter Carr, 1785; The Letters of Thomas Jefferson: 1743-1826, Electronic Text Center of University of Virginia

    “[W]hat country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.” – Letter to William Stephens Smith, November 13, 1787; The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5) Vol. 5

    “The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen ; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press.” – Letter to Justice John Cartwright, June 5, 1824; “The Writings of Thomas Jefferson,” Definitive Edition, Albert Bergh, editor (Washington, D. C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Assoc., 1904), Vol. XVI, p. 45

    “We established however some, although not all its important principles. The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press.” – Letter to Major John Cartwright, Monticello, June 5, 1824; Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Ellery Bergh, ed., 19 vol. (1905)

    Thomas Paine

    Thomas Paine 001

    “The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The balance of power is the scale of peace. 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. And while a single nation refuses to lay them down, it is proper that all should keep them up. Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them.” – Thoughts on Defensive War, 1775; The Writings of Thomas Paine, Collected and Edited by Moncure Daniel Conway (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1894) Volume 1, Chapter XII

    Patrick Henry

    Patrick Henry 001

    “O sir, we should have fine times, indeed, if, to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people! Your arms, wherewith you could defend yourselves, are gone; and you have no longer an aristocratical, no longer a democratical spirit. Did you ever read of any revolution in a nation, brought about by the punishment of those in power, inflicted by those who had no power at all?” – Speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1778; “Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution,” Jonathan Elliot, editor, vol. 3, pp. 50-53

    “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?” – Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Jonathan Elliot, ed. 1836, vol. 3, p.168

    “The great object is, that every man be armed … Every one who is able may have a gun.”– Debates in the Several State Conventions on Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Jonathan Elliot, ed. 1836, vol. 3, p. 386

    The Federalist Papers

    Alexander Hamilton 001

    “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual State. In a single State, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28, Idea of Restraining the Legislative Authority in Regard to the Common Defense Considered (continued), Independent Journal, December 26, 1787; The Federalist (The Gideon Edition), (1818), Edited with an Introduction, Reader’s Guide, Constitutional Cross-reference, Index, and Glossary by George W. Carey and James McClellan (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001)

    “A tolerable expertness in military movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not a day, or even a week, that will suffice for the attainment of it. To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss. It would form an annual deduction from the productive labor of the country, to an amount which, calculating upon the present numbers of the people, would not fall far short of the whole expense of the civil establishments of all the States. To attempt a thing which would abridge the mass of labor and industry to so considerable an extent, would be unwise: and the experiment, if made, could not succeed, because it would not long be endured. Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped; and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 29, Concerning the Militia, Independent Journal, January 9, 1788; The Federalist (The Gideon Edition), (1818), Edited with an Introduction, Reader’s Guide, Constitutional Cross-reference, Index, and Glossary by George W. Carey and James McClellan (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001)

    “… but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 29, Concerning the Militia, Independent Journal, January 9, 1788; The Federalist (The Gideon Edition), (1818), Edited with an Introduction, Reader’s Guide, Constitutional Cross-reference, Index, and Glossary by George W. Carey and James McClellan (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001)

    James Madison 002

    “Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 46, The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared, New York Packet, January 29, 1788; The Federalist (The Gideon Edition), (1818), Edited with an Introduction, Reader’s Guide, Constitutional Cross-reference, Index, and Glossary by George W. Carey and James McClellan (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001)

    Elbridge Gerry

    Elbridge Gerry 001

    “What, sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. Whenever governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.” – Floor debate over the Second Amendment, August 17, 1789; I Annals of Congress, p. 750

    Noah Webster

    Noah Webster 002

    “Another source of power in government is a military force. But this, to be efficient, must be superior to any force that exists among the people, or which they can command: for otherwise this force would be annihilated, on the first exercise of acts of oppression. Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive. In spite of all the nominal powers, vested in Congress by the constitution, were the system once adopted in its fullest latitude, still the actual exercise of them would be frequently interrupted by popular jealousy. I am bold to say, that ten just and constitutional measures would be resisted, where one unjust or oppressive law would be enforced. The powers vested in Congress are little more than nominal; nay real power cannot be vested in them, nor in any body, but in the people. The source of power is in the people of this country, and cannot for ages, and probably never will, be removed.” – An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, Philadelphia, October 10, 1787; Pamphlets on the Constitution of the United States, Published during Its Discussion by the People, 1787—1788, Paul Leicester Ford, editor; Brooklyn, 1888. Reprint, New York: De Capo Press, 1968

    John Dickinson

    John Dickinson 001

    “With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverance employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live as slaves.” – Declaration of the Cause and Necessity of Taking up Arms, Second Continental Congress, July 6, 1775; The Growth of the American Republic, Volume 1, Seventh Edition. New York: Oxford University Press; 1980; p.168

    Roger Sherman

    Roger Sherman 001

    “(C)onceived it to be the privilege of every citizen, and one of his most essential rights, to bear arms, and to resist every attack upon his liberty or property, by whomsoever made. The particular States, like private citizens, have a right to be armed, and to defend by force of arms, their rights, when invaded.” – Debates on 1790 Militia Act; Debates in the House of Representatives, editor Linda Grand De Pauw, (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1972), 92-3

    Tenche Coxe

    Tenche Cox 001

    “The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American … the unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.” – Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788

    “Whereas civil-rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as military forces, which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”– Writing as A Pennsylvanian, in Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution; Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789, p. 2 col. 1

    Zachariah Johnson, Virginia Statesman

    “The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them.” – Speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 25, 1788; Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Jonathan Elliot, editor, vol. 3, p. 646 (Philadelphia, 1836)

    Quotes from Constitutional Commentators

    Introduction

    Quotes from St. George Tucker, William Rawle, Justice Story, and Thomas Cooley appear here.

    St. George Tucker

    The following is excerpted from The Right to Arms: Does the Constitution or the Predilection of Judges Reign? by Robert Dowlut (Copyright © 1983 Oklahoma Law Review).

    Saint George Tucker (1752-1828) served as a colonel in the Virginia militia, was wounded in the Revolutionary War, was a law professor at William and Mary, and later was a justice on the Virginia Supreme Court from 1804 to 1811. He was also a friend of Thomas Jefferson. In 1803 he published a five-volume edition of Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England.

    St. George Tucker 001

    To Blackstone’s listing of the “fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject … that of having arms … suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law,” Tucker in a footnote added: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” He cited the second amendment, noting that it is “without any qualification as to their condition or degree, as is the case in the British government.” He added: “Whoever examines the forest, and game laws in the British code, will readily perceive that the right of keeping arms is effectually taken away from the people of England.” In discussing the second amendment, Tucker wrote:

    “This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty …. The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction. In England, the people have been disarmed, generally, under the specious pretext of preserving the game: a never failing lure to bring over the landed aristocracy to support any measure, under that mask, though calculated for very different purposes. True it is, their bill of rights seems at first view to counteract this policy: but the right of bearing arms is confined to protestants, and the words suitable to their condition and degree, have been interpreted to authorize the prohibition of keeping a gun or other engine for the destruction of game, to any farmer, or inferior tradesman, or other person not qualified to kill game. So that not one man in five hundred can keep a gun in his house without being subject to a penalty.”

    Tucker thus merged self-defense, prevention of standing armies, and protection from oppression all into a single concept–the generalized right of keeping and bearing arms as protected by the second amendment.

    More St. George Tucker from the appendix of Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1803),

    “Here, let us again pause, and reflect, how admirably this division, and distribution of legislative power is adapted to preserve the liberty, and to promote the happiness of the people of the United States… Fifthly, and lastly; by the separation of the judiciary from the legislative department; and the independence of the former, of the control, or influence of the latter, in any case where any individual may be aggrieved or oppressed, under colour of an unconstitutional act of the legislature, or executive. In England, on the contrary, the greatest political object may be attained, by laws, apparently of little importance, or amounting only to a slight domestic regulation: the game-laws, as was before observed, have been converted into the means of disarming the body of the people:…”

    “The congress of the United States possesses no power to regulate, or interfere with the domestic concerns, or police of any state: it belongs not to them to establish any rules respecting the rights of property; nor will the constitution permit any prohibition of arms to the people;…”

    “If, for example, a law be passed by congress, prohibiting the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates, or persuasions of a man’s own conscience or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to assemble peaceably, or to keep and bear arms; it would, in any of these cases, be the province of the judiciary to pronounce whether any such act were constitutional, or not; and if not, to acquit the accused from any penalty which might be annexed to the breach of such unconstitutional act.”

    William Rawle

    In 1791 William Rawle was appointed as a United States Attorney for Pennsylvania by President George Washington, a post he held for more than eight years. He had also been George Washington’s candidate for the nation’s first attorney general, but Rawle declined the appointment. Rawle’s “A View of the Constitution of the United States of America” (1829), was adopted as a constitutional law textbook at West Point and other institutions. He describes the scope of the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms. (Rawle’s comments quoted from Halbrook, Stephen P., That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right, University of New Mexico Press, 1984.)

    William Rawle 001

    “the powers not delegated to congress by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people[quoting the 10th Amendment]. What we are about to consider are certainly not delegated to congress, nor are they noticed in the prohibitions to states; they are therefore reserved either to the states or to the people. Their high nature, their necessity to the general security and happiness will be distinctly perceived.” “In the second article, it is declared, that a well regulated militia is necessary to a free state; a proposition from which few will dissent. Although in actual war, in the services of regular troops are confessedly more valuable; yet while peace prevails, and in the commencement of a war before a regular force can be raised, the militia form the palladium of the country. They are ready to repel invasion, to suppress insurrection, and preserve the good order and peace of government. That they should be well regulated, is judiciously added. A disorderly militia is disgraceful to itself, and dangerous not to the enemy, but to its own country. The duty of the state government is, to adopt such regulation as will tend to make good soldiers with the least interruptions of the ordinary and useful occupations of civil life. In this all the Union has a strong and visible interest.”

    “The corollary, from the first position, is that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    “The prohibition is general. No clause in the Constitution could by any rule of construction be conceived to give to congress a power to disarm the people. Such a flagitious attempt could only be made under some general pretence by a state legislature. But if in any blind pursuit of inordinate power, either should attempt it, this amendment may be appealed to as a restraint on both.”

    “In most of the countries of Europe, this right does not seem to be denied, although it is allowed more or less sparingly, according to circumstances. In England, a country which boasts so much of its freedom, the right was secured to protestant subjects only, on the revolution of 1688; and is cautiously described to be that of bearing arms for their defence,’suitable to their conditions, and as allowed by law.’ An arbitrary code for the preservation of game in that country has long disgraced them. A very small proportion of the people being permitted to kill it, though for their own subsistence; a gun or other instrument, used for that purpose by an unqualified person, may be seized and forfeited. Blackstone, in whom we regret that we cannot always trace expanded principles of rational liberty, observes however, on this subject, that the prevention of popular insurrections and resistance to government by disarming the people, is oftener meant than avowed, by the makers of forest and game laws.”

    Rawle stresses the importance of the militia as a safeguard against a standing army, but he is also clear in pointing out that the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed, period, regardless of usage, as it was arbitrarily restricted by hunting laws in England.

    Over time, it is the fusion of the militia clause and the broad scope of the right to keep and bear arms that has caused many people to misunderstand the Second Amendment. Many of the Founders and commentators were concerned about the militia, but this was never meant to restrict the right to keep and bear arms to military purposes only. Remember the prohibition against infringement was meant to be “general”

    Joseph Story

    Justice Joseph Story

    Justice Story was appointed to the Supreme Court as an Associate Justice by James Madison in 1811. In 1833 he wrote, “Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States” His comments on the Second Amendment follow.

    “The next amendment is: ‘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 importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.(1) And yet, though this truth would seem so clear, and the importance of a well regulated militia would seem so undeniable, it cannot be disguised, that among the American people there is a growing indifference to any system of militia discipline, and a strong disposition, from a sense of its burdens, to be rid.”

    (1) 1 Tucker’s Black. Comm. App. 300; Rawle on Const. Ch. 10, p. 125; 2 Lloyd’s Debates, 219, 220.

    Thomas Cooley

    • Zachary Smith
      October 9, 2015 at 5:33 pm

      Nice job of spamming.

      Have you ever thought of using a link instead of cut/pasting 5,376 words?

      • Waldemar Perez
        October 9, 2015 at 9:01 pm

        Please see my replies to you above.

      • Ratherdrive
        October 10, 2015 at 12:14 am

        Posting a link instead? What a revolutionary idea! :-)

      • Evangelista
        October 14, 2015 at 10:20 pm

        Zach,

        I don’t think mICHAEL’s post qualifies as “spamming” in any sense.

        I also think his “cut/pasting 5,376 words” provides emphasis that would not be found in a link or series of links (which off-line readers would not be able to follow).

        And Bob Parry’s ‘grasp’ of American history is every bit as bad as mICHAEL asserts and proofs with his “cut/pasting”, if it is not worse. Consider that he assigns the Umquaequa shooter’s taking up and firing a weapon at targets of opportunity around him to be ‘attacking the Republic’, and that he assigns Jefferson , who wrote, and signed the American Declaration of Independence, each a capital offense, to be a “coward”,along with, by implication, all the rest who signed the document, all of whom, with Jefferson, thereby put their lives on the line, their heads in nooses, effectively…

        Prejudices effect brains strangely, turning them into “oatmeal”, as Vladimir Putin might say.

    • Ethan Allen
      October 9, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      Your opening contention:

      “ROBERT PARRY DID NOT STUDY HIS HISTORY, NOR THE WRITTEN WORDS OF OUR FOUNDING FATHERS IF HE THINKS THAT THE 2ND AMENDMENT WAS NEVER INTENDED TO ALLOW THE INDIVIDUAL TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS.”

      ironically seems to be refuted by what Robert Parry actually stated, saying in pertinent part:

      “But the Constitution’s Framers in 1787 and the authors of the Bill of Rights in the First Congress in 1789 never intended the Second Amendment to be construed as the right for individuals to take up arms against the Republic. In fact, their intent was the opposite.”

      Further injury is done to your flawed inquisition of Mr. Parry’s historical scholarship by the vast majority of the citations you misemploy to that unfortunate end.
      The commentary of Justice Joseph Story, as related in your closing citation, deserves revisiting in the context of the evolution of the debate regarding the proper use of weapons in the preservation of an orderly society.

      “The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them

      “Work is love made visible.” KG
      As Usual,
      EA

  13. Peter Loeb
    October 9, 2015 at 5:49 am

    THE SLAVE PATROL

    Article I of the US Constitution begins “Congress shall
    make no law respecting religion ….(etc,)”

    Today we may view those who wrote the US
    Constitution as “founders” or perhaps “Founders”,
    a collection of overliterate icons. This view should
    be to include excellent politicians which they all were.
    At the time of its drafting, the US Constitution (as
    opposed to the “Declaration of Independence” needed
    to be RATIFIED by individuall states. The founders
    despite their hi-fallutin verbiage knew how to
    count. Just like modern politicians.

    Based on my memory of a significant piece
    by Thomas Hartmann of several years ago,
    it was James Madison who was key in the drafting.
    One should bear in mind that Virginia was
    the largest state and in addition it was a
    slave state. Almost all of the architects of
    the Constitution were slaveholders: Washington,
    Jefferson, Madison, Monroe etc. (I no longer
    have a copy of Hartmann’s analysis. If it
    is in error, I defer to Robert Parry’s work in
    this area.—Peter Loeb)

    Amendment I began “Congress shall make
    no law respecting the freedom of religion…etc.”

    But many voices especially in the South insisted
    that the slave patrol be formally preserved as
    being under STATE control, not FEDERAL
    control. The slave patrol was the “well-regulated
    militia” of white males “being necessary to the
    security of a free STATE” with the right to bear
    arms and which “shall not be infringed”.

    The purpose of these armed white males under
    the state (not any national government) was
    was to pursue, capture and torture (punnish)
    blacks who wanted to escape into freedom.

    These political pressures (I recall the name of
    Patrick Henry of VA but stand corrected if
    Robert Parry corrects me) were necessary
    to ensure the ratification of the Constitution
    by Virginaia and others. Virginia was the largest
    in are at least (Virginians assumed their territory
    extended all the way to 5the West Coast whereever
    that was, the “west” being what is today
    called the “midwest”).

    Thus came “states rights” into our Constitution
    as a kind of immune right which “shall not be
    infringed”.. This perspective has often been
    key in other areas such as lynching etc. once
    seen as a “state issue” immune from Federal
    decision and which “shall not be infringed”

    Groups such as the NRA while they may or may
    not be integrated, still represent these reactionar

    y
    views. Unfortunately, they are not alone..

    At the Democratic National Convention, Hubert
    Humphrey, Senator of MN, made a speech
    demanding that the US “exit the shaddows of
    states rights into the sunshine of civil rights.”

    (Full disclosure: In this, Humphrey had the support of
    this writer’s father.)

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    • Ratherdrive
      October 10, 2015 at 12:10 am

      Quite correct, Peter.

  14. Zachary Smith
    October 8, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    Carson suggests that gun rights might have changed history for Jews in WWII

    I’m not going to use the word “stupid” for this, but Carson does demonstrate he’s a total ignoramus about Nazi influence in Germany at the time. Not to mention the power of Hitler’s military. It was an force which took the combined power of Britain, the US, and the USSR to defeat. Though it fought for Nazi evil, it was one of the best armies of all time otherwise.

    The blinkered doofus Carson has read too much rightwingnut material and not done enough independent reading of the history books. And not nearly enough thinking, either.

    • Waldemar Perez
      October 9, 2015 at 9:14 pm

      See my other comment above. Suppose you are right and it didn’t. They were fuc%$%k anyways, weren’t they? I would prefer to go down defending myself and my family than sit around like a duck waiting for a fascist to lynch me (like we use to do here with “imbeciles” (whites too) and blacks). And besides, anyone knows that most of the work was done by the Russians,as they lost 27 million fighting this Hitler which reminds me of Obama. When D-day arrived the road was paved to the “coalition”. Since you mentioned the Nazis, are you aware of the declassified documentation (available at the National Archives for your enjoyment) that we brought all that scum leadership from Germany under Operation Paperclip. They turned us into what we are today, extremist looking every day more and more like what we are Nazis.

      • Zachary Smith
        October 9, 2015 at 10:24 pm

        Since you mentioned the Nazis, are you aware of the declassified documentation (available at the National Archives for your enjoyment) that we brought all that scum leadership from Germany under Operation Paperclip. They turned us into what we are today, extremist looking every day more and more like what we are Nazis.

        Fellow, you need to locate a reliable history book or two. By the end of WW2 the Cold War was about to start. Both sides captured as many of the German technicians and engineers as possible so as to pick their brains. Since the Germans were at least 10 years ahead of the Allies in rocketry, catching up was essential. There was a lot to learn from the Germans in the field of aviation too. No doubt there were some really bad apples among them, but the times were hectic. Building better rockets and jet airplanes did NOT turn the US into the proto-police state we are today.

        Now if you want a real crime to rant about, concentrate on how the US let the Japanese bio-war fellows get off scott-free.

        • Waldemar Perez
          October 9, 2015 at 10:43 pm

          I’ve read plenty of history books more than you. They were plenty of bad apples among those 1000+ they brought in. “Times were hectic”? Yeah, like the Negro President handing guns to people with no background checks you mean?

        • Waldemar Perez
          October 10, 2015 at 12:15 am

          I forget, a good book you need to read written by a liberal democrat (a good one that I respect) is: Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone. He wrote the book because after serving in Vietnam he was horrified about how f^%^k up American history books are. Remember, the victor always get to write their own version. Are you aware that it was a liberal democrat racist called Harry Truman who dropped the BOMB even though the Japanese were ready to surrender? Even warmongers like Eisenhower (at least he recognized some of his mistakes) ask Truman if that was necessary. Another thing is American history books never mentioned the little known fact of economic sanctions (an act of war) on Japan as a trigger to Pearl Harbor. I always wondered how come they “knew” the attack was coming and they never put the base on high alert which should have been standard procedure if you have intelligence an attack is coming. Peal Harbor, faulty intelligence, Gulf of Tonkin, faulty intelligence, Iraq WMDs faulty intelligence, 9/11 faulty intelligence, Syria chemical weapons faulty intelligence, see a pattern yet? They only thing exceptional in this country is the exceptionally stupid American public who believes their leaders can be corrupt, incompetent but never evil and that they don’t have a plan, because they are the exceptionals. Whooohoo!!!

  15. Evangelista
    October 8, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    “, one of the crises that led to the Constitutional Convention in the summer of 1787 was the inability of the old system under the Articles of Confederation to put down Shays’s Rebellion in western Massachusetts in 1786-87.”

    The above quoted excerpt from the article provides a prime and useful example of the falsification of history that the article begins by deploring. The usefulness of the excerpt for example derives from the falsification being recognizable in one incorrect phrase, “to put down” being included, because with “to prevent”, instead of “to put down”, the statement would be correct, though vague and off focus, since the failure was not to prevent the rebellion, itself, but to prevent the activities that incited Captain Shays and the other victims he was amongst to rebel, to interfere with corrupt judiciary officials and proceedings and to attempt to raid an armory to obtain arms to carry their cause forward (they were prevented by a private ‘army’ hired by the beneficiaries of the corruption the ‘rebels’ were rebeling against, which was depriving them of property.

    Yes, Daniel Shays’ rebellion was a prime catalyst to getting the Constitutional Convention out of discussion and into action, to getting General Washington into the middle of it (Shays had been one of the loyal and reliable during the Valley Forge winter), and for getting “property” specified specifically with life and liberty in the wording of the Preamble, and also, relevant here, for getting the second ammendment into specific statement, in various states and in the federal (Constitution’s) Bill of Rights. Had Shays and those objecting to corruption of the law by the rich and influential not had to raid an armory for arms they would not have had to face armed mercenaries with civilian implements.

    General Washington, and others who had done duty in the Revolution were not amused by men of wealth depriving men who fought, for the wealthy’s’ as well as their own properties (and who often did not get paid, and whose pay script, when they were paid, was then discounted or refused) of their property after, by chicanery.

    You have to do more than follow in the footsteps of Karl Rove and John Yoo to learn what is true of history.

  16. John Parks
    October 8, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Yeah, ok, here is your whole argument summed up into two words “No Anarchists”, accept, that is exactly what our Founding Fathers were. Remember the Declaration of Independence, then The Revolution. We the colonists declared we would no longer live under English law. Then we had to fight them (our own English countrymen), with guns, that we the people owned. For you to miss or ignore facts just makes you look willfully ignorant or a plain old liar.

    • Zachary Smith
      October 8, 2015 at 6:34 pm

      Yeah, ok, here is your whole argument summed up into two words “No Anarchists”, accept, that is exactly what our Founding Fathers were.

      No, they weren’t. Generating anarchy is a modern US strategy practiced in Iraq, Libya, and currently Syria. A revolution is merely a change of governments by force, if necessary. Nobody wants anarchy where they personally live. It’s true that an ugly civil war broke out during the course of the fighting, but after the peace treaty the new States smoothly took over governing.

      The ‘founding fathers’ were rebels, and definitely not anarchists.

  17. Bill Bodden
    October 8, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    The fantasy about gun owners rising against tyranny is another charade from America’s Theater of the Absurd. First of all, forget about tyranny in the singular. We have tyrannies.

    There is the tyranny of Wall Street that almost destroyed the American economy and threatened the global economy and jeopardized the lives of millions of citizens. Occupy Wall Street rose non-violently against that tyranny, but it was crushed by a variety of forces supplied by other tyrannies including the goon squads (Sturmabteilungen) from major city police departments. Where were American gun owners when the Occupiers raised their voices on behalf of the American people against this tyranny? Where were the American people sitting with their thumbs on their mute buttons?

    A corrupt political system that is (1) robbing ordinary Americans to make the rich richer and the poor more numerous and poorer ; (2) condoning a judicial system that places our worst criminals above the law; and (3) acquiescing to shredding of the Fourth Amendment is another tyranny. Where are America’s gun owners opposed to this rape of the American people and justice? Many, to the contrary, are hostile to whistleblowers who expose this corruption.

    The Israel Lobby and their neocon friends operate two more tyrannies with most of Washington’s politicians having sold their souls to the former while many go along with the warmongering of the latter that helps to divert funds needed for our essential national infrastructures into that five-sided black hole on the Potomac.

    Then there is the tyranny of apathy, ignorance and moral bankruptcy that characterizes a majority of the American people who remain mute as the nation continues its progression from democracy through oligarchy to fascism. The irony is that many of the opponents of gun control appear to be ideologically affiliated with agents of this transition.

    Fear and fearmongering are another tyranny that faces little opposition. It is ironic that claims are made for America being the greatest nation in the world at the same time so many of its citizens live in such fear they feel a need to own a gun, in some cases guns, for self-protection.

    Let’s not overlook the tyranny of America’s mainstream (fawning corporate) media. Where are America’s would-be cavalry-coming-to-the-rescue and the people when it comes to supporting independent media such as Consortium News?

    Guns are not the solution to tyranny. The people have the power to rise in non-violent protest that would restore our democracy. But the people are blind and apathetic whenever a potential leader opposed to tyranny appears preferring proven crooks because they are their crooks.

    • Bill Bodden
      October 9, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      Have these gunslingers against tyranny given serious thought to what an armed revolution against the government would mean? Do they realize they are really talking about a civil war? In their delusion about an armed uprising of the people they would not only be up against the armed forces of the United States, but they would also be in conflict with regional and local law enforcement agencies whose members are usually predisposed to following authority. In addition, gunslingers against tyranny would also find themselves opposed by other citizens out on the right wing of the political spectrum

  18. Jeffrey
    October 8, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Yeah, this guy knows nothing about U.S history. While the second amendment was intended for the people to be able to form militias, it was not just for protecting us from foreign enemys, but also domestic. It is our responsibility to overthrow our government if it is necessary. Our country was set up to prevent a corrupt goverment from rulling ( just like the one we got now)

    • Ratherdrive
      October 9, 2015 at 1:46 am

      Jeffrey, the purpose of the 2nd was definitely NOT to protect us from foreign enemies. Our founders completely recognized that our militia, or indeed ANY militia, would never be strong enough to actually DO that, which is why they provided for both an Army and a Navy in the very first Article.

      The 2nd was all about establishing the internal “security of a free State” against internal security threats, as was particularly true in the South.

      Our current government is duly-elected and is therefore legitimate. Nevertheless, if its degree of corruption present becomes intolerable, it would then be our duty to replace it via the ballot box; but most definitely not via violence, as that would be treason.

  19. Dustin
    October 8, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    A well balanced diet being essential to the health of a free state, the right of the people to keep and eat food shall not be infrenged. ( now who has the right the state or the people

  20. Dayve Poston
    October 8, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Preposterous. The Bill of Rights didn’t confer any rights to the States or to the people, so who cares what any of them say, how they are worded, or how they were interpreted then or now? The Constitution is an agency-licensing document, which lays out the nature and scope of an Agent’s (the Federal government) “few and specifically-enumerated” duties and privileges, as delegated by its Principal (the States and the People); The Bill of Rights were only REMINDERS of just SOME of the sacrosanct RIGHTS (i.e. not privileges, but natural birthrights) that were retained/not delegated to the Agent. Indeed, the 9th Amendment is itself a reminder that these listed rights are just reminders, and are only a partial listing of those innumerable other rights retained/not delegated to the Federal government.
    The Bill of Rights helped muddy-up the picture (as many of the Ratifiers and Anti-Federalists feared would happen), making it appear that somehow the Constitution gave us our rights—and at that, gave us only those limited “fundamental” rights listed therein. The Constitution was intended to convey “islands of government power surrounded by a sea of liberty,” and has been perverted to the point where it is now interpreted as “islands of liberty surrounded by a sea of government power.”

  21. Scaevola
    October 8, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Another completely off base point you make (among many others), Mr. Parry is to paint the Oklahoma City bombing as some militia movement response to Clinton’s election. You completely skip over the Federal Government’s massacre of 76 Branch Davidians, roughly half of whom were children. This was Tim McVeigh’s stated motivation, not Bill Clinton’s election. And what was the impetus behind the ATF raid on the BD compound in the first place? Alleged firearm violations, of course.

    So an out of control federal agency storms the home of a harmless but odd religious minority, in an unnecessarily aggressive and provocative manner, to serve a specious arrest warrant. The legally armed people inside react in a legal and reasonable manner when attacked with an excessive use of force, and they defend their home and families. The federal government goes berserk, and backed by their media lapdogs, demonize the victims as a death cult. Then, after a standoff of several months, the government (yes, under the Clintons) turns loose the special forces to assassinate 76 American citizens, including dozens of children.

    Years later, one out of 300 some million Americans (and an Army combat veteran at that) calls bullshit on the USG and hits them back. It’s not that hard to understand, even though McVeigh’s act was itself reprehensible. But it wasn’t because Clinton was elected.

  22. sanford sklansky
    October 8, 2015 at 11:19 am

    I think some or most of these quotes would tend to refute what Parry had to say in this article

    https://www.thefederalistpapers.org/history/the-founding-fathers-on-the-second-amendment

    http://bearingarms.com/madison-on-the-2nd-amendment-milita-clause/

    It is obviously where the latter is coming from. Sounds like somebody who has done some reading, but I don’t know if he is right. Parenthetically I would say none of us our constitutional scholars including Mr Parry. Bot sides of this issue seems to read what ever they want in to the 2nd amendment. I do think there are too many guns out there and there should be a way of regulating them with out either side going nuts.

    http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa29.htm

    The above writer suggest that Federalist papers 29 and 46 invoke the right for every one to be able to have a gun.

    Here is 46. http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa46.htm I haven’t had the time to read through either one at the moment. But some one with some more smarts than me can point out where is says we should or shouldn’t have guns. Or how many guns we should be allowed to have, or what type of guns we should be allowed to have. Maybe it calls for a new amendment. I am kind of in the middle when it comes to guns. Other than the army I have never shot a gun other than in basic training. I am not against guns per se but I think there should be better regulation. I think the ban of the CDC should be lifted in investigating (right word) how guns affect health.

  23. John
    October 8, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Just another attempt by te Cabal to eliminate any opposition to their tyranny. Their situation is a dismal failure, so they resort to more false flag attacks on real or fake entities to push their agenda. They are in fear of civilized responsible Americans with guns for good reason.
    A true patriot will be there to protect his country against it’s government. Our worst enemy as citizens of the US is not foreign, but domestic.

    • Ratherdrive
      October 9, 2015 at 2:32 am

      As long as our Government fits the definition of being “duly-elected,” it will be my Government, and should you ever fire as much as a single round at it, that would make you a traitor and the enemy of all loyal Americans.

      So, yes; our worst potential enemy is not foreign, but domestic.

  24. Mike
    October 8, 2015 at 9:56 am

    So .. you are telling me out of the 10 amendments to the bill of rights, 9 of them detail the rights of the people and 1 tells the government how to from its army? Yeah .. .I ain’t buying it and neither does the US population or the judiciary.

    • Abbybwood
      October 8, 2015 at 12:20 pm

      “A rifle behind every blade of grass.”:

      http://www.skylighters.org/quotations/quots6.html

    • Ratherdrive
      October 9, 2015 at 1:59 am

      Jeffrey, the purpose of the 2nd was definitely NOT to protect us from foreign enemies. Our founders completely recognized that our militia, or indeed ANY militia, would never be strong enough to actually DO that, which is why they provided for both an Army and a Navy in the very first Article.

      The 2nd was all about establishing the internal “security of a free State” against internal security threats, as was particularly true in the South.

      Our current government is duly-elected and is therefore legitimate. Nevertheless, if its degree of corruption present becomes intolerable, it would then be our duty to replace it via the ballot box; but most definitely not via violence, as that would be treason.

    • Ratherdrive
      October 13, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      Mike,
      ” how to form its army?”

      No, the 2nd has nothing to do with an army, nor even with an army function. Its more closely related to a police function, which is what militia were used for: “the security of a free State.”

      Internal State security was the issue on the table, not invasion from foreign armies.

  25. Andrew
    October 8, 2015 at 9:34 am

    I think you guys are barking at the wrong tree. The number of guns is not the issue, but the culture of guns is.

    Yesterday went to the movies and watched the previews reflecting on all those sad US shooting tragedies in the back of my mind. Check it out – it’s all right in your face – the big screen is full of guns (I’d guess 7 out of 10), which wonderfully ‘solve’ all the world problems. So don’t be surprised when Hollywood images get stuck in disturbed brains and result in mass murders.

  26. Ronald Johnson
    October 8, 2015 at 9:03 am

    The author cites Shea’s Rebellion, which was an uprising by Western Massachusetts farmers whose mortgages were being foreclosed by urban bankers during a period of severe deflation caused by the scarcity of currency due to the weakness of the Continental dollar – and speculation in that currency. Their cause was righteous. Similarly, the “Whiskey Rebellion in Western Pennsylvania was caused by the Congress’ determination to tax whiskey, instead of the much more practical option of taxing land speculation, Congress was owned by the speculators, among the biggest was George Washington, with 30,000 acres in what became Washington County. The Revolution, at great expense, accomplished only the substitution of tyrants, American instead of British. The remarkable phenomenon, was that the Federalized militia soldiers were unable to recognize that they were fighting against their own interests, when they attacked the rebels.

  27. Scaevola
    October 8, 2015 at 8:06 am

    To deny Jefferson’s influence over many of the framers of the constitution, particularly its principal author James Madison, is to deny that the sun illuminates the moon, merely because the sun is absent at night.

    It is truly ironic that you can cherry pick Jefferson’s language “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, live securely behind the First Amendment (of which he was the chief philosophical advocate), and yet deny his genius and bash him shamelessly.

    Jefferson was the principal philosophical champion behind the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment which enshrines the freedom of speech. He was the chief intellectual counterweight to the elitist, monarchist, authoritarian tendencies of the High Federalists led by the vile Alexander Hamilton.

    It might be noted that following the compromises which made the Constitution possible, Madison came back around squarely into the camp of the Democratic Republicans led by Jefferson in their opposition to the Hamiltonians. It might also be remembered that Hamilton called the People (you know, like you and me) “a mob” and “a rabble” who needed to be ruled by “the wise, the rich and the well-born”. He despised democracy, what he called “mobocracy” and wanted the elite empowered to lord over the People with an iron fist.

    Without question, the Hamiltonians have ruled the day almost ever since. They have their central bank, their standing army, their high toned Federal Government and their world empire. They even have a national religion of sorts: worship of the government and its military. They have control over both political parties, and they have (with our acquiescence) eviscerated most of the Bill of Rights, as any honest assessment of current reality must prove. With your assistance, they will be happy to take the rest.

    One last word on our friend Hamilton, he founded the New York Post (for fuck’s sake!). This is his perfect legacy. One look at that vile fish wrap (the antithesis of Consortiumnews) will give you a sense of what he and his ilk would have the US public be: ignorant, distracted, venal, impotent, fearful, credulous and xenophobic. In short, easily ruled.

    So much for the history and philosophy, now for the reality. There are 150 million gun owners in America. Our military numbers around 1 million, most of whom (thanks to the High Federalists) are busy making enemies for the rest of us in far flung corners of the world. Do the math, geniuses. And if you think that local police, swat teams and sheriffs will enthusiastically rush to disarm an incensed public, just ask the citizens of New Orleans post-Katrina.

    Following 9/11, the shocking deaths of an infinitely tiny percentage of our fellow citizens allowed us to rush blindly into some of the worst decisions ever made in the history of this fading republic. Some would have us do the same after every loose wing nut flies off and commits an atrocity with a gun. Sensible gun restrictions are reasonable, but disarming the American people isn’t sensible. It also isn’t realistic. Ain’t going to happen. Not this time and not the next.

    Perhaps some of that brainpower would be better expended trying to get to the root of what is really wrong in our culture that encourages some lost souls to seek the ignominious fame which comes with each of these massacres. My suggestion, start by looking inward at what the triumph of the Hamiltonians has made of us.

    • Abbybwood
      October 8, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      Great post!

  28. October 7, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    “The twice-elected President of the United States (and the first African-American to hold that office) – especially if he pressed ahead seeking commonsense gun restrictions.”

    Someone who can put POTUS in the same breath as ‘common sense gun restrictions’.. is either clueless, or on salary.

    • Zachary Smith
      October 8, 2015 at 12:13 am

      Your post confuses me. Do you believe “common sense gun restrictions” are impossible, or simply that the job description of the POTUS doesn’t include speaking about them?

      • Abbybwood
        October 8, 2015 at 12:08 pm

        My guess is she is suggesting that the president takes an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic”.

        So, if his job is this, how can he talk about toying with the 2nd Amendment?

      • Waldemar Perez
        October 9, 2015 at 8:14 pm

        YEESSSSS!!! it is impossible. Please see my comments to you above first. I’m from the US territory of Puerto Rico. On behalf of the federal gov EXTREMELY strict background checks/gun-ownership laws were implemented and now you need a lawyer, $2K and a very good reason to legally own a gun in PR. Wonder about the results????? Violent crime is the highest in the Nation, criminals wiped their asses with “the law” and now most people want to defend themselves against the drug-dealing (I’m talking about big-pharma down here) and CIA-sponsored drug-money laundering (just like Opium in Afghanistan) so they resort to gun ownership “under the table”. You will be as successful with gun-control as you are regulating the biggest drug trafficker on the planet, the CIA and the US gov (including lefties like Hitlary and Bill. How is Chicago’s gun laws working out for ya? And who is killing who over there??

  29. Cassandra
    October 7, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    Being Canadian and having no dog in this fight, I find the plain meaning of the second amendment to be that people’s ownership of guns should not be restricted so that they could respond instantly and with their own arms to a call-up to form a militia to respond to an emergency. Like the reserves. Like a posse on a larger scale. Like a bucket brigade.

    In other words, it foresees the need for an armed populace because there was not going to be a permanent armed body standing by.

    • October 8, 2015 at 12:27 am

      @ Cassandra: “In other words, it foresees the need for an armed populace because there was not going to be a permanent armed body standing by.”

      It’s a bit different. Whether there would be a federal standing Army was a huge issue at the Constitutional Convention because the European custom of maintaining standing armies was perceived as an enormous evil, resulting in repression and war. Plus the Revolution was largely fought over colonial abuses by the British Army. But those who wanted a standing army won a compromise in the final language: A standing army was authorized but has to be reauthorized by Congress every two years. That is as opposed to the U.S. Navy, which was authorized in perpetuity. Those who wanted all ground forces to be milita-only lost, and the two-year limitation has proved to be no impediment in practice, other than forcing legislation every two years to reauthorize a standing army.

      • Zachary Smith
        October 8, 2015 at 12:56 am

        Plus the Revolution was largely fought over colonial abuses by the British Army.

        This was almost certainly not the case. Gerald Horne has made a strong case for the US Revolution being a “Counter Revolution” fought for slavery.

        http://www.amazon.com/The-Counter-Revolution-1776-Resistance-Origins/dp/1479893404?tag=duckduckgo-d-20

        The Colonists had noticed that the Englishmen back in the Home Islands were getting ‘squishy’ about slavery. Because the Southerners already had a lot invested, that was a valid cause for breaking away. The North – their motives are something I’m still chewing on. There was a terrific amount of money in the Triangle Trade they taught us in High School. An important part of that involved purchasing kidnapped Africans for a song, transporting them to the New World, and selling them for a much larger price. Ending slavery was definitely not in the interests of the Northern Merchants. So why not start making a mountain out of mole-hills so as to disguise your true motives. COMPLAIN ABOUT TEA TAXES!

        The kidnapped Africans in the earliest days weren’t yet up against the Slavocracy Police State. They could run away to the Spanish in Florida, and to the Indians in the West. They could and did make common cause with the white slaves sent over from Europe. They could also revolt. Revolting slaves was bad business, and the Slave Men did not want any uppity Big Government suddenly withholding arms for the Slave Militias. So they insisted on the Second Amendment to nail down that issue. There were still unhappy Indians around, and a fantasy had arisen that Militias were as good or better than a standing army. Cheaper too! Since the North really did want a Constitution, they bought into that one.

        • Waldemar Perez
          October 9, 2015 at 10:18 pm

          And still hasn’t changed today’s slaves (Mexicans) are conveniently tossed around with political lies like the lefty president truly cares about them and that immigration reform has nothing to do with votes or cheap labor. Has anyone found Eric Holder’s secret e-mails on gun trafficking (“smart guns walking into Mexico by themselves). Lefties cannot regulate gov gun and they hope to regulate 300 million mostly unaccounted for already out there. How stupid do you have to be or how much worship of incompetents do you need to have to believe you will be successful on this. It will fail just like the country already failed, because its morally bankrupt by bible readers and those how see themselves as exceptionals.

    • Ratherdrive
      October 8, 2015 at 2:19 am

      The basic idea was for militia to function as cops rather than soldiers.

      And the word “militia” in the Second does not connote or imply private ownership.

      At that time period, it was the responsibility of the Communities to provide the arms for the militia, which were kept by said communities in a centrally located “armory keep” for use when militia were assembled into posses. As you have said, this was exactly “like a posse on a larger scale.” When the posse was “stood down”, the muskets were still town property and thus were returned to the “keep.” Williamsburg, Virginia still has an armory keep right in the center of town, filled with muskets.

      Of course these arms had to be purchased with tax money, so there were always more militiamen than muskets, which meant that anyone who could bring his own to the muster was welcome to do so, off the books so-to-speak.

      Only a few of the larger cities had anything resembling a police force. The only effective law enforcement in most of this very rural Country was volunteer militia. They were the forerunners of today’s State Troopers.

      Functioning as an amateur army to repel foreign invaders was most definitely NOT the plan. The very first Article of the new Constitution provided for both an army and a navy for that National defense purpose, although they were certainly not fully staffed. The belief was that there would always be enough warning that an invasion was imminent to allow time to fill out an army to deal with it.

    • Abbybwood
      October 8, 2015 at 11:59 am

      Ding, ding, ding!!! Somebody give the little lady her prize!!!!!

  30. Joe Tedesky
    October 7, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    Make gun manufacturers liable for mass shootings. If mass gun shooters are on prescription medicine, then possibly hold the drug companies liable, as well. Many drugs find their way to market, with very little obstruction from the FDA.

    Something has happened to this American society, which needs serious examination, to see how to change this disturbing violent trend. We should question this phenomena of violence. Since the beginning of the 21st century America has been at war. The gap between American citizens over every subject involving any critical thinking, is widening by the day. Our politicians seem to find money to fight wars, but then they cut back on mental health programs. Our news media, rather than report the news in a accurate fashion, only stirs up controversy at every moment, it can. Troublemakers is all they are. This in their media world sells commercials, to fund their phony news propaganda, that they peddle to the man and woman on the street.

  31. Gary Severson
    October 7, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    The Constitution wouldn’t have passed without placating the salve owners with a 2nd amend. The art alsmost makes it sound as if that was a legitimate reason for bearing arms.

    • Gregory Kruse
      October 8, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      I think that is exactly the reason for the tortured syntax of the sentence. The only way to agree on the issue was to leave it open to interpretation by both sides of the controversy.

  32. October 7, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    @ Zachary Smith: “In 2015 even a small SWAT team will make a mockery of their dreams. And just forget about what a company of Marines with their supporting artillery, armor, and air power would do to the rugged well-armed citizens clutching their assault rifles.”

    While I am far from being an advocate of an armed revolution in the U.S., I am a combat veteran of the Viet Nam War. You seem to ignore: [i] the fact that the U.S. has lost every counter-insurgency war it fought since World War II and in every case the U.S. had weapons superiority; [ii] should the U.S government ever reach the situation where it faces an armed revolution by domestic insurgents, the morale of Marines and SWAT teams might prove a powerful deterrent to their slaughter of their fellow citizens; and [iii] the U.S. population has no shortage of military veterans who are familiar with U.S. military counter-insurgency strategy, tactics, and training; their participation in an insurgent revolution would give U.S. insurgents an enormous advantage over other insurgencies that have defeated the U.S. military.

    You also make the mistake of assuming that “assault rifles” are generally available to U.S. citizens for purchase. They are not and never have been. An assault rifle is a weapon capable of fully automatic fire and they have never been for sale to the general public. But mainstream media has painted semi-automatic rifles that look like military assault rifles as being “assault rifles.” But that is the reason that so-called bans on “assault rifles” were always a cop-out not stridently opposed by the NRA. All such legislation to date has been limited to semi-automatic rifles that bore a cosmetic resemblance to assault rifles; the market for semi-automatic rifles would have been otherwise unaffected. See generally, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assault_rifle#Assault_rifles_vs._assault_weapons For example, Diane Feinstein’s Assault Weapon Ban legislation was a preposterous diversion from the far more serious issue of the common availability of semi-automatic rifles. Her bill would only have banned semi-automatics that looked cosmetically like assault rifles.

    • Zachary Smith
      October 8, 2015 at 12:31 am

      You seem to believe a strictly domestic insurgency is a possibility. I disagree. Korea was a straight-up war which MacArthur managed to muck up badly. Vietnam involved a conflict where the enemy was getting powerful material support from the outside. And the enemy there simply out-thought and out-fought us. Iraq was a stupidity beyond belief – the first time “Libertarians” had a hand in the war strategy.

      “Assault rifle” is merely a word for me. It’s quite useless – no matter if it’s belt-fed full auto or a single shot. Yes, our veterans are skilled. As if the people they were fighting in their prime were not. Mercenaries don’t care about offing civilians. Neither do fanatics, and I’m thinking about types like the Quiverful where you raise a litter of Soldiers For Jesus to smite the evildoers who don’t hold with your personal Bible views.

      • Waldemar Perez
        October 9, 2015 at 4:19 pm

        Gun control or “regulation” WILL be as successful as the war on drugs. After years of denials and failures to “regulate” pot is becoming more available. A complete failure. Good luck putting 3-D printers back in the bottle. In addition, you naive Americans believe that your leaders can be corrupt, incompetent but never evil…that’s a “conspiracy theory”. Let’s see, handling guns to terrorists with no background checks on someone else’s country. Putting us close to WW3 all because of natural gas and oil. Let’s see again, Iraq 1.5 millions deaths (based on WMD lies), Vietnam (based on a lie) 3 million deaths, Syria 300k and millions displaced (base on another WMD lies as proven by the UN), Libya, did you liberals fixed that humanitarian mess yet? I’m a political atheist (ex-democrat). Your utter hypocrisy when it comes to guns is disgusting and sad. I hope to some day join the thousands of financially able Americans (that triples every year) that leave the US. I’m disappointed with the ignorance of the American people, and the whole world is. Good luck with you gun control. BTW, if you have a chance check out (your history) how this video (and your ignorance as an American paved the way for the slaughter of 1.5 million people USING ACTORS). They do it all the time to influence public opinion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7qNBmwX1tM

      • Waldemar Perez
        October 9, 2015 at 7:58 pm

        Oh sorry, I forget to rant about the Con-man-der-in-chief. First, I’m done with ideologies. Two, it is repugnant to me how much noise you hypocrites in the left make whenever a school shooting happen or a black person dies at the hand of the police but keep your tongues in dark places when your Nobel Piece of S&^&*t bomb weddings, birthday parties and real Nobel Peace winners like Doctors without Borders. Keep drinking that cool aid of American and yes lefti “exceptionalism”. I would be for gun control if you were really for piece first. Let’s regulate the government, military and police guns and then we can talk about other guns. Because THE FACT is that even though you see yourself as morally on a much higher ground than those you criticize the reality is that YOUR GOVERNMENT, YOUR POLICE AND YOUR MILITARY GUNS kill far more people every year than the statistically insignificant big-pharma druged/vacine-induced autistic American Zombie that is becoming iconic of American stupidity, ignorance and incompetence. I’m all for a debate on other subjects if you have the time. Please allow me an opportunity to steam-rolled your ignorance as an American on this comment section if you choose to debate on these and other subjects.

        • Zachary Smith
          October 9, 2015 at 10:10 pm

          Your video was interesting. Your rant was incoherent.

          Two, it is repugnant to me how much noise you hypocrites in the left make whenever a school shooting happen or a black person dies at the hand of the police but keep your tongues in dark places when your Nobel Piece of S&^&*t bomb weddings, birthday parties and real Nobel Peace winners like Doctors without Borders.

          You seem to be obsessed about us ‘leftie’ hypocrites. Tell you what – next time you’re in rural Indiana, call up one of our Senators or congressmen while posing as a citizen. See how interested our fine Representatives are in the things you speak of. They’re uniformly pro-Big Business, pro-Israel, pro-TPP., and pro-war. How I’m supposed to change that when I’m handed an easily hacked electronic voting device is sort of beyond me. My fellow citizens here are immersed in the Fox News reporting cycle. Last week while waiting in a long line two white-haired Christian ladies behind me were loudly discussing how criminals ought to be handled so as to save taxpayer money. First, they should be given to martial arts guys for live practice. If they survived that, then the old prisoners at their penitentiary should be encouraged to rape them at every opportunity.

          That’s my Indiana.

          • Waldemar Perez
            October 9, 2015 at 10:39 pm

            Yes, I’m obsessed with the hypocrisy of you liberals. What about my other points? What is your race by the way?

          • Waldemar Perez
            October 10, 2015 at 12:26 am

            Your thoughts about the bad guys given to martial arts for live practice sounds a little like what your commie/fascist/muslim/christian/gay/straight president does, torture (sorry he is very confusing sometimes to us the rest of the planet). Are you one of those lefties people that justify “enhanced interrogation techniques” by any chance?? How is that humanitarian mission in Libya coming out, any chance of fixing that humanitarian mess you left behind? How about those Christians on the mountains of Syria, where are they now, a Nazi concentration camp in Eastern Europe as refugees? Rape yourself btw. You are morally backrupt.

    • Bill Bodden
      October 8, 2015 at 6:37 pm

      You have a fair point that the US military would not necessarily succeed against an insurgency on the home front. We’ll never know how our military and citizens would react to an armed rebellion, but I wouldn’t bet on the American people reacting as the Vietnamese and Iraqi military did. I suspect the odds are more likely a sizable portion of the American people would be like the “good Germans” when the Nazis were installing their tyranny. The “good Germans” then had and middle-class Americans now have a comfortable life to lose and would probably not risk it to aid the down-trodden. But, as I said, “You never know.”

  33. Evangelista
    October 7, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    I haven’t yet been able to read the article fully, but in skimming I noticed a couple of points that appear to need address:

    One is the statement “…the Constitution’s Framers in 1787 and the authors of the Bill of Rights in the First Congress in 1789 never intended the Second Amendment to be construed as the right for individuals to take up arms against the Republic.”

    The statement is true, but has nothing to do with the current ‘berserker suicides’ and their shooting sprees. Guns are used by berserker suicides (angry suicides who want to take some ‘along’ when they go) because guns are available. Without guns berserker suicided have, do, and will use other means, which, with the prevalence of explosive materials will, most likely, in event guns could be somehow removed in the United States, will become bombs, or, as they are acronymed where they are the option available, ‘IED’s.

    Compare damage and colateral damage from any of the recent shoot-ups to the one significant bombing we have had in the U.S., the Boston Marathon, you will see that if we are going to permit a society in which restrictions and constrictions removing options and opportunities drive more and more to dispair and anger, guns are a preferrable option: They do less damage to fewer people.

    Gun control, like automobile control, is ultimately the responsibility of the operator. It always will be. It always has been, as the phrase “well regulated” in the 2nd ammendment indicates: Contrary to the prevalent thinking in the U.S., amongst authorities and too many of the population, “regulation” in the Constitutional U.S. means “self-regulation”. With no higher authority in the Republic than the people, the members of the public, there is no other authority in the Republic. Guarding their Republic was what the people of the United States Republic were expected to militia, in one militia, not several separate, to do,

    Unfortunately, we seem to no longer be in the Republic. We have a plethora of regulators, all attempting to regulate others, very few regulating themselves, or even advocating common regulation, the same for themselves as for others they assert to need outside regulating. This is the situation that is causing the growth of berserker attitude. In history it can be seen to always have, and it can be reasonably assumed to always will. When you oppress and suppress, which is different from teaching self-discipline, you create what we are experiencing in the U.S. today, that is being utilized in the middle east to create ‘jihadis’, and that will be utilized here, too, when the constricting leads to erupting.

    Saying it is ‘guns’ is self-deluding.

    • Zachary Smith
      October 7, 2015 at 11:44 pm

      Contrary to the prevalent thinking in the U.S., amongst authorities and too many of the population, “regulation” in the Constitutional U.S. means “self-regulation”.

      That reminds me of this –

      “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

      So Orwell was on the right track after all.

      War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

      Ignorance of the context of the origins of the second amendment really is a great strength of the gun guys. Refusing to admit to the slavery connections keeps it all very simple.

      http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/13890-the-second-amendment-was-ratified-to-preserve-slavery

      That’s a good though elementary beginning, and there is much more at Google Scholar for those who would like to pursue the topic.

      • Evangelista
        October 8, 2015 at 9:59 pm

        Zach,

        It gets even worse, at least for those who want others to control/to be controlled by others, instead of being responsible for controlling themselves: In addition, the United States Constitution is not law for the People of the United States. They, the People, the individuals who compose the Constitutional United States’ population, are above the law of the Constitution.

        How are these two things, the People being responsible to control themselves and the People being above the law of the Constitution possible without falling back on, or into, Alice in Wonder-land?

        The first, that the person is obliged to control him or her self derives from what is called the English Law Principle, which is usually stated “Presumption of Innocence”. It can be conversely stated, “Presumption of the individual to control himself” It is the presumption that the accused controlled himself appropriately that provides the “innocence”. A court and a jury’s responsibility is to determine if the accused did or did not control himself appropriately in an instance described in the proceeding.

        The second, that the People are aove the Constitution derives from the Preamble to the Constitution, and can be affirmed in reading the Constitution, apart from the 19th amendment and some other abetrations. In the Preamble you can read that “We the People…” make the Constitution, and in reading the Constitution for what it says, rather than what might be interpreted, you can recognize the law stated being stated for the government and the governing, for, in other words, the Peoples’ public servants.

        Thus, the 2nd ammendment, for example, says ‘the government and the governing shall not infringe…’, and the license of Congress to make laws iis restricted to laws that are “fitting and proper”, not any laws they want to make.

        As for guns in the hands of the people being only to preserve slavery, and all the “proofs” “google scholars” can cook, see the title of Robert Parry’s article, supra.

  34. joan mckniff
    October 7, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    And these state militias already exist: The National Guard.

  35. Abbybwood
    October 7, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    I would remind everyone, including Mr. Parry, to consider our country’s “Declaration of Independence”:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights. That to secure these Rights governments are instituted among men.

    That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it and to institute new government laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

    Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed.

    But when a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing invariably the same object evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their DUTY to throw off such government and to provide NEW GUARDS for their future security.”

    According to my high school civics class back in 1968, I recall learning very clearly that THIS is the primary reason the American people must ALWAYS have the right to have guns and ammo.

    If push came to shove and we were disarmed, how would we win our liberties, happiness and security from a despotic government? With a slap game?

    • Bill Bodden
      October 7, 2015 at 11:02 pm

      If push came to shove and we were disarmed, how would we win our liberties, happiness and security from a despotic government? With a slap game?

      If push came to shove and “the people” were armed they wouldn’t stand a chance against the armed forces of the United States and regional and local law enforcement agencies that have always sided with the Establishment even to the point of killing their fellow citizens. Read up on labor history around the 1930s and you’ll understand what I mean. Same for the World War One vets who assembled to appeal for payment of their bonuses when the economy was down. Would you like to guess whose side General Douglas MacArthur and Major Dwight Eisenhower were on?

      Also, given the apathy of people when it comes time to vote, what would the turn out be like for joining an armed rebellion?

    • October 7, 2015 at 11:41 pm

      @ Abbywood: “I would remind everyone, including Mr. Parry, to consider our country’s ‘Declaration of Independence’:”

      In the same vein, see Article 10 of the New Hampshire Constitution (1784):

      “10. (Right of Revolution.) Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.”

      See also ibid, Article 3: “When men enter into a state of society, they surrender up some of their natural rights to that society, in order to ensure the protection of others; and, without such an equivalent, the surrender is void.”

      http://www.nh.gov/constitution/billofrights.html

      Like the Declaration of Independence’s rationale for revolution, the New Hampshire provisions quoted above are straight out of John Locke’s second Treatise on Government. See e,g, Chapter 2:

      “Sec. 8. And thus, in the state of nature, one man comes by a power over another; but yet no absolute or arbitrary power, to use a criminal, when he has got him in his hands, according to the passionate heats, or boundless extravagancy of his own will; but only to retribute to him, so far as calm reason and conscience dictate, what is proportionate to his transgression, which is so much as may serve for reparation and restraint: for these two are the only reasons, why one man may lawfully do harm to another, which is that we call punishment. In transgressing the law of nature, the offender declares himself to live by another rule than that of reason and common equity, which is that measure God has set to the actions of men, for their mutual security; and so he becomes dangerous to mankind, the tye, which is to secure them from injury and violence, being slighted and broken by him. Which being a trespass against the whole species, and the peace and safety of it, provided for by the law of nature, every man upon this score, by the right he hath to preserve mankind in general, may restrain, or where it is necessary, destroy things noxious to them, and so may bring such evil on any one, who hath transgressed that law, as may make him repent the doing of it, and thereby deter him, and by his example others, from doing the like mischief. And in the case, and upon this ground, EVERY MAN HATH A RIGHT TO PUNISH THE OFFENDER, AND BE EXECUTIONER OF THE LAW OF NATURE.”

      http://www.constitution.org/jl/2ndtr02.htm

    • Zachary Smith
      October 8, 2015 at 12:00 am

      If push came to shove and we were disarmed, how would we win our liberties, happiness and security from a despotic government? With a slap game?

      Let’s suppose that push HAS come to shove, and there is a Despotic Government in Washington, DC. It’s a government which listens to every word you say on the phone, has access to every internet interaction you make, retains all your medical records, is expanding and militarizing all the police forces, and behaves as if the very wealthy are essentially immune from any laws inflicted on the poor folks.

      Could you kindly tell me how you figure your hypothetical arsenal of a couple dozen guns is going to help with the equally hypothetical D-G problem?

      Do keep in mind that a properly outfitted D-G has an unlimited budget for informers. Any organization you start will almost certainly have a D-G agent aboard before you reach a dozen members.

      ????

    • dahoit
      October 8, 2015 at 12:18 pm

      Jefferson,with an underwhelming defensive force,was probably the reason he didn’t defend Richmond?,and he probably would have been hanged by Arnold.Washington caught a big break at Yorktown,with the arrival of the French fleet,and their defeat of British re-enforcements,as even he avoided direct confrontation at many instances.
      And whatever Jefferson’s views on race,at least he refrained from adding a color limit on the freedom of Americans,He allegedly had a black mistress,although one could argue coercion,it is also possible something more was there.
      Judging 18th century people by modern standards is an exercise in futility,and to me in many ways they were light years ahead of today’s monster criminals,in thought,action and legacy.Honor ruled,unlike today,where dishonor is king.

    • jv
      October 8, 2015 at 1:42 pm

      the Declaration of Independence has no legal bearing on the United States, which did not exist at the time it was written; it was addressed to the King of England.

      • Ratherdrive
        October 9, 2015 at 2:53 am

        That’s correct. The Declaration was actually an open letter to the King; a “dear-John” letter; a not-love letter; a break-up letter.

        It was not a law.

      • ChillyDogg
        October 11, 2015 at 2:46 pm

        The Declaration is the document that brought the US into existence.

        • Ratherdrive
          October 12, 2015 at 2:50 am

          Paul,
          The human Right of self-defense did indeed predate, and was not determined by, the Constitution, nor by the 2nd Amendment. In fact it is not even mentioned in either.

          The 2A was about “who controls the militia,” the people as one entity, or by the Government as the other entity. Nothing else.

        • Ratherdrive
          October 12, 2015 at 3:01 am

          Chilly,
          Nope, not really. It was the Articles of Confederation, an actual law, that created the Country.

          The Declaration was a separation letter of 13 individual Colonies from the King. The Colonies had not yet unified themselves into a perpetual Union.

          Which was a good thing, since they had not even transformed themselves into States yet, each with its own State constitution.

          Read it yourself, and you will see what I mean.

    • Ratherdrive
      October 9, 2015 at 3:16 am

      Abbybwood,
      If push-came-to-shove and our Government was taken over and made captive by a foreign invader for example, it could no longer meet the definition of being “duly-elected.” It would resemble the Vichy Government of Southern France in WWII, under the control of the NAZIs, and deserving of zero loyalty from its citizens. It would not actually exist, legally, regardless of all pretense to the contrary. In such a circumstance, feel free to fire away.

      But until such a disaster might happen, and as long as our Government can be said to be “duly-elected,” one single shot from you against it would be treason, and you would be the enemy.

  36. October 7, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    Robert, I think you have missed that the matter is more complicated than you seem to recognize. I’ll say at the outset that if those who oppose gun violence (myself included) want to amend the Second Amendment I have no issue with that. But I do take issue with attempts to limit liberties without adhering to the method the Constitution supplies for doing so, an amendment.

    First, you miss the grammatical construct of the Amendment itself: “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.” This is not language that necessarily sweeps all that follows into the first phrase. It is at least equally well understood as the first phrase providing a reason for not limiting a pre-existing right identified by the remainder of the sentence.

    Second, there is every reason to interpret the language in the latter way because of the Founders’ emphasis on Natural Law rights, which are embodied in the Constitution. One can not make it past the second chapter of the influential John Locke’s second Treatise on Government without learning that the right of self-defense is fundamental in the vision of Natural Law rights that the Founding Fathers were most familiar with. http://www.constitution.org/jl/2ndtr02.htm

    Third, the Founders’ vision of a federal government of limited powers, with all powers not expressly granted to the federal government reserved to the states and to the people, can in no way be squared with a federal power to limit the right to bear arms. It takes the post-court-packing scheme of the FDR administration’s interpretation of the Commerce Clause power to get there (assuming that the 2nd Amendment did not stand as a barrier).

    Fourth, even the linked Steven Krulick analysis ignores mention of the Natural Law right of self-defense with firearms in, e.g., the Pennsylvania Constitution provision that he quotes: “That the people have a right to bear arms *for the defense of themselves* and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”

    Finally, one can quibble on whether the Founders intended that an armed citizenry was to serve as a check on the federal power; the history is mixed on that point. But I think it inarguable that the right of self-defense with firearms was viewed by the Founders as a Natural Law right that predated the Constitution and that the prefatory language of the 2nd Amendment stated merely a single reason for not abridging that right, not a full explanation of the purpose of the right to bear arms. As with other fundamental Natural Law rights, the right of self defense was not created by the Constitution; it pre-existed as Natural Law based on the equality of men in a state of nature. It is a right that under our Constitution would exist even had the Bill of Rights never been adopted.

    • jv
      October 8, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      “This is not language that necessarily sweeps all that follows into the first phrase.”
      actually, it is: the preamble demarcates all that follows, as per Blackstone’s Commentaries …the issue was specifically the Federal govt’s role vis-a-vis the States’ militias…the People did not refer to everyone, but only to white propertied males, the same limiting factors which determined who could serve in public office, vote, or serve in juries…only the People could, and had the Duty to, serve in the militia, at their own expense…that is Madison’s own definition of “to bear arms”, ie serve in the militia, the State militia…the Militia=the People, ie Freemen…individual gun ownership is not addressed at all in the constitution, or the Bill of Rights; that is a separate, State, issue…the amendment merely limits the Federal G’s ability to control, or infringe upon the State’s power to maintain a “well-regulated”, ie trained, militia…it is part of the Federal vs States rights issue, in this case in favour of the States…none of the founders would, or did, endorse the possibility of an internal insurrection against the Government as created by the Constitution, on the Federal or State level…farmers’ rebellions and slave rebellions were to be put down by the State Militias, regardless of what we may feel about such matters today…so: which individuals may legally own a gun? The Constitution is entirely silent on the matter…

      • Joe Tedesky
        October 8, 2015 at 6:31 pm

        Would it be a good idea, to have all gun owners attend militia meetings?

      • ChillyDogg
        October 11, 2015 at 2:42 pm

        Are you sure the Founders didn’t approve of insurrection?

        Declaration of Independence

        “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

        • Ratherdrive
          October 12, 2015 at 3:14 am

          Quite sure.

          They went to great pains to design for us a government that would never require an armed insurrection to “throw it off.” Instead, we get to throw off our Government every two years, every four years and every six years regularly, like clockwork. no gunfire required.

          One can’t do that with an absolute monarch.

    • Ratherdrive
      October 12, 2015 at 2:46 am

      Paul,
      The human Right of self-defense did indeed predate, and was not determined by, the Constitution, nor by the 2nd Amendment. In fact it is not even mentioned in either.

      The 2A was about “who controls the militia,” the people as one entity, or by the Government as the other entity. Nothing else.

      • Evangelista
        October 13, 2015 at 9:54 pm

        Ratherdrive,

        You are incorrect about “the people as one entity” and “the government as [an] entity”. In the Constitutional United States, for the Constitutional United States being founded as a Republic, not a Socialist State, both “the people” and “the government” are collections of individual persons. As such the individual persons have, each, individually, responsibilities to preserve the Republic and the republican government of the Republic. For all, not only for themselves, or for their individual clique, party, denomination, perspective, prejudice, etc.

        Republics differ from socialist states for the individual, not the ‘collective’ being who has ‘rights’, from which dereives that no single individual, or ‘superior collective of apparatchikki’ may, in a Republic, dictate the ‘will’ of ‘the people’. Allowances must be made for all individualities that are not destructive, with ‘destructive’ being defined by agreement among collected cross-sections of ‘peers’ (e.g., juries, voters, etc.). In a Republic ‘democracy’ is a tool, not a ‘system Democracy is used in a Republic for decision-making, with the poeple voting to make choices. The choices democratically selected in republican government are not ‘law’, because law in a Republic is confined by the ethics of the Republic. For an example, in a Republic the people can be horrified by an individual’s abusive use of firearms in commission of a crime and a majority might vote to forbid firearm ownership. A majority in the community where the crime was committed might also ‘vote with action’ to grab the crime committer (or someone they associate to him) to ‘string him up’, generally called ‘lynching’. In these examples, the vote in the first, banning firearm ownership, is mooted by the law of the Republic prohibiting depriving the lawful of the people of a right because an individual has abused it, and the ‘vote-by-action’ of the second needs to be (and we always hope will be) prevented by an individual, or group, with better sense, or better sense of responsibility, interceding to stop the lynch-mob violating the law of the Republic reflected in provisions for due process and fair trial before punishment, however appalling the criminal behavior.

        Elected officials in a Republic have obligation, deriving from their elections, to uphold the ethics and fundamental laws of the Republic. This is why they take oaths of office in which they agree to abide by the restrictions placed on them by the Constitution and the government being republican. For this elected, and appointed and hired, officials, when they use their offices to fan the flames, to lead mobs, to circumvent republican principles, and to treat the people as a collective unit they may set standards of conformity for, they are guilty of trason against the Republic, andmay be, after trial in conformity to the Republic’s ideals and principles, laws and ethics, subjected to punishments defined for traitors against the Constituted Republic and its establishing and maintaining people.

    • Shays Field
      October 12, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      “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.”

      I am curious about the punctuation of this sentence. Semi-colons were in use when this document was written. If the Founders never intended to tie “A well-regulated Militia” to “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” why didn’t they use a semi-colon? Why is this comma spliced sentence constructed in this way? Except that they were meant to be in the same sentence, not even separated by a semi-colon, let alone a period. Those who see the “individual” discrete right to keep and bear arms in this sentence are blind.

  37. Bill Bodden
    October 7, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    If the Second Amendment had called for every family to surrender their first-born son to indenture in the military for ten or twenty years there would have been riots claiming the amendment wasn’t written in stone and had to be changed. It is time to change the Second Amendment so that the United States might become a civilized society. But the amendment won’t be changed and we won’t have a civilized society. Conditions are equivalent to having been written in stone. We have an incomprehensible proliferation of death-dealing weapons that are easily accessible to people with homicidal tendencies. So get used to more slaughter if you live in America. It’s the price we pay for some people’s “freedom.”

    994 mass shootings in 1004 days – http://www.theguardian.com/profile/guardian-us-interactive-team

    • Ratherdrive
      October 8, 2015 at 1:39 am

      I agree that it is time to change the 2nd Amendment. How exactly do YOU suggest that it be worded, all things considered?

      • Bill Bodden
        October 8, 2015 at 12:40 pm

        How a revised Second Amendment would be worded is beyond the ability of any individual. If I saw someone lying on the ground in convulsions I would know he was seriously ill, but I wouldn’t have a clue as to what to do other than call 911. Its time to call 911 on the Second Amendment.

  38. Eddie
    October 7, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    Excellent, factual summation of the subject Mr Parry — I look forward to additional articles like this, including contrasting our rates of homicide and gun violence with those of other western industrialized countries.

    One of the stupider anti-gun control arguments is that we need guns to keep the government in-line. As if our government, with the trillions (that’s TRILLIONS, as in “T”) it’s spent on military hardware, amassing the most powerful military in the world, would feel afraid of some yahoos with guns who saw ‘Red Dawn’ a few too many times. What makes people believe that if it came down to a domestic armed confrontation (or the threat of one) that the US Military would have much problem turning any US city into a Fallajuh? They’ve had plenty of practice in Iraq and other places, so I wouldn’t want to test their ‘humanity’. Additionally, we still have the possibility of changing government officials via the voting booth. People can scoff at that, but it IS a very real possibility — nothing’s legally/physically stopping us from electing a socialist or progressive POTUS (a REAL one) and congress in 2016 or any other election year, and it’s a peaceful means of transferring power among other positive reasons.

    • dahoit
      October 8, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      Actually,from our experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan,an outgunned small arms rebellion was pretty successful at defeating US,more so in Afghanistan,though.IEDs played the big role in Iraq,and they were homemade..
      Again,the violence of the govt. inspires imitators in the populace.

  39. October 7, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    I generally support what you write.

    Also, as an Army Second lieutenant in 1968 I refused transport to Vietnam and openly, in uniform questioned the war in public venues repeatedly—all of which got me court-martialed–so i don’t think I can be called any sort of Right Winger.

    Your position on this gun issue is deeply wrong and in fact it is ridiculous, both constitutionally and historically. I do not look to the Great God Government for any sort of intelligence or wisdom or decency these days….much less for any sort of “protection”….Do you still? Why?

    2LT Dennis Morrisseau USArmy [armor – Vietnam era] ret. POB 177 W Pawlet, VT 05775 802 645 9727 dmorso1@netzero.net

    • Ratherdrive
      October 8, 2015 at 1:32 am

      What exactly is it about the author’s position on the gun issue that you find wrong and ridiculous?

      • Bill
        October 8, 2015 at 3:06 pm

        It’s not his position..It’s his understanding of the written word.

        “The people” are the same people spoke of in the 4th and 19th..the Supreme Court has been over this..

        Christ, it’s written in english..it isn’t that hard to understand..lol..

        • Ratherdrive
          October 9, 2015 at 11:12 pm

          Bill,
          The major central concept on the table at the time of the founding was the treatment of the “Government” as one single entity, as compared and contrasted with “the people” as another single entity, not each citizen one at a time. As exemplified by the first line of the Constitution: “We the People,” meaning every voting citizen in total, rather than each of us one at a time.

          English is an extremely flexible at expressing nuance and “shades of gray,” especially since so many of its words have more than one meaning. Which is why context is so important in establishing proper communication.

  40. October 7, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    FACT CHECK:

    While your conclusion is correct (guns were meant to be regulated) you make several important historical mistakes. More specifics are in the link.

    A “one hit K.O.” for instance is the fact that in the “people’s right to bear arms” was incorporated into every single anti-federalist proposal (which was the basis for the federalists promising a bill of rights), yet a “militia powers” amendment defending the right to a state militia was proposed in only three states (Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina). The issues are not the same.

    If that doesn’t suffice, here’s the wording for Pennsylvania’s anti-federalists “that the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and their own state, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game; and no law shall be passed for disarming the people or any of them, unless for crimes committed, or real danger of public injury from individuals.”

    However, you correctly note that even at the time of the founders, guns were regulated as to their usage, public carrying, and storage. It even says you can disarm people if there is “real danger of public injury from individuals.”

  41. Erik
    October 7, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Unfortunately this article ignores the reasons that US citizens need arms: this is a culture of abuse of power, both physical and economic bullying among citizens and by government against citizens. The fact that one sector of the population does not presently get bullied and can live without democracy and is too selfish to examine the real problems, is irrelevant: is it only when they are direct victims, that gun control advocates will admit the real problems?

    Whenever there is a major abuse of private weapons, we hear that it was due solely to the weapons. Unfortunately, the arguments for gun control before addressing the need for weapons are all false. The ingenious argument is that if Santa Claus is given all the weapons, everyone will suddenly be nice, there will be no more war, no more abuse of citizens by government power, no more private physical or economic coercion, and none of us will have to concern ourselves about the abuse of power ever again. Just close your eyes and assume that Santa Claus ends up with all physical and economic power.

    None of those violent bullies and political and economic gangsters are affected in the least by gun control advocates’ dreams and admonitions that they must be nice boys now. It is naïve to simply assume that these problems will go away if we destroy the only defense against them. The tragic incidents must be ascribed to the ultimate causes, so that the underlying problems are addressed.

    When this society has addressed the real problems, the massive and increasing public ignorance that leads to physical and economic bullying, and the right wing revolution that has eliminated democracy in the US, “gun control” advocates may be able to make a case. Until they have corrected the failed institutions of the US, they are advocating surrender to the forces of the jungle.

    • Erik
      October 7, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      Let me add that I do not mean the above remark to be disrespectful.
      I think that it time to address the underlying social educational problems with this society, that lead to the need to balance individual power against the abusers of power.

      • M Gilman
        October 7, 2015 at 11:06 pm

        Why not get these killers off their medications. The meds specifically warn of paranoia, and suicidal tendencies. If you just began to police their respective psychiatrists and big pharma, you could prevent most of these killings.

        http://ssristories.org/all-posts/ website will inform you of a much stronger correlation with mass murderers — prescribed medications.

        If one really is concerned with the homicide rate — push for legalization of all drugs. Thousands of lives per year would be saved. And non users would be safer.
        And so too would the Bill of Rights and law abiding citizens gun toting and non gun toting.

        • dahoit
          October 8, 2015 at 12:37 pm

          Yes,the untold connection behind big pharma and their poison.
          My take on the gun nut episodes is if the American govt endorses violence,the people follow suit.
          If big daddy is lawless,the children are too.

    • Zachary Smith
      October 7, 2015 at 8:45 pm

      Unfortunately this article ignores the reasons that US citizens need arms: this is a culture of abuse of power, both physical and economic bullying among citizens and by government against citizens. The fact that one sector of the population does not presently get bullied and can live without democracy and is too selfish to examine the real problems, is irrelevant: is it only when they are direct victims, that gun control advocates will admit the real problems?

      This is an excellent capsule summary of the dream world the gun boys live in. Because they’ve got an armory of small caliber weapons, they feel that they’re capable of “defending” themselves. It’s a pure fantasy, of course. Back when the Constitution was written, this was much, much closer to being true. Civilian weapons back then were at least as good as what the soldiers carried, and often times better. In 2015 even a small SWAT team will make a mockery of their dreams. And just forget about what a company of Marines with their supporting artillery, armor, and air power would do to the rugged well-armed citizens clutching their assault rifles. I doubt if ANY of the second amendment boys have considered how they’d cope with an incoming caravan of ISIS Toyota trucks carrying 20mm cannon, mortars, AT rockets, and 500 bearded warriors. They’d either run and (maybe) live, or stand and shortly die.

      Just before I got to this thread I’d been to the Hullabaloo site where the blogger there – Heather Digby Parton – had this:

      … as the day goes on I see that with every mass shooting of innocent people, these gun zealots are getting more and more callous. It’s beyond simple ego and macho fantasy. It is now officially a cult which is defined as “a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.”

      The object they worship is the gun. And the innocents, even small children, who are being killed are blood sacrifices to their idol.

      http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2015/10/a-presidential-candidate-urges-people.html

      This issue for them is beyond reason – it’s now a matter of Right vs Wrong. Good vs Bad. Freedom vs Tyranny. As HDP said, it’s now a cult.

      When Walmart stopped selling firearms, others stepped in to replace them. A local store which had formerly sold only farm stuff suddenly sprouted a full-scale gun department with a full-time employee. Every time there is a mass shooting, business booms – it’s time to buy another gun!

      Regarding BillyBob and his guns, this pack-rat habit is probably going to have an unexpected effect one of these years. With the constant downgrading of the standard of living in the US, BillyBob isn’t even trying to save any money. He’s spending it all.

      Approximately 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts and 21% don’t even have a savings account, according to a new survey of more than 5,000 adults conducted this month by Google Consumer Survey for personal finance website GOBankingRates.com.

      There is a saying in the Stock Market which goes something like this – No Tree Grows To The Sky.

      When Bubbles grow, they’re eventually going to pop. Tulip bulbs, the Twenties Stock Market, the US Housing Market – at some point they collapse. One of these days BillyBob is going to discover that the Gun Bubble has ‘popped’, and nobody wants to pay more than a tiny fraction of what he paid for his expensive penis extenders. Since they represent a big chunk of his net worth, that’s going to hurt.

      I’m not in the stock market at all, but if I was, I wouldn’t touch the firearms companies with a 20 foot pole. You can only hype sales for so long, and I would’t want to be holding their stocks when BillyBob wises up. Or simply runs out of money.

      Again, a really good essay, but it’s going to blow right by the Cult members.

      • Erik
        October 8, 2015 at 6:01 am

        But I think you are not responding to the statement you criticize. The fact that small arms are insufficient to counter national invasions, does not argue against the point that they do counter individual and gang violence, armed or otherwise, or that they do not discourage arrogant police abuse.

        There is no fantasy in that: it would be fantasy to suppose that there is no abuse to be countered.

        • Docrailgun
          October 12, 2015 at 1:36 pm

          When you say “defend” don’t you really mean “fantasize about murdering someone with you pistol”?

          • Cliff
            October 21, 2015 at 4:20 pm

            No, he actually means defend

      • Zachary Smith
        October 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm

        …counter individual and gang violence, armed or otherwise, or that they do not discourage arrogant police abuse.</b"

        Like any other tool, guns have a useful role to play. "A man's home is his castle", and all that.

        I feel that people owning guns ought to demonstrate that they're essentially sane. If they've been previously involved in violent crime, they ought to be given extra scrutiny. All future violent/criminal activities would have to be factored in as well.

        Finally, I see no need for civilians to own multiple-fire weapons, especially the ones with the capability of holding large magazines. Perhaps we'd have to "grandfather" existing clip-fed pistols and rifles, but there would be a need for some substantial penalty for the discovery of a weapon with a larger-than-legal magazine. Something like crush-the-gun, a $1,000 fine, and a mandatory year in jail. As for that magazine size, I'd say something like two rounds. Revolvers might have to undergo some much heavier regulation. A government buy-back would be an optional route.

        Like it or not, the US has a lot of gun-loving citizens. Making it much harder for nuts to go on a murder-suicide spree is about all I can realistically hope for.

        • Zachary Smith
          October 8, 2015 at 12:05 pm

          Why can’t we have an “edit” button?

          • Ratherdrive
            October 9, 2015 at 10:49 pm

            An edit button would be nice.

            Also an upvote/downvote button.

        • Waldemar Perez
          October 9, 2015 at 9:42 pm

          Please see my other comments to you Mr. Smith. We already went thru this debate in the US territory of PR, an effort funded and pushed by the feds. Our background checks (going door to door to see who you sleep with) haven’t solve anything. “Law abiding” citizens have decided they had enough of the “law” and since it takes $2k a lawyer, good luck and and a reason to let you own a gun is easier to get one under the table. Crime is thru the roof. How is Chicago working out so far? Please see my other posts. I can debate you one foreign policy and conventional (public school) and non-conventional (real) American history if you want. Have you ever heard of a 3D Printer? Good luck with your gun control.

      • Bill
        October 8, 2015 at 3:02 pm

        Of course you’ve never read about, Korea, Vietnam or 80’s Afghanistan…where the far superior forces, were expelled by no nothing bands of determined fighters..

        • Zachary Smith
          October 8, 2015 at 4:33 pm

          Regarding Afghanistan, the fighters there were lavishly supplied by the West, especially the US. Russian airpower was totally neutralized by the MANPADs we gave the rebels.

        • Ratherdrive
          October 9, 2015 at 3:26 am

          Bill,
          Korea? The humongous Chinese Army was a roving band of fighters?

          Vietnam? Where the Vietcong militia were almost entirely eliminated as an effective force before the U.S. withdrew, followed shortly by a massive invasion by North Vietnam Regular Army? THAT “roving band” of fighters?

    • Joe Wallace
      October 9, 2015 at 8:43 pm

      Someone (I can’t remember his name) recently wrote to the effect that the problem is not Americans and guns; the problem is Americansand guns. Canada, he pointed out, has the same ratio of roughly 1 gun per person, but a much lower incidence of gun fatalities.

    • Bill
      October 12, 2015 at 9:49 am

      Erik,

      I understand the point you are making that the need for owning firearms is more of a modern necessity rather than a historical one. Most of the members of my own family would enthusiastically agree with you and gladly fight at your side with their own arsenal should push come to shove.
      However, I question whether a fully-engaged Civil War against a tyrannical government would to anything to further the cause of freedom and democracy, which is what I believe the Framers of the Constitution were trying to prevent when they stipulated that it is the “well-regulated militia” that has the right to bear arms in order to maintain the peace. As we have seen in our own Civil War and in the Civil Wars the sponsored by the United States in the Middle East, violence against an armed citizenry often leads to increased radicalization of the rebels, which leads to increased violence and an increased likelihood of a radical dictatorship that leads to an excuse for genocide.
      Therefore, I personally reject the notion that owning your own personal arsenal will do anything to protect your own personal freedoms, or the people you care about. If you must own a firearm to protect yourself against petty criminals or you need a firearm for hunting, that’s fine with me. Just know that if you decide to take arms against your own government – no matter how much you disagree with their policies – you are violating the Constitution and you have just became one of the criminals because the Constitution does not give you the right to declare war on your own country.

  42. Michael
    October 7, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Thank God for this site and especially Robert Parry. At least I can read a slice of sanity in one place. I happen to believe the American Right has gone crazy. If the rest of the world knew how crazy they are, they would not be able to sleep at night!

    • Truth
      October 8, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      BLAME THE GUNS, BLAME MY DOG, BLAME THE SPOON I ATE BREAKFAST WITH, OH WAIT NO THE VOICES IN MY HEAD TOLD ME TOO. ITS THE LIBERAL MINDED TREEHUGGERS FAULT AND PARENTS FOR MOT BEING ALLOWED OR BEING TO DAMN LAZY TO BE A PARENT !!!!!! GAURANTEED IF YOU COULD BEAT YOUR CHILDS ASS FOR BEING AN ASSHOLE AGAIN LIKE WHEN I WAS A KID 90% OF THE PROBLEM WOULD BE SOLVED. WE ARE RAISING A WEAK WORTHLESS CRY BABY GENERATION. IF THEY DONT GET THEIR WAY OR SOMEONE SAYS THE WRONG THING TO THEM THIS IS HOW THEY ACT. SPINELESS COWARDS. SUCK IT UP THE WORLD SUCKS AND IS FILLED WITH WORTHLESS ASSHOLES DEAL WITH IT. AND HERES ANOTHER IDEA GET A JOB OR HOBBY. QUIT BLAMEING GUNS TOU FUCKTARDS!!!!!!!!#!!

      • no
        October 8, 2015 at 4:03 pm

        You incorrectly spelled a completely predictable amount of that capslockgasm.

      • October 9, 2015 at 1:13 am

        Quote:
        “GAURANTEED IF YOU COULD BEAT YOUR CHILDS ASS FOR BEING AN ASSHOLE AGAIN LIKE WHEN I WAS A KID 90% OF THE PROBLEM WOULD BE SOLVED.”

        The Germans who went along with Hitler, including high officials in the Third Reich, and Hitler himself, along with those who ran the concentration camps, as well as ordinary “good” Germans who gave Hitler enthusiastic acclaim, were all raised in the manner which you describe and advocate.

        This is documented in the book titled “For Your Own Good” by the late psychotherapist and writer Alice Miller. The book is now online:

        http://www.nospank.net/fyog.htm

      • Tony Litwinko
        October 9, 2015 at 4:30 pm

        Quod erat demonstrandum.

      • Walter
        October 10, 2015 at 12:12 am

        I don’t know what’s more off-putting … your reasoning or the atrocious grammar and spelling.

      • Mentor and Liar
        October 12, 2015 at 6:34 pm

        Thank you for your inquiry. Our records indicate that you are eligible for a refund for your beatings. Please accept our apology, that regardless of the beatings, you did turn out to be an asshole.

        With love,
        Mom and Dad

    • Jon
      October 8, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      So says the craziest of the crazy.

      • October 9, 2015 at 1:27 am

        It is absolutely true what was said above that the American right has gone crazy. And it is very likely that the rest of the world would not be able to sleep at night if they fully realized how crazy the American right is.

        So do you think then that the American right is really not crazy?

    • Joe Wallace
      October 9, 2015 at 9:20 pm

      A voice for sanity (from an NRA perspective):

      Shootings are an index of our paramount freedom: the freedom to own and use guns, protected by the 2nd Amendment. We’ve never been more free. In fact, statistics suggest that the United States enjoys a freedom not matched by any other country on earth. Let’s not limit our freedom just because 30,000 Americans die from gunshot wounds every year. That would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

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