I've read so much exaggerated nuttiness on the pro-gun blogs that I question whether it can all be traced back to what Scalia said. Nevertheless, it is nuttiness. On my own blog, we've had tedious arguments in which the gun lovers would insist they'd shoot it out rather than let their guns be taken away. The only problem is usually those remarks came in the middle of other discussions which had nothing to do with gun confiscation. Like adolescent school boys, they love to do this macho posturing.
Two summers ago, I blogged with great concern about a statement made by Justice Scalia in the Supreme Court's landmark Second Amendment opinion, District of Columbia v. Heller. Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Scalia found an individual right to keep and bear arms and opined that, "If...the Second Amendment right is no more than the right to keep and use weapons as a member of an organized militia ... If, that is, the organized militia is the sole institutional beneficiary of the Second Amendment's guarantee -- it does not assure the existence of a 'citizens' militia' as a safeguard against tyranny."
Regrettably, since the Heller decision, many gun rights commentators have used Scalia's construct to link the need for unfettered access to firearms with a right to engage in political violence against an administration that has been described as "a secular socialist machine [that] represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did." The past two years have seen several disturbing acts of politically-motivated violence and a dramatic increase in the number of threats against the president and Members of Congress. Equally troubling, gun rights activists have begun to openly carry firearms to political events and presidential speeches in a threatening manner.
In fact, resisting a perceived tyrant in the form of the Democratically elected government of the United States of America in the 21st century, that is in today's society, is not only unrealistic and impossible but actually contrary to what the proper relationship between the governed and the government should be. Please spare us the usual examples of the Redcoats and the Colonists and all the rest.
The German political economist [Max Weber] proffered in the early 20th century that a political entity is not a state unless it possesses a monopoly of force (i.e., the power to enforce the law). The concept of a monopoly of force is anathema to those who embrace the insurrectionist idea because it forecloses the use of political violence; which rhetorically -- and in some cases in action -- seems to be all the rage on the political right. Nonetheless, Roberts was correct. America's Founding Fathers recognized that a State does not -- and cannot -- exist unless it upholds its claim to the monopoly on force. As the author of the Second Amendment, James Madison, put it at the Virginia Ratifying Convention: "There never was a government without force. What is the meaning of government? An institution to make people do their duty. A government leaving it to a man to do his duty, or not, as he pleases, would be a new species of government, or rather no government at all."
What's your opinion? Maybe there's something to quoting the founders after all. What do you think?
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