Thursday, September 1, 2011

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. Where are the comments? This has the second highest all time readership of the posts on this blog, but no comments!

    I have to admit this is an interesting question and one that would make a great thesis topic for someone.

  2. Certainly, since Vietnam, the military-industrial complex has become progressively more powerful.

    I don't know what direct effect that may have on the issue of gun rights interpretation, but I have no doubt of the indirect effect. The more militarized a nation is, the more likely the conservative elements in the nation are to call for a militarization of people's mindsets, to support a more hardline and violent way of thinking. It's a simple jump then to assume this would lead to a greater emphasis on gun ownership by citizens.

    And, of course, given that many of the gun companies provide weapons to both the military and homes, they stand to profit from both. And, by default, so does the NRA.

  3. Ironic, isn't it.

    The name Bogus, I mean. As, of course, it is.

    NO member of the SCOTUS adopted the "collective rights" model in Heller. Not one. It's rightfully dead, buried, under a mountain of historical evidence.

    This position is relegated to the same dustbin of constitutional thought as Dred Scott and "separate but equal" doctrine. But like the segregationists of old, you are so tied to your prejudice you can't see it.

    Too bad. You lose.

  4. GMC70, Like the other GMC, you show your intellectual bankruptcy.

    You obviously haven't read Stevens' dissent from the Heller decision.

    One could also argue that Breyer's decision also followed the civic right.

    Too bad you have no idea what you are talking about and it's pretty obvious that you didn't read my cites.

    Nothing like a nice ignorant comment from the progun side.

    Next time say something worth hearing.

    And back it up with facts, instead of stupidity and ignorance.

    I may lose in your opinion, but that's the opinion of a real loser.

  5. GMC70, I don't think it's so much "a mountain of historical evidence" that accounts for the swing in 2A understanding. I think it's more like a systematic bastardization paid for by the NRA and gun manufacturers through their lobbyists.

    As such, you haven't won anything, you're just enjoying a little pendulum swing.

    The MIC is in there too. They're one of the "owners" George Carlin was talking about.

    1. Amazing how everyone forgets that the NRA is made up of ordinary citizens. Some of us hunt to put food on our family's table. Some of us are military veterans. Some of us shoot in competition or for recreation. Some of us believe in the rights granted to us by a power higher than that of man. Some of us do and believe all of the aforementioned. This is an interesting article for sure, but our stance, defense of nation, oath to the Constitution and will to remain free depends on our ability to protect the whole Constitution. Unfortunately the 2nd Amendment is the only real part of the Constitution that corrupt government officials fear the most. Perhaps they should. Owning a firearm does not make you a bad person. In our family all of the women and men hunt. Three of us this generation fought in Afghanistan. I am the 5th generation to become an NCO in my family. We have always and will always defend every right granted to every American in the Bill of Rights and Constitution. The NRA is the last remnants of spine the American citizenry still have. Please do not discount the fact that government intrusion on every facet of our lives is tolerated by the majority of Americans. We (citizen NRA members) represent those who will stand up and call out those who fleece us all and those who wish to be able to remove every right this nation was founded upon.

    2. Let me see if I understand you. Because you and your relatives are the types who "call out those who fleece us all and those who wish to be able to remove every right this nation was founded upon" you all fought in some of the most immoral and unnecessary wars our country has ever waged? What about the military industrial complex and the politicians who are in their pockets and the way they continually manufacture wars for young men who don't know what else to do with their lives to fight and die in? Doesn't that fleecing count?

  6. "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 labelled 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.... Turning to Table I of this Article and the light it sheds on the various collateral claims arising from individualist writings pertaining to the first claim that little or nothing of a scholarly nature has been published on the meaning of the Second Amendment, thirty-nine law journal articles, all referenced in the Index to Legal Periodicals, were published on the Second Amendment from 1912 to 1980. Interestingly, only nine of these took the individualist position....In fact, the Table reveals that the individualist position has proliferated only since the 1980s, with twenty-one individualist articles published from 1980 to 1989, compared to [Page 368] seventeen taking the court view.[102] The numbers jumped again in the 1990s, with fifty-eight articles taking the individualist view, and twenty-nine taking the court view....In the mad scramble to win legitimacy for their arguments, individualist authors have produced an ever-growing stack of articles sculpted to buttress their position. This near-obsessive focus on numbers of publications has allowed them to turn the focus of the debate away from the merits of the arguments themselves, and toward the number of articles, and the pedigrees of the articles' authors. In this Article, I, too, have played the numbers game - but not to declare any winner by virtue of who publishes more. Rather, it is to point out that many of the basic claims made about the Second Amendment literature by individualist writers are simply and demonstrably wrong. Contrary to individualist claims, an extensive body of writing on the Second Amendment has been published well before 1980, extending back more than seven decades;" -Robert J. Spitzer "Lost and Found: Researching the Second Amendment"Chicago-Kent Law Review Symposium on the Second Amendment vol. 76, 2000: 349