Saturday, December 29, 2012

NRA Lie: The 2nd Amendment is to Prevent Government Tyranny

Huffington Post

I'm sorry to have to burst their bubble--well, not really--but the legislative history following the Second Amendment's passage very clearly supports the opposite of what they say. In 1789, the militia was intended to substitute for a standing Army, and to defend the government from insurrection.

Congress passed two Militia Acts in 1792. The first created state militias, each under control of that state's governor, specifically created to resist invasion, and suppress insurrection . The second directed all able-bodied white men between the ages of 18 and 45 to belong to their state militia, own a gun and related equipment for that purpose, and report for duty twice a year. The law even laid out how many bullets each militia member had to bring with him--25 if he owned a musket, 20 if he owned a rifle. After the Civil War the Acts were modified to allow black militia members to belong. In 1903, the state militias were merged with the National Guard. 

Aside from frontier fights with the Indian Nations, the militia was used only twice between 1792 and 1814: Once against the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pa. (led in person by George Washington); and then at Bladensburg, Md., to defend Washington DC against the British (the militia ran at the first volley and the day has been called the Bladensburg Races ever since). There was one use of a militia under the Articles of Confederation; in 1787, Shay's Rebellion in western Massachusetts was put down by a private militia after Shay's men attacked the Springfield armory.
There is no record of any legally-constituted militia "defending the people against a tyrannical government" under the Constitution--acts it would construe as treason, under Article 3, Section 3 ("Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.") The only way to claim otherwise is to use the Civil War as an example. Even then, using state armies that way fit the Constitution's definition of treason; it was simply expedient after the war to let the matter go.

Given that, anyone can see that the militia under the Constitution was an instrument of the state from the first, and never meant to safeguard the people from the state. What the NRA is doing is trying to confuse colonial militias--when there was no United States--with militias under the Constitution.


  1. You have yet to show ONE gun law that has reduced crime. I've shown you more guns reduce crime using FBI and BJS so why can't you do the same? So till then yes we can blame the gun laws we can at least back up our claims, you can not. Also people look up US code 10 section 311 Militia act.

  2. Anonymous shows his ignorance.

    One gun law that stopped firearms from being used in crime? The National Firearms Act, which strictly regulates some firearms. I believe only one instance of an actual NFA weapon being used illegally is the case.

    10 USC 311, which talks about the "unorganised militia". Unfortunately, that does not clarify the term "unorganised militia". It is something I have addressed on this blog. See:

    Seriously, how can something without structure be useful?

    REPEAT: "The Sedentary, reserve, inactive, unorganised, general (or other term indicating INACTIVITY) Militia"

    It is precisely that. The concept is to show that this body is not active in any manner.

    Being a part of it grants you no rights or privileges.
    Active Militias, that is THE organised, enrolled, embodied, active (or other term signifying active) Militia, can be supplemented if necessary by the ballot (selection by lot)--in other words drafted from the Unorganised militia draft pool.

    The term "unorganized" did not begin to emerge until the 1830s and 1840s, when a massive wave of opposition destroyed the compulsory militia system. Nobody wanted to serve in the militia. State governors and legislators wanted to be able to accommodate this desire, but they were bound by the 1792 Uniform Militia Act, which stated that every white male aged 18-45 would be in the militia.

    Militia service was so unpopular that Delaware abolished its militia system altogether in 1831. Massachusetts eliminated compulsory service in 1840, followed by Maine, Ohio, Vermont in 1844, Connecticut and New York in 1846, Missouri in 1847, and New Hampshire in 1851. Indiana classified its militia according to age in 1840, and exempted all but the young men from service. New Jersey withdrew the right to imprison a man for failure to pay a militia fine in 1844; Iowa did the same in 1846, Michigan in 1850, and California in 1856." - Mahon, John K, The History of the Militia and the National Guard, p. 83

    Not a good situation if you were a supporter of the militia system (as opposed to a professional military).

    However, the 1792 Uniform Militia Act explicitly allowed the states to determine who was exempt from militia service. So states divided their militias into two sections, the "organized" militia and the "unorganized" militia. In this way, the letter, though not the spirit, of the 1792 law could be complied with. However, only the "organized" militia would have responsibilities. These people would be volunteers, people who actually wanted to perform militia service; they gradually evolved into the National Guard. These people would have uniforms, guns, and would drill, review and encamp.

    The other people were the people who did NOT want to be in the militia. Accordingly, members of the "unorganized" militia were NOT supposed to perform any duty or carry any weapons or have any responsibilities. All that would remain was the nominal authority of the state over them for military manpower purposes. This group of people had no militia responsibilities at all (in some areas they had to register, like for the draft today). In this way states could flaunt the spirit of the 1792 Uniform Militia Act, while nominally keeping to the letter of it.

    The term "unorganized militia" was kept in use in subsequent decades as a statutory "reminder" that the state could still obligate its citizens to perform military duty, should it ever want them to. Eventually, U.S. law in the early twentieth century picked up this same usage for the same reason: by creating the "unorganized militia," the United States could guarantee usage of this manpower for military purposes, should the (remote) need ever arise.

    1. The government doesn't grant us anything. We're born with rights. Some governments recognize more of those than others.

    2. Laci,

      The 2nd Amendment doesn't grant a right to the members of the militia. It Recognizes the preexisting human right of the people--a term used through the Bill of Rights to signify individual citizens, not some collective assembly. It recognizes this right and notes that it is essential because it enables militia service; it does not grant this as a right contingent upon such service.

      You and Mike have done a good job digging up history that shows how the militia system fell into decline through apathy, but you are drawing the wrong conclusion from your research. The result of these developments is not that we have lost our individual rights to arms; it is, instead, that we have shirked our responsibilities by not maintaining the militia system, and by instead taking the lazy option and creating a standing army.

      Finally, I'll note the Joseph Story quote in Mike's post that you linked to. This line had been put in bold typeface:

      "How it is practicable to keep the people duly armed without some organization, it is difficult to see."

      I find the fact that this was quoted in support of a gun control position hilarious. Look at the words and the context! Story is bemoaning the fact that apathy has led people to abandon their militia responsibilities, and that as a result of this trend, he doesn't see how we can ensure that people--individual people--are properly armed to defend the nation. In other words, he is worried that this same apathy will lead to people NOT owning guns!

    3. Regardless of the current legal precedent regarding the use of small arms by civilians in the United States, no reasonable claim can be made to portray such lunacy as a "human right".

      The Human Right to Life (however it may be interpreted)is an internationally recognized guarantee for all people of all nations. However each country may interpret such right, it exists in some form or another (with certain exceptions, such as capital punishment or late term abortion, which may be considered an encroachment on this right, depending upon which country you may find yourself in) in all countries there does exist some guarantee, somewhere in the legal code guaranteeing that you will not be killed by your fellow man. The same cannot be said for a "right" for mere citizens to possess, use and proliferate small arms. Some countries such as the U.S. appear to recognize that a right to small arms applies to civilians, not conveying public authority. Other countries do not recognize any right to small arms, including many which enact measures of restricting arms to licensed individuals, prohibiting certain forms of small arms, or by restricting their use to state actors, security agencies, persons conveying public authority, and those with other legitimate interests. Does your god prefer to endow Americans with a legal method of obtaining death-dealing devices, while endowing no such privilege, to Kuwaitis, or Libyans, or the people of Formosa? Even American citizens, who would otherwise be entitled to the use of small arms, can be prohibited from possessing them entirely, if they happen to reside on a military base. American Indian tribes may also stringently regulate the possession of small arms on their land. Also some cites exercise such a degree of control over the possession of arms by non state-actors that it amounts to an almost total prohibition. So you cannot make any reasonable claim that mere citizens possess a inalienable "human right" to "keep and bear" small arms, especially under the guise of defending human life, which the practice of gun ownership so frequently ends.

    4. E.N., Kuwaitis, Libyans, and Taiwanese (no such country as Formosa these days, you Commie) have the right to arms. If their governments infringe on that right, that shows the illegitimacy of those governments.

      But recall, armed Libyans got rid of their dictator. I can see why you fear citizens who exercise their rights.

    5. Did the wind just blow through here? I think I just heard a troll fart.

      Greg, you hit the nail on the head regarding all of E.N.'s examples being examples of governments infringing on an existing right rather than proof that the right doesn't exist. If that were the case, there would be no right to free press, freedom of worship, or even the right to life that even he supposedly supports. Too many governments violate these for them to be taken seriously under his construct.

      However, I'm afraid you're strewing your pearls before swine when dealing with him. He's either a troll pretending to be a statist nut job, or he is the most despicable, loathesome, damn near state-worshiping totalitarian I have ever had the distinct displeasure of encountering.

      Either way, it's not worth wasting your breath.

    6. totalitarians*

    7. Did you know that the United States does not recognize any legitimate State entity called "Taiwan". The United States Government (as well as almost every other country) recognizes the Peoples Republic of China and the CCP as the sole legitimate ruler of all of China including the Formosan islands. Your recognition of the terrorist forces occupying Formosa is entirely contrary to the policy of your country.

      The current government of Libya prohibits the common subject from possessing small arms.

      Note that the computer-trained Redneck (Greg Camp) makes no attempt to defend his deranged beliefs of "individual freedom" and widespread gun "ownership". Such a simian mentality has no defense.

    8. Tennesseean, the astonishing stupidity of some gun control freaks never ceases to amaze me. I'm with you in suspecting that E.N. is a fake. Someone with real power in a totalitarian state wouldn't bother commenting here. Certainly, he makes a lot of use of the fundamental human right to free expression.

    9. In response to "Tennesseean":

      Without the government there would be NO rights. How can you, a mere subject of the State, who was born in a government hospital, raised in government schools, benefited from government utilities and regulation, has traveled to and from ones occupation on government roads, and who's life, liberty, and property where protected from threats, foreign and domestic by a government military and police force, be so brazenly arrogant to challenge the very institution that has protected, and indeed endowed us with liberty, property and above all, life. The twenty-first century American is very much a creation of the state, as without police officers, firefighters, social workers, and soldiers, there would be no quality of life, no liberty and no property worth defending. If any ancestor of yours had not received welfare, in some form, it is possible that you would not be here today. Has not the food with which we are nourished by (the safety of which is guaranteed by the State)traveled to your dinner table on government roads? Would you be alive today if it where not for a collective right for the State (not the mere subject) to keep and bear arms, in the form of a professional military and police force? We must at all times consider ourselves a creation of the State, which has (directly or indirectly) endowed the ordinary subject, with their very lives, property and the freedoms that we take for granted.

      Furthermore, How can a "legitimate" right exist if it manifestly infringes upon the rights of others? We are of such conviction. Such is why you ought to worship the State as your creator.

  3. Mikeb, your side is showing its desperation, what with all the leftist publications shrieking about how the country isn't immediately supporting gun control.

    1. The law does not require the rabble's support to be effective. Gun control will be implemented, whether you Americans like it or not.

    2. Implemented by whom? You and a bunch of starving North Koreans who have to be fed by capitalist countries?

    3. 1. North Koreans are not starving.

      2. If the U.S. Government fails to protect the rights of it's subjects by implementing and enforcing Gun Control, then it will be deemed necessary to enact the ATT, and revoke the United States ability to decide it's own arms regulations.

    4. 1. BULL SHIT!

      Go ahead and try it if you're feelin' froggy.

  4. Mike,

    We've discussed this recently, but here goes again. Yes, the 2nd Amendment and the rest of the Constitution's references to the militia do not authorize the militia to defend against a rapacious, usurping federal government. Bravo!

    But the excerpt you gave us closes saying that this is a difference between the colonial militias under the British rule, and the state militias under the Constitution.

    Excuse me for asking, but WHERE did the British authorize the overthrow of the King's government?

    No militia charter or colony charter granted that right. The founders held that it was a Self Evident right of all men. Thus, this right still exists under the Constitution as much as it existed for them under the British Crown.

    And it IS self evident today. We don't link it to the Second Amendment or the concept of the militia, but we do cheer when we see tyranny resisted, whether nonviolently, or violently. We tell stories of the French Resistance, we assisted the rebels in Lybia. We worried for those in Egypt and worry for those in Syria today. Hell, we even buy our children "The Hunger Games."

    And before someone comes along and tells me that "The Hunger Games" isn't about the propriety of revolution, I know this. My point is that it merely assumes that revolution is appropriate if a government has become so corrupt as the capitol in the books. (It also wisely shows to beware what rises to replace such a tyranny.)

    So yes, the Second Amendment does not guarantee our right to revolt if the government becomes tyrannical. That is a preexisting, universal human right. The Second Amendment DOES however guarantee us the right to keep and bear arms, and This right is very conducive to the right to resist tyranny, because it's a lot easier to fight off a tyrant with an AR than a bow and arrow.

  5. To be more accurate, the Founders suggested it was an armed populace that would serve to resist oppression. The 2A merely addresses the keeping and bearing of arms. I have found that ant-gun folks are capable of the most amazing non sequiturs on this subject.