Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Classic Post: The Second Amendment and the Military Industrial Complex

OK, Maybe the coin has dropped and the concept that the Second Amendment has nothing to do with "gun rights", but is related to the prevention of the establishment of a standing army (like its neighbour the Third Amendment) has soaked in.

The US Constitution is pretty much a pacifist document with the original concept being that the military would follow the Swiss Model. That is there would be a small professional army tasked with training and administration that would support the larger amature (part-time/non-professional militia) Militia. The hope was that would prevent the establishment of a standing army.

As the Swiss model shows, that is an excellent defense force. But it's not very good for aggressive purposes. Also, the Swiss model requires a lot of commitment from people in regard to time. It's not just sitting there saying you're a member of some "unorganised militia"--it's actually training, drill, and other military duty.

We can also add in to this whole stew that the Congress has the power To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 12).

The real fear was standing armies, or to quote Elbridge Gerry:
What, sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. Now, it must be evident, that, under this provision, together with their other powers, Congress could take such measures with respect to a militia, as to make a standing army necessary.
In 1961, President Eisenhower says this in a speech:
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
According to Carl Bogus for nearly a century, the collective right model remained not only widely accepted but uncontroversial. The first article advocating the "individual right" interpretation appeared in 1960. Titled The Right To Bear Arms, A Study in Judicial Misinterpretation, it was a student article in the William and Mary Law Review. Robert J. Spitzer comes to the same conclusion:

"Including these three early articles, a total of eleven articles on the Second Amendment appeared in law journals from 1912 to 1959. All of them reflected what is here labeled the 'court' view of the Second Amendment - namely, that the Second Amendment affects citizens only in connection with citizen service in a government-organized and regulated militia."
Is it coincidence that the "individual" (non-Militia) right interpretation appears at roughly the same time as Eisenhower is warning about the influence of the Military-Industrial complex?

Moreover notice how what Bogus calls "widely accepted" and "uncontroversial" has become controversial--especially on the internet.

Is it a coincidence that this is happening at a time when the Military is being built up to the largest it ever was?

If you've read the primary sources you'll see the founders gave a rat's arse for private ownership of guns. Their prime concern was the possibility of the establishment of a large standing army and the evils such a body brings.

That's what they meant when they were talking about tyranny:
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.

See also:

1 comment:

  1. For those who don't recognize the significance of one of the figures you quote, Elbridge Gerry is an early vice president of the United States, and the man who gave his name to the distorted, contorted, twisted redistricting pattern to engineer false majorities for candidates to be elected -- GERRYmandering.

    Gerry was an interesting historic figure.

    Some of you might want to go so far as to read a book on him, or if you can't manage that - the Wikipedia entry.